take me back to turkey

Last month’s trip to Turkey was the first vacation we’ve taken since our honeymoon in August 2011 which was longer than 3 days, not scheduled around proximity to a hammer ring, and did not involve visiting family. Now don’t get me wrong, we have taken many longer vacations, and I absolutely love seeing family and friends anywhere and I don’t even mind a well-planned trip including hammer throwing, but this time it really was so nice to just have more than a week of sun-filled, easy relaxation.

IMG_4429-4When we finally began belatedly planning our end of summer vacation the destination was unknown. We knew we wanted to be not too far from home on the water in a nice but not fancy small hotel with good food. Greece was the top choice, but after many hours of research, I just couldn’t find what we were looking for. It was just too expensive and time consuming to get there at the end of summer, most because the best flights were expensive or booked and everything else was too expensive or inconvenient as tourist season slowed. There is also so much to see that it was difficult to pick an island to just spend a week on the beach. I moved my search east and stumbled across an amazing little hotel/restaurant on the beach in Crete. Unfortunately, it was already fully booked in September/ October. So then, a little hesitantly, I moved on to Turkey.

If I’m honest, Turkey has never been at the top of my travel to do list. Istanbul always sounded interesting, and I thought seeing the Spice Market and all the rugs in the Grand Bazaar would be
fascinating, but coastal Turkey always fell lower on the list than the rest of Mediterranean Europe. Nevertheless, after remembering a recent WSJ article about Turkey’s Bodrum Peninsula, and encouraged by Martin’s good memories of past visits to Istanbul and Izmir, I kept looking.

IMG_4384In the end, I found a small, reasonably priced and well-reviewed hotel in the town of Güllük, just north of Bodrum that looked exactly like what we wanted–quiet, a little out of the way, and with the perfect little beach, pool, and pier for lounging by the water. And, to make the return trip a little more convenient, we decided to spend a few days in Istanbul at the end of the trip before heading home. With the plan in place, I counted down to the vacation and crossed my fingers that it would live up to our expectations. Little did I know that this vacation would turn out to be way more amazing than expected, and that after one visit Turkey is already on my lists of places to visit again soon.

Here are some highlights from the first few days of our trip…

The first few days we just enjoyed the water. Our schedule revolved around a schedule something like eat, lounge, read, swim, nap, repeat.

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The hotel was always serving something good to eat/drink throughout the day and it usually involved a delicious yogurt, olives, cheese, and some veggies (e.g. breakfast sampler below) and wonderful blended frozen fruit smoothies. We ate out in another town one night at Reana, a restaurant with no less than 30 different mezze (small plates) on the menu, most of which were also vegetarian.

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When the winds picked up on the water in the late afternoon we headed back up to our room for a little balcony reading.

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One morning we drove into Bodrum to explore the town. Unfortunately we visited on the day all the museums, including the underwater archaeology museum, were closed, but at least we got to see the beautiful harbor filled with the wooden sailboats Bodrum is known for, take a short Starbucks break, and wander around town.

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