Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bodrum Offer - Buy Tomb, Get One Free.

Knowing you are walking in the steps of those so long ago must make even a trip to the shops quite a thrill.

This comment on Thursday's post jogged my memory and sent me on a trip to the supermarket, camera in hand.  I'm sure Helen could not have guessed how applicable her words are to shopping in Bodrum. 

This  rock cut tomb was discovered about 20 years ago, just North of the Mindos gate, on the site of Gima supermarket and after excavation, incorporated into the building.  The  store is now called CarrefourSA  and as I don't shop here I'd forgotten the tomb even existed.  

Unfortunately the tomb's six sarcophagi were robbed in antiquity but sufficient bones and pottery fragments were found to date it to the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC.
If you visit, walk around the back and you'll see another tomb in the car park.  It's a shame there are no signs as I'm sure thousands of people drive by having no idea what they are missing. 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Continuity - 3,400 Years.

Lots of people complain that Bodrum has changed too much in the last 30 years;  it has gone from a small fishing village to a busy international holiday resort, but if we take a very long view, Bodrum is actually just finding its way back to the glories of its past.  There is evidence of Mycenaean life in Bodrum which takes us to at least 1400BC and it appears that the site was continuously occupied for the next 3,400 years.  We know that it was an important city in the 5th century BC when it was home to Artemisia 1 and historian Herodotus, but it really took off in the 4th century BC when Satrap Mausolos made it his capital city.  In this century monuments were constructed that were so massive that they could be seen from the island of Kos; Bodrum and bling have obviously had a very long association.  

Halicarnassos  - University of Southern Denmark 
As I walk the dog through the streets of Bodrum, I do so with an awareness of the layers of history under my feet. It is one of the reasons I love living here.  Yesterday, in the Karia Princess Hotel, Prof. Poul Pedersen showed a fascinating slide of present day Bodrum Streets (left)  and the hypothetical street plan in the 4th century BC (right), showing that today's street plan follows Mausolos' city design.   It's exciting to think that we are still treading in the footsteps of those who lived over two millennia  ago.  My own address is telling.  I live on Mars Mabedi Caddesi - Temple of Mars Street.  I didn't choose the house because of the address, but as a lapsed archaeologist, I never tire of writing it down. 

University of Southern Denmark

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology - 50th Anniversary

Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology, housed in the Castle of St. Peter, celebrated its 50th anniversary with a seminar in the English tower on Wednesday.  A packed audience listened to  Prof. Dr. Fahri Işık talk about the newly discovered sarcophagus of Hekatomnos; Doç Dr. Cemal Pulak on the Kaş-Uluburun 14th century BC shipwreck and Prof. Dr. Poul Pedersen on the Danish Halikarnassos project.  I've been following the excavations of Hekatomnos' mausoleum in Milas with great interest and have been frustrated at the lack of information available so I was really keen to hear Dr. Işık talk. And he did entertainingly and in great detail but unfortunately I can't tell you anything about it as he made us all promise to keep it under our hats until he publishes his report.

The names of the above speakers will pass merrily over most people's heads but those of you interested in archaeology will understand how lucky we are living in Bodrum to listen to not just one of them, but all three on one afternoon, although my rear end was protesting a bit after 3 hours on a narrow bench.  As usual with these events, time ran on and as the 4:30 slot for the final concert approached and whizzed past, the second talk was only half way through.  In consequence, Prof. Pedersen's talk was occasionally overlaid with voluble protests from the concert goers and by appalling slow hand-clapping from outside.  However, I'm sure he will have a much more appreciative audience when he gives another lecture organised by H3A on Wednesday 12th November at 2pm at the Karia Princess Hotel.  If you are anywhere near Bodrum I would urge you to put this date in your diary. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014


Oben Kundura

I'm not swearing at you, although I think using "cobblers" as a pejorative term has probably passed into history, I'm celebrating that I still can wander down the road in Bodrum (Türk Kuyusu Caddesi in this case) and get my shoes and boots repaired.  I hate buying new shoes and get ridiculously attached to my old ones so I am never happier than when I hand my battered 10 year old lace-ups over to this man and 3 hours later, he hands me back a re-soled, re-laced version all for less than ten quid.  The shoes he has in front of him are ones I bought in Sweden last year. They never really felt comfortable, which just proves that buying new shoes is a bad idea, but with a bit of stretching and the heel built up inside I can now wear them without investing in a box of plasters first.  There are still several cobblers in Bodrum and long may they last.  When I was living in the UK it was almost impossible to get shoes repaired and just having a new heel and sole cover put on cost more than the shoes new.  It's the time of year when sandals have to be abandoned and socks come out of the drawer, so I'm sorting through the cupboard looking likely candidates for a make over.  In this house, re-booting has a completely different meaning. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

