Setting Sail in Bodrum
Story originally appeared in ELLE Turkey. Read it here.
When my business partner invited me join her in Turkey to explore her native country and spend time with her family, my first thought was to save extra room in my luggage for gifts and turkish towels. Turkey is a country that I have wanted to visit and the opportunity to be shown around by one of my closest friends who, having spent much of her childhood there, was able to fluently navigate the landscape, was too exciting an adventure to pass up.
Arriving in Mugla, we drove the thirty minutes into the Bodrum Marina where we met Billur’s uncle for lunch aboard our traditional Gulet sailboat before setting off for our four day voyage traveling around Gokova Bay. A route commonly known as The Blue Cruise led us for our first evening near Greek waters, where we dropped anchor in between two beautifully illuminated sailboats. We celebrated the beginning of our journey by immediately jumping from the boat into the crystal clear waters! Snorkeling and sunbathing led to what would become our traditional 5pm tea and cake break. Afterward, we showered and met for an amazing dinner of fresh caught sea bass, potatoes, salads and dessert before heading off to sleep ahead of our next big adventure on the Aegean sea.
We woke early to the sailboat in motion around 7am. Eager to see where we were going, we clamored upstairs to witness mountains meeting the sea dotted by fluffy white clouds rolling out to make way for blue and gold morning skies. We sailed for several hours without seeing another vessel and when we finally docked, discovered a lagoon from another world. The brightest, bluest water with palm trees and dense forests surrounding our private cove which would be home for the evening. The days wore on like a chapter from Swiss Family Robinson with trees large enough to adequately shade our five cabin sailboat, we were looked after with such genuine care and kindness by our crew of four that often without having to even ask, dry towels, cold drinks and reassuring smiles were aplenty. The captain, his two deckhands and our chef never skipped a beat when asking where we wanted to dock, what we’d like to have for our meals and generally always ensuring that everyone on board felt safe and looked after. The food specifically was incredible! Each meal was freshly prepared, authentic and unique. We were treated to fruit plates with nuts and cheese, mezze plates, fresh bread and an endless supply of the most incredible turkish coffee.
My favorite cove was within English Bay. The proximity to a small village nearby made for a convenient trip by zodiac to pick up a few items and stretch our legs after being barefoot for three days. We also happened to be anchored next to another sailboat who shared our sentiment for playing fun music, diving off the boat all day and laughing late into the night. We became like a 24 hour family and those memories are my favorite from the trip. That bay also had some of the most beautiful snorkeling with the exception of one very colorful and wary jellyfish that we all made sure to steer clear of! We then headed back to our sailboat for dinner. Our last night on the boat coincided with the new moon with everyone taking a pre moonlight dip in the water and sharing their memories about the trip as well as an open discussion about the importance of travel and exploration in general.
We docked in Bodrum the following evening and spent the rest of the daylight shopping within the market for bracelets, towels, and authentic gifts to bring home. My friends had made me promise to bring them special Turkish trinkets and I did not disappoint!
More than anything, I feel so fortunate to have experienced such an incredible country with so much history and significance within its region and I was incredibly inspired by the hospitality, spirituality and natural beauty that makes Bodrum so special.