Turkish Vacation: Bodrum (Part I)

Our week-long vacation started out in Bodrum, which is about 3 hours south of Izmir. Bodrum is well-known as a Turkish vacation hotspot, where Turkish celebrities, foreigners, and Turks from far and near come to enjoy the seafood, sun and nightlife.

The moment that we arrived in Bodrum, I knew I wasn’t in Izmir anymore. Tourist flooded the center, girls walked around in bikini tops, guys were shirtless, and every other store was selling souvenirs marked in both Turkish lira and Euros.

We stayed in the Kaya Pensiyon, which was located right off of one of the main thoroughfares, down a quiet side street. This pensiyon was the perfect place to escape the relentless energy of Bodrum. There was a shaded courtyard where we had an elaborate spread every morning for breakfast that included olives, cheese, jam, bread, hard boiled eggs, and tea, while the resident cat Shelia would sunbathe nearby.

Our pension was located five minutes away from Bodrum’s harbor, and the city center was compact enough so that we could walk everywhere.  At night we would always walk to the Eastern side of the city where all the best restaurants and cafes were situated. We ate pizza and a highly recommended fish soup at a place called Sünger (Sponge). Another night we had köfte a few doors down at Liman Köftecisi.

One of our favorite places to go after dinner was the local Starbucks, because it was situated in a three-story house. Each room had tables, and the top stories had spectacular views of the harbor. Plus the whole building had air-conditioning, which was so welcoming considering temperatures hovered around the mid-90’s every day.

On our second day in Bodrum we went on a boat tour. I was a little hesitant to be on a small boat all day, due to some bad experiences on previous trips, but the weather couldn’t have been better, and the sea was very calm. It was a last minute decision, and we bought our tickets minutes before the boat took off. It was a good sized boat, that held about 30 passengers. We stopped at five different islands, where the boat would anchor, and we could jump off the boat into the turquoise waters for a refreshing dip. Lunch was included and it was a delicious meal of stir-fried chicken, rice and salad. Towards the end of the day, we spotted a playful dolphin try to race our boat for a little while. The boat trip was definitely the highlight of Bodrum.

On the third day we took a tour of the surrounding towns on the Bodrum Peninsula, ate gözleme (a stuffed Turkish crepe) and marveled at the coastlines. At dusk, we stopped at a recommended bar/restaurant famous for its seaside view and saw a huge Turkish movie star (Tom Cruise status). But of course, I had no idea who he was, and instead was busy taking artistic pictures of my homemade lemonade drink.

On our last day we went to Bitez, which is known for it picturesque beach. On our way back we stopped at Bitez Mantıcı, where they supposedly had the best mantı in the region. This restaurant may be famous for Mantı, but I hardly noticed because this is where I was introduced for the first time to çi börek, which is a hot puffed-up pastry stuffed with spiced ground beef. I liked them so much that I ordered another one. It was that good.