02.09.2011 - 02.09.2011 31 °C
We catch a Greek ferry from Kos to Bodrum, 15 Euro per person. But wait, we also pay a Port Tax of 4 Euro per person. The boat fits a couple of hundred people, perhaps a little smaller than a Gulf Islands ferry but, since it’s not designed for cars, a completely different shape. The bathrooms confuse Alison. Why is the water in the toilets running constantly, when the sign above the sink says “Please conserve water.”? The Greeks, as I recall, were the first masters of irony. We leave 15 minutes late.
We have a good view of Bodrum’s castle coming into the harbour. It is very old, built by the Knights of something or other, as a companion to the castle in Kos, to control the passage between the mainland and Kos. The castle is supposed to be excellent, with the Museum of Underwater Archaeology the best of its type. But, before we can enter Turkey, the rotund little man, with quite possibly the world’s most embarrassing comb over, behind the passport sign tells us we need to pay 40 Euro each for our Turkish Visas. EU citizens pay nothing. We are being gouged because, as we know, the Canadian government does not necessarily play nice with Turkish citizens intending to visit Canada. Luckily, we brought a gigantic wad of US$ to cover the cost. At least, it seemed gigantic, and I am almost happy to be rid of it. He needs a little convincing to accept dollars, all things American having recently lost their lustre. $60 each.
We have some difficulties finding a good pension at a reasonable price. “Sevin”, which the Lonely Planet claims is basic in nature but good value, actually looks quite super. He initially asks for 175 Turkish Lira (about $100), including breakfast, but reluctantly comes down to 160 TL. We were under the impression that Turkey was cheap. Since we’ll need to remortgage the house if we pay that price even in the potentially cheap countries, we go back into the street and start looking for “pansyon” signs. Our next stop is not nearly as nice, but doesn’t want to go below 140 TL. On the street, resting, looking for another option in the LP that we can call, a nice couple stops to ask us if we need help. They suggest our first stop, Sevin, as a good option, then commiserate with us over the high prices. Apparently there is some kind of festival going on, that has likely temporarily raised the prices, and prices should be back to normal in a few days, once we have gone. They are from Bodrum, live just down this street, are very kind, and offer us fresh and dried figs.
We find the “Sedan” Pension about five minutes up the street. When we hesitate at 100 TL a night, he brings it down to 80 TL, less than $50. This is better. They spend an hour getting a room ready for us, what appears to be the basement of their house. It is acceptable. Sunny likes that it is a bit dilapidated. The courtyard, as the guidebook mentions, is ramshackle and quaint. The proprietors seem to be a very pleasant family.
We ask about supermarkets and are directed where to go. Five minutes down the road, we find a huge collection of mostly fruit and vegetable stalls in a covered market, right next to a very contemporary AIR CONDITIONED market. Think “Market on Yates” but with fewer Yuppie overtones. Did I mention it has been stinking hot since 9 AM? We are all jonesing for hydration of any kind. We buy a small tub of “ayran” (a Turkish salty yogurt drink that Susan liked when she was in Istanbul, like the Indian “lassi”), a 1L bottle of orange pop, and 1.5L of cold Turkish bottled water. They have a 2.5Kg tub of plain yogurt for 6TL, say $3.5. Two point five Kilos! It is huge. We don’t buy it. It is too big. We have some Turkish coffee in a little stall in the veggie market. When paying, we seem to get the short end of the ensuing discussion between employees, but the coffee was good.
We hit the town, wandering back to the more touristy areas. The waterfront seems to be more attractively developed than Kos Town. The buildings look nicer and the whole area generally seems cleaner and tidier. The Kos waterfront was essentially a road with a solid layer of restaurants and cafes behind. It was pleasant to look at, but once we wandered off the waterfront the town itself wasn’t particularly pleasant. In total, with a mix of rundown buildings, empty lots, dirty sidewalks, and not very attractive buildings, it wasn’t an especially nice experience walking around Kos Town. We are all agreed that we definitely prefer the appearance and atmosphere of Bodrum to Kos. The buildings are more attractive, it has a cleaner appearance (although I’m not sure it actually IS cleaner), and it generally just seems to be more nicely developed. Still, the entire waterfront area is just a tourist area.
We do discover a small piece of authentic Turkey, which was an uncomfortable yet worthwhile experience. While walking parallel to the waterfront, we spot a “.75 Cay” sign inside a building. Cay (pronounced: chai) is Turkish black tea, served in miniature tulip cups with two cubes of sugar. We enter the courtyard and see two tables of Turkish men, playing cards and some weird dominolike game. We sit. We are clearly out of place. We wait in uncomfortable silence. Some of us contemplate getting up and looking foolish in front of complete strangers. Finally, one of the men gets up, pops into a little doorway, and gestures towards us for someone we can’t see. Soon after, a man comes and takes our order. He seems welcoming. We drink our cay, feel better, and leave satisfied with our mini piece of Turkish culture. Total: 3TL.
We find a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant on the way back to our pension and eat dinner out. Two plates of okra, rice, spinach, and beans, with two cans of pop. 24TL, or $15. Then, back to our pension to get some towels and rest our aching hot feet.