Saturday, September 10, 2011

"Semi-Live" from Bodrum/Part I

Dear readers,

Greetings from Bodrum! I had mentioned to you in an earlier post that I would be in Bodrum to attend a very good friend's wedding - which is tonight and I am looking forward to it! It will be held at Bianca Beach in Bardakçı Bay and in later posts I will share some "wedding moments" with youé

I arrived in Bodrum on Thursday afternoon and I will be sharing with you the places I went to on that day. For those of you who have been to Bodrum, this could be repetitive info (or not) and is meant to be a mini guide for those who are planning on travelling to this lively, exciting and beautiful resort town in the south of Turkey on the Aegean coast.

My flight from Istanbul to Bodrum via THY (www.thy.com) was at 11:15am and we basically left on time and I arrived in the very very hot Bodrum at around 12:30pm.

Now... the first question to answer was how to get to town. I have been visiting Bodrum at least once a year for the past 10 years - one trip definitely because of my job and the other(s) for pleasure. I was the General Manager and Editor-in-Chief of The Guide Magazines (www.theguideistanbul.com) and we prepared an annual issue of The Guide Bodrum. However, I have been travelling to Bodrum for over 30 years and have a fairly good grasp of the area, but because of my previous job... I had an opportunity to really visit each village, town in the Bodrum peninsula which is quite large, but easy to manuever.

There are several ways you can get to town from the Milas Bodrum Airport: taxi, car rental or bus. Downtown Bodrum is about 40 km from the airport and taxi prices are quite high! For example, the flat rate from the airport to Bodrum is 90 TL and if you were going to Göltürkbükü 100 TL... in other words, it's a lot of money unless of course you are sharing the fare with a couple of people.. then it's not so bad. So, I opted to take the Havaş (www.havas.net) bus which departs after each domestic THY flight arrival. The current price (changes each season) is 18 TL/one way and the ride is about 45 minutes. After swinging by the International Terminal to pick up other passengers, we were on our way. Renting a car is a good option if you want to travel around the peninsula during your stay, because it can get expensive to do so with a taxi. And.. also get a driver from the car rental company .. it doesn't cost that much more and this way you don't have to worry about getting directions or "drinking and driving" which is a definite no-no - especially in Bodrum with its winding and sometimes narrow and poorly lit roads.

The stretch of highway that runs from the airport to Bodrum is quite beautiful and is surrounded with mountains, forests and after about 10 miles - the lovely sea!


Sorry for the quality of some of the photos - it's not very easily taking pictures while the bus is travelling at 100 km/hour!

The first area on the Bodrum peninsula we pass along the way is the small village of Güvercinlik which is about 20 km from Bodrum.

Güvercinlik
There are several holiday villages in Güvercinlik, but I don't suggest you stay here as there is nothing else to do but sun/swim. There are minibuses that go into Bodrum, but it is still better to stay closer to town.

About 10 km before arriving at the turnoff to Torba, Göltürkbükü and Yalıkavak, there are several hotels and holiday villages too (Rixos Bodrum, Kervansaray), but once again - for the same reason, I suggest other lodging alternatives.

Kervansaray Hotel (left hand corner)

Rixos Bodrum Hotel entrance at highway
The Torba intersection is about 10 km from downtown Bodrum. From here, if you turn right, the first village (1 km) is and then Göltürkbükü (10 km), Gündoğan (12 km) and Yalıkavak (15 km) (more on some of these places in other posts). If staying in these villages, you can get off the bus at this turn and then either take a taxi, or if you don't have too many suitcases, you can take a minibus that runs to these villages from the bus terminal in Bodrum. If the minibus is not full, they will take passengers at this intersection. For example, the cost to go to Göltürkbükü is only 4,5 TL - a taxi can cost you at least 50-60 TL! And... at the Torba intersection, if you make a left... you can go to Yalıçiftlik where the gorgeous and super deluxe Kempinski Barbaros Bay Hotel is located.
go straight for Bodrum/right for turnoff to Torba and Yalıçiftlik

Torba highway
As you arrive in the town of Bodrum, the magnificent Bodrum Castle greets you on the right hand side. Built by the Crusaders, it has a long and illustrious history.
Bodrum Castle on far left hand side
The Havaş bus drops off passengers at the bus terminal right in the center of the city right off of Cevat Şakir Street. From here, depending on where you are going in town, you can take a taxi or a intra-city minibus. Once again, this is where you can also take minibuses to all the villages around the Bodrum Peninsula.

I am staying at the 4-star Marina Vista Hotel (www.majesty.com.tr) which is right across the street from the Milta Bodrum Marina on the trendy Neyzen Tevfik Street, so I took a taxi: the ride cost about 11,5 TL. The taximeter is opened at 3,5 TL and then an amount added for each km (I didn't remember to ask how much this was) so even though the hotel is about 1 1,5 km from the bus terminal, the taxi cost was high.
Marina Vista Hotel

Marina Vista Hotel lobby

Marina Vista Hotel swimming pool
My room was ready, so I checked in and immediately set to opening up my suitcase and settling in. I know the GM of the hotel from when he worked at a hotel in Ankara, so I had requested a room with a view of the Marina (there are only 2!) and he was nice enough to oblige me. The room is spacious, very modestly decorated - a bit too sparse for my taste, but it is nice and clean and the bed very comfortable. The best part is the shower! It is so big that 2 people can easily shower together if they wanted too! Of course, I don't know if the showers in all the rooms are this large!
Milta Bodrum Marina & Kahve Dünyası

Neyzen Tevfik Street (left of hotel)

Neyzen Tevfik Street (right of hotel to direction to Bodrum center)
t was now about 2:00pm and I had time to explore and relax before getting together with Zeyno, the "bride" and her family and friends for a "ladies evening out".. or rather bachelorette party at a Greek tavern called Yasu, which is just a few blocks from my hotel.

