Weekending: Bodrum/Greece

As an expat in Istanbul, I am very fortunate to have awesome opportunities for short trips around Europe and the Middle East. My previous weekend jaunt was to Beirut, Lebanon. Though the current 90+ degree weather is ruling out a lot of domestic travel for now, for my next getaway, I made like the locals and headed south to the beach.

The place: Bodrum, Turkey

The Bodrum peninsula fancies itself the Turkish Riviera, though the town proper feels a bit more like the Jersey Shore, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The Bodrum coast (like the Jersey Shore) has great beaches and fun nightlife, though it lacks the sophistication of other European beach towns and the coastline is getting more developed each season. Still, there’s charm left in Bodrum town, beautiful castle and harbor views, and easy boat access to more secluded spots in Turkey and even Greece. Big and boutique resorts with private beaches (many of them jetties) line the sea though you may have to rent a car or rely on taxis and dolmuses (minibuses) to get around. As we wanted to stay in a walkable area with restaurants nearby, we chose the Su Hotel in town, on a quiet street close to the harbor, with a good-sized pool and friendly service.

  • Water is the big draw to Bodrum, though the town itself has only a few small strips of beach, with most of the beach clubs and resorts in neighboring towns like Bitez and Gümbet. The few town beaches are small but serviceable, as well as convenient and most often free, though you may be obliged to buy a drink from one of the adjoining cafes. If you’re after the wide, sandy beach experience, you’re better off in a resort outside of town or taking day trips.
  • Hop on a boat and be in Greece in an hour. From the ferry, you can walk to a beach where 5 euro will get you two chairs, some bottled water, and an umbrella. Pleasant Kos Town doesn’t have a wealth of tourist attractions, but does remind you how NOT European Turkey is, if only for the good wine, availability of pork, and sensible city planning. Alternatively, boat trips are offered all over town to nearby islands and coves in Turkey.


  • While sometimes it’s pleasant to visit a foreigner-friendly city where English is widely spoken and familiar foods are available, after seeing the third cafe in a row serving a full English breakfast, Bodrum’s popularity with Brits and Australians becomes overwhelming and almost demoralizing. I happened to be in town during the England-Germany World Cup match, and the English loss could be heard up and down the streets. On the plus side, a nice book market on Cumhuriyet Caddesi towards the east end sells English books for as little as 5 TL.
  • You don’t come to Bodrum for sightseeing, but the main attractions can still be a little disappointing. The Castle of St. Peter holds the Museum of Underwater Archaeology (admittedly, I hoped it would actually BE underwater) and while the views from the castle are spectacular and several of the exhibits are interesting, the highlights (the cool-sounding Glass Shipwreck and remains of a Carian princess) are only open Tuesday – Friday. Imagine if New York’s Met Museum closed the Temple of Dendur on weekends or the Louvre limited days to see the Mona Lisa?! Likewise, the Mausoleum might have once been one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, but not much of it remains.

Getting there

Bodrum is an hour flight from Istanbul, with sporadic direct flights from continental Europe in season. The airport is 60 kilometers from town and a pricey 90 TL taxi ride, but a shuttle bus connects with domestic flights for 17 TL. If you have early or late flights, be sure to factor in the round-trip taxi fare to the cost of your travel. Ferries depart for Kos (also Rhodes) in the morning and return late afternoon for around 55 TL.

Make it a week

Get your bearings in Bodrum town and then sail a gulet yacht for a cruise along the Aegean. Booking a cabin will cost from 400 euro per person including meals (but not alcohol), crew, fuel, and taxes for a week, chartering the whole yacht can run thousands of euro but can work for a group of friends or family. Do your homework and shop around; Turkey Travel Planner is a good primer.

Travel by freighter to the Marquesas Islands

There are some places that are just better seen by boat. If you don’t have your own sailboat or are averse to cruising on a mega-ship, you can still travel by boat around the Marquesas Islands on the Aranui 3 “Freighter to Paradise,” a real working freighter that welcomes a limited number of passengers aboard.

It sets sail from Tahiti every two weeks for a 14-day tour of the islands. There are daily stops at over a dozen remote islands, plus two full days at sea. The boat can hold up to 200 passengers and meets international safety standards. There are two bars and a swimming pool and the vessel offers standard, deluxe, and suite accommodations. All meals and wine are included in the cost of sailing.

