A few days into my Kos trip, someone asked me if I had been to Bodrum yet. “Is that one of the islands?” I asked in ignorance? Imagine my surprise when I found out it was Turkey, and only a 45-minute ferry ride away! I had an amazing day in Bodrum, Turkey, and to me it will always be the city of wonders.
Getting a Ticket
There is only one ferry that does a day trip to Bodrum. The rest of them leave in the evening and come back the next day. I tried to buy a ticket on line but had problems with the system, so I got on my scooter and rode to the office only to find out they were closed. In fact, many office close for several hours in the afternoon in Greece. With no other options, I decided to show up about an hour before departure the next morning, hoping they would still have available tickets. Success at last! With my ticket in hand I still had time to enjoy a Turkish cup of coffee before the voyage.
The Turkish café near the marina brought me my steaming cup of strong coffee and I asked for some cream or milk. The woman just shook her head, stared at me with a blank face, and walked away. I wasn’t sure if she hadn’t understood me, or worse, maybe I had offended her. That is when a girl at the table next to me spoke up and explained that you don’t put milk or cream in Turkish coffee. It is unfiltered, so all the grounds sink to the bottom of the cup. If you pour milk in it all the coffee grounds will resurface. I asked her if you could then just wait for the grounds to sink to the bottom again before drinking it. She crinkled her brow, looking a little perplexed, but acknowledged that would probably work. A few moments later the woman did bring me some milk after all. It seemed like a pretty big ordeal for a single cup of coffee. The girl next to me also explained that fortune tellers in Turkey look into the grounds of the coffee at the bottom of your cup in order to tell your fortune.
On Our Way
A short time later we got in line for immigration, got our visa stamp, and boarded the ferry. It was 9:15 and already over 80 degrees out. It was going to be very hot day, so I sat in the shade on the lower deck and started chatting with a nice-looking man next to me who was a captain of a private yacht. Another man across from us kept interrupting our conversation. I watched in dismay as these two men basically competed for my attention for the remaining 30 minutes of the trip. It was a boost to my ego but left me wondering if Turkish and Greek men are a bit aggressive. I think the answer to that question is a definite yes, especially when it comes to foreign women.
Before long, the shoreline of Bodrum was getting closer. Scattered around everywhere in the turquoise sea were giant yachts and gorgeous sailboats, everything from huge restored wooden vessels to the ultra-modern and sleek. An ancient castle rose from the shores of the marina looking like something from out of the show Game of Thrones. Only instead of horses out front, there were tons of impatient tourists and opulent yachts. It was all very surreal.
A Turkish Breakfast
After disembarking and saying goodbye to my two new gentlemen friends, I looked for a place to eat because it was after 10:00 and I had skipped breakfast. The super strong cup of Turkish coffee hadn’t settled well in my stomach. My friend, the captain, who had an appointment, suggested a café not far away, so I went to check it out. I think I was their first customer of the day. I had several men waiting on me hand and foot while they served me an enormous breakfast that included fresh breads, several varieties of cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, jam, honey, olives, pancakes, French toast, juice, and of course, more strong coffee. This time I didn’t bother to ask for cream. It was a delicious breakfast! The entire time I was gorging myself a stray cat stared up at me hoping for a bite of something good. I gave it a little cheese but it didn’t eat it. I later realized that stray cats are everywhere in the city.
I spent the next two hours wandering through Bodrum Castle. It is estimated that construction of the castle began around 400 B.C, but when the area was conquered by Alexander the Great a good deal of it was destroyed, and along with it, much of its known history. Today it more of a museum, home to ancient artifacts, including remnants of a shipwreck, coins from as early as the second century, and old pottery and furniture. The view of the harbor from the top of the castle is breathtaking. The creepiness of the dungeon was also fascinating. Old chains are still attached to the ancient walls and it make you wonder about how many poor people were tortured and killed there.
After the castle, I wondered through the streets checking out the local goods from resident artisans. I was most impressed with the leather goods. The shoes were handmade and every bit as good as the ones I had seen in India. In fact, the prices were similar but the styles a little more modern.
For lunch I indulged in some sort of Turkish Gyro sandwich, called a calque. In Arabic they call it a kabab torki. The meat was on a giant rotating spit, but the difference is that potatoes and other vegetables were embedded in the roasting meat. It was truly decadent! As I was walking down the street nibbling on my calque, a good looking Turkish man standing in front of a store asked me if I wanted a Turkish Delight. I hesitated, not sure how to respond and feeling a little apprehensive about what exactly a “Turkish Delight” might be. Then he pointed to one and I felt silly. Turkish delights are similar to what we call Aplets and Cotlets back home in Washington State. They are a fruit flavored kind of gummy treat covered in powder sugar, coconut flakes, or a bunch of other exotic possibilities. The pomegranate was my favorite!
Next to the marina and shops are areas for sunbathers and swimmers to relax. Little colorful umbrellas sit next to padded lounge chairs by the sea. People of all ages, sizes, and nationalities swam or laid in the sun. I saw everything from women in tiny bikinis to women in full burkas. Turkish men mostly wore long Bermuda shorts, but of course many European men were in their little speedos. Waiter brought drinks or food right to your lounge chair. It was a lovely way to pass the remaining time.
We had to board the boat for our trip back to Kos at precisely 4:00 PM. My six hours in Bodrum went by entirely too fast and I wished I had a lot more time. In fact, I liked Bodrum even more than Kos. Bodrum was full of delightful surprises, and that is why I call it the city of wonders.