And then on Saturday…

…we woke up to this view:

That’s Maiden’s Castle out there. It’s also often called Castle in the Sea, for obvious reasons. It’s not actually floating, of course, and it’s not truly that far off shore. It’s one of the things that makes Kizkalesi a popular destination, and people regularly swim out to it or use one of the plentiful paddle boats to reach it and climb around. (One of the fun–if a bit hair-raising–things that we’re discovering about sight seeing around here is that most ruins and tourist sites are relatively unsupervised. While this means no fences and railings to get in the way of amazing views and great pictures, it also means no fences and railings separating you from oceans or cliffs–eep!)

In any case, seeing this view promptly brought took us back into, “HOLY COW, THIS ISN’T VIRGINIA BEACH, IT’S THE MEDITERRANEAN!!!” mode and we decided to take Sadie on an early morning beach stroll before breakfast was served at 8am. (Yes, the hotel is also dog-friendly.)

Sadie, as usual, is skeptical. Clearly, I'm not...

With that face you'd think I dunked her in freezing water. It was quite warm, honestly...

Here’s a morning view of the castle:

After a nice outdoor breakfast of little omelets, sliced tomatoes, cheese, olives, and about six types of homemade jams, we spent the rest of the morning on the beach.

Now, I know that folks have told us that Kizkalesi is far from the best beach destination in Turkey, and based the reports of the massive, rowdy crowds that apparently descend on this little town in July and August, I believe it. BUT, I still must say that I have never personally experienced such clear, warm waters in all of my life!

Swimming in those turquoise waters with views of two (yes, two–more on the second later) ancient castles and being surrounded by a curving narrow beach full of colorful umbrellas and backed by white plaster buildings gave me the unmistakable feeling that I was somewhere else, in the best possible way. I’ve heard people refer to the Turkish Mediterranean coast as the Turkish Riviera, and now I completely understand why. Kizkalesi has the small-scale yet long-established beachy vibe that I’d imagine encountering in the south of France. There were no towering hotels or aquariums or gigantic seafood restaurants. But, there were plenty of boardwalk stands selling dried fruit and pumpkin seeds and toasted sunflower seeds served in paper cones. Small hotels abound, of course, but, on the outside, it’s hard to distinguish many of them from the apartment buildings mixed right in.

After heading back to the hotel in the early afternoon for some snacks to tide us over until dinner, we decided to walk around the town and see if we could figure out if the other castle–the Castle by the Sea–could be reached without getting back in the car.

And, finally, before heading out to dinner, we took a moment to observe Saadet’s pet squirrels. There are no wild squirrels in Turkey–just plenty of crazy birds and lizards to fill in the gap. Kind of like chinchillas in the U.S., squirrels are sold as pets. These two were raised from tiny babies and apparently sleep in bed with Saadet and Patrick. To each his own, I suppose!

These two started having a bit of fun, shall we say, when we walked by. For tastefulness' sake, maybe it's a good thing that they were too quick for me to get the shot I was initially after...

For dinner, we joined another family that we knew from base and ate somewhat unremarkable food and listened to an equally unremarkable singer playing covers of songs that were, perhaps, a bit out of his vocal range. Needless to say, we were all happy to go wander around for some ice cream! šŸ™‚

The next day we got much more up-close-and-personal with the castle by the sea. More to come!


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