Viking Cruises Releases 10 New Voyages

By Staff Writer

Viking Cruises has launched its 2020-2021 Ocean Cruises brochure, featuring more than 10 brand new itineraries, over 10 new extensions and a new destination when Viking returns to Turkey.

The lineup’s selection of itineraries trace the history and culture of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations along the Adriatic, Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. The vessel will visit the ports in Greece, Croatia, Italy, and after a five year absence, three incredible Turkish destinations: Troy (Canakkale), Ephesus (Kusadasi) and Istanbul.

New extensions in Europe will additionally be offered, with locations in Turkey and South America. Guests can extend their stay in Istanbul with a visit to the Blue Mosque and the Grand Bazaar; opt for an additional three nights pre or post cruise in Cappadocia to witness the ancient cave community; or explore the stunning wildlife and scenery of the Galapagos even further by adding five nights.

“Our new Viking Ocean Cruises brochure will inspire Australian cruisers to plan their next culturally enriching travel experience, to take them beyond highlights and sights and allow them to fully immerse themselves in a destination by learning about its history and culture,” said Michelle Black, Viking’s managing director, AUNZ.

New ocean itinerary highlights include:

vikingcruises.com.au

A Spanish Sea Dream

By Gary Allen

We wake up to the sun shining brightly over our view across a calm Mediterranean. It’s a beautiful blue-sky day and yoga starts in 20 minutes, enough time to grab a cup of coffee up on deck. Afterwards, we take in a leisurely breakfast before the SeaDream II pulls into port for the day. It’s become our routine, our ritual, on our cruise with the SeaDream Yacht Club.

Named Best Luxury Small Cruise Ship of 2015 by Forbes – the latest of a string of awards since launching in 2001 – the Norwegian cruise line runs two luxury craft in this class, the SeaDream I and II. And they are both all class. Built in the 1980s, the SeaDreams are sumptuously appointed and the scale is more like an intimate private club. The craft are able to dock at ports rather than moor offshore in deeper waters so there’s no queuing to get off or waiting to load onto a tender to go onshore. In fact, there’s no queuing for meals or anything else. The craft accommodates a maximum of 112 passengers and 95 crew, and there is always plenty of room.

SeaDream offer cruises in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and the Atlantic with durations ranging between seven and 14 nights. Ours is a Spanish cruise that begins in Malaga, on the famed Costa del Sol. We cruise up the Mediterranean coast stopping in Cartagena en route to Valencia, then out to the Balearic Islands and the jet-set islands of Ibiza and Mallorca, as well the tranquil island of Menorca, before finishing in Barcelona. SeaDream’s motto is “yachting, not cruising”. Every morning, we pull into a new port, with most of the day to explore. Docking in town means you always have the option to retreat back to the ship for lunch, a break, or just some (more) rest and relaxation. The convenience is one of the best features of the cruise.

Friends are made quickly on the first night as guests gather in the piano bar and lounge. Before long the karaoke and conviviality is in full swing. And if singing off-key is not your thing, there’s always the quiet retreat of the blackjack table. SeaDream claims it is the smallest casino at sea.

Food can make or break a trip and goes hand in hand with the standard of service in determining the enjoyment you get from your holiday. On the SeaDream we saw expert chefs lovingly prepare all manner of culinary delights, paired with wines of distinction, and all dispatched by staff who care enough to make it personal, to find out what *you* want and just how *you* like it: “The usual, Mr Allen?” SeaDream staff always went above and beyond and were a big part of what we loved about this cruise experience.

SeaDream’s “Signature” dining experience is prepared à la minute and served al fresco at the Topside Restaurant or in the stylish Dining Salon. Menus include a raw organic food selection, where none of the fresh ingredients is heated above 48 degrees.

Once you’ve settled on board, head straight to the concierge and book a night to “Sleep under the Stars”. Staff make up a bed at the bow of the ship and, roped off for privacy, it’s all yours for the night. Pray for a cloudless sky, but don’t worry, your luxury cabin is right below should the weather turn.  Suites and staterooms are superbly appointed and come with flat screen TVs, iPhone docking stations, Nespresso coffee machines and 24-hour room service. Your fare includes all meals and gratuities.

In most ports, a guided bicycle ride is offered for those guests eager for early exercise. We took rides at every opportunity as it was a great way to get the sea legs moving and familiarise ourselves with the new port of call. The ship’s bikes are also available anytime you like but numbers are limited on the guided rides, so sign up early. Weather depending, other activities on board include watersports like kayaks, snorkelling, water skiing, swim platform, and a floating island. There’s also a well-equipped gym and the SeaDream Spa, which the owners boast is the only Thai-certified spa service at sea.

