Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Day 54: Rooked at the Castle, But Toasted in the End
How beautiful is that to wake up to! I walked out on to our balcony just about daybreak, and this is what I saw. Bodrum is an ancient city, and its harbor is among the most peaceful and beautiful I have seen. There aren't a lot of tourist-y things to see here, but the clear blue sea is obviously a major draw and hundreds of beach umbrellas and lounges for rent seem to stretch the length of the shore.
This was once home to one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the massive and apparently magnificent crypt of King Mausolus - which gave us the word "mausoleum". The tomb survived for more than 1,500 years until an earthquake destroyed it two years after Columbus stumbled upon America. Even in collapse the tomb lives on because its rock and marbles were used by the Crusaders to build the Castle of St Peter the Liberator, a fort which overlooks the harbor today.
Which brings us to today's tale. We were up early and ready to explore the island before the day got too hot. Linda is usually the better organized of us two. OK, is almost always the better organized. But today was an off day. She steered us wrong as we searched to find the gangway to go ashore, but anyone could make that mistake.
Once ashore, the way to the castle was an easy wander along the waterfront. Before long, that led us into the jumble of shops and restaurants that grow up everywhere tourists gather. I had forgotten to check if we had any Turkish lira before we left the room, and when we saw an ATM and a local currency exchange, I suggested to LK that we should get some local money.
Don't bother, she said. We've got euros and US dollars, and everybody takes them.
Everybody, it turns out, except the government-run department that wanted liras if we wanted to get into the castle and explore it. In fact, they felt so strongly about this that they even had a sign that said not to bother asking.
By now, we had walked about an hour, and it was starting to get fairly hot and the sole place we had spotted where we could get liras was about 20 minutes back. Off we went.
But after only about 100 yards, LK saw a sign with the map of the area on it. There was a bank just on the other side of the castle. So we backtracked and started to walk around the castle. Unfortunately, while a bank may indeed have been behind the castle, there was no street going there. We headed back to the ATM again, only now it was even that much further.
"I'm walking behind you," Linda said. When I asked why, she said that she had been wrong twice and wasn't taking the lead anymore. I told her not to be silly, knowing full well that if she had made a mistake it would be mean-spirited of me to rub her nose in it. Of course, she also knows full well that I can be very mean-spirited when it comes to things like this.
Anyhow, it was about 25 minutes back to the currency exchange. Which meant it was about 25 minutes back to the castle before we did our walkabout. It was getting very hot now. My shirt was soaked and my hat was growing white rings around the visor. And we were getting tired.
"Of course, there's no reason we have to go back to the castle," LK said. "It's just a big castle and it has a collection of underwater archaeology finds. It's not going to be a big deal to miss it." Which sounded like someone who had quickly debated the pros (seeing the inside of the castle) and the cons (having to walk all the way back to the ship while dragging Don) and quickly chose the affirmative side.
So that is why my picture with the castle is taken from outside and across the water, because without lira I was turned away like the barbarians at the gate. And by the time I had liras in my pocket, I was too tired to want to go back.
But something really good came out of this. I needed to drink something cold, so we walked into an open-air cafe next to the water and sat down in the shade to drink iced tea. LK scanned the menu and excitedly pointed to the item you can see in the picture here.
That's right, this Turkish cafe is selling Half Bread Toast, which must surely be the Mediterranean equivalent of my invention of "one-side soft toast" (tm). I am validated. A trend has been started. The world is learning the joy of soft-on-one-side-crisp-on-the-other toast.
Had we brought local money to the castle the first time, we almost surely would not have discovered this. And of course, had I checked to see if we brought any in the first place, I would have already had it with me before we left the ship. But then I would be writing about silly old underwater archaeological finds rather than important findings, such as Half Bread Toast.