When you only have one day to explore a new country, it can be hard to get a true flavour for where you are visiting. But during our few hours in Bodrum, Turkey we experienced a culture and people subtly but significantly different from the Greek life we had left across the water.
An and Kiki, our Airbnb hosts, gave us a lift to Kos Town Harbour for our 9:15 ferry crossing to Bodrum. We check in and grabbed a coffee before going through passport control and boarding the Maria Star. The journey took nearly an hour and we went further round the coast than we expected. We soon spotted Bodrum’s famous castle protruding from the harbour filled with fluttering red flags – like Vietnam, I think Turkey’s national flag is strong due to its bright red colour with a central, easily recognisable symbol.
We wandered the streets of the old town tourist shops, which were charming enough but you could tell you were in Asia from the way vendors on all sides were trying to sell us stuff – it wasn’t quite Cambodia but it was a different flavour to our Greek experience across the water.
Back around the harbour we headed up Hamam Sokak (‘Sokak’ is ‘street’ in Turkisj, and is usually abbreviated to ‘Sk.’) and along Turgutreis Cadessi (‘Caddesi’ is ‘road’, shortened to ‘Cd.’ or ‘Cad.’) to the Mausoleum of Mausolos at Helicarnassus (Helicarnassus being Bodrum’s former name).
The Mausoleum was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was the epitome for all future mausoleums and inspired architecture all over the world for 2,400 years. It was destroyed by earthquakes centuries ago but it’s really cool that its design is still in use today – in its day it would have been incomparable in size and ambition. To walk around the ruins is to learn how incredible the Mausoleum was just at its foundations, which are on multiple levels. We were also able to walk around underground passages of adjacent ancient memorial sites. For eight Turkish Lira (about £2.30/$3.80USD/€2.70) it’s about the best value historic cite I have seen worldwide.
We strolled up to Uzunkuyu Sk., which led us to the Bodrum bypass dual carriageway, a noisy change from the tranquil Mausoleum. Across the highway we had a great view of the antique theatre whilst the marina was laid out dazzlingly on the other side. We dropped down back on to Turgutreis Cd. and strolled all the way to Bodrum Bazaar. The Bazaar is only open on Tuesdays which we were slightly disappointed by as it wasn’t a Tuesday when we went, but many stalls were open on the Thursday of our visit so we got a nice flavour without the madness of Bazaar day, which I suspect is almost as intense as Saigon’s indoor marketplace in Vietnam.
Down Cevat Şakir street, past the bus station, we had lunch at a place called Usto Bistro, where I finally got to have a proper Turkish kebab, which was delicious. After that we slowly made our way over to Kumbahçe Beach and had a local Turkish beer right by the water’s edge. A beer garden on the beach is an excellent idea in my book and when the sun popped behind a cloud our waiter brought us blankets to stay warm – you couldn’t ask for any more, you truly couldn’t.
Back at the Mausoleum you could only pay the entry fee in Turkish lira, so we used our Euros at a shop across the street to buy a Sprite and asked for change in lira. We then wound up not having enough lira for lunch so had to pay in euros (paying in euros costs more than in lira). Our remaining lira we spent on beer which left us only euros for souvenirs as we wandered past the Cumhuriyet Street shops, through Hilmi Uran Square and back to the shops on Dr. Alimbey Street.
Throughout my world travels I’ve and a thing about collecting a shot glass for each country I visit, but I also have a thing about consistently forgetting to do this. Fortunately in this, my 19th country, I remembered. Jodes also got us a fridge magnet and I got two great quality Tommy Hilfiger check shirts for €35. Kiki later told us that many quality clothing items are made in Turkey hence you get such good bargains in Bodrum.
We boarded the Maria Star and sat on the top deck, giving us magnificent views all the way back to Greece. Back in Kos Town we grabbed Mythos beers, savoury crepes (I had a turkey one in honour of our Turkey trip) and some delicious strawberry ice cream at Gossip Cafe in Kazouli Square. The sun was setting as we walked all the way back to Platani town and as usual ended the day climbing the hill back to An’s with the now standard breathtaking view behind us. It had been yet another brilliant day.