When the snow stopped being beautiful and just became a pain in London this March, the icy weather put a damper on any plans we might have had for end of term. It was unanimously decided amongst a group of friends that we needed to get out of that country, to warmer lands, and quick. Figuring out where to go was a bit of a mission to say the least. But a combination of the quest for the best priced flight tickets available and the hottest place within reach brought us our winner: we were heading to Bodrum, Turkey this summer.
(We did have to wait till exams were done; such is the limited life of a university student)
Quick fact file on Bodrum: (we didn’t know much about it either)
Located: Southwestern Aegean region of Turkey
Population: Quite tiny
Weather: Very, very hot
Our resort being outside of Bodrum City, we’d hop on the local dolmus bus for a bumpy ride to the town centre most days. We can’t really say how long the trip was because it ranged from 20 minutes to an hour and 40 minutes, depending on the driver’s mood really, and how many stops he decided to take on the way.
Since the only word of Turkish we could speak was “oniki”, these journeys were pretty disastrous. Oniki is 12. The number. And as you can imagine it wasn’t a terribly useful word. It did turn out entertaining though when we tried desperately to dissuade our rogue drivers from taking us on the “scenic” route home, which they tended to do most of the time.
It did give us a chance to admire the area’s beautiful landscape – which was almost Grecian with its whitewashed houses littered amongst the sparse shrub, reddish muds, on a backdrop of those beautiful, clear blue skies.
Our days in Turkey were spent mostly by the pool, or on the beach – soaking up the much-missed sun and lying around doing basically nothing. The city was always an adventure – getting there was as exciting as wandering around the pretty streets and making friends with the charming and cheeky shopkeepers.
We met Mehmet our first day in Bodrum, and we never missed going back there. He entertained us with silly jokes, and gave us cup after cup of complimentary apple tea – a sweet and delicious drink that we found was typically Turkish.
The beaches around the area are mostly rocky and quiet (read: boring) but we did manage to find Gumbet beach – which was sandy and lively, populated by pink and purple deck chairs, offered up by the many restaurants along the beach. Pamphlets to partake in exciting water sports and catalogues of designs for henna tattoos were waved in our faces as we made friends with the many restaurant owners who gave us good deals on their cocktails. Bodrum is a typical tourist town in that bargaining and flirting is almost a rite of passage – without it you’re probably sitting alone in the sand, no beach chair or drink for company.
On the subject of food, we were kind of unsuccessful. Although we made it our mission to try as many locally made Turkish dishes as possible, we ended up feasting on a kebab, (or kebap, as they call it there) – a sandwich of grilled meat or chicken with salad in a “bap” bread, doused in ketchup if it was too dry. It was excellent: cheap and filling, not nearly as disgusting as it sounds from this description.
Baklawa we thoroughly enjoyed (some of us more than others) and so we purchased a piece to share each day at our local Migros – the Turkish supermarket – as we took refuge in the air conditioning while we waited for our dolmus to rattle up the hill to us.
We attempted to fulfill our Turkish food quota on one occasion with the seemingly popular "Turkish breakfast". It was an unsual mix of breakfast foods that although tasty, left us unsure as to how authentic it was, with the nutella and well... the obvious randomness of it all.
Breakfast of champions?
One gorgeous Sunday, the eight of us made our way onto a cute little boat for an out-to-sea adventure. We planned to spend the day drinking beer and wine on deck, lying in the sun, and for the more energetic of us, jumping into the water at our designated stops along the way.
The sea was about twelve different shades of blue; crystal clear at points and an unfathomable deep blue at others. While we admired the islands around us – the rocky beaches and the houses like tiny white pieces of lego, the boat took us to a few spots ideal for swimming and snorkeling. Unfortunately there really weren’t many (or any) fish to see so for those of us keen snorkelers, this was a bit disappointing.
Our captain was quite the character – he seemed to be breeding ducks on his boat, and seized this opportunity at sea to host a wild party for his own family. In between old-school love songs (Titanic, believe it or not) the system boomed out some rowdy Turkish tunes, and his family were tipsy enough by the end of the evening to take over the entire front of the boat and dance boisterously while the sun set. They pulled us in to join their circle of fun, and even brought the baby ducks out too, to enjoy the show.
Timi and us at cocktail hour at Turkuaz - our resort
Bodrum was no less beautiful at night, when it was cooler and more people – locals and tourists alike come out to play. The main strip on the pier is filled with restaurants on the sand by the water, serving dinner or drinks by candle light. While the sun set around us, the city was lit up in a rainbow of colour by the numerous bars and clubs around the water.
If you want a few sunny days, a warm welcome from the locals and a load of laughs, we definitely recommend Bodrum for a holiday! Although bear in mind it does get very hot in the summer so April or May might be more pleasant if you’d prefer the heat not to get in the way of sightseeing. There is a lot to see in Bodrum – a castle, an underwater museum for the more adventurous holiday-ers out there but we seemed to never make it off the beach or out of the markets in time to do any rigorous sight seeing. There are a large number of resorts in the area for any number of people in a group, and they make it extremely easy for you to get to the city.
Warning though: the dolmus, reliable as it is, stops running at midnight or so, therefore taxis are necessary to get you back (they drive much in the same manner as the dolmus so you get the same treatment, except that it’s a bit it more expensive.)
So our Bodrum adventure was most definitely a success – maybe we’ll even go back someday? Thanks to Inga Campos Da Silva and Patrick Bridge (as well as ourselves) for the pictures.
More holiday posts to follow soon, hopefully…
Riana and Regina xxx