Tag Archives: Bodrum

Gokova Körfezi

Having dropped Zeynep and her family off on Monday evening we went to Kale Koyu, the bay to the east of St Peter’s Castle to anchor for the night before setting off around the coast of the Gokova Körfezi or Gokova Gulf which lies between the Bodrum and Datça Peninsulas. We plan to spend 3 or 4 days visiting some picturesque, isolated bays on our way around to Datça.

13th century technology / 21st century technology. Super yacht Adastra anchored in front of St Peter’s Castle

Our first night was spent in Cökertme, 20 miles west of Bodrum. There is a small village there, with jetties belonging to the restaurants but we anchored and used our long lines to tie up to the rocks. I bought a couple of heavy duty webbing lifting strops to use with these lines and am more than glad I did. The rocks in Cökertme are razor sharp and would have destoyed our ropes but had little effect on the strops.

It is easier to swim ashore with the ropes

We spent a restful afternoon under our awning and a peaceful evening watching the moon rise over the bay and left Cökertme on Wednesday morning.

We sailed most of the 15 miles to Akbuk Limani a big, reputedly picturesque, bay where we figured we might spend the night but found the beach obscured by beach umbrellas and sunbeds, a host of trip boats and a jetty full of yachts. We turned around and headed for the next point on our itinerary, two islands on the south coast of the Gulf called Castle and Snake Island a mere 5 miles away. Castle Island has some ancient ruins on it and is also home to ‘Cleopatra’s Beach’, thought to have been built by her for Mark Anthony and apparently the sand is typical of that found in Egypt!

South east corner of Castle Island

Disappointingly Castle Island was rammed full of trip boats so we headed off to Söğüt a few miles further west, now on the north coast of the Datcha Peninsula.

Söğüt has a small village with restaurants, a yacht club and a couple of busy jetties. The only places shallow enough to anchor free were taken so we had to anchor close to a small beach and tie back to some trees. It had been a relatively busy day with lots of down wind sailing, even having the Cruising Chute up for a few hours, so it was really pleasant having dinner being serenaded by cicadas and then watching the moon rise again over the trees behind us.

Anchored in Amazon Creek

On Thursday we set off for ‘Amazon Creek’, so called because the dense trees crowd down to the shore of the little inlet giving it a ‘jungle feeling’.    Not sure about that with a sign post advertising a cafeteria within 500 m and a beach bar on the small beach on the west shore, but Amazon Creek is far easier to say than Küçük Gunluk Köyü! We arrived at lunch time and found just two other yachts there leaving space for us to anchor in the middle of the inlet. I went ashore for a walk along the coast and then in search of the cafe.

Coast south of the Creek

It turned out to be the Club Amazon, originally a camp site but now offering ‘glamping’ chalets – their description. It is at the side of the small creek that feeds into the inlet and ‘glampers’ could either walk the 500 m to the beach through the woods or paddle there in one of a fleet of plastic canoes.

Club Amazon
The Creek

I had a well deserved beer after my 3 km stroll, then went back to the boat for a swim. Once the sun went down and the glampers left the inlet was utterly quiet, even the freezer sounded loud. There was no wind, not a ripple on the water and once the moon rose the inlet was all silver black shadows and reflections in the water. It was beautiful and we could happily have stayed another day just to enjoy the solitude.

Amazon Creek in the morning

On Friday, 27th, we had a 6 hour passage to the bay at Mercencik at the western end of the Datcha Peninsula where we hoped to watch the ‘Blood Moon’ eclipse.    We set off early, primarily because we were woken but the battery low voltage alarm and arrived in the early afternoon and anchored off what the Pilot Book describes as a hamlet.  This is a bit of an exaggeration but the buildings are very picturesque and whole bay is delightful, an ideal spot for watching the eclipse.

The hamlet at Mercencik

The bay is surrounded by olive groves and has big signs along the beach saying you are welcome to walk along the shore but don’t light fires or go into the orchards. We had lunch and a swim and then settled down on the bows to watch the eclipse. By the time the moon topped the mountains it was a thin crescent and we sat there as the crescent disappeared and the moon turned more orange than red – when viewed through binoculars Valeria decided it was the colour of the perfect Paõ de Queijo! (small round Brazilian cheese bread)

Sunrise after the Blood Moon

And that was our last night in the Gulf of Gokova. On Saturday we plan to be around the end of the Datcha Peninsula before the wind picks up. Hopefully by then we will be south of the peninsula heading east with the wind behind us.

