Bodrum for an amazing value holiday in the sun

By | Category: Travel destinations
Looking down on the beaches around Bodrum

Looking down on the beaches around Bodrum

Now is a fantastic time to visit Turkey with really cheap hotel prices. Bodrum is on a peninsula where the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas meet and offers sun, royal blue seas, and plenty to do. Beaches surround the peninsula, some sandy, while others have pebbles with the more secluded ones only accessible by gulet or motorboat. The majority of hotels also have enticing swimming pools. Most people holiday in Bodrum for the beaches and the sun but  Natasha Blair turns her back on that and looks at what else the area has to offer.

Resorts are dotted around the Peninsula with the town of Bodrum, its name derived from the Apostle St Peter, being where all the action is. Cafes and restaurants line the promenade, many open until the early hours of the morning. Behind them are winding streets filled with shops selling copy designer handbags, trainers, and tourist trinkets. Erman, our guide told us that we should never buy anything for the asking price, as haggling is the traditional way of buying things.

The castle, the focal point in Bodrum, was built by the Knight Crusaders, and is also home to the Underwater Archeology Museum. Housed in various buildings within the castle’s grounds, within one of them are the remains of the world’s oldest shipwreck, dating back to the fourteenth century BC. Towers are dedicated to the country where a knight came from with several from European countries including England.

my gulet trip on the Afroditi © Suzanne van der Veeken, @'The Oceanpreneur

my gulet trip on the Afroditi © Suzanne van der Veeken, @’The Oceanpreneur

The harbour is filled with impressive looking sailing boats several of which can be hired in their entirety or its possible, as I did, to join other visitors in spending a day at sea. The area tends to be windy so it is ideal for all water sports. My day out on the 33m Afroditi, a traditional wooden gulet was, for me, the highlight of my visit. I personally can’t sit in the sun but the back part had a cover with comfortable lounging pillows. I was able to enjoy the experience without being worried about getting sunburnt. Lunch, at a long table, included a selection of meze, starters put in the middle, and shared by everyone. Dishes included saksuka, fried eggplant with garlic, green pepper and potato in a tomato sauce; and haydari, garlic infused yoghurt with mint. Turkish music was then put on and the cook gave us a belly dancing demonstration. We docked in Poyraz Bay, and virtually everyone went in the water either diving in from the boat or like me, more demurely walking down the steps. Although none of us had water skies, Barbaros, the gulet’s owner told us that it was possible to water ski from the back of the boat.

an evening meal in Gumugluk

an evening meal in Gumusluk

Gumusluk is a really pretty part of the peninsula. My first impression was of a similarity to St Tropez in France with outdoor fish restaurants along the seashore, decorated with fairy lights. The sunset along the coast is spectacular, and sitting watching the fiery red ball descend into the ocean, which happens fairly quickly, is a must-see on a visit. Expect to see a red shiny ball transforming into shades of orange and yellow as it disappears into the skyline.

Turkey is famous for its hamans or Turkish Baths. It is a wonderful way to detox. I lay on a hot marble slab in a heated room and once my body had heated up a masseuse came and exfoliated my skin. This was followed by a wash in a ball of soap suds in a special way that allowed my pours to open making it easier to massage and allow the toxins to escape. After which I was taken to a quiet room to relax. A very special experience which left my skin glowing. A haman has two hot rooms, one for men and the other for women or the times are alternated so that people of the opposite sex don’t mix. Some of the hamans can be quite seedy so it’s important to go to one that is recommended.

the Roman amphitheatre

the Greek amphitheatre

Away from the sea, I joined a group for a Land Rover excursion driving along gravel roads high into the mountains. Vistas of the coastline and sea lay far below us. In the village of Sazköy we visited a carpet factory where the ladies produce handmade rugs in a multitude of colours and designs. Mustafa, our driver, and owner of the company Difference Outdoor explained that it is possible to tell the situation of the person, always a female, who weaved the rug by looking at its tassels. Depending on the design indicates whether she is single, married, or looking for someone.

Within walking distance of Bodrum is a Greek fourth century BC amphitheatre originally seating up to 10,000. An impressive section seating 4,000 remains, and concerts are held here in July and August. Several day trips to archeological sites include Ephesus and Stratonikeia, a Greek/Roman settlement built in the third century BC only discovered in the past thirty years, and where further excavation is currently being carried out.

Turkey produces its own wine, which is cheap. Efes is the local beer, and Raki, an aniseed- flavoured aperitif the country’s local drink. As the area is by the sea the fish is extremely fresh. Local catches include sea bass, sea bream, and red mullet. Turkish delight is another delicacy, and comes in numerous flavours. My favourite is made with pistachios. Olive trees are everywhere and olive oil produced locally, and used a lot in the cooking. Star ratings do not equate with the UK so it’s important to check out a hotel before you commit to make sure it lives up to your expectations. Remember to take mosquito lotion with you.

shopping in Bodrum

shopping in Bodrum

UK visitors require a visa to enter the country. An eVISA can be bought on-line and is well worth doing as it saves time, and any hassles on arrival.

Sixteen airports in the UK have direct links to Bodrum making it one of the most easily accessible holiday sun destinations for British holidaymakers. For those based in the south east, the non-stop Gatwick Express  takes 30 minutes from London Victoria. Discounts are available on-line. Southern rail also goes there although the travelling time is longer as it stops at stations on the way. Stansted Express goes direct to Stansted airport in 47 minutes from London Liverpool Street station. There are also coach options from various parts of the country.

To read more of Natasha’s blog, click here or go to http://wp.me/p2aSAM-hs

For more about Bodrum, click here or go to www.bodrum.bel.tr. For more about Turkey, click here.

 

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