Turkey for the Holidays

I’ve been going to Bodrum, a port town in the southwestern Aegean region of Turkey, for about eight years now and I never get tired of the sweeping vistas. Sitting on a mountaintop and looking down on the waters off the southern coast of Bodrum Peninsula scattered with islands—it is absolutely stunning.

There is such a sense of place in Turkey. Just thinking about its location and the incredible history these lands have seen, it really is a melding of two continents of culture: Asia and Europe. A lot of people say that if you go to Turkey and you’re from the West, you feel like you have arrived in the East; and if you’re from the East, you feel as if you’ve arrived in the West. That’s exactly how it feels to me!

There is always a lot of cooking going on during the holidays in Turkey. My wife’s aunts and cousins are there cooking all the time! The food is fantastic, and I always ask a ton of questions about what they are doing. We are right where the Aegean and Mediterranean meet, so we get some great fish. Plus I love to visit the local food bazaars!

This year we brought back a güveç, a big clay pot that goes in the oven. You stuff it with everything from lamb and tomatoes, peppers, and onions and let it sit on the stovetop for about an hour. Then you stick it in the oven for about four hours and, when it comes out, everything falls apart and is delicious, served with some Turkish rice. If you’ve ever had a romantic notion of what Turkish food is, this clay pot really captures that.

Stay
The Ada Hotel
Bagarasi Street: Tepecik Street 124/1, Golturkbuku, Mugla 48400
+90.252.377.59
adahotel.com
Built out of carved stones, with every modern convenience. I got married here!

Hotel Kempinski in Barbaros Bay
Kizilagac Koyu Gerenkuyu, Mevkii, Yaliciftlik, Bodrum 48400
+90.252.311.0303
kempinski.com/bodrum
A world-class, five-star experience and beautiful views.

Eat
Hotel Kempinski
I love the buffet!

Sait Restaurant
Geri˛s Altı Mevki, No. 54, Yalıkavak, Mu˘gla Province
+90.252.385.5386
saitrestaurant.com
One of my favorites for fish!

Try
Simit from a Street Vendor
This crispy round bread is also known as the Turkish bagel!

Do
The “Salty Boat” in Ortakent on the Bodrum Peninsula
A local man takes private groups around in his boat, catches fresh fish, and cooks the fish on the boat.

Swim with Dolphins
There are plenty of dolphinariums and dolphin parks in the area. I took my daughters to swim with dolphins about 20 minutes outside of Bodrum. It was a great experience for the whole family.

Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
One of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Tomb of Mausolus was designed by Greek architects around 350 BC.

Bodrum Castle
Besides great views, the renovated Bodrum Castle houses the prestigious Museum of Underwater Archeology.

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