Monday, 25 May 2009

Bodrum, Turkey



We never intended to include Bodrum in the itinerary for our round-Turkey trip last summer. As I have said in an earlier posting (http://http://worldteacher-andrea.blogspot.com/2009/05/hisaronu-guilty-pleasure.html), I associate the place with young British holidaymakers looking for sun, sea, and sex, washed down with plenty of alcohol; as such, it is a place we would normally avoid like the plague. However, when planning our tour, we really liked the idea of leaving Istanbul by train and returning by sea, a wish that could only be realised by taking he twice-weekly service from Bodrum. With this in mind, we made our travel arrangements, including a one-day, two-night stay in the town as our ferry from Rhodes did not match up with the boat to Istanbul on the same day. In the event, the service to Istanbul was cancelled, so we were unable to return home by sea, but, by the time that happened, all of our other arrangements were in place, so we were stuck with our time in Bodrum.

We hoped that the resort would exceed our expectations (remember Hisarönü?), but, on this occasion, we were to be disappointed! The whole place had a scruffy, untidy air with litter everywhere. The beaches, such as there were, were man-made and not at all attractive, and, yet, they were, like every other part of the town, extremely crowded, largely with lobster-red, beer-swilling, British and German tourists. Eating out on the two evenings that we were there, was, we found, an expensive business compared with elsewhere in Turkey, and the food was, at best, mediocre.

Bodrum’s only saving grace, well worth its 10TL entrance fee, was the castle perched above the town and affording spectacular views of it and the surrounding area. It was built by the Knights of St. John from 1406 to 1522 on top of the remains of Turkish and Byzantine fortresses. It is billed as the largest monument constructed by the English outside of England, and is certainly an impressive structure. It was relinquished to the Turks on January 5th, 1523 after the conquest of Rhodes. The castle is well-preserved. Parts of it house interesting collections including an underwater museum. The gardens within the castle walls are also well-maintained, and offer a pleasant, shady place to rest a while away from the searing heat.

So, to sum up, if you are in Bodrum, don’t miss the castle, but, if you weren’t planning to be there, then don’t make a special journey!

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