BODRUM: Our first port of call in Turkey

And so the journey of Greece ended and Turkey started!

In the 4 weeks we have been around the west and south-west coast of Turkey, we only stayed for longer than 2 days at any given place because of the weather. The Meltemi has certainly found Turkey at the same time we did, and on and off we needed to change our plans to accommodate this atrocious friend of ours!

To make it easier to follow, I will attempt to map the places out to show more or less where we have traveled (picture of map at the end of the blog). Some of them were only lunch stops but not the least less spectacular! The order of our voyage was as follow:

Kos ( Greece) – Bodrum – Knidos -Palamutbuku bay – Kargi Kuyo – Dutca – Kuruca Buku – Keci Buku – Bozburum – Marmaris – My Marina in Ekincik Limani Bay – Gocek – Tomb bay – Fethiyje – Lydae ruins – Kizilkuyruk Koyu – Sece Limani Bay – Buzburun –Cokertme -Snake Island & Castle Island (Cleopatra’s Island) – Sogut Gokova YC – Sogut – Cokertme -7 Islands -Bodrum – Didim Beach – D-Marina Didim

Bodrum ... with its landmark - the Castle of The Knights of St John
Bodrum … with its landmark – the Castle of The Knights of St John

Sailing from Kos to Bodrum was only a small stretch and in no time we were there – For a change we have enough and not too much wind (the 11 knots) and from a direction that makes sailing with a full Genoa possible with only one engine going. It was just enough to ease the rolling waves from the side.

As we anchored we could still see Kos Island on the horison… I will miss Greece.
We just had such a great time and loved the culture, food, music and the islands never disappointed! What did make it slightly easier to move on, was (again) customs!

When it was time to clear out of Greece, Johann took our passports and boat papers into customs. The drama started with a bang! They where jumping up and down because I did not have a entry stamp into Greece! Well, Lefkas customs (where we entered Greece) did not want to give me one, because I am a crew member of the boat and not a visitor to the country! As long as I am attached to the boat I don’t need an entry stamp!?? To become a “visitor”takes a bit more than just a stamp … For that privileges you have to pay an agent 80 Euro (that is necessary if you want to leave the boat for more than 24 hours or want to leave to country in any other way than sailing, which Johann had to do to fly back to Australia). Customs wanted to charge me a penalty of 600 Euro for the missing entry stamp!!!…. which did not go down well with the Captain! After many a hard words back and forth and making sure they clear it up with customs at Lefkas, we got off the hook. I am not sure if they have ever phoned Lefkas? We later heard from another boat, that Customs have locked up a young crew member of another boat for 13 days for the same reason! So I guess all though it left a bitter taste behind in my mouth, I am lucky to tell the story about someone else. I cannot imagine being in that situation at all! So Turkey came around just in time and I guess I was ready to kiss Greece goodbye for now!

The marina in Bodrum seems to be booked out months if not a year in advance. The anchoring spots around town seemed to be very full on investigation. We are expecting the wind to pick up to 25 knots (and being gusty as well over the hills) and we preferred to anchor in a bay close by where there were less boats (hopefully meaning less chances of getting into trouble). We were there for a short while on our own, when a few Gulets came in full of young tourist with music coming from massive speakers (that will wake up any city!) dancing on the roof of the boat on the crazy Gangnam Style song of Psy!! It looks like heaps of fun…. but the kind of fun that you don’t want around for too long! Luckily they only stayed for a very short swim!

Club Med ... Bo Beach - our anchorage  for the first night at Bodrum
Club Med … Bo Beach – our anchorage for the first night at Bodrum
Young tourist dancing on Psy's crazy Gangnam Style song!!
Young tourist dancing on Psy’s crazy Gangnam Style song!!
The beautiful blue bay at Club Med near Bodrum
The beautiful blue bay at Club Med near Bodrum

The bay was a good 10 min dinghy ride away from town – a bumpy splashy wet one too! Bodrum is absolutely worth it!

Inquiring at customs revealed the hoops to jump through in order to legally cruise in Turkey. It never is easy to comprehend or see the logic, but our previous experience screamed : just do what they want you to do! Johann had to come back to collect me from the boat, as they need all crew in person in order to issue the visas. We also need to get a health clearance and police clearance (all just extra paperwork and very time consuming as the offices were not all in one area). To save us (at least 2-3 hours) queuing and struggling with the language barrier, running around, finding the places, we gave the paperwork to an agent to do on our behave. It was easy and painless and within 30 min we were good to go – 150 Turkish Lira later.It was absolutely worth it! (The visa was an extra 45 Euro .. by the way … this you can only pay in USD or Euro – they don’t like their own currency! Strange? )

So much different to our experience 25 years ago when we were deported back to Greece because they could not issue visa stamps on that day, being a religious holiday! Only on our second try to enter Turkey on the same day, with the help of a Turkish speaking Greek fisherman, did we manage to get the OK to join FlyerII (the yacht we were guests on at the time). Our passports were held back…actually thrown back into a bottom drawer until further notice! It did not come easy as we were we taken to the Chief of Police and only after many a hard words (poor fisherman!) were we aloud to spend the next 2 days in and around Bodrum. We got it back, stamped and ready to go 2 days later without a problem and with the biggest smiles!
There is just something (dramas) about Kos Island and Bodrum and that wouldn’t go away! 🙂

Bodrum town is dominated by the Castle and its history. The visit to the castle was absolutely amazing! Never miss that if you happen to get to Bodrum!

