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We will send regular newsletters to our members who have signed up for receiving it during the registration. In 'mymerhaba' newsletter, our editorial staff provides updates, with regard to any information related to places worth visiting, viewing, or otherwise worth knowing, for those who care to know more....

Patrick from Bodrum

Faruk and Patrick


Thanks to Patrick Hembrough for sharing his experience in Turkey with us.

Tell us about yourself
I am Patrick Hembrough, co-owner of The Butterfly hotel in Bodrum. I am an American, born in Boston, and I was living on Cape Cod, Massachusetts before settling in Turkey.

What made you come to Turkey?
I arrived in Bodrum in August 2002 as one stop on a trip around the world. I had taken a year off from teaching at university to make this trip. Bodrum was my first exposure to Turkey, having arrived from Greece by ferry. I fell in love with Turkey...the landscapes, the atmosphere, the unique character of Bodrum and, of course, the Turkish people, and I never left.

My first days in Turkey were at The Butterfly, a small hotel owned by Faruk Helvaci and his Turkish partners. Faruk and I became instant friends and, with typical Turkish hospitality, he took me under his wing and showed me around; his home town of Bursa and many sites along the Aegean. I spent my first winter in Turkey in Mudanya on the southern coast of the Sea of Mamara. This happened to be one of the worst winters in Turkey in many years. I had left New England to escape severe winters and couldn't wait to return to Bodrum.

What do you do in your daily life?
For two summers, I helped my friend Faruk market and run his small hotel in Bodrum. This past winter, we formed a company together and purchased a private, luxury villa in Bardakci, Bodrum which we carefully converted it into a small, luxurious boutique hotel. This experience was at times a real nightmare; finding quality workers, negotiating contracts, navigating government regulations. In the end, it was a remarkable and rewarding experience.

Our hotel, and home, is in an amazing location with panoramic views of the Aegean Sea yet only a ten minute walk to the town. It's a small hotel with only 8 rooms, however, they are all very special. The hotel is very unique for Bodrum and open year-round.

Can you compare your first days here with today?
I cannot see that much has changed since my first days in Turkey. I am still learning about the culture, continue to be impressed with the country and the people, and fascinated by the contrasts. In the past, I have lived in London, Paris and Barcelona, however, this was my first experience living in such a dramatically different culture.

Has living in Turkey influenced your approach to life?
Nearly every aspect of my life has changed since living in Turkey. An American friend in Istanbul once shared his thoughts that, in the west, our lives are pretty clearly defined, about 80% as black or white with 20% in the grey area. In Turkey, it's the opposite, 80% of life, business, relationships, etc. falls in the grey area. This certainly makes life in Turkey interesting and challenging.

Turkish language?
My approach to learning Turkish started with a grammar book and a dictionary. This was the same approach I had used with French and Spanish. Turkish has been more challenging since the grammar is so different, very logical, but different. Once that is cracked however it's a just matter of vocabulary. So, I am doing fairly well.

Let's talk about the region you are living in?
I have seen Bodrum growing and growing in my three years here with more and more year-round residents and perhaps too much housing development.

I have always lived with a sea view from my home. Bodrum's setting is superb. It's unique location and topography attracted me from the beginning. We are blessed with very temperate weather. We swim well into November in our crystal-clear seas. Bodrum is arguably the most open and liberal city in Turkey with nightlife to rival the most sophisticated cities.

Bodrum is an excellent base from which to explore the richness of Turkey's historical heritage and natural beauty with places like Ephesus and Pamukkale only a day-trip away.

Have you traveled in Turkey? Tell us your discoveries
I have visited Istanbul many times. This is one great, world-class city. Everywhere you experience amazing contrasts. I have also visited the Izmir area a few times and enjoy it very much.

I spent a great deal of time in the Bursa area, first seat of the Ottoman empire, with its rich history. This is a fascinating area that I suspect many tourists miss. The city clings to the side of Uludag mountain, a famous winter ski resort, with rich farmland in the valleys below. In the summer, you can be swimming in the Marmara Sea in ten minutes.

I have visited many of the historical sites in the Aegean area, like Ephesus, Pamukkale and Aphrodisias and followed the Mediterranean coast down to Antalaya.

What is your preferred characteristic trait of Turks?
I cannot say enough about the famous Turkish hospitality. Everyone I have met in Turkey has been more than gracious and helpful.

What was the annoying one?
I guess a side effect of the famous Turkish hospitality is a cultural propensity for politeness. As an American, who has no problem speaking his mind, this can be frustrating at times (like when it takes ten minutes to say goodbye) and, yes, gotten me in trouble more than once.

Turkish Cuisine?
Turkish food…I love it! My friends say I am more Turkish than they are always adding 'pul biber' to everything I eat! My only regret is that there are not more vegetable alternatives available.

Any suggestion to new comers to Turkey?
I have been fortunate that my friend Faruk helped me navigate the sometimes very different, complex and frustrating systems. There are many, many of us living here now who can help. We have stumbled through just about everything and have learned many lessons. Networking and sharing experiences, like in this community, is always a great idea. I am always available to share my experiences with newcomers to the Bodrum area. And never get frustrated, you're now living on Turkish time.

Any suggestion to people planning to visit your region?
Relax and enjoy your visit to Turkey and plan on a return visit! This is a huge country and diverse in all aspects. Don't try to do or see everything at once. I see postings on travel forums from folks with ten days holiday who want advice on how to see everything. They need a holiday when they finish.

There are now many excellent professional travel planners in Turkey to help customize that perfect experience. It's a shame when I see visitors doing their own planning, frantically running from place to place. They're too often exhausted and disappointed. Try balancing that historical or cultural trek with some appreciation of our natural beauty and the Turkish lifestyle.




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Latest comments about this article

 By alexistuttle  5.1.2006

I too am an ex-pat living in Bodrum and was instrigued to read Patrick´s comments. It inspired me to seek out the website for his ”boutique hotel” and it is truly amazing! It impressed me enough to want to mention it to all my friends & family! Finding decent accommodation that´s available all year round is a God send. Good Luck & take care, Lex

 By agnes  3.1.2006

Hello I am French and I live in Marmaris. I would like to know more about the hotel patrick runs in Bodrum. Thank you for e-mailing the information to : [email protected] Regards

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