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As the ferry sails away from Symi’s beautiful harbor I’m definitely more than a little wistful. Symi was such a special place.
But it’s time to move on to the final leg of this 30-day trip from Moscow to the Mediterranean – Turkey.
I visited Turkey once before – a brief stop in Istanbul on Round the World #3. Obviously, I had barely scratched the surface of this intriguing country. So, while I’m in the neighborhood on this summer’s trip, it’s the perfect time to explore the Asian side of one of the world’s only transcontinental countries.
The plan for Turkey
Since I’m currently exploring the Greek Islands, the best option for getting to Turkey from Symi is to take a ferry to the Greek island of Kos. Then another ferry from Kos to Bodrum on the Turkish mainland.
But thanks to limited ferry times, I’ll have a minimum connection time of 5 hours to spend on Kos today before the first afternoon boat goes back to Bodrum.
Tip: The best site for booking ferries in Greece and Turkey is FerryHopper.com.
A change of plans
During my initial planning process, I intended to spend a night on Kos while in transit between Symi and Bodrum. But I ran out of time to research hotels on the island. And then when I arrived in Symi I was so smitten I instantly realized that’s where I wanted to spend the extra night.
An afternoon on Kos
And based on what I see of Kos so far (which I admit is just the main town) I think I made an excellent decision.
The harbor area, while scenic and possessing the obligatory castle, is incredibly touristy. So much so that I’m not sure I would have survived more than a few hours here.
Kos clearly caters to the package tourist and 20-something European nightlife set, neither of which is a group I count myself a part of.
I arrive in Kos at 11:00am and make my way over to the booking counters for the Kos to Bodrum ferry (which couldn’t be booked on Symi) to get a ticket for the first crossing at 4:00pm. Luckily, as Symi Tours had promised, it’s available.
With that done, I now have roughly 4 ½ hours to kill.
Even though I have my luggage in tow, I’m hoping to see at least some of the town’s sights. So I start with something my Symi host, Sevasti, had recommended, the Tree of Hippocrates.
Tree of Hippocrates
Kos is known as the “Island of Hippocrates” – the father of modern medicine – and is considered an invaluable outdoor archaeological museum.
I easily navigate to the shady Lozia Square in the center of town where the plane tree (said to be the largest in Europe) seems to struggle under the weight of its heavy branches extending out in every direction.
Legend has it that Hippocrates taught his pupils the art of medicine under this tree. Of course, the current tree is only 500 years old but it is thought to be a derivative of the original tree.
Hippocrates. Tree. Check.
With my lone sightseeing task accomplished, I grab a table at a waterfront restaurant with wifi and get some work done editing photos over one last delicious Greek meal for lunch.
I will miss Greek food terribly. Sigh.
Luckily, in Europe, it’s perfectly acceptable to occupy a restaurant table for hours at a time so I make productive use of my remaining time on Kos while enjoying another excellent office view.
By 3:30pm it’s time to head back to the ferry terminal for the 30-minute crossing to Turkey.
Like Kos, I don’t have any major plans for Bodrum.
It’s simply the best route to get to the other stops on my Turkish itinerary. In fact, I’d only just decided to spend the night here. Mainly because I worried there might not be an evening bus all the way to Ephesus tonight.
But as we sail into the harbor, I realize I might have underestimated the resort town of Bodrum.
The harbor (resplendent with yachts and, wait for it…a castle) is stunning in the late afternoon light. Skyscraper-sized sailboats are lined up one after another like an advertisement for the America’s Cup race, each with their billowing crimson Turkish flags heralding their national pride.
A great hotel in Bodrum
My hotel, which I just booked on Booking.com yesterday, turns out to be perfect despite its unusual name.
The Moonshine Suites Villa is just a 10-minute walk from the ferry terminal and with a little help from Google maps (thanks again for the free global data, T-Mobile!) I locate it with no trouble at all.
And it’s even better than the glowing Trip Advisor reviews had promised. A small hotel with bougainvillea wrapped terraces surrounding a pristine-looking blue swimming pool; it’s all very Melrose Place circa 1990’s (I know, I’m dating myself).
To top it off, I’m not sure if I scored an upgrade or if all the rooms looked like mine. I walk into a large, stylishly-decorated, two-room suite. With free wifi and breakfast included, the $50 a night rate seems like a real steal.
Not to mention the front desk agent is extremely helpful and provides me with a map and directions to the bus station when I inquire about my options for getting to Ephesus tomorrow.
How to get from Bodrum to Ephesus
I figure there are several options through connecting cities and I’ll need to leave early in the morning. From what I’ve read, Pamukkale Tours runs the best bus service between the two towns so I beeline straight to their booking office at the bus station.
I explain that I want to travel to Ephesus (the town of Selcuk) tomorrow morning and the agent simply says “10:30am bus.” I ask if there are any earlier options and he again says, “10:30am bus.”
Well then, 10:30am bus it is!
It puts me into Selcuk at 1:30pm which doesn’t give me as much time as I’d hoped to see Ephesus. But at least it’s a direct bus so I won’t have to deal with changing to another bus at Soke as I expected.
And as a bonus I will get to sleep in a bit.
With that task accomplished, I take a stroll back down to the marina and settle in at a waterfront restaurant. I order up a glass of wine and some dinner as the sun begins to set in the distance. I haven’t seen a decent sunset since Crete so I’m wildly overdue.
Bodrum is best known for its nightlife scene and the marina area pulsates with bars and discos after dark. But I’m not feeling especially inspired to check out the Turkish nightlife scene so after dinner I head back to the hotel to get some rest.
After all, I have a big day ahead tomorrow.
Next stop, Ephesus!