A chronicle of Alison and Ron's trip around the world in 2009-2010.

"Not all those who wander are lost"
- Tolkien

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bodrum, Turkey

We took a ferry at 2am from Patmos to Kos and then waited at the port for a 10am boat to Bodrum, Turkey. Arriving in the blistering heat, well over 90 degrees Fahrenheit, into a bustling port town with Bodrum Castle greeting us only steps after disembarking the visa office. We would go later in the week, and climb the massive stone stairs for amazing views of the city and see the underwater museum where centuries old shipwrecks are reenacted. But I thought this photo taken on the grounds was much cuter than a bunch of broken amphora pots...

We stayed a place called Artunc Otel that had free wifi and more importantly a pool that we swam in several times a day to escape the heat. There were beaches around Bodrum but we are actually tired of going to the beaches, if you can believe it. We are learning the trick to never book anything online, taking a few suggestions of pensions to get us in a general area, and negotiating a better rate on the spot.

We decided to treat ourselves to a movie in the theater at a westernized mall a few miles in the city. It was a hot walk but we were in desperate need of some exercise after laying around like bums for a few weeks. We passed the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, or more accurately the ruins as it was destroyed by earthquake, which was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The mall was what you would expect and even had a Gap and a food court where we ate at a bad Chinese food buffet that was so good because it was not meat turning on a stick.

The movie was supposed to be I Love You, Man about a guy trying to find a best man before his upcoming wedding, and I was so excited for:
a. an English movie
b. a comedy, and
c. air conditioning.
But nothing ever turns out as you think it will. The previews started and there was no sound. Ron had to go out and ask for it to be turned on and once it started it was out of sync with the movie. Ever so slightly. Of course, not a single person even noticed or cared because they were reading the Turkish subtitles and are used to horrible dubbing of American movies and tv anyways.

Did I tell you how much the Turks love MacGyver? It’s on at least twice a day. Everyday. And 4 times on Sunday. When I heard the theme song I was so stoked. Dun dun dun dun duuuhn dun-an-un. I loved that show. My favorite was when MacGyver stopped a radioactive leak with a chocolate bar. Go MacGyver!

So the mismatch of the movie drove me up the wall and we had to leave and see another movie, some action film called 12 Rounds which was entertaining mostly because we never get to see movies anymore and would have been entertained just as much by 2 hours of anything in English, even QVC. The theater was totally empty with about 10 rows of 6 seats that were comfortable boxy leather chairs and loveseats. But no AC so I was slightly sweaty the whole time. I do miss the sub-zero meat locker movie theaters and deafening sound systems of the Sony Metreon back home.

Yes, please. This phrase would be repeated a thousand times from the Turkish as both a welcome and an encouragement to buy, sit, or come. You hear it as you approach a menu or merely look at a restaurant from across the street. You hear it walking by shops of spices and tea. You hear it walking towards a fruit stand, and then the yes please turns into an all-out fight between nearby owners about who saw us first. See, the customer never ever begins a transaction, you will be seen, spotted, marked and you will get yes, pleased before you realize what is even going on. This makes leisurely window shopping an impossibility and choosing a restaurant an exercise in speed reading.

For our anniversary we celebrated by going to a Turkish restaurant in a cute candlelit alleyway where you bring the meat or fish (bought at a shop literally next door) and they prepare it for you served with hot and cold meze (appetizers). We picked up some steaks for 7 turkish lira (or less than 5 dollars) and paired it with aubergine salad, stuffed peppers, sautéed shrimp, and a bottle of white wine. We shared the romantic evening with at least a half dozen cats all vying for attention and leftover bits of food. But the real action started when a little girl tossed down a fishhead causing a frenzy. The fur was a flying.

On our way back we stopped in a sweet shop for Turkish Delight (a square gummy fruity candy covered in powdered sugar) and Apple tea (cay) and was talked in to more candy then we wanted.
You have to be firm and hard-nosed or these world class negotiators will run circles around you. No price is set and everything can be haggled, in fact as a tourist if you don’t lower the price on everything you purchase, from your room to your meal to any little knick-knack, then you are getting severely ripped off. A good technique at some point is to scoff and then feign leaving, the price will drop like a hot potato. It’s like a dance that we aren’t very good at yet but the music plays on. Someday we’ll tango, but today we can only rock the robot.


doug e July 17, 2009 at 6:12 AM  

I love the photos and am still laughing at the stories. You sound like your having a blast. Really enjoy the blog Ali.

Alison July 19, 2009 at 10:36 AM  

Thanks Doug! glad to have you following along in our misadventures :)

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