Bodrum is a naturally attractive resort at the very South Western tip of Turkey. It has a lovely mild and dry climate all year around. Lovely beaches, hills & mountains covered with dark green shades of bushy scrub mark this place as point where blue and green embrace each other.
Two sides of Bodrum
Apart from its beautiful coast lines dotted with the white painted two-storey houses adorable decorated by bougainvillea plants, Bodrum has a big reputation for a buzzing and busy nightlife.
In fact, Bodrum has a dual personality – calm and quiet in the day time, people either dozing lazily under the sun on the loungers, occasionally dipping into crisp sea to refresh or keeping indoors as much as they can away from the scorching sun if they are not lucky enough to hit the seaside.
The other side of Bodrum is nocturnal, wildly and widely awake in the night, buzzing and alive till the dawn.
In Bodrum, the most exciting thing for a tourist would be holidaying with a bunch of local Turkish tourists, which doesn’t happen often in other Turkish resorts. Some towns are purely for the Turkish people and the tourists have no idea that they actually exist on the map as they are not so popular as a tourist destination and some others are purely for tourists so the chances of meeting local Turks are really slim.
Bodrum is not like that. You will be meeting an abundance of affluent Turks everywhere on the peninsula and get familiar with their lifestyle and code of behaviour. This is a big plus for me as a traveller to find out more about the local traditions, way of living, social & family life.
The famous Bodrum markets
The best possible way to get familiar with the Turkish folks is to pop into a local market of the area. Turks love their marketplaces and support the local stall holders for their sustainability. They always buy their weekly fresh produce from their individual stallholder with whom they tend to develop a relationship of loyalty and trust over years. Markets or ‘Pazar‘ as it is called in Turkish can’t be beaten by supermarkets in any way.
The markets on the West and South West coasts of Turkey are real McCoy as they always offer the freshest locally produced fruit & veg direct from the local farmers. Also locally handcrafted authentic art & craft items come forth as real strength of these region’s markets.
Bodrum is one of these places where you can have a real taste of market experience in a very Turkish way. There are two big local markets, very popular with tourists and locals alike in Bodrum peninsula.
However, you should be prepared for it beforehand. I would recommend you to replace your regular handbag or shoulder bag with a waist bag. This will firstly leave your hands & arms free to fight your way through the market crowd and secondly this will make you at peace enjoying your market experience without any fear of your wallet being snatched in such a dense human environment.
Morning hours are less crowded. Afternoons and evenings are remarkably more crowded. Hence I would suggest you to do your market round early in the morning. Dolmus vans (midi shuttles carrying up to 15 people) regularly operate back and forth from Bodrum City centre to the surrounding towns till the dawn. It is really safe and handy to take dolmus in the place of driving yourselves as parking on such a busy day might be a pain.
The most popular one is Turgutreis weekly market based in seaside town of Turgutreis every Saturday. It is right in the town centre. There is no way you can miss it once you are at the town centre.
Here you can find a good variety of breezy beach dresses, underwear, socks, Turkish hammam beach towels, home textiles and all sorts of fake hand bags & sports outfits at bargain prices. And there is a hilarious saying that fake vendors mischievously created themselves – Real Fakes – and they hang this writing behind their stalls.
On my way back to UK on Bodrum Milas airport, I always amuse myself knowing that almost all the branded bags women carry on their shoulders are fakes that they grabbed in the market place.
The second most popular market is Yalikavak weekly market. This happens every Thursday. I personally like this more than the other. Every Thursday is my fun day and only day away from the beach. And this never goes without having an early breakfast by the sea in Yalikavak before diving into the hassle and bustle of market place.
Cafes lined up at the seafront serve excellent full Turkish breakfast if you haven’t already tried it.
What to buy
What I like most in this market are the locally handcrafted jewellery, handbags, knitted wears, needle laces, evil eye beads in every sort of colour and size, cooper home decor items, small Turkish potteries which are unique to the culture.
The fruit and vegetable section is separated from the textile section in both markets. They are usually at the entrance, hence people popping into the market just for food shopping do not get into this crowd.
Prices for all the products are clearly marked so you don’t need to worry about miscommunication with the stallholders. Stallholders, by the way, will be eager to speak to you in English to practise their self-acquired foreign language and you will find them very talkative.
Eating and drinking the Turkish way
Once you are in the market, you can always give a break for a cup of tea or coffee. Cafes and restaurants are lined up along the pavement behind the market stalls. You are never short of places for eating and drinking in Turkey with loads of options. Gozleme, freshly hand-rolled pastry filled with cheese and fresh herbs, is a great street food and an experience in itself.
Watch as the local lady rolls the fresh dough right in front of you from scratch and cooks it on a special heated steel surface. Gozleme goes really well with a cup of Turkish tea!
Market visits are quite a phenomena that I would recommend you to give a try at least once if you are in the area. There are some smaller markets as well like Ortakent, Bitez, Gumusluk if you don’t want to take part in such a busy event as these two.
All in all if you are a person enjoying the local flavours of the country you are visiting at different levels, then this should be on your list whilst visiting Bodrum.