Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bodrum... Bodrum...

Bodrum is one of the most precious holiday spots in Turkey.  It is a peninsula that is situated in the heart of the Aegean region and a province of the city of Mugla.  It is very easily accessible by bus or plane (around one hour from Istanbul or Ankara).  There are over 20 flights coming into Bodrum daily; the airport is only a half hour ride from city center.   It is a very easy and scenic drive by the water with beautiful panoramas enfolding before you to whet your appetite for more delights to come.

You know you are in the right place when you start to see the white stucco cubic houses situated all along the surrounding hills.  I remember my very first sight of Bodrum over 25 years ago, after an eight hour drive, we stopped on top of the hill right before entering the main town center; when I first spotted the white houses, typical of the region, lying across the hills near the blue waters of the Aegean and the port with Bodrum castle sitting amidst sailing boats in the middle of all this beauty, I thought it was a picture perfect scene.

The white houses with fuchsia bougainvilleas wrapped around the side are the emblems of this lovely Aegean town.  With each passing year these houses seem to come closer and closer to the airport and spread out all over the whole area.  Although the area is without a doubt, still one of the most enchanting, that first quaint sight of so many years ago is long gone.

One of the main claims to fame Bodrum has is its unparalleled nightlife.  When we were here the summer after graduating from college, every night my friend Terry and I used to go to Halikarnass, one of the most amazing nightclubs in the world, outdoors and right on the water.  Today, it is one of many around here and not as widely frequented by the Turkish party scene as other clubs in the outer bays like Turkbuku or Gundogan.  All the different bays have a special quality about them, that makes each one worthy of a separate trip.  With Bodrum being the main summer resort for anyone and everyone, there are so many restaurants, shops, cafes, bars and nightclubs to choose from that it is impossible to check each one out in a couple of weeks.

But the best part about Bodrum has to be the weather and the sea.  Even when it is 40 degrees Celsius outside, there is always a slight breeze and no humidity, making it the most ideal place to visit in the summer months.

We went into the city center today and I walked around the back streets while waiting for my husband, Mehmet to finish his business.  Wherever I go, I love to just wander around aimlessly, running into little back alleys with beautiful homes or old, rundown churches and mosques waiting to be discovered.   Today, I just entered one of the streets directly across from the Bodrum Marina, and I was in a totally different world.

The back streets I walked through, looked like any village street in this area of the country but I really loved the juxtaposition of the pastoral that is so close to the hubbub of the wild party scene.

After wandering around the back streets I decided to return to the marina and walk along the water. As I was strolling and stopping to take pictures to send to my friend Terry, I came by fishermen returned from the sea, selling their catch of the morning.  My mother-in-law has been asking for fish lately and we haven't been able to find any since there was a ban on fishing. I find out from the fishermen that the season has begun.  

This is the fresh catch of the day I had to choose from.  As I was having my selection cleaned, the two fishermen gave me a quick lesson on the varieties that were available out here and the specialty of the region.  I also got some tips on how to best prepare the fish.  We usually either grill our larger fish like Bluefish or Mackerel or fry the smaller variety like Red Mullet.  There are one or two exceptions where we stew Sea Bass with tomatoes, onions and peppers or bake it in a salt crust.  The fish that comes out of the seas surrounding Turkey are so tasty that we don't need to use any kind of a sauce with it.  I looked through all the fish laid out on the trays checking their gills to make sure that they were fresh and bought two different varieties for frying.  The only problem was in getting them home as soon as possible.  We put the air conditioning on full blast and rushed home to prepare them quickly.  Besides the fish, flour and oil, all we needed was a lot of newspapers.  I learned from my husband's aunt, Tuku to let the fish drain its extra moisture on a newspaper after washing and before cooking them.   

Lunch today was prepared with minimal fuss; I made a simple salad of tomatoes, cucumbers and onions with oil and lemon (juice of one whole lemon) while Bostan fried the floured fish in hot oil.  All of the 3 pounds of fish I brought home were consumed probably about four hours after they had been caught.  This is one of the major attractions of life in this part of the world, from the source to your table within a matter of hours.  I can't wait to see what surprises tomorrow has in store for me in this piece of heaven on earth.

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