So, with my camera in hand... I started my walk about. It was nice to see that most of the venues on the few blocks of Neyzen Tevfik Street I walked around were the same: I only noticed two new places.. an Italian ice cream parlor had opened right next door to my hotel (haven't tried it yet) and an Istanbul based eatery called Cookshop had opened. I have been to the Cookshop in Istanbul and it is nice.. serving all sorts of cafe fare along with mains and desserts, so I guess the branch here is ok too... it was crowded.

But the all time favorites.. to include Liman Köftecisi (I think they have the best köfte -Turkish style meatballs - in town and will go there today for lunch); Kocadon - a fine dining eatery in a lovely courtyard; Gemibaşı (longstanding seafood restaurant) and Zazu where I stopped for a glass of white wine and to relax. Zazu is a lounge, cafe & bar and opened several years ago. There is live music from time to time - has an nice ambiance.. the owner (a friend of mine), an ex-Istanbulite has been living in Bodrum for many many years and is also the owner of Aegean Yacht Services.

Liman Köftecisi


After my brief stop, I crossed the street and walking through the Marina shopping arcade.. once again most of the shops are the same and include EC Diamond, a very classy fine jewelry store owned by a lovely Bodrumite couple, Tommy Hilfiger, Mudo, Polo Garage and more. But, at the end of the arcade, I noticed Kahve Dünyası - a Turkish version of Starbucks. This coffee house opened last year, but I had not visited it. Then I walked through the Marina Yacht Club which was closed and prepping for the evening. There are 2 restaurants here - Vespa and Marina Restaurant, both managed by the same owners. I haven't eaten at Vespa, but I have eaten at Marina many times and I hate to say this, but the food is pretty mediocre and I recommend you go there instead for the live music. There is a different singer/group nightly (jazz, etc.) and they are quite good. But, make sure to reserve a table in front of the stage or you might wind up hanging out in the back.

Milta Bodrum Marina shopping arcade

Marina Yacht Club Restaurant

Marina Yacht Club
It was now about 5:00pm and I realized I was very hungry... so I decided to stop by Sünger Pizza (www.sungerpizza.com). We were going to eat at Yasu too, but dinner wouldn't be until about 9:00pm and I knew I wouldn't make it - I had only had a light meal on the flight from Istanbul. 

Don't let Sünger's name fool you: even though a very popular eatery for their pizza, the menu includes salads, main courses (meats, chicken, etc.), pasta and more. On another visit, I had eaten some Turkish dishes which changes daily, but this time, I wanted to try their "famous" pizza. I don't like lots of toppings on my pizza so I ordered a Margarita - or plain pizza with just tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese - a small one (9 TL), which is  a very good portion. My pizza came, it wasn't cooked enough for my taste.. I sent it back... they proceeded to burn it and had to make me a new one! We had a good laugh over that and in no time, I got my order. However, I couldn't understand the "hulabaloo" about the pizza here... I have definitely had better! It is ok, but nothing to rave about. I suggest you go to Sünger Pizza, but instead order a Turkish dish or the famous "Çökertme Kebab" (25 TL) prepared with sliced tenderloin of beef on a bed of thinly sliced french fries with a tomato and yogurt sauce... a specialty of Bodrum.
They also prepare this dish with chicken if you do not prefer meat.

If you need a hairdresser in this neighborhood.. go to Coiffeur Ayten (Tel: 0252) 316 27 27), on a side street right next to Gemibaşı. Ayten has been open for over 40 years, her staff is only women and they do a very good job and the prices are moderate. And.. that is exactly what I did to prepare for the evening!

After I got all spruced up, I headed to the bar at Marina Yacht Club, had a quick beer and then met my friend Zeyno at another cafe and we walked over to Yasu Meyhane (Tavern) together.



Yasu (Tel: (0536 520 89 57) opened only a short 3 weeks ago and is on Poyraz Street in the garden of the Marina Class Aparts. To reach it, make a right at Memedof Restaurant (a block up from the Milta Bodrum Marina) and then the first left and you will see it straight in front of you. The modestly sized venue is surrounded with trees and is dimly lit. There is live music nightly and the fixed price menu is 60 TL/person and includes a few cold and appetizers, main course (fish) and unlimited rakı (similar to ouzo or arak) or wine.

In all, we were about 20 women and we had a BLAST.. as the rakı flowed, the part livened up even more! At around 10:00pm, the live music started and it was GREAT! I totally love Greek music.. greek dance and we had major dose of it at Yasu and you will see from the mini video I have added to this post!

Me (left), Zeyno - the bride (center), Tanla (left)
We ate.. we drank... we danced... took lots of pictures and mingled! I met Zeyno's mom and sis and her relatives and some of her friends for the first time and we all clicked! No men were allowed, but one snuck in and then another.. but he did such a fantastic Greek dance that it was ok with us! Below are two videos.. one with Zeyno the bride.. and the other of a guy who "snuck" into our group, but definitely a friend of the family!


video

video

The evening ended around 1:00am - for me that is! Some were going to join the men at their Bachelor's Party, but I was too pooped.

Got to my hotel in 5 minutes and I was out like a light at 1:30am.. It was a very nice first day in Bodrum.. yes indeed it was!

Now... I have a wedding to get ready for!!! I will post from day 2 hopefully tomorrow and then the wedding in the next couple of days!

Dani

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