A Travellerspoint blog

February 2013

Swimming Pools and Sunsets

by Ben

sunny 19 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

104 to 106 Kas 107

104 to 106 Kas 107

Maybe our brains became addled by too much sun. Perhaps it was a heat mirage just at the edge of the infinity pool. Maybe it was, in the words of the Everest Adventurer, Mallory, (if you don’t know the story; he ended up dead) because it was there! Whatever the case, we plunged into the frigid depths of our pool today. In fact, Muriel stayed in the pool for a solid 20 minutes, while “Abby the Wiser” just took photographs. Yes, we all feel like sending the weatherman a thank you card for another day of great weather but three of us did push the envelope by thinking it was unheated outdoor pool weather. Hannah and Muriel did do their best to pose with warm smiles in the pool and Jacuzzi but I believe closer inspections of the photographs will reveal a hue of blue in their lips. It took Muriel the better part of the day to warm up again.

104 to 106 Kas 108

104 to 106 Kas 108

We spent a lazy day reading and bit of planning for the rest of our trip while the kids studied. Every few hours we hear the wail of the mosque’s call to prayer which from this distance is soothing if not a touch mournful as it floats to us across the water of the bay.

We saw the daylight dissolve into another glorious sunset which bodes well for tomorrow. We are all thankful for the pleasures of the day.

Posted by KZFamily 09:54 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (4)

Warm Weather in Winter- A Turkish Delight

by Ben

sunny 20 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

At long last we have been greeted by the return of warm dry weather with just a light breeze. We had been assured on a number of occasions that we could expect to experience a good number of such days even in winter in southern Turkey. The official temperature was 20 degrees but definitely felt far warmer. If the forecast holds out we should be in for a whole week of such weather.

In the morning Muriel and I drove into town just to explore. We have kept to the same few streets up to now as I haven’t been able to walk far due to my back. We decided to check out the marina the locals use and the main tourist quarter. All of the hotels and tourist oriented restaurants in Kas are on one side of town. At this time of year the hotel section is a complete ghost town. Many look in quite a state of disrepair while others show some signs of being renovated for the tourist season but seem quite unlikely to be ready in time. What is achingly clear is that no tourist in their right mind would ever want to stay in the tourist zone of Kas in the off season-it is an area in complete disarray. We realize how lucky we were to have chosen a house on the peninsula a few kilometers out of town even though it is surrounded by a great deal of construction as well. The off season here should really be called the closed season. Surprisingly many of these businesses are still advertising rooms on the Internet with discounts for this time of year but few tourists seem to have bought in.

Kas Construction: Note the rock work

Kas Construction: Note the rock work

Turkish construction here on the sea is quite unlike anything we see on Vancouver Island. First there is a bylaw that all construction must stop by May 1st so as not to interfere with the main tourist season. Cement, rebar, red clay brick and stone are 80 percent of the material for any building. It is dumped higgledy piggledy wherever there is spare bit of sidewalk or roadspace. The remainder of the building materials are red roof tile, wrought iron for railings, marble for floors and stairs and just a smattering of wood for patio roofs, doors and cabinetry. With the exception of the help of cement trucks for the major pours everything else is done by hand, including shaping all the exterior rock work with a hammer. The only power tool we sometimes hear is a jackhammer for renovations and the very occasional saw for helping in the creation of cement forms.

It seems that layout and design even of the large villas are more an idea in one person’s head rather than a matter of hard and fast measurements or architectural design. It also appears that annual renovation is the norm, and it consists of sledge hammer, chisel and the odd jack hammer and the addition of another layer or plaster or cement. The winter storms and salt air take quite a toll on all the “luxury” villas with many getting their windows replaced during this time of year. Little consideration is given to the whole idea access roads and driveways. The grade of our driveway is such that our car regularly has traction problems when drive out. Surfacing of roads and driveways consists mostly of the dregs left over from any cement work on the house. All that said, the speed with which the numerous houses in our neighbourhood are being built during the last two weeks indicates a strong work ethic. The builders do seem to have the knack of locating each home for a perfect view of the ocean and an eye for the exact line that gives a stunning effect for the infinity pools that finish off each home in this area.

Kas: Old marina

Kas: Old marina

Muriel and I also checked out the fleet of local charter boats that were all in dry dock to scrap and repair hulls or to undergo an entire refinish. There was not a fibreglass hull to be seen. We saw few fishing boats, most boats seemed geared to the tourist trade. I think it is good that many tourists don’t see what is below the waterline on some of these boats. We saw a good number of bows with gaping holes and some restructuring of boat ribbing that would seem to put the structural integrity of the whole boat at risk. It was entertaining to see that a lot of the repair materials arrive at the marina by scooter. One fellow we saw came astride a few boat ribs and long hull planks which he had wedged between his bottom and the scooter seat and extended several feet off the back.

