It was a hot day in the summer of 1985 , I was in Bodrum after thirteen years, and this time with my wife walking by the shore near the Barlar Street. There, by the little dock close to the Halikarnas Hotel four young American tourists about our age, were trying to agree with the two boat owners about the conditions to rent the boat for the day. Looking for a boat tour ourselves, we asked them if we could join them and they immediately agreed, since the price per person went down to a mere 10 TL, approximately $3 in those days. We were the two Baton Rougeans then, a young girl named Deniz, born to a Turkish mother and American father living in California, three young men, and the two captains of the boat in their early thirties. We packed our own food: feta cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, black olives, water melon, bread, water and a six pack of Efes Beer. The boat had a sitting area for four peope in the back and another three could lay down on the deck on top of the little cabin.It was runing on diesel fuel and as we sailed out the harbour soon the sound of the motor was a like a music to our ears: ..tackk, tacck, tackk,.....
Our first stop was at the Aquarium bay, where the water was clear as water and turquoise blue. The younger of two seamen dived into the water about 15 feet deep with a newspaper. He secured the paper on the bottom of the sea with with few rocks, handed Sitare the googles and told her to read the paper while she was swimming in the water. It was amazingly clear, and no I am not joking. Afterwards we docked at the Poyraz Bay, named after the North wind, then at Tavsan Burnu, Kara Ada and so on. One after another we were diving into the turquoise blue water, swimming to the emerald green shore line, then swimming back to the boat again. In the afternoon we were sailing near the Karaada, (black island), a huge island with not a single trace of civilization on it. We stopped by a rocky part of the Island ; there were some caves in the rocks and a waterflow was coming out of the caves mixing with the sea water outside. It was the "Cleopatra's bath" and we were told that the it was thermal water and had healing powers in it. Sitare and I was the only brave ones along with the young captain to swim about 15 yards deep into the caves. Outside by the rocks there was also an area with a pitch black mud on it. The mud was called "Cleopatra's beauty cream", Sitare and Deniz immediately applied the smelly mud to their faces. Our next stop was at this most beautiful place by the Black Island: at the Meteor Hole. The captain had tied the boat to the rocks by the shore and we started walking on the sand and a rocks in the water to this big black area. We came standing to the edge of the ditch and looked inside. It was the darkest and deepest hole with no bottom in sight. Small fish were swimming on the sides. After some hesitation, I jumped into the hole and swam across where once a meteorite had fallen. On top of the hole about 40 feet high there was a diving platform on the cliffs.It was too high for anybody, but Sitare, always a good diver, went down from the rocks to about 15 feet and dived into the water in everybodies amazement.
We had had enjoyed our boat trip so much that day that we made the same trip over and over again with the same crew of eight for the next two days. On the third day the boat broke down in the middle of the ocean. There was a leak somewhere on the motor. The cellphones were not born yet,and we had no help or communication with land. The two talented seaman cut one of the beer cans and sealed the broken pipe with a piece of wire, turned the ignition on, and we heard the music in our ears again. : tackk, tackk. tackk. ...
Since our first experience with the blue trip in Bodrum in 1985, every time we visited this beautiful city we made sure to make the trip again. For us Bodrum without the boat trip was unthinkable. We,made it together with our daughters, with Sitare's father, with friends and alone by ourselves. Todays trip will be number seven, eight, or ninth one, who knows? Last time we made the trip in 2007 it costed us $ 25 each with lunch included, sightseeing swimming for seven hours. What a bargain.!
We came to the Bodrum harbour at 9 am when the ticket stand was just opening. We purchased two tickets for 35 TL($17) each, which also included the lunch. To our pleasant surprise our boat was named “Aslı Han 5” , not only Aslı is our older daughter's name but we had also used another boat named Aslıhan in 2004. Since the boat was going to depart at I0 am, we went to the Çarşı, the market place, where the shops were just opening for the day. We bought couple of simits and came back to the boat little early to secure a place at one of the tables on the sea side. The first thing you do when entering the boat is to take your shoes off even if they are flip flops and put them in the box on the back of the boat. So we did. The boat was specially made for this type of occasion. They construct these special boats in Bodrum, old fashioned long sailboats, called “Gulet”s. This was not a Gulet,but a derivation from it, where the back part of the boat is square shaped to accommodate tables for passengers. There were four tables for six on each side and an aisle in the middle going to the little bar area in the front of the boat. Most of the foreign tourists immediately went up to the deck and stayed there for sunbathing for the whole duration of the trip. We ordered two glasses of çay and started our breakfast with the simits we had just brought in to the deck, waiting for the boats departure.
A European couple joined us at our table soon, a young blond woman about thirty years of age, with a very fit body of a bodybuilder and a man in his mid forties. Sitare asked me in Turkish what language they were talking and I replied " Dutch or Flemenk or something." Little later on Sitare started talking to them in English and we found out that both were actually Britons from Yorkshire England.The woman had such a different accent or dialect that I had to give my whole attention to understand the words she was saying. They were our first group of friends on the tour, we had nice conversation with them during the whole trip. Drinks are not included in the price and when you are on the ocean, all you do is eat and drink. Sitare had at least three Nescafe's, I had the same number of çays and a bottle of Efes Beer.
The routine on our itinerary was the same: Aquarium Bay, Poyraz Bay, Tavşan Burnu, Karada, Meteor Çukuru, Tersane... We jumped into the ice cold blue water in each bay, swimmed to the shore and got back to the boat and had another glass of tea. Lunch plate consisted of baked chicken breasts and rice pilaf with salsa, green salad, and fresh loaves of bread. We also had a four o'clock tea service with plenty of petite beur cookies. The stop at Cleopatra's bath, brought memories back and we were saddened by the commercialization of the area. It was not the virgin place any more, we had visited once, they had built a quay for the boats to dock and surrounded the caves all around with walls in the water. There was also a wet bar serving alcoholic beverage in the little port. People were still swimming by the caves in the water, but we did not know if it still had the thermal healing power and the black mud, Cleopatra's beauty cream had long dried out. Sitare being always the magnet had made friends with several people again. We talked to a young Turkish couple, both Doctors and working at the Cerrahpaşa Hospital in Istanbul. The young man who was a brain surgeon was accepted to Harvard and they were planning to move to United States soon. Then there were these two young men with thick black beards, both working for a cafe in Bodrum, owned by a billionaire businessmen from Azerbaijan. They were really friendly polite young men, servicing our table is if they were working in their own cafe. When I was explaining to them about our visit to Cleopatra's bath in 1985 and how Sitare had applied the black cream on her face, one of the young men turned to her and said : "I think the cream had really worked. " Sitare had big smile on her face and thanked him for the nice compliment. You always meet nice people on your trips, make friends with them for few hours or days and never see them again despite living on the same planet. But now we were headed back to Bodrum and were running an hour late to see our dear friends, who were friends since a long time.