Bodrum was a mystery and a surprise.
I had certainly never heard of it. I have never been to Turkey. Our advisor, Isaac of Spain, (a passenger last week who is so well-informed that I referred to him as my “audio guide”), did not offer any thoughts on it. Although he had pencilled in thoughts on visiting other ports on our second leg of the cruise, he added nothing to this itinerary.
No one really said much about it. The history is typical in that although it was founded in 1000 B.C., it’s current ruins are much more modern. Civilizations had a way of choosing the same spots for their defensible positions and their holy sites through the years. They simply tore down what was there and rebuilt what they wanted in the same places. You can read more reliably about the history of Bodrum here.
The surprise of Bodrum was in enjoying it immensely.
I am always thrilled when I can feel some connection with someone when I travel. Having disembarked and begun the jaunt along the narrow beach and sidewalk toward town, I heard young voices, “Hello, hello!”
I looked across the street and saw two young girls along the fence of a school playground. They were smiling and waving at me. I could not resist approaching them.
“I had been practicing “Good Morning” from my phrase book in Turkish (along with Thank You” and “Please”); my success was limited. Before I reached the girls, I had spoken my friendly phrase to two or three people who had looked puzzled and then responded with what sounded like “Unidem“. (Later I googled it and found that it was, “Günaydın“) Had I known I should have learned a simple, “Merhaba“.
But I digress. My young ladies were practicing their English. “How are you?” they trilled. We had one of those wonderful, garbled conversations with smiles, smiles, smiles, all around as we learned each other’s names and they grilled me on where I lived. They were the joy I needed to love my day here.
After a coffee at a table by the water, we climbed up the hill to the castle only to find that there was a moat at the top of the hill. A lovely man allowed us to clamber down the steep rocks steps through his home/restaurant and we followed the crowds to the real entrance.
One memory I carry away with me from Bodrum is the massive amount of boats in the harbors. These were not just little fishing boats, these were yachts and sailing ships along with the obligatory Gulets that offered rides to visitors.
The other memory is the Castle of St. Peter constructed with the stones of the Mausoleum built in 335 B.C. by the Knights of St.
John. This is a beautiful preserved edifice/museum that somehow feels alive and vibrant. Especially fascinating was the room of the Princess containing her remains and some of her jewelry. (No photos allowed.)
There is a reconstruction of the ship of the day and a room containing vessels of different periods (which, of course, I can’t annotate since I never remember details). I just remember being shocked by the quality of the glass at such an early time in history, which could have been, I suppose, any time from 1000 B. C. to the 1500’s.
There were a couple of stones that I was convinced were from the original tomb built for Mausolus by his wife. It was at one time one of the 7 wonders of the Ancient World, before being destroyed, probably by an earthquake.