While everyone goes gaga about Istanbul, I would rather enjoy a lazy vacay in Bodrum. With white washed houses and small lanes zigzagging through the small town, it gives a feel similar to Mykonos in Greece or Capri in Italy. Or what I’d like to call it…the Goa of the Aegean Sea: Bodrum. This is one recovery and rejuvenation holiday destination.
I remember the holiday from the very beginning. The car had to be put in first gear to combat the steep driveway to the Hotel grand Yaziki, truly a relaxing haven with a grand view of the entire city. Palm trees lined the driveway and the bright fuchsia bougainvillea that laced the entrance brought about a lively welcome feel. The staff too was extremely courteous and though just one PR manager understood English, one could see their effort in wanting to make our stay perfect. The luggage was deposited into the room and they ushered us to their restaurant as we were famished. Situated on top of a mountain, the Grand Yaziki did have a spectacular panoramic view of the town – I knew we had made the right decision as we were seated at our table. The kids were already making plans to swim in the infinity pool that laced the hotel’s horizon, as my hubby pointed to a cozy bar at the other end of the pool, a perfect lounging area. Our holiday was off to a good start.
Stomachs satisfied, we decided to walk down to the town. It was a conglomeration of shops and small eateries along the way, a delightful mix of local brands of clothing, accessories and leather goods. In Bodrum, it was impossible to control the urge to shop and my hubby thankfully indulged all three of us – tracksuits, swimwear, cute purses for my teenage daughter, funky jewelry, sweatshirts, and casual wear. Closer to the oceanfront, to the left were the lounge bars dotted intermediately with local high-end designers while the marina to the right had the fancy restaurants with every possible cuisine you could think of. It was only after we started walking searching for a good coffee bar did we realize that it would be impossible to carry all the handbags and a trip back to the hotel was due. However, when we did find one, the holiday mood prevailed and at 4 pm we clinked to margaritas instead.
Once we got back to the Grand Yaziki to drop off our shopping, the infinity pool looked too tempting and seemed a sure shot at getting refreshed for the night, so we decided to make the most of it. Since we had the pool all to ourselves it was all the more relaxing. After a few laps, my hubby and I lounged on the cabana beds, watching the kids race a swim.
Well rejuvenated, we got ready and headed towards the seaside again, just in time to see the setting sun against the St. Peter’s castle. It was a beautiful sight indeed. The forefront had the harbor full of parked boats, catamarans and even docked ships that were made into restaurants or bars. The nightlife was very happening. Halikarnas, Marine club catamaran, shamrock, the Kuba Bar – there were many to choose from. All of them had trendy music and a variety of food that one could select from. Some of them had their seating extended to the beach where one could enjoy a more peaceful dinner while the indoors rocked the music. We had some finger-licking risotto and pasta as we sat enjoying the ambiance. This was indeed one of our most relaxing holidays.
The next morning was an early start as Pammukale was a 4-hour drive and we didn’t want to reach there with the sun overhead. We were warned that it could get pretty hot and we should be well equipped with sunscreen. We had seen the pictures of the calcified mountains that looked like snowcapped mountains with ice blue ledge pools which had gotten us really excited. It was truly an amazing geographical phenomenon that we were looking forward to seeing. On our way, we stopped at a fast-food joint for a quick snack. There was also a small store nearby that sold fresh spices. Red chilies were hung in huge bunches after they were dried out in the sun next door. It was something my daughter had never seen. Our Nikon came out and we had the perfect photo op.
By the time we had reached, the temperatures had soared. We got into our swimsuits, slathered ourselves with sunscreen, put on our glares, wore our slippers and trudged uphill. With the sun glaring down at us I must say it was a long trek but the anticipation of the view served to lighten the task. And then there it was…truly nature’s astounding canvas. Though Pammukale means cotton castle, the limestone covered mountain looked more like ice formations in Iceland and the terraces formed on the slopes were filled with milky blue water. The limpid pools were warm and had a steady flow due to the hot springs. One cannot really define the beauty of the visual, it is surreal.
Bordering this is the ruins of the Roman city of Hierapolis. With over two million visitors annually, it is also Turkey’s single most visited attraction. We were fortunate however to reach before the busloads came in. A perfect tourist spot, they have a hot spring pool with well-splattered amenities of a shower, toilets, eateries, coffee/tea machines and even salons offering a fish pedicure. We decided to utilize all of it. While the men went to order pizzas and sandwiches, my daughter and I decided to take a swim. The ticklish pedicure delighted my daughter while we filled our stomachs with the piping hot pizza. As we drove back we all agreed – the long drive had been totally worth it.
That evening we decided to enjoy the ambiance of Grand Yaziki itself. Martinis over the bright blue infinity pool, with smoked salmon spritzed in balsamic sauce, vegetarian tempura and a mezze platter and we were set. We didn’t even realise when we must have dozed off until somewhere past midnight the kids nudged us gently, “Time to go to your room.”
The next day was an extension of the unwinding vibe. We headed to the beach where there was a good gathering of sunbathers, water sports, good food, and music. My daughter, ever energetic, jumped straight into the sea, while my son enjoyed the attention as he stripped off his tee to join the youngsters at the bar. We meanwhile, colored ourselves with Bloody Mary and Tequila Sunrise and wished that we could have more of this “Goa” closer to home.