It was my first seaside vacation in so many years
I like to explore cities and to learn more about their history, culture, traditions, and even cuisines so I would call myself a city traveler. I don’t even remember when was the last time I had a beach vacation. However, this time I felt that I really needed a big change; I had a real desire to enjoy a beautiful beach and a warm sun so I simply needed to be somewhere like Bodrum, which is also known as “The Jewel of the Turkish Riviera”.
On September 22nd 2020, I flew from Istanbul to Milas-Bodrum airport with Turkish Airlines. It was an uneventful 90 minutes flight; the crew didn’t serve any food, drinks, or even one bottle of water during the flight. The flight was full and the only thing the crew distributed was hygiene kits. Turkish Airlines drastically cut food and drinks service due to COVID, which is a topic I am willing to write about in my next post.
I booked 4 nights in Yaz Beach Hotel through Expedia (Booking.com doesn’t work in Turkey for unknown reasons). The hotel has good reviews and it is located in Yalikavak area. After a short flight which I barely remember anything about, I landed in Milas-Bodrum airport which is located outside the Bodrum peninsula. Taxi ride to the hotel was a good 50 minutes drive and costed around 25 USD (note that my return flight ticket Istanbul costed 100 USD). I arrived at the Hotel and was excited to see the room I booked, which was according to Expedia site, “Superior sea-view room”. However, I arrived at the room and rushed to the balcony to see this huge barrier blocking my sea-view! I called the reception to complain about it, they tried to convince me at first that this is a sea-view room but I insisted that this is an obstructed view and I can’t accept it especially that I paid a extra to get a proper sea-view. They promised me to give me another room with a better view next day.
So I arrived at my temporary room and got ready to go out to explore the beach and that happened after the unpleasant check-in experience. I spent an amazing afternoon exploring the hotel and the gorgeous looking beach, sunbathing, and swimming in the stunning Aegean sea.
Next day, they finally gave me a room with a proper view, which is the one I originally paid extra to get. I guess I was satisfied with that and since then, all the experiences I had in the hotel were completely positive.
Food in the hotel
Breakfast was included in the deal but due to COVID, there was no breakfast buffet. Instead, masked waiters served food to our tables. Breakfast was generally good but I wouldn’t say that it was outstanding. Service was good and friendly and staff wore masks all the time. Lunch was an extra and dishes I tried during my 4 days at the hotel were generally good. The best one of them, in my opinion, was Izgara Köfte dish in the photo below. About dinner, hotel restaurant closes at around 6 pm so had to take a taxi (about 8 minutes) to Yalikavak Marina where there is a large selection of dining places.
Yalikavak, the town
Yalikavak is the closest lively spot to the hotel where there is a large selection of luxury dining and leisure facilities. The marina is a major commercial development within the town and it provides more than 630 berths for yachts.
Bodrum, the city
The city of Bodrum is located 20 Kilometers away from the hotel where I was staying so it was about 25 minutes drive in the taxi. There is another much cheaper way to reach Bodrum which is to take the bus from Yalikavak bus station. However, the bus makes many stops and journey can take about 50 minutes or so.
I personally liked Bodrum more than Yalikavak; I felt that it’s an authentic city where dining options aren’t exclusively luxurious like in Yalikavak. I also liked the bazaar, the castle, and the beautiful marina. Bodrum is literally surrounded by Greek islands so you can take a quick ferry ride (less than 50 minutes) from there to Kos Island in Greece for less than 25 Euros. Sadly, border was closed when I was there because of COVID.
Did it feel safe to be in Bodrum during COVID?
I understand that anyone can contract the virus anywhere they are but I must admit that I generally felt very safe when I was in Bodrum, especially at the hotel. All staff wore masks at all times and they fully complied with health protocols. Besides, I was there end of September so it was end of season anyway so hotel wasn’t fully booked. On the contrary, the hotel was nearly empty and there were times where I had the entire beach to myself and that feeling of exclusivity just felt great.
Summary of the experience
I really loved Bodrum; the Aegean sea is magnificent, the weather was perfect for a beach vacation even though sea water felt a tiny bit cold in the early morning. It was around 28 degrees during the day and 18 or 19 degrees at night. Hotel staff were generally professional and friendly although I had an issue during check-in but I am happy it was solved next day. Not all staff members spoke English but it wasn’t an issue. Hotel rooms are spacious and clean and room service was punctual and professional. I must also mention that prices of meals served in hotel restaurant were affordable. However, the hotel turns into ghost town after dark, there is nothing to do there after 7 pm.
In short, Bodrum offered me what exactly I was looking for; a relaxing beach vacation in a magnificent sea resort at an affordable price tag. It was just perfect and I encourage everyone who wants to enjoy a beach vacation to visit Bodrum, it is an absolutely magnificent beach destination.
Back to Istanbul
On the way back, I had another uneventful Turkish Airlines flight which took me back to Istanbul in about an hour. Once again, Turkish Airlines crew only distributed hygiene kits and nothing else. Both boarding and disembarking were chaotic. Unfortunately, many passengers weren’t wearing masks properly and on top of that, flight was full. I couldn’t feel relaxed during the flight and just wanted to land and to get out of there as soon as possible 🙂
That’s all I can say about Bodrum for now. Let me know if you have any questions in the comment. In my next post, I will be writing about my Turkish Airlines Business Class flight experience from Istanbul, Turkey to Kyiv, Ukraine so stay tuned!