A little bit of background on Bodrum: Bodrum used to be called Halicarnasuss of Caria in ancient times and was famous for housing the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Bodrum Castle, built by the Knights of St John in the 15th century, overlooks the harbour and the marina. A spectacular sight at sunrise, sunset and during the evenings when it is beautifully lit up!

The Castle in Bodrum
The Castle in Bodrum
Some of the Coat of arms of the knights of St John
Some of the Coat of arms of the knights of St John
Inside the Castle
Inside the Castle
The Castle
The Castle
The view from the Castel
The view from the Castel

View from the Castle over Bodrum marina
View from the Castle over Bodrum marina

Fun with the Statues
Fun with the Statues
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Transport method of oil amphoras
Transport method of oil amphoras
Vibram went to Bodrum Castle
Vibram went to Bodrum Castle
Different shapes of amphorae
Different shapes of amphorae
Glass pieces salvaged from a boat that sank off the Turkish coast 2000 yrs ago
Glass pieces salvaged from a boat that sank off the Turkish coast 2000 yrs ago

When the Knights of St. John arrived to build their fortress, they found the ruins of an old castle, now known to have been built by the Dorians roughly around 1100 BC plus all building material from the mausoleum readily available to use in building the fortress. It is known that the “Father of History”, Herodotus was born in Halicarnassus. He lived there during the 5th century AD.

On the same grounds of the castle is the Museum of Underwater Archaeology with some amazing finds from a ship that sank in a bay (where we later went and anchor) over 2000 years ago with some very fine pieces of glassware on show that is still perfectly intact – probably an indication of how well packed they were for transport.

Someone once described Bodrum as:
“Bodrum is Sun, Sea and after all it is History …In short Bodrum is everything to everybody. Because everybody has it is own Bodrum here. Some live a modest, peaceful and quiet life, some live crazily madly. Bodrum is a White that bears all colors and also internalizes them. It rains different here and also the sun rise different and sets completely different. Wind blows different, sea smells else. Bodrum is the naughtiest, the haughtiest, the most inert, the most beautiful, the most honest and the most frank child of Nature Mother.”
Well … on most of these points made, I could not agree more!

Bodrum's Castle at night
Bodrum’s Castle at night

Nightclubs, cafes and restaurants stay open all night to accommodate Bodrum’s party lovers and night owls. The night life of Bodrum is something really very special. Even the Turks will rank Bodrum after Istanbul as Number 2. It is pumping music and lights all night long with streets buzzing with shoppers and strollers looking for a place to eat or drink or just to enjoy a walk through the buzzing streets of Bodrum!! Bodrum probably has more bars per area than all other places in Turkey, appealing to all tastes. Bar Street is one mile-long street that runs parallel with the sea, so all the bars and restaurants, cafes on the right side offer a sitting area on the beach with the scenic view of the castle. My favourite of all are the intimate seaside cafes with magnificent views of the illuminated castle and the array of colour lights playing in distorted lines on the still water of the bay.
In front of HALIKARNAS DISCO
In front of HALIKARNAS DISCO

One of the trendiest discos in the world, the HALIKARNAS DISCO will catch your eye immediately with its brightly neon lit massive pillars! The sounds coming from it will make you realise that it is bigger than big! We were anchored out the second time round, in the bay near the disco, and the music and laser lights were non-stop going crazily till 4am in the morning! Take note: Halikanas disco was already operating when we last visited Bodrum 25 years ago! So it has been around for a long time!

This is certainly one of the cities of Turkey that will be remembered for its food, music, nightlife and the vibe of the city! It was even more special that we could share it with Dax, the second time round. Other than the above, I will remember Bodrum for a few other things too:
Customs, the chase for a gas refill (that went on and on and in the end we forgot to pick it up again!),for the bag of crushed ice we were so happy to find after having asked just about everywhere … the bag was about half the size of the dinghy!!!(It came in hand for a very long time!) and the colourful decorations around town!

Crushed Ice ... the only size bag we could get!! LOL!!
Crushed Ice … the only size bag we could get!! LOL!!
The colourful walkway along the marina
The colourful walkway along the marina
The Gas Saga!
The Gas Saga!
Evidence of a great Night life in Bodrum
Evidence of a great Night life in Bodrum
The colourful walkway along the marina
The colourful walkway along the marina
The colourful night life of Bodrum is as pretty at daytime!
The colourful night life of Bodrum is as pretty at daytime!
This is how the dock crew help the big Guletts to dock in heavy wind - by pushing them in position.
This is how the dock crew help the big Guletts to dock in heavy wind – by pushing them in position.

The Map of our Journey along the beautiful Turkish coast:

Turkish Map we have travelled
Turkish Map we have travelled

The sequence of the BLACK NUMBERS indicate the route we have taken (and sometimes did a few places twice)

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