 

seadream.com

Chasing the Sun in the Mediterranean

By Rob Mills

It’s a perfect spring evening on the Adriatic as our ship pulls away from the ancient preserved medieval Montenegrin port of Kotor bound for Dubrovnik, just 83 kilometres up the Croatian coast.

We’re sipping champagne at the pool deck bar, watching the fortified old town at the foot of the limestone Dinaric Alps grow smaller, when the gentle words of Captain Etienne Garcia are broadcast, urging his 250 “dear guests” to savour this “beautiful navigation”.

His ship, the French small luxury liner, Le Soléal, glides through the glassy, turquoise waters of the 28-kilometre long Bay of Kotor. It may look like a fjord but is, in fact, a ria or submerged river canyon. As we continue, two exquisite islets can be seen from the port side. One is Our Lady of the Rocks, which bears the 17th-century church of the same name. The other, Ostrvo Sveti Đorđe, is home to the 12th-century Saint George Benedictine monastery. Both are important pilgrim destinations.

Captain Garcia circles the striking islands before leaving the Bay of Kotor via the Verige Strait and its narrow 230-metre wide opening, giving some idea of the strategic importance of what was once thought to be Europe’s southernmost fjord. Fourteen days aboard Le Soléal exploring the ancient ruins of Southern Europe from Istanbul to Venice is a feast for the eyes, the intellect and – because this is a sophisticated French ship after all – a feast of the literal kind.

We are in fact being enthusiastically spoiled on APT’s 17-day Ancient Mediterranean luxury cruise from Athens and Istanbul to Venice. As well as two nights at Athens’ magnificent Hotel Grande Bretagne with its Parthenon, Parliament, Syntagma Square and Mount Lycabettus views, a packed itinerary includes Santorini, Mykonos, Canakkale, Gallipoli, Troy, Assos, Istanbul, Kepez, Kusadasi, Ephesus, the Corinth, Canal, Itea, Delphi, Kotor, Montenegro, Dubrovnik and Venice.

There’s another aspect to this 3,471-kilometre experience. APT has chartered Le Soléal, one of French cruise company Ponant’s four exploration and discovery ships, for Gallipoli’s 100th anniversary. This means Gallipoli is front and centre for a few days, before Le Soléal continues her Aegean (Aegean) and Adriatic exploration.

But while this cruise is a one-off, it is also a dry-run for APT’s 2016 Boutique Collection Cruising program between Venice and Istanbul, which includes the 15-day Aegean and Adriatic Seas cruise aboard Ponant’s newest ship, Le Lyrial (almost identical to Le Soléal), and the 15-day Adriatic & Aegean Odyssey aboard APT’s even smaller, 114-passenger luxury ship, MS Island Sky.

Gallipoli will still be on the itinerary but the emphasis will swing towards the Aegean and Adriatic ports, with an itinerary very similar to Le Soléal’s. It’s tempting to lounge around this sleek ship – thankfully casino-free – but Le Soléal and APT, with its “Freedom of Choice” excursions, focus on providing a sophisticated experience that includes an active engagement with its destinations.

And so we find ourselves diving from a traditional wooden caïque into the bracing Mediterranean to swim 60 metres into Santorini’s Nea Kameni, where sulphurous gases heat the water to 37 degrees. Next, we’re hiking to the top of nearby Palia Kameni, an active volcanic centre in Santorini’s circular archipelago. The awe-inspiring site was once a single volcano that erupted catastrophically 3600 years ago.

In Montenegro, we choose between kayaking, swimming and snorkelling in the picturesque Bay of Kotor, speedboating to the Lustica peninsula’s luminous Blue Caves to swim and sunbathe, walking the walled old town of Kotor, then climbing the zigzag path to St John’s church.

In Croatia, we must decide between a fascinating cycle in the wine and olive-growing valley outside Dubrovnik (including lunch, wine tasting and a crash course on Croatian history and culture), walking the old town, or navigating the ramparts Game of Thrones aficionados might recognise. It’s serious FOMO territory.

And don’t get me started on Istanbul. From the moment we glide into the Golden Horn, with the city’s minarets silhouetted against the sunrise, and dock beneath Topkapi Palace, we’re offered a cornucopia of choices.

