Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sun, sea, nightlife – that is Bodrum. 

It’s inviting, full of life, millions of tourists each summer spend their holidays basking at the glorious sun, sands and its clear turquoise beaches in the day time and a haven for revelers seeking refuge amidst its pulsating vivacity at night.

This radiant city used to be the location of the ancient Greek city of “Halicarnassus” which gained prominence as the site of the Mausoleum of Maussollus one of the seven wonders of the ancient world and the beautiful 14th century Bodrum Castle housing the Museum of Underwater Archaeology located right along the seaside with its impressive collection of amphoras, bronze, ancient glasses and other treasures found from ancient shipwrecks in the Aegean Sea.

Maussollos Tomb.

The 4th century BC Bodrum Ampitheater.

I never get to enjoy the raucous nightlife that this city is famous for during my first visit in 2009, perhaps because I don’t take pleasure in night activities any longer than I used to.  Yet, I decided to go to Bodrum that sunny September day.

I bought my bus ticket (fare was TL70) at the Metro Turizm bus company’s office in Istanbul’s Buyuk Otogar (Grand Terminal) to Bodrum.  My friend – Ageel – who was with me on this trip decided to stay in Istanbul telling me that he has a problem with long bus trip, something about gall bladder, gets to pee all the time and may not handle the long trip no matter how I tried (so hard) to convince him that the bus stops occasionally for bathroom breaks.  But I was able to convinced him coming with me to Goreme.  HA HA.

I got comfortable with Metro’s bus after taking several trips with them around the country.  Individual TV at the back of each seat, wifi internet, complimentary hot and cold beverages, and it is on this trip that I had encountered one of the friendliest and most accommodating onboard crew. Albeit armed with limited English, he could easily beat any airline FA’s hospitality when it comes to making you feel comfortable on his bus.  The guy offered drinks several times and I mean many times and every time – a service with a smile and a polite thank you.  That's the reason Metro Turizm became my favorite bus company in all of Turkey.  That ain't advertising though, just a hint.

Arriving early morning in Bodrum tugging my roller bag along the concrete streets, I wandered around the crowded part of the town, the bar street and souvenir shops searching for a place to stay.  How I hate to appear tourist-y but walking along a crowded street, somehow I feel I'm always invisible.  Feeling exhausted from the overnight bus trip from Istanbul, I settled for the first accommodation I have come across – the Gardenya Pansiyon – right at one of the interior streets in Carsi.  At TL70 for single occupancy, the sunny room has two single beds, a bit tired, TV, the very basic shower room with fixtures misfitted, balcony overlooking the neighbor’s courtyard and mountains over the horizon, complimentary breakfast served at the common balcony facing the sea side, can’t complain really.  It’s cheap, good for budget travelers, only one street away from the sea side, smack-bang right at the shopping area and nightlife if you're into it.

View on top of Bodrum Castle.

Bodrum beach with a view of the castle in the distance.

I did not really come to Bodrum to bask in night time revelries nor to visit the tourist attractions, I have seen most of it before.  I’m on my way to Turgutreis to visit a long lost friend.  So after taking breakfast, I immediately proceeded to the bus terminal for the 20 kilometer minibus trip.  I was not able to get to the end of the ride to Turgutreis as my friend happens to be working at a tourism school hotel called “Turgutreis Anadolu Otelcilik ve Turizm Lisesi” located along the Cumhuriyet Boulevard, some couple of kilometers away before Turgutreis.  My friend convinced me to stay a night at the hotel cum training center for tourism students, it’s complimentary so why refuse?  Hospitality is a joy (or benefit?) that comes with meeting locals.

The hotel isn’t one of those popular accommodations, rather it’s only known among local tourists.  According to my friend, the hotel is unfamiliar to foreign tourists hence the non-existence of foreigners in the building, it’s also a bit out of the way along the highway in between Bodrum and Turgutreis, it isn’t commercialized, as yet and I kinda like it, it isn't touristic.  It’s sort of a learning institution for students ages 16 and above honing their tourism skills with their own lodging house within the big complex.
Indoor dining.

It may not seem appealing to visitors as it’s about 3 kilometers to the beaches of Turgutreis and 17 kilometers to Bodrum, but it’s surrounded by mountains.  Surprisingly though, they have really nice facilities, a big swimming pool for kids and adults, a basketball or tennis court, spacious indoor and outdoor dining areas, function and convention rooms.  Staying at this kind of place would mean, you'll be subjected to hospitable and polite attitude of the working students which is already a scarce commodity in big hotels with (at times) cocky staff.

The hotel building has 70 rooms on its main 4 story building, internet is available at the mezzanine floor and the 4-star looking lobby is expansive.  The rooms are big, fitted with comfortable double beds, plenty of clean towels, big clean bathroom, windows overlooking an orange orchards and the green clad mountains.  The best part is its unbelievably cheap room rates at only TL35 for single b-and-b or TL55 full board.

Good food, courteous young staff, and on a price like that, I wouldn’t mind taking a minibus to the nearby Turgutreis beach for only TL2, it’s easy to get there anyway just along the highway in front of the hotel.

Breakfast at the hotel.

Posing with the friendly staff of Turgutreis Otelcilik.

My room at Turgutreis Otelcilik.

Swimming pools at the hotel.

We headed to the beach that day.  Turgutreis is named after the infamous Ottoman Admiral Turgut Reis, this municipality in the Bodrum peninsula is quieter compared to Bodrum. Has a good stretch of clean beach which is less congested.  Several parasols and tourists lazing on the sands waiting for the gorgeous sunset that this place is famous for.  

Nice seaside restaurants and bars and a popular Saturday flea market.  Designer shops, bars, concert area, quaint shaded cafés, neat promenade beside the length of the lagoon at the marina where some yachts were moored on the ocean side and you can board one to tour around the Bodrum peninsula and the Greek island of Kos.
Turgutreis beach.

There is a long platform jutting on the beach where local kids jump off to the water opposite the big mosque.

Not as crazy as Bodrum but I guess that’s the allure of Turgutreis, more laidback and less rowdy.

Local kids jumping off the marina breakwater.

After a couple of nights, I came back for my friend in Istanbul as we’re planning to head to Goreme.

Address: Turgutreis, Mugla, Turkey
Directions: About 20 kms from Bodrum by minibus at the main bus terminal.


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