Secret Stonehenge

It has been a while since I properly wrote something on here; I have been rather slack over the summer with so much going on and holidays. It has been a crazy couple of months and there is still so much more going on.

Where shall I start…. I know…. My Birthday, always a good place to start! So it was a decade year this time around, sob, and my lovely family decided to treat me to a fabulous week away to celebrate/ commiserate me turning 30!

My snazzy stonehenge hut!

My snazzy stonehenge hut!

It was a total surprise, so as a control freak it was hard to let someone else take the reins on my holiday planning. However, these guys did good!!! The journey began with a sibling road trip. Trying my very best not to look out of the car window as we three kids drove to the destination the first stop on our tour arrived, Stonehenge. It was very exciting indeed as I have never been before. It was amazing, driving down the road and all of a sudden there on the horizon was the famous, glorious stone ring. It looks exactly as it does in the pictures. So we clambered out of the car (minus the delicious strawberries we picked up from a guy selling them by the side of the road – only in the countryside!) and dashed for the entrance trying to beat the buses full of tourists. It’s a popular spot and there is no way of getting away from the tourists that visit, but it’s not the end of the world.

delicious!

delicious road side treats

ingenious!

ingenious!

Now there are two ways to get up to Stonehenge from the new snazzy visitors centre with its 360 degree view of the stones, you can walk across cow dotted fields or take the little shuttle bus service. We had time limits on the visit as we had places to be so we chose the lazy option and got the bus. Naughty!

Getting off the bus the walking route takes you around the stones, it may have been cloudy but on occasion the clouds cleared and the sun shone through and even more the crowds cleared and there was periods when you could see through the stones and not people, hurrah! As you walk around you cannot help but be amazed at the sure size of the stones, their age and the skill that went into getting them to this spot and carving them. The sheer wonder of this ancient site!

The Glorious Stonehenge

The Glorious Stonehenge

Stonehenge StonehengeIf you are ever in the area then I highly recommend a stop. Even if ancient history isn’t your thing, you have to appreciate the wonder of these things.

Anyway, exiting through the gift shop, where else, we headed back to the car for the next stop on our secret adventure…… lunch! And what a great lunch stop it was, the Lincoln Inn. This is a small local pub that serves delicious food. The staff were friendly and attentive, the food was great and it was in a stunning location. This was of course the location that my parents arrived as a ‘surprise’ …. Not going to lie the table set for five was a giveaway, plus a few other things! But a fabulous gastropub lunch it was.

Setting sail one more, now in convoy, where on earth were we heading……..

Turkish Delights- Bodrum

A town full of surprises, that is Bodrum! Once an ancient capital, Halicarnassus, home to one of the seven wonders of the world, Bodrum is more than it surface lets on. Yes this is a beach destination and the peninsular is full of large hotel resorts, but at the beginning of May, the town is still sleepy, there are very few tourists, the weather is good and you are surrounded by ancient manmade and natural wonders. If you are looking for a wild party town then I would head there later in the summer, peak season kicks off towards the middle of May.

Bodrum Castle

Bodrum is an ideal place to use as a base to explore the peninsular and surrounding delights that Turkey has to offer, such as Ephesus. There are plenty of tour companies offering day trips to ancient and natural wonders, but there is also the bus station which has a large array of destinations on offer. Hotel wise Bodrum has such a variety its hard to choose! We stayed at a small locally run pension, the Hotel Gulec, located about 10mins walk from the sea. Tucked away down a small street the hotel covered in bougainvillea, with its simple rooms and delightful garden where breakfast is served was just what we wanted. It was away from the main hustle and bustle of the tourist streets but close enough to walk everywhere!

The beaches around bodrum town are pebble beach’s, and at night the restaurants fill them with tables. It is possible to get water taxis to other beaches, which is what we did, and managed to convince a quiet hotel to let us use its sun loungers for the price of a few drinks, and what a delightful day it was! The sea was crystal clear, as you looked out on the azure blue water you could see everything, this is sea like I have never experienced!

the searelaxing on the beachcrystal clear waters

If sitting on the beach for more than a day isn’t your scene, then there is plenty to occupy yourself with. There is of course the ruins of Mausolus mausoleum, once an ancient wonder of the world. The site is located at the top of the town. There isn’t much left at the site but it does certainly give you an idea of scale ( the main art work is currently at the British Museum). Further through the town is the amphitheatre which you can see from most parts of Bodrum. The walk to both takes you through the small, narrow streets of real Bodrum. It’s a great walk that lets you explore the non tourist parts of the town and take in a bit of real Turkish life. One of the highlights for me, was the Castle of St. Peter, a crusader castle from the 15th Century that has now been turned into the Underwater Archaeology museum. The museum houses some of the most spectacular underwater and maritime finds, they have even reconstructed some of the ships found and it gives you a real sense of scale and ancient life. Being housed in a crusader castle also gives you a great atmosphere, as you walk around the ramparts you can gaze out onto the sparkling sea.

walking around Bodrumaround Bodrumaround Bodrum

the amphitheatreThe sea from Bodrum Castlefinds from the museum

Ships are a constant theme in Bodrum, and its marina is a great place to walk in the evening as the sun sets behind the masts. Its home to a variety of vessels, from the small water taxis and day trip boats, to beautiful wooden gulets that you can hire ( already wondering when I can fit a holiday in on one of them!), to the private yachts and sailing boats of those with far too much money! Bodrum’s marina blends together the world of the fabulously rich with those people just looking for a sunshine escape.

boats moored in the harbourart on the marinaart on the marina

The food on offer ( always an important part to any of my trips!) is great.  Much cheaper than Istanbul, you can get a variety of Turkish food for a great price in lovely al fresco destinations, and enjoy the people watching. My friends diving instructor recommended a Kofta restaurant right opposite the marina, and it was good  –  Marina Koftecisi  . We went on our last day at lunch time and it was heaving with Turkish families out for a meal together.

However the best restaurant we found in Bodrum was surprisingly a Spanish restaurant La Pasion – http://www.lapasion-bodrum.com/ . Located down a little street just off the main strip, this was a foodie paradise. An elegant out-door restaurant, atmospheric from start to finish. The menu, mainly tapas dishes but there were also larger main dishes to choose from, were flavourful, simple and elegant. If we had been in London we would have paid an extortionate amount for the quality of food we received, but here in Bodrum we paid about £25 per person ( and that was with a bottle of lovely Italian wine). This is certainly a destination to head to when in Bodrum!

sunset over the marina

Bodrum as I said is full of surprises! Lovely people, food and amazing scenery! This is a destination to go and relax in, soak up the sun but also fill your day with activities and culture if you want. Some people scoffed when I said I was going to Bodrum ( because yes it does have that night club, beer chugging brits abroad reputation), but I found a rather delightful seaside resort that draws in very nice yachts!