Something we can all experience is a dawn crossing of the Corinth Canal. Our 18-metre-wide ship navigates the 21.4-metre wide, 6.4-kilometre high-walled channel that cuts through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, slicing the Greek mainland from the Peloponnesian peninsula. Few cruise ships are small enough to manage the journey, making this a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

It would be remiss to omit what some consider the raison d’etre of this cruise – the total immersion in the ancient world’s diverse civilisations that produced such wonders as Ephesus, Troy, Delphi, Assos and Delos. Not to mention Athens’ Acropolis, Parthenon, Emperor Hadrian’s Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Poseidon and many more.

It would be remiss to omit what some consider the raison d’etre of this cruise – the total immersion in the ancient world’s diverse civilisations that produced such wonders as Ephesus, Troy, Delphi, Assos and Delos. Not to mention Athens’ Acropolis, Parthenon, Emperor Hadrian’s Temple of Zeus, the Temple of Poseidon and many more.

It would be equally lax to gloss over shipboard life. Le Soléal’s interiors are sophisticated, with good use of neutral colours – sand, caramel, chocolate, pale aqua and cream. Paintings and sculptures have a nautical or galactic theme, with an eye-catching, two-deck sculptural “shoal of fish” in the role of central atrium light. And I defy you to stay awake in the theatre’s luxurious armchairs.

The 132 private-balcony cabins spread over four decks accommodate 264 guests (there’s lift access). Prestige staterooms are 22.6 square metres, with decent storage space, flat screen TV, desk, safe, air-conditioning, fridge and a shower with an optional glass screen so you can enjoy the view and your L’Occitane products simultaneously.

There’s butler service for Deck 6 guests and room service for all others. The ship’s spa operates in association with French beauty brand Sothys As the Med races past, Restaurant L’Eclipse serves excellent degustation-style a la carte dinners, with matched European wines and champagnes. Restaurant Le Pytheas, boasting outdoor seating on the pool deck, is more casual. Buffet-style dining is complemented by made-to-order hot meals and to-die-for desserts including delicate crèmes brulees and, a piece de resistance, chocolate and sugared-pistachio tart.

Breakfast is another treat – one you can order to your bed! Amazing croissants and pastries are a highlight. Room service is also available for dinner, though the lure of fine food and good conversation beyond your door is strong, which brings me to the bars. Galilee resides in the main lounge but it’s the airy Observation bar that lures us most strongly. Its huge skylight and wraparound glass offer the perfect setting for Bruno’s magnificent pre- and post-dinner cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, accompanied by the delicate sounds of concert pianist, Valentyn Smolianinoff

Le Soléal’s name is a combination of the French “sun” and “the one who shows the way.” It’s appropriate for this wonderful experience.

Suite life: W Barcelona

About the hotel

This has to be one of the most distinctive hotels in Barcelona, a huge sail shaped structure rising dramatically beside the sand. It’s known locally as the Hotel Vela, meaning sail hotel, and the reflective glass façade shimmers brilliantly in the sunlight. Designed by Spanish architect Ricardo Bofill (who designed, among other things, Terminal 1 of Barcelona airport), it’s an impressive, futuristic and definitely cool building. Inside it has the usual W style with bright décor, edgy lighting and music playing all day. 

Unique features

Be one of the beautiful people with a private Extreme WOW Cabana on the beach. For €500 (about A$731) you and seven friends can have a chic wood and glass cabana to yourselves with a private Jacuzzi, robes, chilled towels, drinks, sun products and W service. If you’re looking to party in Barcelona during the summer, then this is your hotel. Right by the beach with a cool crowd, pumping tunes and a vibrant atmosphere, it would be hard to beat.

The suite experience

The corner suites sit at the front of the sail, so looking out the window it feels like you are floating over the ocean. The hotel’s position on 17 acres of reclaimed land right at the waterfront means the views are incredible. Rooms look out over the Mediterranean or the port of Barcelona and on a clear day you can see for miles. The room is spacious with a separate living area, funky furniture and a separate freestanding bath beside the bed.

Dining

There are six bars and restaurants to choose from at the W, including the flagship restaurant Bravo24 from Michelin-starred chef Carles Abellán. For something a bit more casual the Salt Beach Club serves Californian fusion right on the sand or you can get light, Japanese-style bites at the Eclipse bar on the 26th floor.

Spa

The hotel has the first Bliss Spa in Spain and it continues the cool W feel with rhythm and blues music playing in the background and a brownie buffet. The gym is fantastic, rivalling my own gym back home as far as size and equipment. It’s one of best gyms I’ve ever seen in a hotel. 

