Bodrum, Bodrum Castle, Food & Drink, Historic Sites, Holidays, Turkey & Turkish, Writing

There is Turkey and Then There is Bodrum

A few weeks back, I entered another writing competition with the marvellous ‘I Must Be Off!’ travel site. The piece is about Bodrum (naturally) and was adapted from my 2013 e-book ‘Turkey, Surviving the Expats‘. Somehow, my entry has made it to the last seven. Will I fall at the final fence? The competition is stiff so we shall see. Bronze, silver and gold will be announced at the end of the month. I’ve got my fingers crossed for my place on the podium. In the meantime, there’s a Reader’s Choice Award up for grabs too, based on the number of hits and comments. This award is open until the 10th August. Can I trouble you for a hit and a comment on the article itself by clicking on the link below? I thank you.

PtP2 Kindle1Bodrum, Turkey’s San Tropez by Jack Scott

August 2014 Update: Yesterday, I received news that I’d come in first for the Reader’s Choice Award. A massive hand to anyone who took the trouble to visit and comment on the article. Thank you. I’m really chuffed!

Bigots, Bodrum Castle, Books, Emigreys, Films, Historic Sites, LGBT, Olympic Games, Repatriation, TV & Radio

The Cream of the Crop 2012

top 10 It’s the turn of a new year, a time to reflect on the recent past. And what a hectic time it’s been for these old two old drunken reprobates. Four years ago, we jumped the good ship Blighty and swam ashore to paradise in search of a dotty dotage of gin and tranquility  We found a paradise of sorts and so much more besides. Three years into our choppy voyage, I found a little fame and notoriety, and a new course was set – as an accidental author. 2012 brought change: a rudder slammed into reverse and a return to our damp little island perched on the edge of Europe. So, in the best tradition of the year’s end, I give you the most popular Pansy posts of 2012.

1. Now That’s What I call Old

Who would have guessed that a lazy, throwaway post about the 12,000 year old ruins at Göbekli Tepe in Eastern Turkey would hit the top spot? Although it was published in 2011, like Meatloaf’s Bat Out of Hell*, it never left the charts. In fact, it’s my most popular piece ever, racking up 7,500 hits to date.

2. Expat Glossary

Another perennial favourite. Technically, it’s a page not a post nowadays (though it started off as a post many moons ago). Oft quoted and copied, it’s a tongue in cheek attempt to classify the vintage villagers of expatland. It continues to strike a chord.

3. Goodbye to the Turkish Living Forum

The closest I came to an unseemly slanging match – I queered my pitch with the Turkish Living Forum (or, more accurately, they queered their pitch with me). I stopped the vile conversation in mid-sentence. I can do that. It’s my blog. It gladdens my little homo heart that this post continues to attract punters. If I’ve put just one potential member off the bigoted posts, then my work is done. It’s a shame. Most contributors to the forum seem sane and reasonable. It’s a good idea ruined by the vicious and vocal few.

4. Britain’s Got Loads of Talent

I’m a sucker for a sob story and Britain’s Got Talent is stuffed to the rafters with them.  A genuine attempt to discover the best (and worst) amateur talent that Blighty has to offer, or a cynical commercial exercise in crass over-sentimentality? Probably both and so what? This year a dog won. No, a real dog, not an ugly person.

5. No Going Back on Going Back

A slip of the wrist and the cat was out of the bag. A premature posting meant that I announced our repatriation much earlier than I had intended and readers tuned in to read the news.

6. Zenne Dancer

A post about a ground-breaking and award-drenched Turkish film, inspired by the true story of a Kurdish student who was gunned down by his own father for being openly and unrepentantly gay. It still hasn’t been released with subtitles so I’m ashamed to say I still haven’t seen it.

7. Fifty Shades of Gay

I wrote this post to celebrate and support the launch of Rainbowbookreviews, a brand new LGBT book review website. As part of the party, Perking the Pansies, Jack and Liam move to Turkey was offered as a competition prize. What some people will do for a freebie.

8. The Friendly Games

This was my naughty but nice take on the closing ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics. The BBC did a grand job in televising the once-in-a-lifetime event – online, on radio and on TV. Liam had all three on simultaneously. For a brief period, the nation forgot its woes and smiled again. The mother lode of precious metal helped.

9. Bodrum’s Crusader Castle

Towards the end of our time in Turkey, I thought it was high time to give the pansy treatment to the grand centrepiece of the Bodrum townscape – a little bit of history (not too much) and a little bit of humour. It’s a popular cocktail.

10. Gran Canaria, Sex Emporium

Our first ‘proper’ holiday for four years and we chose Gran Canaria, that rocky mid-Atlantic brothel. You can take the boy out of the back room but you can’t take the back room out of the boy.

I leave you with my favourite image from 2012. I know, it’s all a bit predictable but I’m turning into a dirty old man and I intend to wallow in it. Happy New Year everyone and thank you for enduring my camp old nonsense for yet another year.

Olympics1

*Bat Out of Hell stayed on the UK album chart for 474 weeks. God knows why. 

Bodrum, Bodrum Castle, Historic Sites, Religion

Bodrum’s Crusader Castle

The Crusades is a dirty word in the Middle East. It’s hardly surprising. All those unwashed and smelly chain-mailed warrior knights, bloodied sword in one hand, crucifix in the other, brutalising the civilised Muslim world for God, glory and gain (in that order). The perfidious Catholics even turned on the besieged Byzantines, sacking Constantinople and deposing the Emperor because he was a softer target than the Arabs and the wrong kind of Christian. The crusader legacy resonates today with the fault lines that still exist in the region.

