Cruising the Turkish Riviera

Wednesday – October 12, 2011 –

This morning the Wind Surf anchored in Bodrum, Turkey. This was the first time I have ever visited a Muslim country although Turkey is the world’s only secular Islamic country. The separation of Mosque and state was established in the early 1900s when the Turkish Republic was established by Ataturk.

Bodrum is one of the most popular resort towns in southwest Turkey, also known as the Turkish Riviera. We are excited to be in the Middle East for the first time, though this part of Turkey is quite different than Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. You see a lot of Westerners here and many Turks dressed similarly on the Turkish Riviera. We are also now in Asia, not Europe. It’s my Dad’s first time to set foot in Asia.

We all slept a little bit late before meeting up with Mom and Dad for breakfast. Then we took the tender ashore. Bodrum is an important port in Muğla Province. Its location has always been important on the southern coast of Bodrum Peninsula because it controls entry into the Gulf of Gökova, and faces the Greek island of Kos. Today, it is an international center of tourism and yachting.

Süleymaniye Camii at Bodrum Castle

Süleymaniye Camii at Bodrum Castle

In ancient times, Bodrum was known as Halicarnassus of Caria. In fact, the Mausoleum of Mausolus, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, was located in Bodrum. Today the wonder no longer exists, but pieces of it were used to construct the imposing Bodrum Castle, built by the Crusaders in the 15th century. We began the day by walking around Bodrum Harbor to the Castle. We stopped at an ATM where I withdrew some Turkish lira. Then it was on to the castle.

Bodrum castle, called the Castle of St. Peter, was begun in 1402 by the Knights of St. John on today’s mainland Turkey. It was built as a stronghold on the mainland across from the island of Kos to stave off an invasion by the Seljuk Turks. For more than a century, St. Peter’s Castle remained the second most important castle of the Order after the castle in Rodos and served as a refuge for all Christians in Asia Minor. When the sultan captured Rhodes in 1522, the Castle of St. Peter was surrendered along with the fortress in Kos. Inside the castle, we saw the chapel that was later convert into the Süleymaniye Camii mosque and a minaret.

One highlight for me was the castle overlook of the harbor. The view of the Turkish Riviera and the Wind Surf in the bay was magnificent. We ended the tour by visiting the Museum of Underwater Archeology in the castle grounds – the biggest museum of its kind devoted to underwater archaeology. It was interesting seeing the loot such as glass, pottery, sculptures, gold and jewelry gathered from shipwrecks dating all the way back to the 14th century B.C. It was like the ships were coming back to life before our very eyes.

View of Bodrum Harbor

View of Bodrum Harbor

After eating a chicken curry lunch at a local café, I bought some lemon gelato, which was delicious. I also bought my first taste of Turkish baklava. Apparently the Turkish variety uses pistachios and sugar water syrup instead of walnuts and honey in the Greek style. I think the Turkish kind might be better!

Upon arrival back at the harbor, we boarded the Wind Surf. We departed around 19:00, and it was stunning watching the illuminated Bodrum castle behind our wake as the sun set on Turkish coast. We then saw our sister ship, the Windstar pass by with her sails unfurled in a sunset salute.

Our sister ship, the Wind Star

Our sister ship, the Windstar

For dinner, Mom, Dad, Jeff and I enjoyed tonight’s special barbecue on the stern deck of the ship. Later that evening, I hit the gym on the top level of the ship for a little exercise. It was a fantastic end to a great first day in Turkey.

Categories: Bodrum, Europe, Turkey

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