British Consulate Meeting in Bodrum - Wednesday 30th October

Brits in Bodrum got together again on Wednesday for the biannual Consulate Information meeting. Proceedings were opened by our Honorary British Consul in Bodrum, Neşe Coşkunsu who handed over to Timothy Fisher, Consul and Director of Consular Services in Turkey, who gave us an update on travel advice issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.  There has been no change in the Mediterranean and Aegean areas, but there is a warning against all but essential travel to the Turkish provinces bordering Syria. This is a significant change as previously the warning was just to avoid the border, now the whole provinces are included.   To keep up to date, I suggest you visit the Gov.UK/Turkey page and sign up to their email service so that you can be sent the latest news.  If you are a Facebook user you can also keep in touch on the UK in Turkey Facebook page.

Consular Network Co-ordinator, Joanne Pietsch, gave us the latest passport news:
From 1st January 2015, the Turkish Government will require passports to be valid for 60 days after the end of a residents or visitors visa.  As the new on-line travel visa lasts for 6 months, this means that your passport needs have 8 months validity from your first day of travel.  I foresee this catching out many a visitor.   If you are in Turkey and worried about renewing your passport, this summer's big delay seems to be easing but the Passport Office is still suggesting you allow 6 weeks for the return of your passport.   If your passport ran out less than 6 months ago, or has less than 7 months to run, you have until the end of December this year to take advantage of the passport extension scheme, but this does involve making an appointment and travel to either Istanbul or Ankara.

Joanne then moved on to the Residency permit question:  On this she was extremely honest and said that there was little if anything to report since the last meeting.  Those of us living in Turkey know that communication between government departments is a pipe dream, and this lack of dialogue must be incredibly frustrating for those working in foreign consulates.  A new head has been appointed to the fledgling Turkish government department looking after foreigners in Turkey and Joanne has an appointment to hopefully get answers to a long list of questions, namely: When will the much heralded Migration Offices open and where will they be?;  How will Article 33 work - if someone on a 1 year residency permit stays out of Turkey for more that 120 days, will the permit be cancelled and will they be allowed to reapply?  What are the criteria for applying for a permanent residency permit?  On this latter note, one long-term residency has been issued in Izmir with an expiry days of 2099.  The issuing  office reported that they would only discuss the application with each applying individual so we are none the wiser, except that the recipient is married to a Turkish National.  Keep your eyes on the above websites for news as it comes in.

Finally Tim told us about some changes to the Bodrum office.  From the beginning of 2015, the Bodrum office will be closed, but all services will continue.  Telephone numbers are expected to stay the same and Aslı Erbektaş will continue her roll looking after the British community and visitors on a mobile basis.  Sadly, Pro Consul Deniz Korkmaz will be leaving the consulate after 18 years of sterling service. I felt as if we should have all broken into a  British "For she's a jolly good fellow" instead of the round of applause we gave her.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Halloween inspiration.

If you are sitting in front of a pumpkin, knife in hand, wondering whether it's easier to cut round eyes or square eyes, here are a few examples of pumpkin sculpture from Bodrum that might encourage you to raise your game.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

First sip. Melon Seed Sherbet.

Harem Scene by Quintana Blas Olleras (1851-1919)

The word sherbet brings two images to my mind. The first, as a child of the Midlands in the 1960s, is of a yellow tube filled with fizzing powder that could be sucked up a liquorice straw. If you lived in the Midlands in the 60s you'll know that this was about as exciting as life got, especially when the dust went up the nose and made us sneeze and wheeze. 

The second image is of well-padded Ottoman ladies lounging on plump cushions sipping pastel liquids from engraved glasses. I have yet to find a recipe for Sherbet Fountains  so it is the latter I'm writing about today. 
After tasty lunch of green beans and kale in Gambilya restaurant on Monday, our Turkish coffee was accompanied by a small glass of an opaque, slightly pink liquid. In its gold etched glass, it looked just the accoutrement for a silk-draped lady of a bygone era.  I usually pride myself on recognising ingredients but I had no idea what I was drinking.  At the risk of sounding like the worst wine bore, its subtle taste had a whiff of vanilla and an essence of reclining under a honeysuckle vine on a sunny day. It was quite impossible to pinpoint the flavour.  We had to ask Lale what it was and the answer was a surprise - melon seed drink. 

