GİLA BENMAYOR > My holiday in a neighbor country

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I can’t recognize my youth’s Bodrum anymore.

Bodrum, where I spent only a small part of my holiday, is glaring with millions of dollars of investments. Seemingly, that small and lovely fishing town characterized by the author Cevat Şakir Kabaağaçlı (aka Fisherman of Halicarnassus) has gone with the wind.

Astaş Company has made a major investment in Bodrum with a project constructing luxurious villas on 600 acres of land in Paradise Bay, one of the popular stops of the famous Blue Voyages.

Once, I came across an interview with Astaş Board Chairman Vedat Aşçı in a newspaper.

Aşçı was saying in the interview that the project, developed with the Mandarin Oriental Resort, would cost $600 million and 60 percent of the villas were already sold.

He said their customers included member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and the rich of the Gulf countries, along with the leading business people of Istanbul.

According to Aşçı, whose tourism investments in Istanbul and Bodrum will reach $350 million; their villas in Paradise Bay will attract jet setters from all over the world to Bodrum. Important business contracts will be made between Turkish and foreign investors in these villas.

Let’s keep Aşçı’s words in mind.

Another project, which has already attracted the jet set to Bodrum, is Azerbaijani businessman Mübariz Mansimov’s Yalıkavak Marine.

Palmali Group, which belongs to Mansimov, bought Yalıkavak Marine for 42 million dollars last year and made 30 million dollars of additional investment in it.

One can find the popular brands of the entertainment sector such as the Billionaire Club and Cipriani in Yalıkavak Marine, opened this season with the architect Emre Arolat’s new design.

Since I already decided not to spend my annual leave in Bodrum, which I always remember with nostalgia, I preferred to spend my vacation on the northern Greek islands.

That was the right decision.

Because I not only had the chance to swim in peaceful beaches and bays, but also ate wonderful seafood which were unbelievably cheap when compared to the restaurants in Bodrum.

Our boat was a very comfortable one, with 10 cabins on it. There was a crowded Italian group and two English tourists accompanying us on the boat. Our captain’s route was: Kos Island, which is the nearest island to Bodrum, Leros Island, Patmos Island, which is famous for the monastery at its top, and the Lipsi and Kalimnos islands.

The islands were not crowded due to the economic crisis which has hit Greece and Europe. Milos restaurant, which is on Ayia Marina Bay right at the back of Leros Island’s harbor, is very popular among the Turkish tourists.

Milos restaurant, which is famous for its calamari, grouper fish and lobster pasta, was full of Turkish tourists, as you can imagine.

When we were there, the restaurant’s keeper Takis was engaged in a deep conversation with the Turkish guests.

Each night we had dinner at different restaurants in Patmos, Lipsi and Kalimnos islands. But the amount we paid never exceeded 25-30 Euros.

Now I want to make a small comparison between these islands and Bodrum.

My friends who went out for a drink in Yalıkavak Marine last Sunday, paid three or four times more than the amount I mentioned above for only two drinks.

If things continue going like this, I guess we will escape to the Greek islands, while the jet set of the world will flood to Bodrum.


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Notice on comments

es 324

8/9/2012 3:08:29 PM

@ioannis: Being an Istanbulie ;) , I have long been thinking of doing the route you suggest along the Northern Greece coastline. Hope will not last long before I bring my act together to organize the trip. Would very much welcome further suggestions for my itiniary along this route....

Stephen Symes

8/9/2012 11:01:33 AM

Gila, where we are is so quiet, pleasant, relaxing and not crowded. Two hours away from Bodrum and we do not need to take a boat. I am keeping quiet on this location. I want it to remain as I describe. So no songs.....

sylva hajjar

8/8/2012 9:44:37 PM

I think that Turkey is a great beautiful country, but it is becoming more and more expensive and this is why this year less tourist came to visit. be aware of this since usually tourists avoid expensive countries. As for red tail you are always criticizing Arabs do you have a personal problems with them or it is just a stupid prejudice?

Kent Huth

8/8/2012 9:26:22 PM

A very nice article and good reporting on what you experienced. We live in Datca and most of our Turkish friends hope that it will not become as "commercial" or as expensive as Bodrum or Marmaris. The prices here can be expensive, however, not like Bodrum etc. Please come visit, you'll like it.


8/8/2012 7:24:44 PM

I am sorry but when it comes to Turkish restaurants in tourist areas, they are not (in my opinion) among the best in the world. They generally all do the same food, lack imagination and charge 3 or sometimes 4 times the supermarket price for wine. Currently a bottle of Effes is about 2.50 by the crate and some restaurants are charging 7.50 for one beer.

Red Tail

8/8/2012 6:33:46 PM

Nagidos Akdeniz. You are right about alcohol, it is very expensive, in particular wine in Turkish restaurants is not that spectacular but still expensive. Being more balance than for example Dogan, I think both countries have fantastic food. Few things beat a nice down to earth seafood restaurant with raki or ozu. I do not at all like the style of places described in the article above which is aiming for arabs. I do not like the other guests, I do not like the style. I find it all vulgar


8/8/2012 5:01:04 PM

Turkish restaurants still have more or less reasonable prices, but the drinks (alcohol) are very very expensive nowadays. When you get the bill you suffer a heart attack. Prices of alcohol haven risen with 250 percent the last 4 years due to government taxes. Maybe the Turkish government wants to erase the word "alcohol" on the price lists of restaurants and bars for religious reasons? And I must admit: most Greek Islands are small heavens on earth.

Chris Tahos

8/8/2012 4:56:38 PM

This is a very accurate article.What is expected is people from both countries, experiencing travel.When they have the chance to see other people, different culture, different tastes and get familiar by discussing, most problems are solved.I have personally travel to Turkiye more than 6 times and never regreted for this choice of mine.Now we see an increase of turkish tourists coming to Greece and this is very encouraging, while in the near past there was not even a sample of them .Hos geldiniz.

dogan kemal ileri

8/8/2012 1:09:56 PM

Red Tail you have a tendency to travel along tangents and clearly have problems of perception in the English language.Turkiye has very strict planning laws so we are not ruining our coastline but developing it for optimal tourist trade.The majority of the tourists coming to Turkiye are extremely satisfied with Turkiye's legendary friendliness,food,service and prices and come again and again in ever increasing numbers.Turkiye also has health,faith and alternative tourism,not just sun/sea variety.

Ioannis F.

8/8/2012 1:02:53 PM

Turk tourists are wellcomed all over greece. Try a easy road trip with yur car through Egnatia highway through northern greece. See the Imaret in Kavala. Go to the well known Thessaloniki. Also come to Ioannina, with the many Ottoman buildings in the picruresqe castle, by the lake. My wife and i have been to Istanbul and Cappadokia. Travelling and tourism gets peoples and cultures closer.
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