After our Cappadocia trip, we flew back to Istanbul, catching quickly another domestic flight that took us to Bodrum on the southern coast of Turkey. We arrived at lunch time and met up with our hosts, Jack & Yvonne, at the boat.
The boat is a wonderful 70 ft motor sailboat, a copy of the German-made Jongert, a boat that Jack has admired for many years. When he saw it for sale last September in Bodrum, he bought it that same day. Very spacious, especially with deck space, making it more comfortable cruising than your traditional monohull sailboat. This would end up actually end up being more of a “motoring” than a “sailing” trip, as there were adjustments still needed to be made to the sails, and the the mizzen’s mast was cracked and needed to be repaired. But that didn’t stop us from having a good time!
Jack’s daughter, Kimi, arrived that night and we had dinner together on the boat. The next day was, some shopping at markets, getting last minute provisions, more shopping, check-out at immigration & customs, and again, more shopping. In Bodrum there is an open-air market that sells numerous pirate or copy products, such as shoes, bags, sunglasses and clothing of major name brands in its stores. This is done in many places in the world, however the quality of the materials is superior here, or seems to be, and they are quite blatant with the branding. The logos, the price tags, everything, is like what you’d see on the real thing. So it was hard to keep the women away from the market.
It is being quoted in numerous travel publications and blogs recently that Bodrum, Turkey is the new St. Tropez, but at half the price. I agree, St. Tropez has become overly expensive over the years while Bodrum is affordable and actually offers a whole lot more to do. It will never match the magic and mystique of St. Tropez, but it’s a cute town with lots of potential. They seem to be keeping things in line; it is clean, they keep the harbor clean as well, and they limit buildings to three stories in height.
- Shopping: If you are looking for boot-leg brands at great prices, the covered market here, created in a maze of old streets, has an amazing variety, and it seems to be in most cases decent quality. But check the merchandise carefully for how it’s stitched and materials used.
- Boating: The waterfront is lined with beautiful gullets of all sizes. There may be more here than in Marmaris. Makes for a wonderful walk along the promenade. Many islands and seaside towns to visit, such as Datca across the bay, and the Greek islands of Rhodes and Symi.
- Seaside Boardwalk, Cafes & Restaurants: The boardwalk is a pleasure to walk, with grandiose gullets on one side and restaurants on the other.
- Nightclubs: There’s nightlife as well, with one nightclub that can hold, I’m told, up to 5,000 people. Not my cup of tea, especially as you can hear it into the night from the marina.
We left the Bodrum harbor in the afternoon and headed for our first stop on the peninsula that wraps in front of Bodrum, to the first point and bay along it called Buyuk Koy.
We anchored here, had a dinner of chicken wraps and some turkish that I don’t remember the name, and then settled in for a good night’s sleep. We had to move once during the night as the winds had drastically changed, putting us up close to another stern-tied charter boat, but all was fine after that. On the way over we saw a Greek submarine cruising by and whole lot of gullets and charter sailboats.
The season is just starting and it’s already busy with the better mooring spots often already taken by early afternoon. It must really get crazy here during the summer months. The next morning we made our way over to Datca.
Dacta is a nice town, and was our second overnight out of Bodrum. A smaller version of Bodrum, with seaside restaurants and shops. Had a great dinner at the Emek restaurant just above the port, with a panoramic view of the boardwalk and port. I has the Chicken Strogan (Stroganoff) and it was fantastic, everyone wished they’d ordered it. Another lunch option, if the town is too busy, is the Ilica restaurant a few hundred yards west of the port, with beach lounge chairs and umbrellas, covered-terrace restaurant and a park behind with walking paths, gardens and trees, and a lovely freshwater pond with ducks and fish. The girls found there was good shopping here as well, especially in the carpet shops.
The Greek town of Symi, on the island of Symi, is smaller than Datca, but more picturesque with its homes raising up into the hillside. It seems as if there was just one architect for the town, and it stuck to 2-4 styles an colors for all the homes that are there. Wonderful promenade circles the small harbor, lined with Med-tied sailboats and gullets, with restaurants and shops on the other. We tried to moor right in town, but a strong wind came up and started blowing our bow westerly, which couldn’t be corrected by bringing in more chain. So we had to pull up anchor and moor just outside the harbor. While bringing it up we found why we were being pushed by the wind; our anchor was tangled with an anchor line from another boat across the harbor from us. We brought up their line on the anchor, tied a line to it and then lowered the anchor to free it. Then we brought back up the anchor and released the chain. This is when it’s important to know which knot to tie so you can easily release the chain!
Rhodes is an amazing fortified town on the most northeastern point of the island of Rhodes. Civilization has been there since 2000 BC, but what is most impressive is the town that was mostly constructed and developed by the Knights of Rhodes (later becoming the Knights of Malta when kicked out during a seige by the Ottoman Empire). The small streets are like a maze and it is easy to get lost. Many are so narrow you can touch both sides of the street by extending your arms. It has become quite the tourist attraction, with lots of shops and restaurants. We found the food not as good as in Bodrum and neither the shopping. But a fascinating town to visit.
After Rhodes it was back to Datca for a night and then back into Bodrum for a few days before heading to Istanbul. A great trip!