Bodrum surprised us in many ways. Mind you, we didn’t come with tons of information. We hadn’t seen pictures, hadn’t made plans. We just drifted.
What we knew of Turkey’s tourism is mostly influenced by our experiences in Kusadasi. Kusadasi is a big holiday resort for package deal tourists from the colder parts of Europe. A place where you cannot walk past a single shop or restaurant without being harassed by the owners, waiters or salespeople. Shops that are all selling the same things, leather goods, carpets, brass. Like a big, annoying tourist trap.
Where the stars like to take time out
So when we arrived in Bodrum it was a pleasant surprise. You cannot compare Bodrum to a regular beachside resort. Bodrum is special. It is pretty and elegant, laid back and grown-up. If you are looking for some relaxing days under the hot Turkish sun, where the waters are crystal clear and iridescent blue and the people are friendly but not too intrusive then Bodrum is your best choice.
No wonder the international jetset has long discovered Bodrum as Mediterranean alternative to places like Nice and Marbella. It ticks all the boxes, and there are plenty of luxury villas dotting the hillside around the town centre that come with all the perks as well as views to die for. Catherine Zeta-Jones likes to holiday in Bodrum, and so does Tom Cruise. Soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo has been spotted frolicking here on a super yacht.
Speaking of the hot Turkish sun – it is 37 degrees on the day that we visit. There are not many things that you can do if the mercury hits these heights, but that’s ok because Bodrum will cater for this. The beach bars that line the shallow pebble beach with their comfortable chairs and colourful pillows look extremely inviting. The restaurants that wait for customers along the harbour have shady open spaces, perfect for a delicious light meal of fried fish and grilled vegetables.
Relax or explore, the choice is yours
Tarpaulin and bougainvillea provide shade in the shopping streets. You will find temptations at every corner. A variety of beautiful things to take home – souvenirs, art, clothes, homewares. The streets are meticulously clean and offer the perfect illusion of a carefree holiday feel. The shop owners are not trying to push as aggressively but they are open for a friendly chat if you show interest. Art is omnipresent; for a couple of euros we purchase small amulets and bracelets made of bottle glass that the artist makes right in front of our eyes.
Of course we are not just here to soak up the cool, relaxed vibe. You know me too well. We are on our way to the castle of St John. It’s the domineering structure in Bodrum, an imposing medieval fortress that the Templars of St John build with building stones from the nearby Mausoleum. The latter is the other big attraction that you can visit while in Bodrum. The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus is one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
We will talk about the fortress next week on the blog. For now, just lean back and relax and enjoy the sunny Mediterranean views of water so blue that it hurts your eyes. Bodrum is a great alternative if you are looking for a relaxing holiday in the sun that comes with that little bit extra luxury. I let the photos speak for themselves.