An hour’s flight from Istanbul takes you to a tiny coastal town on the Aegean coast of Turkey that is a favourite with of Americans and Europeans during summer. Called Bodrum, the town houses many foreigners, mostly British, who have bought houses as summer getaways or retirement homes.
Our friend who has a seaside mansion in Göltürkbükü, has been staying there for the last four years and she claims she is the only Indian in that part of Turkey. Her house offered a spectacular view of the Aegean from every corner. Like many retired people she stays alone and considers Bodrum the safest place in the world. Throughout the year, family, friends, and relatives visit her. My wife and I went during the winter, in February. The town was virtually empty with a population of barely 30,000. It goes up to half a million in summer.
An idyllic setting
With its magnificent coastline, crystal blue waters and long stretches of sandy beaches, Bodrum is like a painting come to life. Whitewashed houses dot the seaside and the hills are covered with pine trees and olive groves. A land of stunning beauty, Bodrum offers visitors a combination of sun, sea, mountain and lakes in the most tranquil and idyllic surroundings.
The Aegean shore has some of the most awesome views in all of Turkey. There is magic in the air. The weather is enviable. Winters are not severe and budget-conscious tourists can get off-season discounts from travel to room rates. Hotels usually quote 50 per cent less in the months of January and February. Unlike other holiday resorts, Bodrum does not shut down as the end of summer approaches. It continues an active, if less hectic, life of its own. The colourful bazaars are open on pre-scheduled days. So avoiding the din of the summer months is not such a bad idea. You can take in the place at a leisurely pace and enjoy its comforts like we did.
The Bodrum harbour or marina has long palm-lined waterfronts located in a natural and beautiful bay. It is, in fact, the starting point for the famous Blue Cruise. In summer there are daily boat trips from any of the local beaches to Bodrum harbour and daily ferries to the Greek island of Kos. One can even rent boats for a few hours. International boat and yacht races are held here every October.
Bodrum also has a throbbing night life, that’s comparable to Istanbul’s. Bar Street, which runs parallel to the sea, is, as the name suggests, choc-a-bloc with bars, restaurants and cafés. Nightclubs and discos are open till the wee hours. Europe’s largest outdoor disco and nightclub Halikarnas is located here. Numerous restaurants where you can enjoy the day’s fresh catch dot the marina.
Shops selling clothes, precious stone bracelets, evil eye beads, key chains,turkish towels, napkins and carpets line the narrow cobbled streets. You might have some trouble bargaining, as English is not common. Luckily, Turkish shares words with Hindi.
Lal Thadani is a reader of Away & Beyond