If you’d like an upgrade

The Spectacular Suite lives up to its name with a gorgeous outdoor terrace with day beds and lounges for lazing. These one-bedroom suites are on the higher floors of the hotel, making for even better views. Rates start from €990 (about A$1,447) per night.

Gripes

It is outside of the city centre in the port area, so can feel a bit isolated, but there are always cabs available or you can walk off another tapas meal on the way home.

As You Like It: 2018 Specialty Cruises

Food

Ponant | Gastronomy, Vineyards & Grands Crus

Lisbon to Lorient

This nine-day gastronomic cruise departs Lisbon and slowly makes its way across northern Europe, dropping in to some of the most historic European food and wine destinations along the way. Parisian chefs Pascal Féraud of Michelin-starred Le Jules Verne and Stéphane Duchiron of Ore, both from Paris, will be joining passengers on board the intimate 132-cabin Le Soleal, partnering dinner courses with the nest Médoc grands crus. First stopping at Leixoes, 10 kilometres from UNESCO World Heritage site Porto, the mega yacht will then visit Bilbao, not far from the La Rioja wine region. It is then on to the wine capital of Bordeaux, where guests will visit the Cité du Vin museum and Château Latour, one of the oldest wineries in the Médoc. The final call is Ile d’Aix before concluding in Lorient. Every cabin on board is luxurious, with most offering a private balcony. Wine tasting workshops and conferences will be held on board throughout the journey. 

Gastronomy, Vineyards & Grands Crus departs Lisbon, Portugal on April 11, 2018. Rates start from €4,880 (about A$7,395) per person and include all meals, most beverages, activities and transfers. ponant.com

A dessert served aboard Ponant’s Gastronomy, Vineyards & Grands Crus journey.

Photography

The Strand Cruise | Photography Cruise

Bagan to Mandalay

Professional photographer Lucas Gurdjian will once again be joining the Strand Cruise for a four-day journey through Myanmar in 2018. Working closely with Gurdjian, passengers will capture images of Myanmar’s beautiful scenery as well as portraits of the locals they encounter along their journey. With more than 15 years’ experience as a travel and lifestyle photographer, Gurdjian will also offer coaching on techniques such as framing, lighting, aperture, depth of field and post-production techniques, while guests explore heritage trails, impressive pagodas, monasteries and temples. 

The 28 luxurious cabins feature teakwood floors and Burmese-inspired furnishings, a private balcony and personal butler service. The 40-square metre Strand Suite offers a king bed, floor-to-ceiling windows, sitting area and separate dressing area. 

The Photography Cruise departs Bagan on March 26 and September 17, 2018. Rates start from US$1,875 (about A$2,446) per person and include most meals, basic beverages, excursions and activities. thestrandcruise.com 

The hot air balloons over Bagan.

Golf

The Golf Touring Company & Avalon Waterways | European Golf River Cruise

Munich to Budapest

Golfers will have the opportunity to play some of Europe’s best courses on this seven-night cruise through Germany, Austria and Hungary. Rounds at four golf courses – Golf Club Am Habsberg in Nuremberg, Germany; Golf Club Adamstal in Vienna, Austria; Pannonia Golf & Country Club in Budapest, Hungary; and the 20-acre championship course at Hartl Golf Resort in Passau, Germany – are included on the itinerary. Handpicked professionals are available for tuition on and off the course. In addition to golf, passengers are taken on guided tours through historical highlights such as the 11th-century Benedictine Abbey in Melk and the medieval town of Regensburg. The ship, Avalon Panorama, offers various suite options; the Panorama Suite boasts wall to wall windows, Egyptian cotton linens, sitting area and a full-size bathroom. 

The European Golf River Cruise departs Munich on July 10, 2018. Rates for a Panorama Suite start from A$8,995 per person, twin share, and include all meals, most beverages and golf. golfrivercruise.com 

Nuremberg, Germany

Arts and Culture

Silversea | Ballet Cruise

Venice to Monte Carlo

Silversea’s 10-day Mediterranean ballet cruise features two exclusive onboard performances by soloists from renowned dance theatres such as L’Opéra de Paris and the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia. Interviews with the dancers will give passengers some professional insights and there will also be opportunities to meet the performers during cocktail evenings. The cruise is held on board Silversea’s new all-suite Silver Muse, which launched in 2017 and has almost a one-to-one crew to guest ratio plus a dedicated butler for every suite. The Owner’s Suite features a king-sized bed, marble bathroom with full-size tub and separate shower, large living room, powder room and private verandah. Round-the-clock room service accompanies eight onboard dining options, including seafood and grill, Italian, Japanese teppanyaki and a fine dining French restaurant by Relais and Châteaux. The cruise visits European hotspots including Dubrovnik, Sicily, Portofino and Valetta, before concluding in Monte Carlo. 

