Sunday, October 21, 2012
Sunken City Cruise
Sometime in the 2nd century AD, there was this great-big earthquake that dipped a whole city beneath the waves. The Turks call it Kekova. There are all kinds of cruises that go out there from Kas. I caught a bus from Patara early in the morning and got in on the action. For the record, I still really dislike Kas, but I'm slowly warming up to it.
Here's Kas as we're fleeing from it. Our ship was a typical Turkish coastal scow; the passengers were mostly Turkish, but there was a smattering of Germans, Dutch and some very nice English people who I talked to. As usual, I was the only American. That seems to happen a lot. Once again, the biggest draw is the various swimming stops they make along the way. We had five. Not pictured: people swimming. Why? Because I was the first guy into the water and the last guy out. Seriously, the Mediterranean is the world's loveliest sea. OK, I've never been to the Caribbean, so I'm just guessing, but the Med is the best I've experienced so far. It's way better than the Adriatic and much, much superior to the Aegean.
Also not pictured: the sunken city of Kekova. You know, it's one thing to see it in person and another to take pictures. You'd think that something dramatic like that would make a great picture, but no. There are just steps leading straight into the water and a few building foundations and amphorae visible about twenty feet down. I mean, it's pretty clear to see that it was once a city and that people lived there and something really catastrophic happened, but you can't sum it up in a picture. At least I can't. Instead, I took a lot of photos at Simena. It's right across the bay from Kekova. They apparently didn't get the worst from the earthquake. In fact, they still have a pretty kickass necropolis. You'll note the distinctive sarcophagi. I think I've told this story before. It's completely unsubstantiated, but I sort of remember reading somewhere that the inspiration for the Gothic vaulted arch was inspired by Lycian funerary architecture. It seems that it caught the eye of a few Crusaders as they marched of to slay the Saracens in the Holy Land. And once they returned from killing for Christ, they converted what they saw into really grand things and those became Europe's most spectacular cathedrals. That's the story that I kind of remember hearing.
Here's more necropolis. At Simena, they encourage you to climb up the this Selcuk fortress. I did, just to take a short break from all the wonderful swimming. I didn't actually go into the fort because they charged entry and I left my money on the boat.
Here's a classic Turkish gulet. You see these things everywhere. That's Kekova over on the far shore. Do you see a definitive photo there? Neither do I.
This is pretty little Simena from the ship. There's the fort I didn't have the funds to get into. The necropolis is off to the right. While we were there, up came about five boats full of Russians. From their tour guide's commentary, I learned that there is a complete building ban in Simena. They can't construct new houses at all; they can only move into old houses or restore derelict structures. That why this place is so charming and devoid of soulless flashy villas.
Here are some sarcophagi that didn't fare so well after some earthquake or another. Don't worry, they already cleaned out all the dead people
Right next to Simena is even-more-charming Ucagiz. (Trust me here, it's pronounced Oo-chows - swear to God.) And there were kayakers, probably Germans. They're the only people organized enough to get a group together of this size.
OK, so there aren't any pictures of the sunken city or of anybody swimming, but I had a great time. As I mentioned, I met some very nice British people with whom I expounded about the American music business. We didn't get back till the evening. By that time, it had clouded up and as I was returning to Patara, it actually began to rain. I had been contemplating taking what they call a Blue Cruise. It goes from Fethiye to Demre or vice-versa, but the prospect of getting rained on made me reconsider. That's one for the future file.
Posted by Igor Keller