After the Shotley Farce, we were looking forward to being on our own again with the added pleasure of warm sun and new surroundings. And so it was that, for the second year in a row, we stayed at the Sofitel Gatwick (saves all that driving in the small hours and "we're going to be late" panicking you see), and for the second year in a row I was awake at 2am staring into space, wondering what sort of excitement the next two weeks would throw at us and how different this might be to the "Ionian Starter Charter" for beginners (seeing as how we are now experts right?)
Blah blah airport, departures, good flight etc etc and a few hours later we were in a taxi, being spirited along the coastline towards Bodrum. The trip from the airport takes just 35 minutes with some quite amazing views of the sea en-route. The first sight of Bodrum Castle is one to savour. More of that later: the only thing we were interested in looking at were the masts......hundreds of masts belonging to yachts moored at Bodrum Milta Marina. We drove along the promenade until we reached our base, right at the end. We were dropped at our pontoon "C". The driver leapt back into his cab and drove off, leaving us both all bemused, wondering where on earth the office was for Yildiz Yachting. Marco took the initiative and wandered down the pontoon , quickly finding Balina, our home for the next fortnight. We dropped our bags by the paserelle and went in search of the Yildiz office. Having located it down a side street (to be fair it was on our little map that Nautilus, the UK agent, had sent us - we just prefer to look bemused and confused in new places) we filled in the necessary paperwork, handed over our security deposit of €1000 and returned to Balina to find maintenance men touching up a few bits and pieces. We had a yacht briefing booked for 3.30, so unpacked and went in search of food and beer. The marina area was nicely landscaped with a well-stocked Carrefour and a few chandleries as well as designer shops and a bar that overlooked the marina...oh and a 'yacht club restaurant'. We had some lunch and tested out the Turkish beer - a large Efes each.
Having had two of these 'testing beers', we made it back to the yacht in time for our briefing. I hoped that Marco was taking it all in because I certainly wasn't! We then went provisioning. Our basic starter pack for ourselves consisted of the following; butter, cheese, beer, tonic, water, yoghurt, milk, sundowner nibbles. You can see how healthy we are and how much liquid we considered essential in this heat! By the time we got back to the yacht it was almost dinner time. Can you see a pattern emerging here?Perhaps the blog should be changed to reflect it more as a world culinary experience rather than a sailing blog as precious little sailing seems to be taking place.
Anyway, having decided to stay in Bodrum tonight and get sailing first thing in the morning, we took advantage of the relative luxury of the shower facilities and went wandering.
From the marina to Bodrum Castle takes about 20 minutes if you are forty-something.....adjust up and down according to age and alcoholic intoxication (it took a bit longer coming back for some reason). The castle was closed (opening times 9am - 6pm) so we came back along and ate at a place along the front called 'Bulvar'. There was no reason to eat here particularly other than the fact that we didn't have the energy to keep avoiding all those nice waiters who step to one side and spread their arm out majestically to display their menu and/or fish counter. You know that the smile will disappear as soon as you pass by - just don't look back and you won't get upset!
After dinner Marco said he had noticed some quaint looking streets behind one of the squares towards the castle. So we retraced our steps and were soon among the throng of tourists darting between bag, leather, spice, Turkish Delight shops. The atmosphere however, was great. Every so often we could look through to the end of a shop and see the castle, lit up and looking majestic. As we neared the end of 'shopping street', the whole seafront opened up and another long street took over: bar street! Right at the end of Bar St was Halicarnas, the famous night club - one of the very few open-air clubs in the world. We decided we might go there at the end of our holiday for a laugh. We're only in our mid-forties...should be fun!! The music was ambient although to be fair it was only 11pm, and being all tired and old, we retreated back into Shopping Street and the comforting buzz of a dozen different languages, all excitedly discussing their plans for the next day.
Nightcap time! And Marco had seen a spot near the castle on our way through. It was called Campanula/Al Atika and it had a divine roof terrace where a band was playing. We climbed the steps and sat on squashy cushions drinking beer, looking over our shoulders at the castle and sea, then looking down at the busy street below us. On the next table a Turkish family were clapping and singing along. The atmosphere was friendly and right up our alley! We could have stayed all night.