I've mentioned Lale's drinks before in Mulberry and Purple basil cordial at Gambilya and she is very good at sourcing traditional recipes.  This one was brought to Turkey by Jews fleeing Spain and is still a popular drink in Spanish speaking countries.  It's simple to make and, with the growing popularity of seed and nut milks, I'm surprised that I haven't come across it before. 

Wash the seeds of a cantaloup or yellow melon.  
Dry the seeds in the sun for 24 hours 
Grind or liquidize the seeds with two glasses of unchlorinated water 
Leave for 24 hours until the liquid thickens and goes milky in colour 
Strain and squeeze through muslin, sweeten if desired and drink chilled. 

Some recipes suggest boiling the seeds in the water for 5 minutes, but I'm sure the drink is more nutritious unheated.  In some of the Spanish or Mexican recipes, melon juice or lime juice is added, but I think this would mask the delicate flavour.  I haven't made it myself yet but will definitely be coming back from Sunday's market with two large melons.  

Saturday, 25 October 2014


Twenty three years ago, we decided that a life without neighbours was for us. Not that we had particularly bad neighbours but one was partial to DIY at six in the morning, the other wasn't keen on our dog and after 10 years watching Bodrum town change from a small fishing village to an international  holiday resort, we wanted a bit of peace.  This is probably the most hypocritical sentiment I have ever written as we were more responsible than most for making Bodrum crowded. As travel agents we hosted journalists from The Telegraph, New York Times, Times, Daily Mail and Observer and even made a  programme with the fledgling TVAM thus ensuring everyone found out  how unspoilt and beautiful our part of the world was and thereby  encouraged the World and his wife to visit. Our escape plan was reliant of finding a quiet plot and building a house. But, despite being very busy looking after an ever increasing number of new visitors, we weren't particularly flush with cash, so most of the pieces of land we looked at on the Bodrum peninsula were out of our price range.  Which is rather a long winded explanation of how we ended up 36 kms from Bodrum, next to a forest on the outskirts of a  small village.  In retrospect, our lack of funds was a saving grace. All of the places we would have chosen, had we been affluent, are now built up and busy, where as our  couple of acres is unchanged. Well almost!  We've been neighbourless since we moved in in 1992 up to this year when the plot in front of us was put  up for sale and a small weekend retreat has gone up.  It's only just visible from the terrace and the building work hasn't disturbed us at all, so I don't think we'll be bothered if the new occupants decide to do DIY at 6 am. 

Over the past couple of decades I haven't paid much attention to the property market in the area but I was chuffed to be included in a list of 10 useful blogs by and clicked on the link to have a look at the houses for sale.  There are some amazing  residences with 7 figure prices to match, but also flats with sea views for 5 figure sums.  I am returning the compliment by putting their link here for those of you who like to dream of a palace (or place) by the sea. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Yellow Summer

This time of the year is called Sarı Yaz - Yellow Summer, but I think a better English translation would be "Mellow Summer". The heat and harshness July and August is over,  the air feels soft and everything seems to calm down, even the sea has a milky laziness to it.  It is a perfect time to plan long walks. The ground is still dry underfoot so heavy boots are unnecessary and it's both warm enough and cool enough for a single T-shirt and one bottle of water.  It's a golden time as a the countryside takes on all shades from flaxen to copper and even the most mundane scene has a little romance about it.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Life Goes On

As the chickens come home to roost just across the South Eastern borders of Turkey, life in the South West goes on as normal.  You'd have to look very hard here to find clues that a "war" is raging at the other end of the country.  A small protest in central Bodrum demanding Turkish intervention in Kobane wasn't even reported in the local papers.
Here it is olive picking time again; at least it's time to collect the green ones, there are still a couple of months left to collect the black ones.   We were a bit late with ours and many of the green olives were turning colour, which meant that my thumbs were an even darker shade of brown after an afternoon cutting each olive three times.

These will be soaked for a couple of weeks in water, refreshed on a daily basis and bottled in salt water.    Who knows what the Iraqi/Syrian/Kurdish/Turkish situation will be when we get to taste the new harvest in a month or two.

For those of you interested in the political situation, please take a few minutes to read The Senior Dogs'  latest post from Istanbul which really brings it home to me how lucky I am to be living in this particular corner of Turkey.