Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Turkey Part 2: The Port of Bodrum

Our first stop in Turkey was in the city of Kusadasi. Although we enjoyed some nice experiences, overall we were not super impressed by Turkey. The street vendors were pushy and aggressive, the city was a little dirty (at least compared to the other ports we had visited), it was hard to find decent food, and overall we felt as if everyone was trying to take advantage of us.

Bodrom, our second stop in Turkey on the other hand ended up being the exact opposite experience. Bodrum was a European "holiday" type of port where Kusadasi was more of an urban port. Instead of wandering the streets like we did in Kusadasi, we had previously signed up for a trip through the countryside of Bodrum.

We took a bus with a group of 30 others about an hour into the countryside of Bodrum. Highlights of the tour included a visit to a mosque and a meeting with a local family who showed us their handmade Turkish rugs. Although we went into the trip with no intentions of buying a Turkish rug, of course Emi was swayed and I had to lug one back home.

Prepping our Turkish snacks.

To butter us up they served us Turkish wine and a crepe like buttery cheese sandwich. They were served hot. The outside was buttery and flaky and the insides were filled with gooey, fresh goat cheese and other herbs, I think I noticed fresh dill, spinach, and parsley.

Salty, buttery, crispy, and cheesy. A great little snack. We didn't turn down seconds.

After we had a few glasses of wine, some fresh, juicy fruit, and the pastries we were ready to shop. We spoke to a few other couples after we left the house and all of us had the same intentions, but those went out the door when the beautiful handmade rugs were laid in front of us.

After buying rugs, we were dropped off at a local market, where they had olives, olive oil, fresh fruits, and vegetables.

Turkish cheese

I was hungry again so ordered one of the crepe like sandwiches. To make the sandwich they took a layer of the dough off the mound and heated it up on a hot griddle and then filled it with all the goodness.

As you can see they also had some red chili flakes in their to add a little spice. After filling up we went to an authentic Turkish bathe and that was quite the experience. Besides picking up one of these wraps and a Turkish rug, you need to check out a Turkish bathe. A unique, fun, relaxing, out of this world experience that you can't pass up if you ever make it out to Turkey.

What a fun relaxing day we had. We even splurged at the bathes and added on an extra massage. We were re-energized with new memories and a relaxing spa experience and were ready to take on the rest of the cruise.

- Kyle

Monday, December 5, 2011

Kusadasi, Turkey Part 2: Hookah and a Turkish Lunch

After spending the morning with the locals in town, we decided we needed to hit up the beach. Getting there was a pain. The taxi driver ripped us off, the beach was super crowded and dirty, but after wading out into the clear, warm, blue Mediterranean, perspective came back real quick. A memory I'll have for the rest of my life. The experience reminded Emi and I how fortunate we truly are.

One of my top priorities going into this trip was to smoke hookah in Turkey. We found a nice beach side lounge and ordered an Effes beer and a hookah.

Smooth, apple hookah. Also for those of you unfamiliar, it's perfectly legal. When you smoke hookah you smoke flavored, molasses flavored tobacco through a water pipe. Instead of a harsh smoke, you inhale a sweet (apple, mango, mint, lemon, caramel, etc) flavored tobacco.

Honestly there is nothing more relaxing than having a view of the Mediterranean with a beer and hookah pipe in hand with no where to go.

All of that reflection and relaxing I was hungry. We headed back into town to pick up some Turkish food. I was a little disappointed by the availability of good Turkish food ( there was an abundance of burgers, pizza, and pasta), but we finally found a place that looked decent.

I started with their minestrone soup. I expected it to be thicker, but it was more of a broth with a slight lemon aftertaste. The soup was a nice, light, palette cleaner. Subtle and delicious, not like the overpowering Mediterranean food I had come to expect.

Boom, straight into the gyro combo dish. The rice was cooked in some form of meat grease/broth which added a lot of flavor. The meat of course had all the spices we enjoyed throughout the trip which included lots of salt and garlic. They drizzled a tomato sauce on top of the meat and served the meat and rice with fresh tomatoes and a grilled pepper. Also what is a gyro dish without fries!

Emi went a slightly different route with the meat skewers. All in all, a solid filling meal.

mmm, my favorite, Turkish desserts. Crispy, light, honey soaked filo over stuffed pistachios and other nuts.

We weren't done yet. Emi wasn't ready to get on the boat yet, so we stopped in the port for some gelato. Big mistake! Never eat in the port right off the cruise ships unless you want to pay double if not triple what you would across the street.

Luckily the girl who served us was friendly and made for great company. However the gelato, Turkish coffee, Turkish delights, and water ran us each $20. Emi wouldn't let me drink the water, at that price though what a waste!

Emi and my expensive ass gelato :). Nothing compares to the gelato in Italy, however on a hot, humid day like the one we experienced in Kusadasi, the gelato was a nice treat before we headed back on board the cruise ship.

- Kyle