Turkey was a stopover rather than a destination as Istanbul gave us better flight options to Asia than a return to Athens would have. By hopping across from Kos to Bodrum it also felt like we were heading in the right direction, plus we got to taste a little of what Turkey has to offer. We have loved our short week here.
Bodrum was really a resort destination although there was a very impressive Crusader Castle that sits between the two bays. The castle (St Peters) was very well preserved and housed an “underwater archaeological museum”. The museum was not underwater but displayed a very extensive range of ancient relics that have been recovered from the sea bed in the area, usually discovered by local sponge divers. These were in remarkable condition given their age and unlike many you see from land digs, they were all largely intact.
We opted to fly from Bodrum to Istanbul, a one hour flight versus a long haul by bus as trains were not an option. One hour sounds great but the reality was different. A one hour bus trip to Bodrum airport, hanging around the airport for an hour, the one hour flight, the interminable delay between touching down and getting our bags, missing the desired bus connection to the city, then (because we were rescheduled to a later flight), a slow trip into the city during peak hour. One hours flying time translated to 6 hours travel time. Maybe the bus was not such a bad option.
Selecting accommodation is a balance between budget and location. No point in opting for cheaper options if you have to outlay a lot of money on transport. So we do tend to try for locations that are handy to where we think we will spend most of our time. However, despite all of those good intentions, a lack of knowledge of the places you are going to is a big handicap.
Accommodation reviews can be helpful in this regard, don’t get too hung up about the picky comments (no lift, noisy, bed was uncomfortable) these are usually personal issues to the reviewer, but, look for the “great location” type comments. Using that approach, we have been very happy with the location of our accommodation and Istanbul has been another great find. It is in Beyoglu in the new city but an easy walk to the old city.
The city itself has been one of the more enjoyable to visit. Apart from the big sites that are still crowded with cruise boat visitors (it was cruise boat chaos each morning down in the harbour) just wandering the streets and markets has been the most enjoyable experience for us. A mix of old and new and east and west, all that we do not come close to be able to experience back home.
Ruth has been in her own version of heaven in Istanbul and has taken to bartering in such a way that I suspect she is starting to have a serious effect on the Turkish economy (Asia be warned).
It started with the various shop keepers hassling us to buy but their offers of a “special price to you” were like red rag to a bull to Ruth, she almost wrestled them to the ground asking “but is this REALLY your best price”. She was almost requesting payment to take the goods off their hands. Now she is assailing any shopkeeper on price regardless of whether or not it has a price label on it. I wander off and take photos.
The far east is beckoning so the next update may be from Bangkok.