Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Bodrum Ahoy!



As I previously mentioned, I am not a fan of emailing fake "already 20 times forwarded personalized recommendations", so once again I will make my Bodrum recommendations public here.

First of all, Bodrum is made up of several bays all of which are reputed for different sorts of things. You will be hopping from one bay to the other. People use shared cabs (dolmus in Tr) for transportation. Dolmus (pronounced as dolmoosh) has very little to do with the cabs you have in mind. They are a cross between cabs and buses. They travel on predetermined routes like buses but unlike buses you can get off and get on it at any place you like you are in a cab. They do not work on a schedule. They wait at the dolmus station, and once all seats are taken, they head for the road. They announce where they are going to on their front window but as they usually put the final destination, you might want to check with the driver before you get on it. Alternatively, you can wait on their route and make a sign to stop them to get on them.

Renting a car or a scooter is also convenient option in Bodrum.

Do NOT use the cab in Bodrum. You will end up spending ridiculous amounts of money. A ride to the beach and back will exceed what you pay to the hotel. There are shuttles to the downtown bus terminal from the airport, but if you are a group of four, it is highly likely that getting a cab will cost around the same.


CULTURE

Do not go to Bodrum with the expectation to enrich your culture. It is a hip and happening beach town where you will dance off your pants and recover around 3 pm the next day only to restart the cycle in a few hours. Yet, as any spot you would point to on the map of Anatolia has, it does have some interesting historical attractions:

- You should def visit the Underwater Archaeology Museum in the Bodrum Castle. It has the world's oldest shipwreck. It is pretty much the only historical site where you will get a satisfactory sense of self-improvement.

One of the 7 wonders of the ancient world is in Bodrum: Mausoleum of Halicarnassus. Unfortunately, there is nothing but chopped up stones at the site. It is rather sad and disappointing.

Finally, there is the Myndos Gate. That will be the last bit of culture you will find.

An hour outside of Bodrum is Euromos which can potentially satisfy your hunger for history.

However, if you are intrigued by thu local culture, Bodrum has a lot to offer. There are some intact Aegean villages that you can visit, which make up my favorite parts of Bodrum. However, you would need to rent a car or at least a scooter. Guvercinlik and Gumusluk would be two of the easier to get to options. They are both pleasant villages but I can not say that they are completey untamed. Guvercinlik is comparatively more authentic. If you want a real village with olive trees and citrus gardens, you should probably go towards Inceburun . If you would like to buy some Bodrum style carpets, Mumcular is an untapped resource. The village is certainly not on the way of the regular tourists, so the villagers have no idea how much people might be willing to pay! I invite you to be nice and reasonable when negotiating. Keep in mind that your glass of tea feeds their entire family for a night. Support the locals.



DOWNTOWN

- The Bodrum Bazaar is very lively and overwhelmingly crowded at night but then, it is overwhelmingly hot during day time, so you are still better off touring at night. Plus, it only makes sense to profit as much as you can from the sea in a place like Bodrum.

Here are the things you can do while you are there:
* Bodrum Castle is 2 mins away from the bazaar.
* Mavi Bar is on the opposite end of the bazaar (in reference to the castle). You will find it when you are about to lose your hope. :) It is a tiny Bodrum style bar with live music, descent crowd but the people do not dance.
* Korfez and Adamik are hidden in the streets that branch off of the main street of the bazaar. Drinks are relatively cheaper in these rock bars. You won't find many foreigners here. The ones you find will have probably read my blog. ☺
* You can try out the Bodrum style veggie-beef gyros at Sirin. Many alternatives are available but this is my favorite one.
* Have the Ottoman breakfast plate at Penguen which is an icecream/desert shop on the sea. They have tables on the beach.
* You can smoke hookah (nargile) on the beach. All places next around BBC or Blue Moon offer it. Apple and melon are my favorite flavors.

My favorite nighttime hang out in Bodrum is the bar in the Bodrum Marina. It is only a 10 min walk from the bazaar. They have great live music and quality crowd that actually dance! (Turks are usually busy watching people) If you are traveling on a budget, make sure to have pregamed before getting there. A screwdriver is around 20 Euros.


AROUND

Once again, Bodrum is all about checking out the different scenes at different bays. If you stick to the area of your hotel, you will be missing a lot. Usually people will leave their hotel around 11 or 12, go to one beach, come back around 7 to shower, and leave at 8 again only to come back around 3 or 4. They will try a new beach, breath the air at a different bay everyday.

- Turkbuku is where the Turkish jetset and the jetset wannabes hang out. All boys think of themselves as Hugh Hefner and all girls act as Heidi Klum. It might be an interesting scene to check out, but might get boring after a day or two. (Take the dolmus to get there) I like going there if I am in the mood for dressing up. SHIP AHOY is a fun bar on the sea in Turkbuku. You might like it.

- There are many beach clubs like Xuma or Havana. Havana is probably the better one. They are both a spin off of Mykanos. It is a place to check people out and make appearances. People make a serious effort to dress up (to swim!) and look their best. Gorgeous girls. The party starts around 5 and continues into the night but I think that it is sort of lame. I do not find the scene at these beach clubs entertaining but to be fair, I should also note that some people adore it. It is a matter of taste.

- Gumusluk used to be a modest fisherman's village. It is still one of the best places to have fish at. (need to take the dolmus to get there)

If you can afford a night of gourme sea food, go to Mimoza. A modest but classy atmosphere with hints of local touches. Make reservations in advance and ask him to reserve the fish you want as they sell out quickly. Tel: 0.252.394.31.39 Gsm.0.532.247.61.17

I recommend to try out the following:
My favorite two mezes ever are Fava and Deniz Borulcesi with lots of garlic. :) Additionally, get Kopeoglu (Eggplant with yoghurt) and calamari.

