Beautiful Bodrum!!!

Trip Start Nov 05, 2008
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14
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Trip End Nov 25, 2008


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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Thursday, November 20, 2008

So yesterday morning, in the unfaltering rain, we were chauffeured by our generous pension owner to the junction road where we would take the bus to Bodrum. We were both a bit tired from the events of the night before and despairing that the rain would never cease. Sometime around 4 AM, at the height of the storm, we were both startled awake by a crack of lightning that had sounded alarmingly close. We peered through the lace curtains that covered our windows overlooking the main street. At first, all we could see where the forks of blue light snapping between the surrounding hills and the darkened sky. All of a sudden, Denis smells smoke. Down the road, perhaps 200 yards, it becomes evident that something is on fire. As we watch through the sheets of rain, the orange glow becomes brighter, the flames now higher than the building we know is a small market we had passed that day on our walk to the beach. No one seems to be responding to the blaze. For several minutes we ask ourselves if we should do something, call someone. Finally a car's headlights cut the darkness. A man is running towards the blaze. We find out in the morning from Aidin, the attendant from the pension, that it had been an electrical fire caused by a downed cable that had set a single tree ablaze. His family's home is just up the hill. He was worried.
The bus trip to Bodrum was a twofer. First we had to get a bus to Fetiyeh, the nearest large resort town spoiled by droves of Russian prostitutes and Western European retirees, then transfer for the longer haul(5 hours) to Bodrum. We had planned to break the journey into two legs but the constant rain convinced us that the day would best be spent warm and dry, if not completely comfortable in a bus. We are also beginning to feel a bit squeezed for time and Bodrum is a better launch point for our flight from Izmir back to Istanbul before heading home.
Bodrum is a beautiful seaside resort town. In the past decade or so it has become the playground of the Turkish upper class, international stars ( Elton John has a home here,) and mostly European tourists. Now, during the Low Season, when prices halve for almost everything, the town is mostly filled with Turkish tourists and the occasional Brit. There isn't a lot going on in the name of history or culture in Bodrum with the exception of The Underwater Archaeological Museum, an extremely well curated collection of treasures reclaimed from the hundreds of boats that came to harm in this part of the Mediterranean.
Hey Don,.. you would love it here. Everything, every building, hotel, restaurant is painted white!
Yesterday when we arrived, we had chosen one of the hotels listed in Lonely Planet but had not booked it. We arrived at the bus station (otogar= otojar) took our bearings and head in the direction of the harbor. The Artemis proved to be a lovely modern hotel just feet away from the water. D and I did a little oh-we-cant- pay-that-much razzle dazzle and got the room on the second floor with the sea view for 10 lira less. Hey... with all the competition, it was worth a try and it worked.
We put our bags in the room and head out to discover the secrets of the long promenade that winds along the water's edge. To the left was a succession of bars, restaurants, clubs and lounges. To the right more of the same and a heavy dose of trendy and high end retailers selling mostly clothes, shoes and watches.
We were hungry after our 7 hours of bus travel, so we settled in at a cute, atmospheric restaurant on the water which would prove to be the unluckiest of choices for Denis.
Denis has food poisoning. He had had some troubles during the night and woke up feeling as fragile as glass. He muscled through our tour of the Underwater Museum but was soon too green about the gills for anything but a nap. A long nap. While I let him sleep it off and planted myself on the sunny terrace of our hotel with a Efes beer and my new book, This much I know is true, by Wally Lamb. I didn't get much reading done but the people watching was fantastic.
The mood here is very chill and laid back. Maybe just the time of year. A bit surprisingly, there are extremely few trinket shops and fewer carpet peddlers. In some ways, Turkey seems receded, overtaken by a more ambiguous, European veneer. I took a long walk by myself around town to take its measure. The profusion of signage on the streets feels more overwhelming when you cant read them. That said, Denis and I are adding to our Turkish vocabulary everyday. It can be a tough go at times when you leave the tourist strip as you're not certain to find anyone who speaks English. It has definitely been helpful to learn a few words and phrases if only for the smiles of appreciation (ridicule?) that even the smallest attempts can illicit. One joke that begins to wear thin are the calls of "Obama" as I walk by. All over this country, everyone is happy that Obama is our new president. "Turkey and America," they say, holding two fingers together, "are like this."
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Comments

madlionden
madlionden on

All better Denis?
Hope you are better, dear Denis. Am loving your missives. Keep 'em comin'.
Obama 08!

jaymay
jaymay on

OY!
Hugo, you should be writing for a travel mag; you're so eloquent, descriptive, and articulate! I feel like I'm there.

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