Friday, 26 April 2013

Bikes in Bodrum

The 6th stage of the Presidential Cycle Race started in Bodrum this morning.  The main square was transformed yet again as professional cyclists rode back and forth between the stage, hospitality tent and the starting gate mingling with race organisers, press photographers and tourists.  Yesterday I tried and failed to get some photos of the 5th stage as the riders whizzed through Bodrum on their way to the finish in Turgutreis  so I arrived early today to  snap the contenders before they zoomed off.

A leisurely peddle 30 minutes before the start
Each team was interviewed in a mixture of English, Turkish, French and Italian.

Bodrum also had two large cruise ships in today, which added to the bustle. 

On the start line
The turquoise jersey is worn by the leader, the red jersey by the best climber.

The start - 11:40am as advertised!

I was surprised at how relaxed they all looked considering they were just about to set off on a 182 km journey, culminating in a 6km twisting climb to Merymana, which is daunting in coach or car.  The Turkish flags will have been out in force at the finish as Mustafa Sayer crossed the line first and seized the overall lead. 

A boy can dream. 

Thursday, 25 April 2013

23rd April

National Holidays are always busy in Bodrum and unfailingly accompanied by much flag waving, horn blowing and drum bashing. At the end of our morning walk on Tuesday,  Jake and I met one stream of processing children on their way to the stadium  to celebrate Children's Day and my usually good natured dog got quite hot under the collar over the noise. So we stood back and watched the kids march (girls) and amble (boys) by and followed up the rear as they all filed into the arena to be lightly broiled  under the sun.  I thanked my lucky stars that I am no longer obliged to follow them in and watch the painstakingly choreographed dances and listen to familiar poems delivered with determined juvenile fervour, and then deal with the aftermath; a hot, sticky, sunburnt child.  One day, an enlightened educationalist will suggest adding hats to the costumes.

We are used to having this alley to ourselves in the morning
I'm sure the teachers were thankful that there wasn't a repeat performance of  An inebriated "gentleman of the road" whole-heartedly joining in with the practice sessions.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bodrum for Foodies.

When was the word "foodie" invented?  It seems to have slipped into common usage in the last 20 years or so and replaced  "gourmand". It implies to me a  more down-to-earth interest in food and a concentration on the sourcing of high quality ingredients rather than on an intricate recipe or  difficult-to-execute dish.  In my mind, gourmands were bloated old fogeys in butter stained waistcoats and foodies are healthy, ageless,  linen-wearers carrying baskets of organic asparagus and field mushrooms.  Whatever the definition, Bodrum is definitely becoming a haven for foodies.  This weekend saw portable kitchens set up in the harbour square and chefs from a multitude of hotels competing to produce the best dishes in Bodrum's Taste Festival.

Is there a collective noun for chefs?  A chiffonade of chefs or a catering of cooks? There was more than a soupçon of chefs around the centre of town today.

Despite all the enticing smells coming from the kitchen section, I was drawn to this stand.  As someone who can just about turn out a ghoulish candle holder at Halloween, I was blown away by these sculpted pumpkins, water melons  and vegetable flowers. Probably not in the best of taste, but quite an amazing display.

Recep, from Green Beach Resort, with his creations

Friday, 19 April 2013

Homework- Bodrum Style

Anything that makes homework more palatable gets my endorsement.


These young ladies have found a perfect spot to study.

"My maths exercise book floated away" is a much better excuse than "the dog ate it." 

Monday, 15 April 2013

Of Trees and Tesserae - Beautifying Bodrum.

Bodrum is no stranger to mosaics; the two above were excavated by Sir Charles Thomas Newton in the 1850s and mosaic floors are still regularly uncovered as gardens are dug up for new construction. But the ancients don't have a monopoly on the art of tessera arrangement.  We have some beautiful modern examples appearing on Bodrum's thoroughfares .


When Bodrum's marble pavements were laid, the trees were incased in rather incongruous concrete tubs which caused quite a few raised eyebrows and had many of us questioning why the trunks needed such robust protection.

Rather than just raising an eyebrow, local artist, Neslihan Zabcı Erdal, is using the concrete pots as a canvas for her ceramic pictures and brightening up the Bodrum streets.  As a piscean living in Turkey, I can relate to the subject matter of Neslihan's recent marine inspired work and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it in the town centre.

If you would like to be part of this project, you can sponsor a mosaic and have your name or your company immortalised on the streets of modern Halicarnassus.
For further details, contact Neslihan at or click on her name to link to her website.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Nostalgia in the Air.

