Meis/Kastelorizo Island offers interesting things

Meis/Kastelorizo Island offers interesting things

Wilco van Herpen Hürriyet Daily News
Meis/Kastelorizo Island offers interesting things

Crystal clear seawater is on one side, on the other are the houses. Every fish restaurant has a small shop window that shows the catch of the day.

It’s holiday time and a lot of people packed their cars and went to their favorite destinations. One of my favorite destinations is the town of Kaş in the southern province of Antalya, and so I found myself again in Kaş for my summer holiday. I have traveled around in the area of Kaş and found a lot of nice and interesting things to see and do there. This time though my wife, Gonca, wanted to show me the island of Kastelorizo. It is a small island, and it takes about one hour by boat to get to it. To get there you buy a ticket at one of the two ferry offices in Kaş. Every day at 10 in the morning the boats leave the harbor to sail to Kastelorizo. One hour later you arrive at the island and most of the people on board head directly to the tax-free shop to do some shopping. After that you find yourself right at the quay where there are restaurants, little souvenir shops and a lot of boutique hotels.

There are no hassles with customs whatsoever; the day before you set off to visit Kastelorizo you leave your passport at the ticket office and they take care of all the formalities that need to be done. You arrive at 9:30 in the morning, board the ship and start your trip.

A unique entrance

When the boat is about to enter the harbor it blows its horn, and within three minutes you find yourself on the island. But those last three minutes are so nice. The island has a unique entrance. The harbor of Meis is situated in a small U-shaped bay and standing in a boat you can see the whole village. Little picturesque buildings stand next to each other, all of them different colors and in different architectural styles. The government gives the residents paint for their houses every year so all the houses really look very nice. It is not possible to paint your house any color; the government decides which house will be which color. Therefore when you approach the island you see a mosaic of colored houses; it is as if you are about to enter a Van Gogh painting. Some of the houses are Greek and some of them are Italian-style because Italians occupied this island for years. When they abandoned the island after the war they left it going up in smoke because they followed a scorched earth strategy; burn everything you have so the enemy or whoever comes after you cannot use it. At its peak about 40,000 people lived on the island, but nowadays there are just about 300 people living there. Life is harsh here; there is almost no water and for shopping most people go to Kaş because there are some supermarkets there.

Finally we are on the island. Crystal clear seawater is on one side, on the other are the houses. Every fish restaurant has a small shop window that shows you the catch of the day and often the lobster or crayfish is still alive. One of the helpers from the pension where we are staying is already waiting for us. He helps us get our things on a little boat and sets off to the other side of the bay.

A little church built in 1903 has just opened its doors. A young girl is standing in the doorway to usher in visitors. It’s a small church but has a very nice atmosphere. Wherever I look I see old frescos, each one even more beautiful than the last. There is one shop Gonca, my wife, wants to show me. It is run by a German woman who came to the island as a tourist but was caught up in the beauty of the island and decided to stay. Then, finally, we can go to Saint George Church Beach. It is a 5-minute boat trip and costs us 15 euros, but the place is nice for swimming. We spend some time on this little island, and before the sun sets we return to Kastelorizo.

French, Italian tourists

The light of the setting sun makes the harbor even more beautiful. Everywhere waiters are preparing the tables for the evening. Kastelorizo is, especially during the evening, a busy place with a lot of Italian and French tourists. Most of them arrive with their beautiful, big and expensive yachts; some of them spend their time at one of the many boutique hotels. Wherever you look beautiful fresh fish with shining eyes (the sign that the fish is really fresh) are being shown to people. We sit down at one of the many restaurants and order our food. Shrimp, octopus and a kind of langouste are going to be our evening meal.

Together with nice Retsine wine, this is a perfect evening out. It was funny that the shrimp they served had to be eaten with the outer scale, which gives them a crispy bite, but after three or four shrimp I just enjoy the taste of it. I gaze over the bay and come to the conclusion that Kastelorizo is a nice place to visit and I will definitely return, but not during the summer season. I think the best time would be before May or after September. Who knows, maybe I will write my first book here. The church bells beat 12 times, time for us to go to our hotel and sleep. I know that I will visit this cozy little place again. k HDN