Hard to imagine now that there was ever a time when Bodrum was remote and cut off, a place inhabited by fewer than 5,000 people where most locals supported themselves from fishing or sponge diving. That is, however, what Gertrude would have found when she made her way there in 1907, arriving by boat from Güllük after sailing around Salih Adası in a caique. It’s not possible to be one hundred per cent certain where she landed but assuming that she would have been shown the quickest route over the hills she probably stepped ashore somewhere near what is now Torba.

From Torba she would have walked over the hump of the Bodrum Peninsula along what she herself called rough paths (and this was a woman for whom hills were opportunities rather than obstacles). In the absence of any obvious track I contented myself with walking along the headland and gazing in awe at the thick vegetation coating the hillside.

The Bodrum she would have reached after a stiff hour and a half’s march would have been not just much smaller but also very different in its flora. Today one of the great beauties of the town is the rich vegetation: the palms, the hibiscuses, the eucalyptus trees. None of this would have been there to greet Gertrude, however, the plants having been introduced to the town much later by the famous Fisherman of Halicarnassus, Cevat Sakır Kabaagaçlı,

In Gertrude’s day the Castle of St Peter, now the Museum of Underwater Archaeology, served as a prison for which a special visitor’s permit was required. In an almost unbelievable story from the days before instant communication Kabaağaçlı had been sentenced to three years in jail, a sentence which was supposed to be served in the castle. Arriving there after a three month trek though he found that the castle had been decommissioned as a prison after a French bombing raid of 1915 ruined it. Unfortunately no one in Ankara knew this. Instead he was given a house to live in by the sea before eventually being sent to serve the second half of his sentence in Constantinople (İstanbul).DSC08747

Having walked over the hump to reach Bodrum and done her sightseeing, which included a look at the site of the Mausoleum, the theatre and the temple of Mars, Gertrude then had to walk back the same way that she had come. On the same day too.

Did she complain to her diary about this? No she did not. They were made of sterner stuff in those days.


2 thoughts on “Over the hill to Bodrum

  1. Pingback: Tracing the path of Miss Bell - Fethiye Times

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