Gümüslük, ancient Myndos

On Saturday, the 21st, Zeynep took us to Gümüslük, a 50 minute bus ride to the western end of the Bodrum Penisula.

Gümüslük is the site of the ancient city of Myndos, the city Alexander the Great didn’t manage to conquer.  However; almost all traces of the city have slipped into the sea.   Today Gümüslük is a small tourist destination with hotels and small B&Bs, restaurants and some beaches and the usual rows of souvenir shops lining the path from the bus stop to the seafront.   Gümüslük also offers a sheltered, but crowded, anchorage for yachts.

Looking north on the north side of the headland sheltering Gümüslük
Looking north on the north side of the headland sheltering Gümüslük
Looking west
Perfect wedding venue Zeynep ……

We had a wander along the coast, then Zeynep took us up to a restaurant with a great view over the bay, but, when  we got there it was closed for a wedding!   We walked back down to the village and found a busy restaurant for a light lunch  with a welcome cold beer!

Of Myndos there is very little to see.   There is a sort of causeway, either an ancient road or the top of a wall which leads out to what Zeynep told us was called Rabbit Island.   Excavations are under way there now so the causeway leads to a rusty fence but as a kid Zeynep used to play on the island.

Rabbit Island

It is a pretty place and was great to wander round but exhausting.

“Aw, the old folks having a kip”

Halicarnassus

Halicarnassus was originally the capital of a small Persian client kingdom on the Carian coast.    But under King Mausolos the kingdom grew to encompass a large portion of south western Asia Minor.   It is the home of the original Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the World and was the birth place of Herodotus who is credited as being the founder of the study of history.

In Greek Mythology the son of Hermes and Aphrodite,  one Hermaphrodites, stopped in a bay near Bodrum in his travels and rested beside a stream there.   A Water Fairy called Salmais instantly fell in love with him and although Hermaphrodites rejected her she prayed to the Gods that they would never be separated. …….. The moral of that story is be careful what you wish for!

Wooden model of the Mausoleum.

More recently ……. in 377BC King Mausolos came to the throne of Caria and moved the capital of his expanding Kingdom to Halicarnassus.   Prior to his death Mausolos had begun construction of his own tomb and when he died in 353BC his wife, Artemisa II continued the project.  Artemisa was also Mausolos’ sister, a practice common amongst Carian Royalty.

The tomb was massive, some 43 metres high. It was topped with a stepped pyramid supporting a four horse chariot bearing Mausolos and Artemisa.   The whole structure was clad in white marble. The Mausoleum survived through antiquity until 1304 when it was destroyed by an earthquake.

Burial chamber
The flat faces of the sections of column could have been machined flat.

In 1402 the Knights of St John of Rhodes arrived and started to build the Castle of St Peter, completing it in  1437.    In 1522 when the castle was under threat of attack Knights of the order began to repair it and used the ruins of the Mausoleum as a quarry, initially taking the marble for lime but then finding building stone as they dug deeper.  They eventually removed so much stone that they uncovered the burial chamber and sarcophagus.   They stopped work for the nigh and when they returned the following morning the tomb had been robbed.

The Myndos Gate

Much of the old city wall has disappeared or been ‘repurposed’.  The one section still standing is the western gate to the city, the Myndos Gate.  In 344BC Alexander came to Caria and being unable to take the City of Myndos (modern Gümüslük) took Halicarnassus instead, attacking the Myndos Gate.    Ironically the Myndos Gate is the only remnant of the wall to survive!

The amphitheatre on the hill over looking Halicanassos was also built by Mausolos and later expanded by the Romans.  In its heyday it could seat 13,000 people.

Today the amphitheatre has been restored to such an extent that it is still used as a concert venue.   The expensive seats are down by the stage, but the cheap seats offer an awesome view down across the harbour and out to sea.  The views in antiquity across the ancient town and the Mausoleum must have been breath taking!

The upper tiers of the amphitheatre remain in ruins

There are so many tombs on the hill that every time they break ground for a new building they find one.  Rumour has it that they just cover them up and build anyway.

There is even a tomb in the back of a Carrefour Supermarket.  And you thought I was joking about Carrefour being on our tour of ancient sites!!!

Ancient tomb, right between the crisps and water!

Our bespoke tour of Halicarnassus was fantastic.  Bodrum is a party town and not really my thing,  but Halicarnassus, or what’s left of it, is right up my street!  So grateful to Zeynep for showing us around.

