We spent the first few days exploring Turgutreis. Julian has a friend who lives in this area and was eager to show us around, so we rented a motorbike and sped around the coastal mountains with some locals who showed us all kinds of cool swimming spots. The coastal town of Turgutreis in Turkey is gorgeous—all the buildings are painted white with bright blue trim, and looking out across the Aegean Sea, you can see Greek Islands not far off in the horizon. This town is straight out of a dream. We had the best time exploring and riding around while enjoying the gorgeous scenery.
Our next stop was Bodrum, another tropical coastal town with lovely beaches. We really enjoyed the food in Bodrum, but in all honesty, the town itself was a bit too touristy for our liking. The views are gorgeous, as all the buildings in town are painted bright white, which is extremely aesthetically pleasing, but this town is very geared towards tourists and centered around shopping. We were exhausted by restaurant workers constantly trying to overcharge us, but if you are careful about checking your receipts, there is plenty to enjoy about this town! The donor kebab in Bodrum is very different than in Istanbul–they layer vegetables into the juicy meat that they shave off for each plate, and it adds so much flavor! Another favorite Bodrum treat: lokma, also known as HONEY BALLS. We loved putting those sweet balls in our mouths. And last but not least, the famous Bodrum mandarin soda is a MUST TRY. It tastes like Fanta, but much better. There is also lots of places to get dondurma in Bodrum, which is a Turkish style ice cream.
Yes, buying Turkish Ice Cream is ALWAYS this crazy. We love it! On the day we first tried dondurma, we were having kind of a glum day and feeling homesick (it happens when you’re traveling long-term), but going to get some ice cream definitely put a smile on our faces! Dondurma is very different than the ice cream we are used to in the US. It’s has kind of a chewy, mildly gummy texture, and is very slow to melt. The ice cream out here is made with thickening agents and ingredients such as Salep, a flour made from the root of the purple orchid flower and Mastic, a resin that gives the ice cream its chewiness. We’re absolutely obsessed, and since it’s about 50 cents a scoop (USD), it’s near impossible to resist eating ice cream on the daily.
Although we were frustrated by all the tourist traps in Bodrum, overall, it was worth the visit just to try all the amazing unique foods. Also keep an eye out for the evil eyes embedded between stones on the walking paths and around doorways. The eyes do not represent evil, but are put in place to ward off evil, and they add a colorful touch to the all-white buildings of Bodrum.
We had a great time exploring these two towns, and it was a great way to transition from the city life of Istanbul to the more slow-paced, dreamy vibes of Turkey’s coastal towns.