Our wandering also took us to the far side of town where there is the helicopter pad jutting out into the water. It probably occupied the nicest piece of real estate in all of Kas and thus doubles as the preferred hangout for a lot of the local boys who sit along the rocks by the water just talking. This Saturday, at least, saw a very large numbers of boys wandering all over town in various sized groups. To a much smaller extent there were also small groups of preteen girls and just a few groups of teenage girls. It would seem that the culture still dictates that women stay close to home.

After exploring, Muriel and I picked up the kids and took them back to town for an inexpensive Turkish lunch. Afterwards we wandered back to the main tourist square to discover one business that had opened. A coffee, juice and ice cream bar which occupied much of the central square. It seemed to be the place, at least in the off season, for the locals to go and be seen when the weather allows. It looked like a cultural opportunity not to be missed as it was a great venue for people watching. We grabbed one of the few remaining tables hoping to order a drink befitting the warm weather. We were handed substantial menus to look over. Upon ordering we experienced another quirk of Turkish restaurants in the winter. By some unknown sense we are supposed to intuit what is actually available to order. At each restaurant we have been to so far, we have been handed menus of a good number of pages without any verbal or gesticular communication that states items may not be available. When we proceed to order we are invariably met with the answer that it is not available but are still not informed even at that point that likely half the items on the menu are not being served. In this case it may be understandable that milkshakes were not on the menu. After a few dead-ends in the fresh squeezed juice list, Muriel and Hannah order fresh squeezed pomegranate juice while Abby went for the seasonally appropriate (not with-standing the weather) hot chocolate and I a coffee. My coffee arrived with three large packets of sugar while to Hannah’s disappointment her juice comes without. Fortunately, I had sugar to spare and then some. The Turkish palette seems to like very sweet or very sour and less of anything in between.

Next to us was an ever growing group of people who all knew each other. It was interesting seeing each new arrival exchanging a two cheek kiss or a handshake with every other person there (we experienced a similar ritual in Brazil). In this case with the group reaching beyond 30 people it became a fair workout before the later arrivals could sit down and order a drink. It was also telling that for the most part the men and women in this gathering sat separately but upon arrival went through the greeting ritual with both tables.

Abby Eating Her Homework

Abby Eating Her Homework

Refreshed and a little culturally richer for taking the time to people watch, we started to make our way home. Abby and Muriel briefly went shopping for ingredients Abby needed for a social studies project she is completing. She is learning about Acadia and the links to Cajun culture. She is cooking us Jambalaya tonight as part of her homework. It is not an easy task to source all the ingredients but Abby has proved to be an excellent sleuth (and this evening would prove to be an even better cook). Muriel didn’t flinch too much when the bill for just the shrimp came in at 30 Turkish Lira. It is nice when you can at least mentally put such an expense against an education budget. Heck, this whole trip should be considered an education expense, but I don’t think we can get revenue Canada to agree.

We ended another day with pleasantly full tummies.

Posted by KZFamily 08:21 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey Comments (3)

The School of Kas and Market Day

by Ben (a.k.a. The Hunchback of Kas)

storm 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

We have been nearly two weeks in Kas (two weeks on Sunday). Our lives have definitely taken on a slower rhythm. Perhaps I should rephrase that; the tempo of life for Muriel and me has certainly become more leisurely while Hannah’s and Abby’s is marked by the regular staccato sounds of fingers attacking computer keys recording their daily learning. The name Kas means school in Abby and Hannah’s personal dictionary while in mine it could well mean lazy.

The kids’ schooling arrangements do have a few perks among one of which is choosing their own working hours, which is usually a school day starting around 11 am and extending into the early evening hours. They can also chose their own school uniform for which they have chosen PJs unless they are taking a mid day break and going into town for a leisurely shop and lunch. Nonetheless, they are working very hard and will hopefully more fully enjoy the fruits of their labour when we hit the road in couple of weeks and they can in good conscience let their books sit at the bottom of their backs undisturbed for another several weeks.

Friday was market day again. The weather was blustery to the extreme with a smattering of rain mixed in for good measure which added a whole new dimension to our market visit. The market area is on a slope with no protection from the wind. Each vendor has strung up a tarp to keep their wares and potential customers dry. It makes for a crazy patch work of tarps and a spider web of ropes. The wind plays all sorts of games with this arrangement. While at a stall your are likely to slammed on the top of the head by the bouncing tarp overhanging the produce and as you make your way to the next vendor your risk of being garrotted by a tie line increases exponentially with the number of shoppers trying to negotiate their way through the same market area. The weather conditions do seem to create a sense of camaraderie among the merchants as they together try to figure new and more labyrinthine ways of securing their flailing tarps to their neighbour’s jostling awning. Unfortunately the result is just a larger sail to catch the wind and the entire covering of the market ascends and descends in unison just increasing the force at which market patrons will be struck if they are not alert.