It's heating up in Bodrum and my daily walks are getting warmer and warmer.  As summer approaches, the late Spring scents are particularly strong in the morning and as I head down to the harbour, there is one particular aroma that sends my thoughts tumbling back to the 1970s.  I pass an untended mandarin garden that is in full flower but its negligent owner has not bothered to collect all the fruit so there is a heady scent of blossom with an underlying hint of overripe citrus. It's a dead ringer for Aqua Manda, the ubiquitous whiff of my early teenage years.  If I close my eyes, I'm 14 years old, in a Laura Ashley flowing dress with massive puff sleeves and a multitude of tiny buttons, trying to emulate a medieval damsel or Babs from  Pan's People. 

On the way back home I pass this fence full of wisteria which is another blast from the past as I was also a fan of Mary Quant's Wistaria perfume oil.  I must have been older when I wore this as I had to take the train to London  to stock up; Rugby being too provincial to sell Mary Quant.
My sense of smell seems to evoke much stronger memories than sight or sound and whip up a more intense feeling of nostalgia.  I'd love to hear about the aromas that take you back to your youth.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Bodrum OTfest

If you want to eat greens,  follow the goat

A round of applause for the organisers of Bodrum OTfest.  "Ot",  meaning grass, is also the word used for any greens and this weekend we joined together in celebration of the edible feast that can be foraged around our peninsula.  

TV pundit and chef Wilco Van Herpen and "Secrets of the Turkish Kitchen" author Angie Mitchell bond over Angie's book

It was an opportunity for foodies to meet up

Bodrum Mayor, Mehmet Kocadon with his hand on the shoulder of vineyard owner and blogger, Mehmet Vuran.

It was a chance for Bodrum Bloggers to speak to each other.
Mehmet Vuran is a font of all knowledge about wine, grapes, vines and wild plants. I'm lucky to live in the next village along from him, so follow all his horticultural and viticultural tips

Perfect festival setting by the sea.

The younger visitors had space to run around and fly kites. 

There were plenty of raw materials on offer to take home to cook 

Or local specialities to taste. Wild herb muffins took my fancy. 

Musa from Mumcular

I caught up with old friends. Musa helped build our house over 20 years ago. 


Raşit lives just down the lane from us. Still smiling despite a chronic illness, he has taken up making wooden spoons since his diagnosis. 

The judges
Reputations were at stake as contestants vied to produce the most innovative wild greens recipe. 

Look how well wrapped up we all are. It was 26 degrees C, but being the beginning of April, no one risks catching a chill and if I'd known I would end up being interviewed on TRT news, I would certainly have made a bit more effort getting ready. 

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Hellimli - Cooking with Halloumi Cheese.

Despite the lack of hot cross buns at Saturday's Bodrum Hugs The World event, there were a lot of tasty dishes on offer. These lovely ladies representing Kıbrıs, introduced me to Hellimli, a cross between a cake and bread made with Halloumi cheese.  When I got home I fired up google to get the recipe and found about 20 different ways of making it. The only common ingredient was the cheese. Some recipes use yeast, some baking powder. Some favour oils, others butter. The hellimli I bought  had sultanas but most recipes didn't.  A few used no eggs, several used 3 or 4.  Not being a great follower of recipes anyway, I felt this gave me free reign to bake my own.  Every one from North and South Cyprus will probably throw up their hands in horror but this is Annie's Hellimli and even though I say so myself,  its delicious and very easy to make.

3.5 cups of wholemeal flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt and pepper
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium egg
1 medium onion - finely chopped
250g Halloumi cheese - finely chopped
10 black olives, pitted and chopped
1/2 cup sultanas 

Mix the flour, salt and pepper, baking powder, onion, cheese, olives and sultanas in a bowl.  Whisk together the egg, milk and oil in a jug and then add to the bowl. Stir well to make a sticky dough. 
Grease and flour a baking tray and press the dough into a round about 4 cms thick.  Bake in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 190C (fan oven180C) for 25 to 30 minutes.  If the centre still looks a bit doughy, give it another 5 minutes. 

It was wonderful warm from the oven, but still good cold the next day.  I will be making another batch for the next picnic as it's tasty enough to eat by itself with a little chutney on the side. 

Afiyet olsun. 


Monday, 1 April 2013

Bodrum - Walking in Famous Footprints.

Herodotus wouldn’t recognise Bodrum as his birthplace Halicarnassus, but I’m sure he’d send you off to the 8 Lelegian towns around the Bodrum peninsula, to savour what life was like in the 5th century BC.  Make an easy start by visiting Pedasa above Konacik, a well signposted road now leads almost all the way to the site, or head out to Yalıçiftlik and take a left turn to Alazeytin to walk around the ruined fort of Syangela. If feeling exceptionally fit, carry on over the mountain towards Etrim and walk up to Theangela.  Which ever site you choose, you will be transported back to times when Persians ruled the land and pirates dominated the seas and the only safe places to live were on top of steep hills where you could see the enemy approach your thick defensive walls.

