The Bottom Line
Located on the southern shore of the Peninsula, this charming city is perhaps one of the most sophisticated resorts on the Aegean coast. Countless yachts adorn its harbor, along with the famous 'Gulets', those beautiful wooden Turkish sailing vessels one can charter for an outing. Most of these gulets are built right here in Bodrum, the center for boat building dating as far back as Mark Anthony's and Cleopatra's days!
I highly recommend a tour of the castle for a comprehensive review of its fascinating history. Make sure it includes a visit to the Sunken Boat Museum, located within the castle walls. It offers an amazing array of artifacts retrieved from shipwrecks from the period of the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages. Cargo from a Syrian trade ship (ca. 13th century BC) includes still in tact pottery jars, dishes, even food!
Not far from the Mausoleum is the Amphitheater, the only surviving monument of Halicarnassus. It has been restored and is still used today for occasional concerts and performances.
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There is plenty of shopping in Bodrum and you can get great deals on leather, carpets, gold jewelry, and cashmere shawls (pashimas). You are expected to bargain after an initial price is quoted (merchandise is not marked with prices). The rule of thumb is to bargain down to about 65% of the initial quote. If the vendor does not agree, just walk away. More often than not, he will chase after you and agree to your final offer! You won't get the best price if you intend to pay with a credit card, they much prefer to be paid in US Dollars. Turkish Lira are accepted, of course, but considering the exchange rate of 1,600,000 Lira for a single US Dollar, the numbers are staggering and it's easy to get confused.
It is very common to be offered Turkish apple tea, soft drinks, or Turkish coffee, especially in carpet stores. Feel free to accept the offer, this in no way obligates you to purchase. It is just part of the Turkish hospitality!
Turkey is one of the few countries growing enough produce to sustain their own. Especially the fruit is wonderful, such as figs, melons, berries, mangos, etc.
You may want to rent a 'Gulet', one of those beautiful wooden boats lining the waterfront. Again, you will have to bargain for the price (approximately $25 per hour). Sailing around the coast of the Bodrum Peninsula is magical, and there are lots of small coves, ideal for swimming. A delicious 'local' lunch is served on board. We found the water surprisingly cold (early October), but enjoyed it nevertheless. The Aegean Sea is crystal clear and VERY salty, giving it great buoyancy.
Bodrum is particularly known for its more than lively nightlife. It is the town that never sleeps and where parties continue into the early morning. Among many international visitors, this is where you will find the Turkish 'jet set', French Riviera style! Cruise ships arrive on a daily basis and new construction extends the pretty whitewashed villages far into the countryside. Tourism is big business here, but the people are worried. With the events of 9/11 and Iraq as a close neighbor, they are more than concerned about the future.
Bodrum can certainly be considered a jewel along the Turkish Coast and is well worth a visit, whether it be for an extended holiday, or just for a day from a cruise ship.
To see more pictures & to take a mini-tour of Bodrum Peninsula, where Lorraine & I will be living after March '06, visit our Bodrum Pictures page.
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