A week attempting to find history in Gumbet, Turkey

My last post about a holiday was titled A Thoroughly British Holiday and that name would suit this post really well too but for completely different reasons. Not a holiday where I did lots of quintessentially traditional British things but a modern day British holiday – fry ups, drinking too much and sunburn.

I spend a lot of time being really proud to be British but not when I think about us on holiday. We really don’t act as good ambassadors for our country. I went to Turkey not even knowing the most basic of Turkish phrases, not even hello or thank you, and I’ve come home no better off. Although I did make an effort to order a couple of what I assume are local Turkish dishes I also drank several cups of English breakfast tea. And aside from one day when we explored the culture and history of the area all the others were spent lying by the pool completely ignoring the fact that we were in an area rich with evidence of one of the oldest and most advanced civilisations of all time.

The last point I can defend myself on because I was desperate to actually go out and see some of what the country had to offer. I’d never been to Turkey before, in fact this was the first time I’d been in Asia (although it didn’t in anyway feel like it and aside from the temperature it may as well have been Brighton). I had all these amazing tours lined up that I wanted to take – to the rock tombs of Caunos (which look like something straight out of Lord of the Rings) and the Pamukkale thermal pools (which are the stuff of bucket lists) but unfortunately the girl I went with is more of a laze by the pool holidaying kind of person. And I left Turkey feeling like there was so much I should have been done, so many things I should now be able to say that I’d seen, when in reality all I have to show for my weeks holiday is a light tan.


The one concession to my desire to actually leave the hotel and see some of Turkey was a morning spent in Bodrum. Which when we got off the bus looked exactly like Gumbet but if you knew what you were looking for (which I did) there was some history to be found.


The first was something which when I first read about it sounded so impressive I couldn’t believe more people hadn’t mentioned it – one of the seven wonders of the ancient world is right there in Bodrum! Right there in the middle of the town! Why isn’t everyone going to see this? Then I discovered that about 600 years ago it was destroyed to fortify a castle and all that’s left now is a square of ground covered in rubble. But this was ancient rubble so I paid my 20 lira and went in to have a look for myself.


Ok so admittedly, not the most fascinating thing I’ve ever seen, but still, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world! Not something you see broken pieces of every day.

This alone had not satisfied my need for history but fortunately Bodrum also had a castle which turned out to be the third best castle I’ve ever been round (coming in a close behind The Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome and The Tower of London). I had a great time just running around the castle walls and exploring the towers, alternating between pretending to be a member of the Martell family in Game of Thrones and just a big kid in a playground.


And inside the castle is the Bodrum Museum of Underwater Archaeology including, among other reasonably interesting things, the oldest excavated shipwreck from 1400 BC. And if that doesn’t make your mind boggle then there’s no hope for you.


Overall I’d mark this holiday a 4/10. The food was good, the cocktails were excellent but six of the seven days were too boring to score it any higher. I’m going to take this as a valuable lesson – before I agree to go on holiday with someone make them agree to my vigorous sightseeing itinerary!


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