Moving along the Coast: Bodrum

..and staying with our friend’s psychotic cat.

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According to the New York Times, Bodrum is the St. Tropez ofTurkey. It’s also loud, brash, full of new money and fake gold. Fur shops line up next to restaurants that can rival New York in price, but down a side street you’ll find (slightly overpriced) toast stands and storefronts overspilling with discount brand-name fakes, all the prices in Turkish Lira and Euros. Russians strut in their finest gold glitter and highest hair; the monied and tanned recline in their newly washed yatchs anchored in the marina; old British couples wander around looking a little dazed, often dressed like they’re in their twenties (and it’s 1999), tending to cluster towards the many, many bars and pubs. Quieter streets offer classy cafes and romantic seaside restaurants with quirky or quaint decour. A cartoon-covered place with fake reviews from the likes of Obama and Paris Hilton that we visited last year has generous delicious dinners for under ten dollars; a modest meal for two at the restaurant next door could run up to two hundred. Everywhere people, nowhere parking, and everywhere the prices – even if “discounted” seem a little high. Unless of course you get on the main road, where box store follows box store and strip malls featuring Domino’s Pizza, home decour shops and mid-range clothing stores abound.
Twenty years ago Bodrum, with it’s pine-covered peninsulas jutting into the temperate sea, was a popular vacation destination for Turkish families. Many people retired to homes here, at least seasonally. A few feet from the marina nightlife will bring you up winding streets past quiet family groceries and two-story whitewashed houses where other locals live year round. A lot of the older developments are out of town,hills sloping down to the sea covered in a criss-cross of steep streets and near identical rows of split-level whitewashed houses encased by purple flowering trellises and pomegranate trees. In one of these villages E’s parents purchased a summer house years ago when his father was still alive, and we’re currently staying with two friends in a family summer home on another peninsula. Far from the bustle of Bodrum here it’s just wind, wild hills dotted with white summer houses and sea stretching out to Greece. These older houses are quite comfortable, and it’s not surprising that many British People are now choosing to retire here. Each row of houses is staggered so everyone has a view and the sea-side windows fill the houses with light. The front door opens onto an open plan entry, living room and kitchen with a balcony off of the living room; downstairs are two bedrooms with another balcony off the hallway; directly above the bedrooms is a good-sized terrace with 360 views of the sea and hills, and above the living room is another terrace which most residents have filled with potted plants or solar panels. Bodrum central (and all the big shopping centers in between) is a fifteen minute drive away; five minutes in the other direction will take you to the peninsula tip and village center with a few grocery stores, cafes and shops. Compared to rainy England, I too would take this any day.

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