For fish, I recommend tuzda levrek They coat the seabass with a salt crust and put it in the oven. Then, they remove it from the oven and flame it before they break the crust. Nice to watch, good to eat. :)

If they are out of levrek, go for laos buglama. They cook the fish with veggies and serve it in juice.

To do it the Turkish style, drink raki with your fish. There are many brands on the market and they are all good but siyah Efe (black Efe) and Yesil Efe (Green Efe) are especially good. Yesil Efe is (green efe) made from young grapes and the Siyah Efe is triple distilled. That is how they get their unique taste. Yeni Raki, previously the major player in the market, had some health issues recently, so keep it as your last resort.

- If you want to windsurf, go to Ortakentt or to Bitez.

- There are daily boat tours that leave from every bay. As much as I like cruising, these tours are over-crowded and it spoils the pleasant feeling of being on a boat. Alternatively, you can approach a small boat and ask if they do private tours. Get him to include lunch and afternoon fruit service in the price.


HOTELS:

Warning: A quiet sleep is very hard to find in Bodrum.

Downtown:

Dilek Pansiyon $
Very basic room with beds and AC. Bathroom might be shared.
I have no idea what it looks like inside but I imagine it must the equivalent of a cheap youth hostel. I put it here because it is dirt cheap and its location is prime.
+90 252 316 3891
Kumbahce Mah. Ataturk Cad, No 69

Diamond of Bodrum $$$
It has a great location if you want to stay downtown. Only a 5 min walk to the Bodrum Bazaar. The rooms are basic and clean. Has a pool and a beach. The price is reasonable and comes with breakfast.
Yet, the breakfast is of very bad quality and very noisy at night.
Ask for a sea view room in advance.

Su Otel $$$
15 min walk to the Bodrum Bazaar.
It is a boutique hotel with a pool, but no sea shore.
The rooms are simple and clean. They have a family suit for 3 which you might find comfortable.
The prices are higher than Diamond of Bodrum but the food is much better.
The beds are little hard tho!

Hotel Istankoy $$
Haven't been inside but I briefly conversed with a few tourist who were staying there. They said that they love the location and it is a good deal for the price. It has a pool but no seashore.
Ataturk St, No 73
0252 316 4187
www.hotelistankoy.com.tr

The Marmara
This hotel is on the higher end. 15-20 min to the bazaar. If you can afford it, go for it.



Other Bays:

Mer-can Story
It is in Yalikavak, which is one of the nicer bays of Bodrum. It is a good deal because it is on the sea, has a pool an reasonably priced suites with equipped kitchens.
http://www.mercanstory.com/anasayfa.htm


If price is not a concern, here is a list of great hotels:

Maki in Turkbuku
Ada in Turkbuku
Queen Ada In Torba
Casa dell'arte in Torba
4 reasons in Yalikavak
Adahan in Yalikavak


GOOD EATS:

Kismet
My favorite eatery in town. It is a delicious esnaf lokantasi which is a cafeteria which is open only for lunch. You will get to eat real Turkish home cooking here. It is the best deal you will find: healthy, clean, cheap, and very yummy. I highly recommend the Kabak Tatlisi (pumpkin desert). They make their own yoghurt daily and grow their own herbs.
The head chef is a very descent guy. You would expect find a guy like that in a five star hotel's hospitality management. The only downside of Kismet is its location. It is not in the center of Bodrum, it is on the main road (Ataturk Blvd) that dolmuses pass through, behind Finansbank. It is easily accessible by dolmus but still not very conveniently situated. That's because it caters to the locals who work around that area, not to the tourists. Everybody is a regular here. Go there three times a week, you will get a sense of who is who.
Ataturk Blvd, behind Finansbank, Konacik
0252 319 0096 - 319 36 38

Denizhan
Meat and kebap house, the only restaurant distunguished by the New York Times in Bodrum
0252/363-7674
Turgut Reis Yolu, about 2.5km (1 1/2 miles) outside of town (across from the Tofas/Fiat service station)

Antique Theatre Hotel
Award winning menu, contemporary french cuisine
Kibris Sehitleri Cad. 243, Bodrum
Across from the ruins of the antique theater
0252/316-6053

Berk
It is a 20 something year old fish restaurant. Neither its costumers nor employees changed in those 20 something years. The restaurant is characterized by its super friendly white haired hosts (Husnu Baba and Haydar Usta) and its simplicity. You can taste the 20 years of experience in their mezes. When Bodrum is empty of tourists in the winter time, it is the only restaurant boosting with business downtown. You have to reserve a day in advance even in the winter. It is probably the cheapest fish you can eat in downtown Bodrum.
Cumhuriyet Ave, no 167 (They are close to the disco Halicarnasus (Halikarnas)
0252 313 02 39

Orfoz
Another fish restaurant right next to Berk famous for its mezes.



WARNING:
Halikarnas Disco is a trap for tourists. They advertise everywhere to make sure that it is something you can't leave without experiencing. They have buble/foam party nights twice a week and it only attracts "drink till puke" kind of Brits and overdressed Russians.

2 comments:

Aristeidis said...

You might wanna add Nil Hotel as an alternative for a cheap hotel. It's a 2-star but extremely clean / well-maıntaıned famıly hotel wıth a nıce and clean swımmıng pool. We're stayıng there right now and I thınk we ended up payıng around 50 euros / nıght durıng peak season! And you can tell I'm ın a Turkısh net cafe as I'm havıng a hard tıme fındıng the comma...

duygusar said...

thank you for the input!

you rock! I got super sick the week you where in bodrum. sorry we couldnt meet