The 2018 Ballet Cruise departs Venice on August 18; the 2019 Ballet Cruise, from Singapore to Hong Kong, departs on the March 21. Rates start from A$10,900 per person and include all meals and beverages, butler service and gratuities. silversea.com 

Silversea’s 2018 Ballet Cruise. 

Cycling

Butterfield & Robinson | Rhine River Cruise Biking

Basel to Amsterdam

Active travel company Butterfield & Robinson has teamed up with river cruise line Uniworld for an eight-day cycling exploration through the Rhine River region. The tour begins in Germany’s Black Forest, where guests pedal through the Wiese River valley, stopping en route to sample local delicacies. Dinner, paired with local wines, is served back on board the 77-cabin SS Antoinette, which will cruise overnight to the Alsatian wine region. Over the following days, guests cycle by Strasbourg’s Gothic cathedrals, timbered houses and serene canals; past Heidelberg’s baroque Old Town and crumbling hilltop castle; along the plains of the Neckar River; and through the busy streets of Cologne. Much of the cycling is gentle, with various longer and shorter options. On average, guests can expect to cycle 40 to 60 kilometres per day. In the evenings, guests can soothe aching hamstrings in the ship’s small swimming pool or with a massage in the Serenity River Spa. The 36-square metre Riverview Royal Suite features an open-air balcony, a handcrafted Savoir of England bed and a marble bathroom with separate tub and rain shower, equipped with L’Occitane en Provence and Hermès products. 

Rhine River Cruise Biking has three departures in May, June and September, 2018. Rates start from US$6,995 (about A$9,140) per person and include seven nights aboard SS Antoinette, most meals and select beverages, a dedicated Butterfield & Robinson guide, and all transfers. Rates also include use of a customised hybrid or racing bike, handlebar mounted tablet with preloaded GPS routes and safety gear. butterfield.com

Biking in the Alcace region.

Luxury living in Mallorca

Sir Richard Branson has expanded his Virgin Limited Edition portfolio with the addition of two new villas on the Son Bunyola Estate in Mallorca, the largest island of the Balearic Islands archipelago in the Mediterranean.

The first villa, Sa Punta de S’Aguila, has five bedrooms, a private heated pool, plus kitchen, living, and dining rooms. The building has been designed to match the natural landscape and is traditional in style with exposed beams and terracotta tiles. Rates start at about A$31,900 for seven nights.

The four-bedroom Sa Terra Rotja villa is on the edge of the estate, just a short walk from a pebble beach. The villa has a private heated pool and terrace for lounging, along with an outdoor dining space. Rates start at about A$25,500 for seven nights.

The entire Son Bunyola Estate spans over 700 acres of fruit trees, gardens, and has stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea and Tramuntana mountain range. A stay in either villa includes all drinks, meals, wireless Internet, concierge services, and daily housekeeping.

Branson reacquired Son Bunyola Estate in late 2015, after selling the estate in 2002.

virginlimitededition.com

Suite Life: Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Why stay here?  

Classic French Riviera luxury at its best, you know you’re somewhere special when you walk through the front doors. From its opening in 1908, this famous hotel has always been a hotspot for celebrities, political dignitaries, and artists including Winston Churchill, Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few. The hotel earned France’s official Palace Designation, one of only 16 five-star French properties that have the prestigious accolade. Situated in a charming seaside village, the hotel had an extensive refurbishment in 2009 and has added a new residence wing, spa, and indoor pool. There is an Olympic-size pool with private cabanas that look over the Mediterranean.

 

Rise & shine breakfast time?

With beautiful sunny weather, we decided to eat breakfast on the large patio. The extensive buffet under the shade of the trees with the sea in the backdrop was a lovely start to the day. You’re more or less guaranteed a wonderful meal when you wake up in France. The pastries, coffee, cheeses, eggs and even the butter were all delicious. There was a full hot breakfast menu with the best eggs Benedict I have ever had and service to match.

