Day 5 / Wednesday August 24th / Bodrum Turkey
We were now at our first stop in Turkey! The view from the window was sort of a mix of Mykonos and Crete. That is, the buildings were all white against a greenish background, going up hillsides, and in that sense it did look ‘picturesque’. On the other hand, the buildings here were all fairly modern looking – squares with rows of windows. So it had a much more modern feel to it.
We had no official excursion planned for today. I slept in, having woken up bunches of time through the night. Mom sweetly brought fruit to the room for me again. Once I was done with that, I tossed on clothes.
The shuttles to town are on an EXTREMELY odd schedule. They only leave every half hour – and they have a long lunch break between 12:30 and 2pm. But this doesn’t mean they actually leave from the town at 2pm. It means at 2pm they leave the ship and get into town at 2:30pm to pick up people waiting there. And you have to be back on board by 4:30pm.
We were able to catch the 11am shuttle. It’s a minivan with maybe 10 seats total. It took about 15 minutes to drive around the bay to the main plaza of Bodrum. That plaza is immediately aside a minaret, which makes it fairly easy to find from around town. You just look for that minaret tower. The plaza is also right against the water.
From the plaza it was a short maybe 10-minute walk along the water to the historic castle. There was a longish line which didn’t move ‘steadily’ – it seemed as if they were waiting for enough people to come out to then accommodate a tour group going in. It moved in fits and starts. At last we got to the front, paid our dues, and went through security to get in. We saw a man go through security who had a bottle of alcohol removed from his bag. The bottle was held at the security gate for when he was done.
I adore castles. I write many books involving castles. This castle was one of the highlights of my trip. It is quite large and has all sorts of history associated with it. So for me the castle was quite interesting. I want to warn that the castle had a LOT of high-step stairs made from worn rough stone. There weren’t always handrails. I had to help my mom up and down a number of them. The stone was very uneven and bumpy. It’s good to wear sturdy shoes for visiting the castle.
The views of the town and water from the castle were quite pretty. There were many embedded stone coats of arms in the castle walls, representing various important people who had ruled over the castle. There were displays of ancient mosaics, gravestones, and other items around the grounds. Some of the tower rooms were used as museum display rooms, holding beautiful pottery, vases, jewelry, weaponry, and more. A variety of styles were represented. There were peacocks and cats roaming the grounds.
I really enjoyed this visit immensely. I liked being able to take our own time as we went through it. Many of the rooms were smallish so I appreciated being on our own and being able to linger. It was hot, but some of the rooms with artifacts were air conditioned, so there were ways to cool off.
Finally we were tired, starving, and done. We walked back to the town in a light rain. It was only 1:30 by this point so we checked in with the Regent people hanging out by the shuttle pickup location. We were a bit worried about this shuttle filling up, and we let them know would be ready for the 2pm shuttle. We held up 2 fingers. They said sure, you are all set.
Since we had a half hour to wait, we went off in the little alleys to do some shopping. I got a few items – two shawls, one with the blue eyes, the other with a lavender design. Cloth triangles were draped across the overhead areas of streets to act as a rain and sun shield. It was lovely.
About 1:45 we got back to the plaza and hung out in the shuttle area. We figured there might be a swarm of people when the shuttles started up again, and we wanted to get on the first one as we were very hungry, thirsty, and tired. We checked in with the Regent people again.
2pm came. 2pm went. At 2:10 I went over to check in with them. They said, oh, it doesn’t get HERE until 2:30. The shuttle was over at the ship at 2. We said, but we already asked you before to make sure we had the time right. We would have gone right back to the ship on a taxi if we knew it would be this long until we got water and food.
They pointed us to the taxi stand.
We got a taxi and it was only 5 euros to get back to the ship. Clearly we should have done this back at 1:30. The taxi happily took euros even though the currency here is Turkish lira.
At the terminal, it was a quick zip through a security station, just showing our room key and nothing else. And then a quick walk down the dock where we were across from another cruise ship. And up the gangplank.
I’ll note that nobody in Bodrum commented on my Ukrainian gear, either positively or negatively. It was a neutral issue. I was also wearing rainbow pride socks, but those are less visible with my long pants.
We went right to floor 11, but of course the main restaurants were all closed now. At least the pool grill was open still. I had my usual salad and Mom had a panini. I was very thirsty but it took them a while to come over to even check on our drinks, so at least I had the lettuce which is watery to eat. I should have brought a shoulder-holster for the water bottle so I could more easily carry it with me. It’s just a pain to hand-carry the big metal bottles the ship provides. I didn’t want to bring a waist pack big enough to carry these massive bottles.
Now, back to the room. I packed up all my laundry, added in some of Mom’s, and went over to the laundry room. It’s all free to do and they have detergent there. I started it up. There was nobody else using the machines (two washers, two dryers) and no sign instructing people to stay with their laundry. So I set my phone timer and came back to the room to relax a bit.
Near the end of the laundry timer, we got a call that somehow the front desk didn’t have my Turkish Visa, even though I had brought it to them and they’d copied it. So I took it again to reception. This time they didn’t copy it – they just wrote down some numbers from it. This made me a bit nervous about my visa situation, but I hoped for the best.
On the way to the room I swapped my laundry into the dryer – I was again the only unit in use – and set my phone timer again.
When my timer went off I went back to the laundry room. There were two women standing right in front of the units, talking. All four units were now going. They talked for about five minutes which was confusing to me because my unit should have stopped. Then one woman turned to me. I said my laundry should have been dry by now. She explained she’d taken out my laundry and left a few things in to finish drying. I let her know I’d just take those damp things and hang them, and did so. It felt a bit odd that she’d handled all my underwear and bras, and unless my timer had been off, the dryer shouldn’t have been finished yet. So it felt very strange. Still, a minor inconvenience, and now my laundry was all set again.
We dressed for dinner and went down to the lounge first to hear the musical duo. It was a keyboardist and a singer. The lounge was very dark. Again, small casual snacks like pigs-in-a-blanket and chips were offered. The musicians were technically good, but to me very mechanical sounding. We would rather have had a string quartet option. I will note that my boyfriend plays in a classic rock band, so I might be a bit more picky about music than most people would. I go to a lot of gigs. And, again, people were talking loudly and not even listening anyway.
Finally it was time for dinner at Chartreuse, one of the specialty restaurants. I happen to adore yellow Chartreuse, so I was really looking forward to this. In the front area, there was a couple animatedly talking by the maître d’ podium and he gently tried several times to interject to ask if they were ready for dinner. Finally they said they were joining another party and moved on. The next person in line was waiting for someone, and realized he probably shouldn’t have been in line if he wasn’t ready. Then the maître d’ got to us to seat us. It was just an odd feeling in terms of starting an evening at their high-end dining restaurant.
We were brought Champagne to start, then bread, then the meal began. It was quite lovely. The flavors and plating were quite nice.
At the end I asked if they had Chartreuse and if so which kind. They had the green kind which Bob and I always joke is ’not ripe yet’ as it is the tarter-tasting one. So they went off to check, and yes indeed they had some yellow, which was delicious. I’d been looking forward to it all evening, and it was nice that they did have it.
Then back to the room, and to sleep!