To give you a bit of a sense of what the market is like I have some video footage. As with a lot of our other video clips it is not the best due to the kind of camera we have. Another bigger mitigating factor for our photography of people is the fact that we don't like being obvious that we are taking pictures. It is an invasion of personal space to a degree so in this case I just have the camera at waist level and take the video footage without looking and just see if I end up lucky.

Great Baklava

Great Baklava

A few nice finds this market day were lemon and thyme jelly and toasted chickpeas covered in a crisp salty coating that makes them look a lot like a round cheesie. Another nice change in our diet is the re-emergence of the potato. We have not seen much in this regard for a couple of months at least in terms of the affordable. The cheap oranges, tomatoes and cucumbers are also a wonderful boon to keeping our food budget low.
As you may have read in an earlier blog post, my back chose to go on vacation soon after we reached Kas. I am still fighting to keep my back muscles from going into prolonged spasm but am at least on my feet and getting our for part of the day. So before we headed back to our house I walked to the pharmacy to get more back medicine. Meanwhile Abby and Muriel went by what is fast becoming our favourite restaurant to pick up a couple of donners to go to share with Hannah who stayed home to study. On their way back to car Muriel and Abby recognized it was their sworn duty to stop by one of two tiny pickup trucks with glass enclosed cargo areas containing syrup soaked bakery sweets. They spied baklava among his offerings and bought enough for dessert at a fraction of the price we paid we paid in Greece. It was truly a very sweet deal.

The weather for the remainder of Friday kept school in session for some and sent others to curl up with a good book. You can probably guess who did what.

Posted by KZFamily 12:12 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (1)

Flash Fiction and Timbit Imposters

BY ABBY

overcast 15 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

Combined blog, woahh!!! Okay, so this blog is going to be about two days because our life is pretty uneventful. On the 20th, Hannah and I stayed inside and did some school, while my parents went for a long walk. It was pretty windy on our balcony, but if you drove down the road a few minutes it was pretty calm and mild. When they came back Hannah read to us a fantastic "postcard fiction/flash fiction"(they are the same thing by the way). For all of you uneducated folk, I have inserted two links about it. And I know that now I have gotten you all excited for what Hannah wrote so I have kindly gotten her permission to have it inserted in the blog.

Fatherhood

Hand in hand, they walked
Father and daughter
Two steps to match his one
She bent, picked up a blossom from the forest path
And suddenly
She loosened her grasp
Grew before his eyes
Intertwined her fingers with another
A man whose steps matched hers
He sighed, looked down at his palm
There lay the blossom

TA DA! Ain't it a beauty?

Anyways, the rest of the day we still did nothing so I'll skip to the evening. We had kebabs, salad and some assorted vegetables (carrots and cauliflower) for dinner. After that we played yet another game of balderdash... which my mom won (now she goes by "Ruler of the Universe"). After the game we watched "The King's Speech" which I adored. I think that Colin Firth did a fabulous job at playing Bertie, but I almost think that the guy who played Lionel, Geoffrey Rush (no, I had never heard of him before either), might have done a better job in this. But I suppose you will all have to see for yourself! Also, if you're not sold yet, Helena Bonham Carter is in it so yeah, enough said.

And there was evening and there was morning--the one hundred and second day.

Good morning! Well, not really. I was rudely woken up to by construction and an unwell tummy. But I downed a cup of instant coffee, took a shower, and then decided to join the rest of my family for a lunch out. Hannah and I both got doner wraps (mine chicken and hers beef) while my mom got a watery bean soup, and my dad ordered the same dish that my mom had got the last time the three of them went out. After we finished we were given dessert on the house, a treat that they were offereing to all their customers that day. I thought they tasted like Timbits crossed with the syruppy donuts my mom and I had tried in Athens... although it wasn't as good as either. But the rest of the gang liked them a lot and ordered a second plate. The four of us downed sixteen of those little things. I had some self control and only had two.

Turkbits (we don't know their real name)

Turkbits (we don't know their real name)

We did a little grocery shopping before we came home and then my parents went out for a walk while Hannah and I did a little more school (less than a quarter of Social Studies to go!). But that's about it. Goodbye.

Posted by KZFamily 12:18 Archived in Turkey Tagged turkey kas Comments (4)

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