 

What’s for dinner

Fine dining in Le Cap with Michelin-starred chef Didier Anies is a gastronomic treat. The seasonal menu incorporates ingredients from local markets with the freshest fish, seafood and meats. Signatory main dishes included a divine beef carpaccio with mushrooms, parmesan and octopus in a vinegar dressing. Veal loin with creamy polenta was also outstanding, as was the fillet of sea bass. Save room for dessert as the team makes ice cream in-house, which included our favourite – lavender. The Salon des Collections holds a list of over 600 wines from top French and international vineyards.

 

Time out

Le Spa at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat offers a range of facial and body treatments by Bellafontaine and Carita. Take a stroll in the spa garden between treatments and take in the Mediterranean views.

 

Wow factor

Everything in this hotel was wow!

 

Could do better

Nothing whatsoever.

 

I would like an upgrade

The Villa Rose-Pierre sits right next door to the hotel. With a rooftop terrace, full team of staff, sea-view balconies in all bedrooms and more. You have all the amenities of the five-star palace hotel in your own French Riviera villa.

 

Insider tip

The St. Jean-Cap-Ferrat walking path passes directly in front of the hotel and is a must-do. The walk is about nine kilometres along the ocean with numerous places to stop for a refreshing swim or just take in the views. Ask the hotel to pack you a bottle of wine and some cheeses and watch the sunset sitting on any of the secluded spots along the path.  Swimming instructor Pierre Gruneberg started teaching at the pool in 1951 when he was just 19 years old and is still doing so. Charlie Chaplin’s children learned how to swim from this living legend so don’t miss out on at least meeting him.

 


Balcony view at Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

Ancient attraction

Long gone are the days when only backpackers went to Bodrum. It’s now one of the hottest places to be seen and luxury travellers are well catered for. The proof is in all the private jets at the airport and the superyachts moored in the bays. The Greeks knew they were onto something special when they settled what was then called Hallicarnassos around 1,000BC. Alexander the Great had designs on the place, as did Persian satrap Mausolos who created the Mausoleum of Mausolus, a great wonder of the ancient world. Even the Crusaders came and stayed.
These days you can enjoy the views with a sunset raki or a good Turkish rosé, feet in the sand at a beach cafe. Further around the Bodrum Peninsula are gorgeous bays that still seem undiscovered if you arrive before peak season. As with most of the Mediterranean, it can be hot in summer and those beautiful bays fill with yachts and the bars and cafes overflow. The transition seasons are best, in late May and early June, or September and October, and many places are closed in winter.
The enchanting drone of the muezzin is a reminder of the relaxed tolerance of the Turkish people. Bodrum town is a bustling little place with an enormous marina surrounded by bars and cafes. Better are the smaller villages and bays with their orchards of pomegranate and fig, lemons, stone fruit and olives.
There also are treasures of the table to be discovered. Conversing with a local, you see how deep the food culture really is. The local bazaars travel from town to town and have inspiring local produce. Purslane is a popular local ingredient. Forget what you think you know about baklava. Borek is served with a dip of mix of raw minced garlic, olive oil and paprika. When made fresh it is sublime.
You may have tried many of these foods before, but here, in the hands of specialist makers they come alive. For kunefe (that blend of shredded wheat, tasty cheese and honey) or baklava, try the specialist shops in the alleys of Bodrum. A favourite is cream-filled and rolled in a fine layer of mostly pistachio pastry. The food is robust and rustic, but wonderfully fresh and flavoursome. Try the Imam bayildi (“the Imam blushed”, a meat-filled roast aubergine dish that made me blush with excitement. Manti, a tiny bishop’s mitre-shaped, meat-filled dumpling, served topped with yoghurt, olive oil and sprinkled with paprika was truly heavenly.
In Bodrum, dine at Mimoza (mimozagumusluk.com), but have an aperitif next door at Limon Café (limongumusluk.com) first. It has the best romantic sunset views on the peninsula. Orfoz (orfoz.net) offers extraordinary seafood, and Maçakizi has not only a brilliant lunch buffet, but menus for lunch and dinner. Resident chef Aret Sahakyan has a wide-ranging menu emphasising the wonderful local produce – and Michelin-starred chefs are regular guests in his kitchen.
The local wine industry, under government monopoly sine 1927, was boosted by deregulation and the growth of tourism in the 1980s. Having grafted to some very old rootstock they are producing excellent grapes, and with modern winemaking techniques, have had outstanding results. The local chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and pinot blanc, alone or blended, are worth consideration. Petit verdot, malbec and merlot share the red wine stage with a quite muscular cabernet sauvignon. Gulor, Sarafin and buyulubag red wines were also very palatable. And we enjoyed a vintage Kayra chardonnay in particular.
View of the Bodrum coastline