Beautiful town doesn't look Turkish

Trip Start May 30, 2010
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Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Friday, June 11, 2010

I decided to take a day trip from Kos Town to Bodrum, Turkey since the two are so close together.  Bodrum is about 45 minutes by slow boat from Kos Town costing only 18 euros round-trip.  The boat left Kos at 9:15 am and returned from Bodrum at 4:15 pm giving us 5 hours in Bodrum.  The border checks were fairly time consuming and cut into our visit.

The ferry ride was smooth and it was nice sitting out on the deck reading.  I had thought Bodrum was the closest point in Turkey to Greece but that's not the case.  Bodrum is further inland along the peninsula but has always been the sister city to Kos Town. 

My trusty guidebook (although a Greek island hopping guide) covers Bodrum briefly since you can take boats to Greece from Bodrum.  The book called Bodrum "easily the most attractive of the ports on the Turkish seaboard" so I was sufficiently enticed to visit.  The guidebook was actually accurate with this assessment and I was definitely glad to have visited.

On arrival in Bodrum there is a long walk along the harbor to the heart of the town.  On the way were plenty of smiling faces and much less aggressive salesmen than on Mykonos or some of the other Greek islands.  The Castle of St. Peter which houses the unique Museum of Underwater Archeology anchors the harbor area.  It was my first stop but I was told that the museum would not accept euros so I had to walk back down the promenade in search of an ATM.  I pondered how unfriendly this is for tourists but didn't want to miss seeing the castle.

Since I was already back in town I decided to save the castle for later and starting walking towards the ruins of the Mausoleum, one of the seven ancient wonders in the world.  It's certainly not one of the better know wonders but I thought I'd see what was there. 

In ancient times Bodrum was known as Halicarnassos.  The most famous of the early rulers was Mausolus (377-353 BC), thanks to the tomb commissioned by his wife, Artemisia II.  This huge tribute to Mausolus was built in 351 BC and survived intact until the 12th century when it suffered earthquake damage. It was finally demolished by the Knights of St. John in 1522, when the stones were used to strengthen the castle.  Sadly at the sight of the famous Mausoleum little exists today to show visitors what was once there.  A couple of models are on display but they don't convey the size of the ancient structure well. 

I then walked uphill to see the ancient theater on the hillside.  The theater is undergoing archaeological work but looked in very good condition with great views of the harbor.  Unfortunately there were not any explanatory signs and my guidebook didn't have any information either so it was hard to know the history behind the theater.

Back downhill I strolled along the attractive palm-lined promenade to the castle.  At the entrance there are a couple of statues of the most famous resident of ancient Bodrum, Herodotus (484-429 BC).  The so-called Father of History detailed the war between Persia and the Greek states with one of the most readable of ancient books. The Castle of St. Peter is in great condition considering it was built between 1402-37 (Columbus wasn't yet born!).  The castle is larger than the one in Kos and features several impressive watchtowers.  This created a Stairmaster effect as I toured the castle and counted my blessings that I had trained for this.  Many of the foreign tourists seemed more content at the castle cafe. 

The castle has also been turned into a museum housing extensive underwater relics found on ancient wrecks excavated during the 1970s.  There were urns, vases, coins and parts of these ships dating back 3000 years in cases.  It was quite interesting and a great way to make touring the castle more enjoyable.  My time in Bodrum was about up so I began the walk back to the port. 

The town streets are pedestrian-only along the route and lined with shops, restaurants and bars.  The main drag is one block inland from the harbor with the businesses between offering great views of the harbor and seaside seating.  The streets were fairly crowded with tourists as were the beaches along the harbor.  The beaches were small pebbles and pretty narrow so they didn't look very attractive.  Much nicer beaches are just outside of town but time constraints wouldn't allow me to visit on this trip. 

Bodrum was easily the prettiest Turkish town I've visited and on par with the prettiest Greek villages.  It is very tourist-friendly and offers plenty to occupy a full day.  To see the lovely beaches it's best to take one of the gulets for a few days to cruise the coast.  Bodrum is the perfect hub though with something for everyone.
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Mike Ball on

Beautiful Bodrum!

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