Thursday, July 21, 2011

Back in Paradise - Our Return to Islamlar, Turkey - Part VII

As our time in Islamlar, Turkey winds down we decide we should venture out a bit more…in the tourist sense.

But not wanting to push ourselves too much, we spend the day relaxing at the villa and then about 4:00 p.m. we head out to Kas (pronounced “cash”) which is the first significantly sized town to the east of us; about 45 minutes away (25 minutes if you drive like a Turk!). We visited Kas last year and remembered the hair-raising drive with a wild bus driver negotiating hairpin turns at high speed and using both lanes (one each way) the entire time…just wondering when (not if) the accident was going to happen.

This time the drive was more relaxing (if relaxing is even an appropriate term). It is Sunday so many Turks head to the beach. What this means is the public beaches – most of which have little to no actual parking lots – are filled…as is the roadside with cars; narrowing the winding two lane roads to 1.5 lanes. Of course there are no signs that say, “Public Beach Ahead”, so you come around a hairpin turn and you go “Whoa!” And, of course, you must do this traveling at 50-60 miles per hour or you will be the subject of constant passes (on the inside) by more talented drivers.

We arrive in Kas without incident, but notice that things are fairly quiet. It is hot (I mean 100+ degrees) and people are still on the beaches, but it is eerily quiet. The economy is hurting tourism; especially the British economy as Americans are far and few between. In fact, I do not recall hearing a single other American accent during my entire trip.

We wonder the town a bit, but are focused on revisiting a little gem of a jewelry shop, Silver Harmony, where we had made some purchases last year. The Turkish owner was there and we made our purchases – with special discount for being repeat customers (as opposed to the presumed special discount we would have received for being first time customers) – and were very pleased…enough to have the single purchase turn into multiple ones.

Now in need of a drink…or three…we head off to find a place for an early dinner. We have a couple of recommendations and wander the tiny alleys of Kas examining the restaurants that are, in fact, just opening for dinner. (It is about 6:30 p.m. and the evening really doesn’t start until around 8:00 p.m.). It turns out Silver Harmony’s recommendation of Ikbal was spot on.

After spending a week in the mountain informality of Islamlar, it was nice to see an elegant, but still informal, restaurant. Ikbal is essentially a raised patio type restaurant with a huge wild purple bougainvillea-covered pergola providing shade to the entire restaurant. We have table clothes with a purple overlay. Freshly made, garlic infused, pitas with a wonderful dipping oil. I have a perfectly grilled octopus tentacle for a starter followed by a wonderfully prepared grilled swordfish and squid shish (on a stick). My friend’s steak was wonderful as was the rather large manti (Turkish raviolis). I deferred on dessert, but the others dove into a banana split and Ikbal’s signature: Apple Pancake with ice cream. (For research purposes only I tried it. It tasted like a wonderful apple strudel; which is no wonder as the very friendly – yet quiet – owners, he from Turkey and she from Germany, have their personal touches everywhere.)

With the sun setting and my strong desire not to be driving those hairpin turns in total darkness, we head back to the villa for another lovely evening. But we discover that we have been sitting in the wrong place for our evenings. We have been sitting under the covered veranda when we should have been around the corner sitting at a small table with four director’s chairs. The breeze coming up the mountain and over the peak is cooling and fantastic. Plus we have the benefit of watching just spectacular moonrises.

On our last Monday we do as we always do: Relax. We make our last visit to the local shops in Akbel to get the last items we need including charcoal for our last barbeques. (I have taken pity on my mate and have decided to not use pans cooking, but will grill to make sure he has less chores to do…further increasing the much needed relaxation periods.) We spend a good bit of time figuring out how to say “Charcoal” because we had never seen it in Akbel. The reason: There is no word for charcoal. Apparently, the word is “coal”. (I am not sure what the word is for what we consider coal.) But all of that effort was for nothing, of course.

When we arrived at our shop, there is was in the bin: Bags of charcoal. Problem yok. We picked up some veggies, whole wheat ekmek (bread), sirap (wine), locum (Turkish delight candy) and, finally, some of the corn steamed/boiled in the large metal pots we see by the side of so many roads. With that it was time for a barbeque lunch of kofte, lamb chops, mushrooms and peppers accompanied by a nice salad, yogurt and bread.

After our typical afternoon, it was time for dinner. We are still full, but $4.00 trout here we come. You may recall our drive to the villa the first night. While we were driving following our Aussie GPS girl we went through a small town that we said would be nice to revisit. Our new family, ironically, invites us for an outing to that small town of Saklikent; telling us it is much cooler there and a nice place to visit.

We only have two days left. What to do?