Along with the 50 Polynesian crew and deckhands, guests onboard will visit some of the most untouched islands in the world on one of the last ships to carry both cargo and passengers. I’d say that beats a week on the Oasis of the Seas any day.

[via Urban Daddy]

Teenage Aussie set to sail around the world

Jessica Watson likes to travel, but she approaches the concept a bit differently. The 16-year-old Australian just left Sydney Harbor today, and she wants to take on the world. Her goal is to sail 23,600 miles alone — through some of the toughest waters in the world — and become the youngest person in history to do so.

The trek has kicked off some debate in Australia as to whether Watson’s parents are nuts for letting her attempt this (not a position that’s hard to imagine).The family claims that the kid is plenty salty and knows her way around a ship, and she’ll have radio and e-mail access. She’ll be blogging, too. In the Netherlands, a pair parents disagreed on whether to let their 13-year-old daughter, Laura Dekker, attempt the same feat. A Dutch court put Dekker in the custody of childcare authorities while the parents fought it out.

For Watson, just getting her pink, 34-foot yacht to the starting line has been difficult. Last week, she collided with a cargo ship while sailing to Sydney to make a few last preparations for her journey. And, strong winds last week prompted the sailor to push back her start date.

There are two ways to categorize these around-the-world trips: assisted and unassisted. Watson is gunning for the latter. The youngest person to do this so far is Jesse Martin, also an Australian, who was 18 when he circled the world in 1999. To qualify as “unassisted,’ the vessel can’t take any new supplies, materials or equipment on board once the trip starts. Repairs can be made, but they must use stuff already on the yacht.

The youngest circumnavigating sailor is Mike Perham, from Britain, who went 28,000 miles in nine months, but his trip counts as “assisted,” because he stopped for repairs. Zac Sunderland, from California, was a few months older than Perham when he completed the trip in 13 months, but his was also assisted.

In the Corner of the World – With the wind in your sails

Over the next few weeks here at Gadling, we’ll be bringing you updates from our recent travels across New Zealand – in the process, we hope to offer a range of perspectives about what visiting this truly unique and fascinating country is all about. You can read previous entries HERE.

It’s no secret that New Zealand breeds some of the best sailors on the planet. With serious players in every large regatta including America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race, one begins to think that Kiwis have seawater in their blood.

It may be true. As an island nation deep in the South Pacific, water is always nearby the average citizen. Auckland, the largest city in this corner of the world is surrounded by water, with personal, commercial and ferry ships strewn across the Waitemata Harbor like marbles on rolling sand.

It should thus follow that no trip to New Zealand is complete without some time spent on the water, whether this is swimming with dolphins, floating through glow worm caves, whitewater rafting or sailing through the pacific, and Waitemata harbor is no exception, hosting a broad range of nautical excursions for the seafaring visitor.

Should you fancy your own sailing experience when you’re in Auckland, there are several companies that offer charters from the downtown pier. SailNZ, the owners of two former America’s Cup racing yachts hosts a variety of tours in the Auckland Harbor, from a simple, pleasant day cruise to a hands-on navigation experience to a full bore, competitive race. You can check out their highly recommended tours at SailNZ.co.nz.

If you’re curious how sailing an America’s Cup Yacht feels, check out the video after the jump.


The Volvo Ocean Race heads Eastward

Somewhere in the South China Sea, seven VO70s are pushing northeast towards Qingdao. They’re part of the Volvo Ocean Race, the round-the-world sailing competition that happens once every four years, pitting the best in technology and skill against some the wildest oceans on the planet. It’s an intense, nine month race, with stops around the world in five continents, in port racing, fanfare, glory and loss. More than one team has experienced hardship on the seas, both technical and fiscal — team Russia just pulled out of the race because they couldn’t afford the massive fees.

Later this spring, after a treacherous crossing of the South Pacific and a hook around Cape Horn, the fleet will work its way up past Brazil and towards the US. May 9th in Boston marks their only event in the United States, so if you’re interested in seeing the amazing group of ships you should stop by for the in port race. After that they’ll be headed to Western Europe and finally towards the finish line in St. Petersburg.

We’ll keep you updated on the fleet and their arrival into Massachusetts. In the meantime, check out the media intensive volvooreanrace.org for a wealth of updates, news, pictures and data.