After the debacle of the IMX excursion to Ephesus and Pamukkale and the road side break down we seriously considered cancelling our next IMX trip to Bodrum because this was by boat and whilst breaking down in a car is bad enough, in a boat it could be catastrophic.
We didn’t cancel but we both had negative premonitions about the trip and sure enough it started badly when the shuttle bus didn’t arrive to collect us. We concluded that the reason may well be that after the Pamukkale fiasco and taking into consideration that the company was two vehicles down then this was most likely the reason. We waited twenty minutes and then thoroughly irritated by this hopped on a Dolmus (a bus transport system) and made our own way to the jetty and the Bodrum ferry boat.
Straight away we were not absolutely sure about this, the boat was ancient, there were gaping holes in the rotting deck, the furniture was shabby old and worn out, we couldn’t see any lifeboats, the sun shades were ripped and ragged, parts of the vessel seemed to be held together with wire and string and the thoroughly unprofessional crew didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.
If this was Greece then the rust bucket would have been decommissioned years ago and this thing had as much chance of complying with EU marine safety legislation as I have of flying to the moon. On the other hand the sea was calm, the sky was blue, we had paid for it so what could possibly go wrong we wondered?
Well, quite a lot as it happened…
The scheduled nine o’clock departure time came and went and my already half empty cup of optimism was rapidly draining away but half an hour or so behind schedule the ferry eventually left the jetty and began its journey to Bodrum and the skipper steered the boat into open water.
It was a perfect morning. Everywhere was blue, the sky, the sea, even the distant hills and mountains had a misty blueness about them and we settled down on the very top deck to enjoy the two hour crossing across the bay.
After an hour or so it is clear that the ferry was taking a curious route and didn’t seem to be heading in the direction of Bodrum at all. Bodrum is around the headland but the boat was going straight on. The reason for this was that the Bodrum ferry doesn’t actually go to Bodrum but eventually dropped us off on the other side of the peninsula and we were all transferred to a bus for the final leg of the journey and they didn’t tell us that at the IMX travel shop when we booked the tour. IMX was beginning to seriously annoy me, I can tell you!
The bus leg of the journey took fifteen minutes or so and dropped us at the bus station which was a disaster for me because the bus station was next to the market and today was market day. Kim was minded to pay a quick visit so I was dragged into the heaving mass of trading recklessness and spent a very uncomfortable thirty minutes negotiating the route from one side to the other.
Emerging from the exit we followed the road down to the harbour and as it was lunch time we looked for somewhere to eat. It didn’t take long to be invited and then convinced to sit at a pavement table and soon we were tucking in to a lunch of spiced beef kebab with roasted vegetables and playing Russian roulette with a jar of chillies because just one injudicious selection meant a fiery eruption on the tongue! The food was average and the bill was a shock so sulking about that we left the restaurant and carried on towards the castle.
St Peter’s castle was built by the Knights of Saint John in the fifteenth century as a defensive stronghold in Asia Minor. Old photographs from the 1960s reveal that there has been a lot of reconstruction but a good job has been done because there is a lot of castle to explore here with several towers, fortified walls and high rampart walks as well as gardens, historical interpretations and the museum of underwater archaeology.
A walk around the harbour in the blistering heat of the afternoon took us now to another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Mausolus. This was once a magnificent forty-five metre high marble tomb, decorated with statues and friezes and built in the third century BC as a burial chamber for King Mausolus of Caria. All that remains now are a few toppled columns and splintered stones and a hole in the ground where the burial chamber once was because all of the usable stones had been previously carted away by the Knights of St John who needed a convenient supply of stone to build their nearby castle.
The Knights of St John have quite a lot of lost architectural heritage to answer for it would seem and if the World Heritage Organisation had existed in the fifteenth century I think they may have had a great deal of explaining to do to the Director-General of UNESCO!
The afternoon was slipping away now so we returned to the busy main shopping street and made the souvenir purchases that we had promised ourselves and then had a drink in a shady bar before returning to the bus station for the ride back to the ferry.