This brings me neatly on to Bodrum’s very own Crusader heirloom – the Castle of St Peter. It is the jewel in the Town’s crown. Its sturdy silhouette dominates from every direction. Built by the Knights Hospitaller from 1402, the castle remained in Christian hands until they were unceremoniously booted out by Suleiman the Magnificent in 1522. The magnanimous Sultan allowed the defeated knights to sail off to Crete – no hard feelings. What a gent. The castle last saw action when it was bombarded by a French warship during the Great War. Presumably, our Gallic allies did it for a laugh as the fortress had long lost its strategic importance. Several towers were badly damaged and the minaret of the mosque was toppled.

Today the reconstructed castle is a major tourist attraction and home to the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, the biggest of its kind. The grounds also play host to the annual summer ballet and dance festival. It’s a sweaty affair during the height of summer. Rambling over the ramparts is an easy excursion and there are plenty of shady places in the well-tended gardens to catch your breath and watch the randy dandy peacocks strut their stuff. The exhibits are absorbing if you’re into old wrecks, chipped anfora and ancient glass. I can’t vouch for the exhibition devoted to the tomb of a Carian princess, who died between 360 and 325 BC. It’s always been closed when we’ve visited. Sauntering through the various towers is a fun way to spend a spare afternoon. The English Tower, in particular, looks like a set for Ivanhoe. Where’s Elizabeth Taylor when you need her?

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

If you’d like a potted history of the castle check out Wikipedia. Spot the (non) deliberate mistake relating to the mosque.

You might also like:

My Golden Horn

Cappadocia Then and Now

Bodrum Castle, Family & Friends, Visitors, Waiters

Bees Around the Honey Pot

Old friend Gillian was vacationing in Akbuk with her husband John and daughter, Maria. Gillian had emailed to ask if they might visit when they were over. Akbuk is a small resort about two hours north so I thought it unlikely. However, I had underestimated Gillian’s steely determination, and we received the call that they were on the way. Regrettably, they missed their bus connection in Didim and were forced to take a convoluted route via Söke. Six hours later they arrived at Bodrum’s otogar. Gillian is a matter of fact kind of gal, and they all seemed unfazed by the wilting experience. We all enjoyed a rejuvenating late lunch, bijou tour of the town and a cold beer on the beach as the sun set over the castle. Maria, an intelligent, confident, pretty, curvaceous 15 year old was an instant hit with the seasonal workers with their spring loaded libidos. Waiters danced around her like bees around the proverbial without averting their stares from her perky knockers.

Take a look at:

The Juggling Smuggler

Mobiles and Megaphones

Bars & Restaurants, Bodrum, Bodrum Castle, Historic Sites, Turkish Men, Village, Waiters

Any Port in a Storm

Bodrum is getting busier by the day as the town warms up with the weather. Works continues apace to complete the classy new streetscape before the summer rush. Contrary to my initial cynicism, a spacious new civic square is being laid out along the bar street rat run revealing a spectacular view of the crusader castle. It will be a place of sanctuary from the relentless hassle to come from the imported hawkers with their spring-loaded libidos. Whole villages in the East are being drained of their young men as they start their annual migration in search of casual employment and easy lays. We have a bird’s eye view of the caravan of young totty as they scamper past the house dragging their humble belongings behind them. The testosterone is palpable.

Bodrum, Bodrum Castle, Family & Friends, Historic Sites, Visitors, Yalikavak

Bodrum Blues

We rushed Clive around the peninsula to provide a tasty titbit of our foster home. He took to Bodrum even in mid makeover mode and adored the castle, camera-clicking like a man possessed. Unhappily, despite the glorious, cloudless skies, the rest of the midwinter yarımada is distinctly unprepossessing – scruffy, neglected and vacant. I think he finds Turkey’s rough, ramshackle patina rather unappealing. As man of certain age, cultivated habits and mature sensibilities, Clive is more drawn to the coiffured charm of the Home Counties.

It wasn’t always so. Clive’s salad days were filled with audacious spirit as he criss-crossed the globe in search of adventure and discovery; even floating up the Irrawaddy on a Sampan to smoke opium in the jungle with the natives (I know a sampan is a Chinese flat bottom boat so highly unlikely to be found in Burmese waters, but no matter). Alas, we must all grow up eventually and get a sensible job in sensible shoes. These days Clive’s favourite holiday destination is refined Madeira – Surrey with a little more sun.

Bodrum, Bodrum Castle, Gumbet, Historic Sites, Yalikavak

Rubble, Rubble, Toil and Trouble

Dig for Bodrum

As a much needed contrast from our sleeping village beauty, we rode the dolly into Bodrum for a walkabout. We found the town in frantic refashion mode with mechanical diggers in full destructive swing. The Town Hall has been utterly gutted, the promenade hassle cafés have been demolished and the crazy paving beneath is being excavated. All along the narrow pedestrianised ‘bar street’ the cobbles have been ripped up leaving a multi-puddled dirt track and entire buildings have been razed revealing views of the Aegean not seen since Mausolus was on the throne. A chic new civic square overlooking the crusader castle would be a spectacular urban statement. I suspect it’s not to be. Doubtless, short sighted, short term commercial considerations will prevail.

As befits the town’s reputation as the summer playground for the Turkish urban elite, I sincerely hope that sufficient time, money and imagination will be spent on the finished product.

In a vain effort to raise its game, Bodrum’s ill-favoured ugly sister, Gümbet, had its own makeover last year. But still the roads leading into the tacky resort remain grimly uninviting, marred by dereliction and casual building debris. The meagre improvements to the central townscape look cheap, rushed and unfinished. You can’t polish a turd.