Bodrum

Bodrum is the site of the ancient city of Halicarnassos and home to one of the Seven Wonders if the Ancient World – the original Mausoleum.  Time, earthquakes and the Knights of St John have left little of the ancient city and less of the Mausoleum.

Modern Bodrum is a lively, bustling tourist destination for both Turkish and foreign visitors.  It has an almost endless strip of bars, restaurants and night clubs around the  harbour and the adjacent bay.  In the evenings these pump out a veritable cacophony but after the last ‘Call to Prayers’ from the mosques the noise really kicks off.

The Souk below St Peter’s Castle  maintains its old street plan but is now full of modern shops and boutiques selling an amazing array of completely genuine designer goods at very reasonable prices!

But they are the only prices which are reasonable!  Bodrum caters for well to do Turks who don’t mind splashing the cash.  We were warned to check any restaurant bills for over pricing as they even try to fleece locals.   Basically, everything so far has been very expensive, bordering on ‘rip off’.    The exceptions being places the jet set don’t frequent.   Zeynep took us to a tiny ‘kebab’ shop opposite the small mosque just along the road from the marina.  They only serve four versions of the ubiquitous ‘Doner’, each for 10 Lira, and they are delicious.  We spent almost 50 times that at a fancy, but underwhelming, fish restaurant and enjoyed the Doner far more! So much so we went back, and it was Valeria’s first ever Doner Kebab !!!

Another exception is the a massive fruit and veg market every Friday close to the bus station.   It is great to wander round and Valeria absolutely loved it! Zeynep was her Personal Shopper and I carried all the bags, Mercifully we only have a small fridge, but, ‘so many vegetables,  so little time’!    If you want a real ‘flavour’ of a place, visit the market and take in the bewildering array of local produce and the heady mix of spices and herbs filling the air.

Although St Peter’s Castle and the Underwater Archeological Museum are shut for renovations Zeynep took us on a guided tour of the major ancient sites of Halicarnassus  – the Mausoleum, the Myndos Gate, the amphitheatre and ……. Carrefour.

St Peter’s Castle

Turkey !

Our reasons for a return visit to Kos were two-fold.  The first was to meet Zeynep who was to travel with us to Bodrum, and the second was to officially leave Greece before entering Turkey.

With our plans to visit Turkey fairly well established before we left Roccella we have been chatting with Zeynep about perhaps meeting up in Bodrum; her parents have a house there.   As time went on the likely window of opportunity narrowed to mid July and finally settled on Wednesday 17 July, in Kos.  It was cheaper for Zeynep to fly to Kos, get an Air B&B and a ferry to Bodrum than to fly direct.   It was even better that we could be in Kos when she arrived so she didn’t need the room overnight or the ferry!  She arrived at just after midnight and after a welcoming glass of Prosecco it was off to bed.

That was the easy part.  The real faff was leaving Greece.

We’d been to see the Port Police when we arrived.  They directed us to Customs who would endorse our Crew List which would enable the Port Police to permit the boat to leave Greek waters.   The Customs Office was closed so we went back first thing on Wednesday morning.  The Customs office was in fact only interested in whether I had paid VAT on the boat; the Greeks are such sticklers when it comes to paying tax!!!   Having convinced the Taxman that I had paid VAT we were then directed to Immigration to endorse the Crew List, which did make more sense, but there is no ‘Yacht Crew’ lane at the ferry terminal.

Between Zeynep and Valeria we managed to get around the herds of tourists headed to Bodrum and got the necessary stamps on the Crew List.  It was made plain we had to then leave Greece almost immediately, tricky as we still had to visit the Port Police, who happily endorsed the Crew List and sent us on our way.

Approaching Bodrum

The trip across to Bodrum was 2 hours, motoring in light winds.  Once into Bodrum and tied up to the Immigration jetty we then had to wait for 2 hours while our Yacht Agent conducted all our immigration proceedures.  Straightforward, but bloody expensive at €180, but there is no option, you can’t leave the boat until the paper work is all done.  Luckily we’ll be leaving Turkey from Bozburun, where it is supposed to be a lot cheaper!

Bodrum castle dominates the harbour
Bodrum castle dominates the harbour

But we have got here.  About a week late according to our original plans but that isn’t at all bad and it meant that we could meet up with Zeynep who has already got an itinerary worked out for us for our stay!