Picture 1       View from Syangela.

Mausolus would insist that you stayed in the centre of Bodrum. He had no truck with the outlying towns and in the 4th century BC insisted the residents move to Halicarnassus, his new Carian capital city.  His wife/sister made sure that Mausolus would never be forgotten by building such a magnificent burial chamber for him that his Mausoleum became one of the Seven Wonders of the World and gave us a new word. Visit the site on Turgutreis Caddesi, and decide whether you want to sign the petition to bring the marble friezes and statue of Mausolus back to his home town from the British Museum.

Alexander the Great spent a lot of time staring at the walls of Halicarnassus as he laid siege to the city in 334/3 BC You too can follow the intermittent line of the walls which interweave with modern streets and carry on up the hillside overlooking the modern town. Eventually, like Alexander you will find the Myndos gate on the west side of Bodrum.  This well restored monument was the scene of Alexander’s successful breaching of the city’s defences and the remains of the ancient moat are still visible. Alexander won’t have such good memories of Myndos; he tried to invade the town but the locals fought him off. The present day residents of modern Gümüşlük are much more friendly and as the most unspoilt village on the peninsula, it is worth a visit. Those on a limited budget may want to check the prices before choosing a seafront restaurant, as the stunning views don’t come cheap.

     The Myndos Gate

Jumping the centuries, when The Knights of St John started building in the early 15th century AD, they made sure that their legacy would define modern Bodrum to this day.  As you crest the hill on the main road from the airport, their magnificent Castle on the seafront draws the eye both day and night. No visit to Bodrum should ever be considered without spending a day in the museum in the castle. Reconstructions of ancient wrecks, beautiful gold and glass jewellery and the tomb of the Carian Princess are the highlights and the achievements of both land-based and underwater archaeologists are awe-inspiring.

Neyzen Tevfik, born in Bodrum in 1879, musician and poet and most famous master of the Turkish woodwind – the ney, would certainly direct visitors to the varied cultural entertainments in Bodrum.  Art lovers can visit a multitude of painting and ceramic exhibitions in galleries in Oasis Shopping Mall, the Castle, the Ottoman tower and many more venues spread over the peninsula. This summer, the Gümüşlük Classical Music Festival will celebrate its 10th anniversary and yacht marinas have ambitious music programs. Try and catch a ballet in the atmospheric theatre next to the castle. I’m sure Neyzen’s spirit was  in the audience watching Carlos Acosta dance in Bodrum.

     March Anemones

The Fisherman of Halicarnassus was exiled to Bodrum as a punishment but fell in love with the village and returned to live. As a respected author, he popularized the place amongst intellectuals and was responsible for the awakening of this small fishing village. He’d have you chartering a locally built wooden yacht , gulet, along the coast to experience the clear turquoise waters and sheltered bays of the now famous Blue Voyage.  As a lover of nature, he would also encourage a Spring visit to experience the exquisite scent of the citrus gardens and the multi coloured glory of the March anemones.

     The turquoise waters of the Blue Cruise

Walk up the hill from the Halikarnas Disco and  you will find yourself on Zeki Muren Street. This larger than life singer, composer and actor was much loved in Bodrum. His flamboyant dress, bouffant hair style and in later years, heavy make up, paved the way for the more relaxed attitudes enjoyed in Bodrum compared to other Turkish resorts.  Visit his house on his own street, now turned into a museum, spend a few evenings on Bodrum’s bar street with a rose on your table as Zeki used to have and pay a visit to Bardakçı Bay by small day-trip boat, in homage to Zeki Bey’s favourite destination.

And finally, stand between the Tepecik Mosque and the Bodrum Marina with your back to the castle and stare at the massive white house which stands tastefully proud in front of you.  Here Ahmet Ertegun, founder of Atlantic records entertained the likes of Princess Margaret , Mick Jagger and Rudolf Nureyev. Ahmet bey would have you rent one of the many large villas on the peninsula, invite all your friends and enjoy Bodrum’s distinctive air, that once tasted, is never forgotten and …party

A big thank you to all you lovely readers for adding your comments to the competition page.  You must have swayed the judges in my favour. 

The results were posted today and I'm the runner-up.  It was after noon so I don't think it's an April Fool's joke.  I've never entered a writing contest before so I'm extremely pleased with this result and the prize;  a $200 Amazon voucher.   

If you'd like to enter the next Expats Blog competition, they are offering a $100 prize for the best ex-pat related idea for the next contest.  Let's all give it a go. 

Congratulations to Joanna Munro for her wonderfully well written winning entry.