Thursday, August 25, 2016

Getaway Weekend at Bodrum & Aegean Sea

April 8-10, 2016
Sometimes you just need a weekend away from your normal routine and people. Meeting up with my good friend Erika Prince in Bodrum was the perfect getaway. Erika was my roommate at Niza Park Hotel during Orientation and Midyear Meeting.

Bodrum is a lovely little town that sits on the Aegean Sea, located between the Greek and Anatolian peninsulas. Bodrum’s marina and beaches are considered a relaxing resort by tourists and locals alike. There’s a good mix of foreigners and Turks who bathe on the sandy beaches and shop at the cute trinket shops.

Sun was peeking through the clouds during my bus ride.
Arrival & Lodging
I took what I thought was a 6-hour Kamil Koç bus ride from Antalya to Bodrum; but, instead, it turned out to be 8 hours. This was problematic because I had communicated a specific arrival time to our Air Bnb host Mustafa and Erika. And the two of them had to wait longer than anticipated. When I finally arrived, I was greeted by Erika and Mustafa who had been waiting at the station for nearly two hours now. I felt bad for all of this so I let out some steam at the Kamil Koç office, hoping that the feedback would better educate future employees. Nothing, of course, came out of it because it’s Turkey (roll eyes), but I felt better having done my part. We stayed at Mustafa’s apartment, who had excellent reviews for being hospital and knowledgeable. He was a 20-something-year-old local who knew the town inside out. Mustafa had become a pro at hosting foreigners through Air Bnb—no wonder his English was just short of excellent!

Before going to the hostel on Friday evening, Mustafa took us to a place called PizzaPizza where we ordered kumpir, which is a mix of a baked and mashed potato with toppings such as beans, vegetables, and meats. In our eight months of living in Turkey, I was surprised that neither Erika nor I had had kumpir. I wasn’t a huge fan of this new dish (I don’t like mashed potatoes in general),  but it was good to try something new and enjoy it with the classic Ayran (salty yogurt drink).

I will keep this blog post short and very generally summarize what we did on Saturday and Sunday. I want you to check out Erika’s blog post for a more illustrious description of our getaway weekend at Bodrum. Her full blog name is, in which she beautifully writes about her experiences of being a Fulbrighter in Ankara and traveling around.

We started our Saturday with a kahvalti at an open-air café, which was quite literally 10 feet from the shore. We had a beautiful view of the castle, which Erika and I later explored for a few hours. This was the highlight of my entire weekend; just strolling through an old castle, chatting with Erika, admiring the pretty scenes, hearing the waves. We took goofy photos and even made a “television ad” video (see below). Before leaving the castle, a photo booth caught our eyes: we decided to dress up in old Ottoman clothes and be princesses for a while. Why not, right? Photos are memories! Enjoy the photo essay below!

On Sunday, we relaxed at the beach. Erika let me color in her coloring book while she journaled and listened to music. Mustafa accompanied us as well (though we didn’t actually need a guardian). On our walks back, we browsed through the trinket shops lined up in the streets leading up to the beach. I purchased two straw hats, sandals with nazar (evil eye) beads on them (followed Erika’s suit), key chains of little bottles with nazar beads in them, a mug, and chimes. One would think that after living in Turkey for such a long time, I would not fall into tourist traps, but alas, I did. A man sold me a straw hat for 30 lira and two stores later, I purchased another one for 10 lira. I was angry at myself for not realizing this. Important lesson to always remember: check prices at all the stores before making a purchase!

Erika is a special friend, wicked smart too. She’ll be a teacher at the prestigious Andover private high school in Massachusetts next year. This means I’ll be able to visit her more frequently when I move to Boston next fall. Rooming with her at Niza Park Hotel was the start to our beautiful friendship, one that I hope lasts forever. We became closer by sharing our high and low experiences and supporting each other through the not-so-good times.

A weekend at Bodrum was just what I needed to rejuvenate myself. We had no major schedule to follow at Bodrum, which is what made it so peaceful and relaxing. We both needed to recharge our batteries and go back to our respective towns with enough energy to finish strong—two more months and we would be home in the USA! On the bus ride back to Antalya, I slept soundly. I dreamt of a magical kingdom with tall, stone castles and serene beaches nearby. I heard the waves giggling as the flirty sail boats winked before passing by.

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