It’s windy in Bodrum. There are white caps on the Mediterranean, and when I open the doors to the balcony, it’s the cold that I notice first. I suppose it makes sense. High season on the Turkish Riviera is coming to an end, and the hot summer weather has to cool off sometime. Despite the chill, the view is spectacular. The edge of an infinity pool blurs into the sea of a private bay, and mega-yachts dot the water like little toy boats.
I’m at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, a beautiful luxury hotel in Bodrum. A friend and I have been invited to stay the night, and after arriving late we wake to find ourselves on a balcony ensconced in pink bougainvillea facing a spectacular Mediterranean sea. Not a bad way to start October.
We traveled to Bodrum the night before compliments of Monarch airlines. They offered me two tickets to anywhere they fly in EMEA, I chose the destination because I always wanted to visit coastal Turkey. While I wasn’t impressed with the fact that Monarch doesn’t let non-EU passport holders check in online even if they’re not checking bags (which also means that we got seats at the back of the plane), the flight went smoothly and the resulting view from our hotel room doesn’t disappoint.
We head down to breakfast to help ourselves to a massive buffet featuring everything from fresh honeycomb to local yogurt, and sweet rolls covered in pistachios. Afterwards we walk past several of the hotel’s restaurants and head to the spa. The space is immense, and we spend the early afternoon in the indoor pool and gorgeous marble hammam.
Later we brave the wind and walk down to the secluded private beach to lounge by the sea.
But we don’t have much time for relaxing. Our stay in Bodrum is short and there is much to explore.
We check out of the hotel and travel into the city, with its pretty marina, historic castle, and legendary Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We walk through the streets and visit the famous Friday food market. The scent of fresh limes, local olives, and rich spices fills the air.
It makes us hungry. We stroll along the waterfront and have dinner in a fairytale outdoor courtyard at a restaurant called Kocadon. Our server dotes and flirts, making sure we are well taken care of as we dine on tender fried calamari and red snapper fillets. Our desserts are the highlights, with my fresh figs in white chocolate sauce and my friend’s bergamot oranges with unsalted cheese being both unique and delicious.
The following night we find ourselves back in Bodrum, this time with a reservation at the Marina Yacht Club. A famous dining establishment, it has great views of the castle and good food to go with it. Our mezzes of green beans and spicy walnut dip go down a treat, and our halloumi and zucchini salads are also nice. We are too full to order dessert, but we do anyway.
Back outside, we brave the wind to explore more of Bodrum. We walk through the narrow covered alleys full of souvenir shops and along the pretty waterfront promenade. We stop at the tourism office, where we find the staff both friendly and helpful. We have a leisurely lunch at a cafe on the marina, filling up on halloumi and skewers of grilled chicken.
We sit in a park and watch the world go by, and ultimately we follow the wind to our next destination along the Bodrum peninsula, the Turkish Riviera’s newest hot spot. To be continued…