Mausoleums, discos and final thoughts on Turkey

Trip Start Jun 25, 2006
Trip End Aug 01, 2007

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Saturday, August 26, 2006

He Said:

Yesterday afternoon we arrived in Bodrum, known in ancient times as Halicarnassas. If you think back to your school days, you might remember being taught about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. One of them was located here. Around 375 BC this area was controlled by the Persian Empire and the capital of the region was current day Bodrum. The governor of the province was named Mausolus. Anyway when he died in 353 BC his wife ordered the construction of a huge tomb for him, naturally called the Mausoleum. Unfortunately due to earthquakes, and the need for cut stone to construct the crusades-era castle guarding the harbor, nothing remains today other than an empty lot with a few small stones scattered about and of course the term, mausoleum.

Looking around Bodrum I would consider it still a bit of a wonder of the modern world, the marvel is how hundreds of souvenir shops in such a compact area that are all selling the exact same items (glassware, ashtrays, mugs, magnets) can all stay in business! Being August, which is the month most Europeans have their holidays, the town is bursting at the seams. This is one of THE spots for young Brit package tourists to come in order to boogie. The nightlife here is supposed to be famous. Don't get me wrong; the town deftly manages to hold onto its charm despite the discos, bars, gift shops, etc crowding the compact downtown. From what I hear, other than July and August, Bodrum is supposed to be a sleepy place.

We spent most of the day today working on the tan on Bodrum's small but picturesque beach. Katie and I are leaning away from venturing into the nightlife tonight, nothing like standing in line outside a club with kids that look my students' age to make a guy feel old. I guess the true proof is when a glass of wine in a jazz bar combined with good night's sleep is preferable to a night of hitting the discos then you know you are finally getting over the hill. Oh well!!!

Tomorrow we'll be taking a bus east along the Turkish coast to the city of Marmaris where we will catch a ferry to the Greek island of Rhodes (which incidentally was once home to another of the Seven Wonders, the Colossus.) We'll be staying in Rhodes for four nights before flying to Cairo to meet up with Katie's parents. Look for our next update in a few days.

She Said:

Bodrum is definitely a party central. We were eating dinner at a sidewalk cafÈ last night and flatbed "disco" trucks kept driving by with half naked girls dancing on them trying to entice you to go to whatever clubs sign was hanging on the side. Apparently it works, because everyone stays out really late (past 4am), sleeps in, has breakfast around 1pm and then lounges the beach until it is time to hit the clubs again. Everyone except for us, that is. We briefly talked about staying up late to experience the local club culture, and then we decided that we would much rather be asleep by 10 pm. I always thought that if we were not weighed down with the responsibilities of day-to-day life, commuting and working that we would be quite the party duo. I guess not... turns out we actually enjoy going to bed early. Who knew?

We Said:

Our final thoughts and comments on Turkey.

Turkey is a very easy, rich, and rewarding travel experience. We felt if offered us incredible food, sights and experiences with very little hassle. It is an especially great "introductory" destination for with little or no international travel experience.

Logistics-wise, getting around is no problem. Busses and trains are very comfortable and efficient. Every town has a centrally located otogar (bus station) that has busses to destinations all over Turkey. The busses are usually new and even have "flight attendants" on them.

We experienced amazing hospitality from the small guesthouses in which we stayed. If you opt to stay in this type of accommodation you will often be asked if you'd like to purchase dinner as well, don't decline the offer!!! We had some wonderful food prepared at our guesthouses! Hotels were very clean and of good value. The Lonely Planet Guide to Turkey was very helpful to us!

In Istanbul we would strongly recommend you stay in the largely pedestrian Sultanahmet area of the city. I cannot think of another big city on the planet that has such an array of hotels, guesthouses, and restaurants that is this charming, safe, and located so close to jaw-dropping sites. About the only drawback, anytime you walk down the street in Sultanahment you'd most likely be asked to look at carpets, a polite "no thank you" worked well for us.

You do not need to understand anything other than English to travel here. Turks don't expect you to speak Turkish, and most speak at least some English.

It is not dirt cheap, but still a great value compared to the US or Europe. Our hotels have cost $35.00-$55.00 per night for double rooms with en suite bathrooms and A/C. A decent restaurant/cafÈ meal costs between $5.00-$20.00 per person.

The Turkish people were the friendliest and most helpful of any nation we have experienced. People went out of their way to help, were very friendly and quite accommodating in every way. We were never harassed, cheated, shortchanged, or misinformed. Although in bus stations, remember that when you go to a bus company desk to inquire about schedules, they will want to sell you tickets on their busses and might "neglect" to tell you about other companies whose services may be more convenient for you. Shop around.

Turkey is a Muslim nation but is in most ways is totally secular. Other than hearing the call to prayer broadcast periodically you'd might never know you were in a Muslim country. Especially in Istanbul and the Aegean coast conduct and standards of dress look far more like the US or Europe than that of the Middle East.

There are a great number of amazing sites to visit we only scratched the surface of what this nation has to offer. We agreed that we could have easily occupied a full month just traveling around Turkey
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