Pamukkale, Day 1


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Middle East » Turkey » Aegean » Pamukkale
May 31st 2013
Published: May 31st 2013
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I woke bright and early this morning to catch my 6:20am flight to Denizli and start the second phase of my trip: Pamukkale. First of all, let me just say how absolutely amazing our hotel in Istanbul was. We stayed at the Ferman Hotel in the Sultanamet area and they were just phenomenal. The rooms were nice, the rooftop terrace was perfect, the location was the best, and the staff are pretty much the most helpful and genuinely nice hotel staff I have ever (EVER) come across. This hotel gets my highest recommendation.

Anyway, so as I'd requested the previous evening, I got a 4am wake up call and a 4:30am shuttle to the airport. Still not overly impressed with the airport - the layout is strange and the employees are just generally not friendly. This was still true in domestic terminal. We flew the hour flight into the Denizli-Carduk airport, which is in the complete middle of nowhere. Seriously. A departure and arrivals gates only airport in the middle of fields. The airport is actually about 50km away from Denizli and another 15-20km to Pamukkale.

I really had to pee, so I went straight to the bathroom and it is one of those toilets where it is just a hole in the floor! My first! I was a little excited but there was a line, so I didn't take a photo (sorry Nicole!). I will make sure to do so when I leave though. 😊 When you exit the airport, obviously since you are the only flight, there are two buses waiting in the parking lot for the passengers. The guy told me to take the first minibus, so I did. It was full. Fortunately, the "conductor" was great and looked out for me - i guess the bus was going to the Denizli station (maybe?), but he asked where I was staying in Pamukkale and i told him my hotel. So, at the turnoff to Pamukkale, they stopped and there was a car waiting for me. Very nice.

We pulled up to the Artemis Yoruk Hotel, right in the middle of the little town and about a 7 minute walk to the travertines. As SOON as I got out of the shuttle, this guy comes up to me and starts trying to sell me a tour. I was grouchy. I had stayed up til 2 am the previous night, got up at 4, had a flight, and a long ass bus ride - I really just wanted to unwind for like 10 minutes. Is that too much to ask? Apparently his tour company and our hostel are interconnected though, so he followed me and said there was a tour at 9:30 - since it was 9am now, I guess I could see the rush. I debated for a few minutes and finally figured what the hell. So, fortunately they checked me into my room early, I threw down my stuff, changed into my swimsuit and hiking clothes, grabbed some bread from the breakfast area, and made my way to the tour bus. There were about 10 other people on the tour from all over - Americans from Minnesota and Texas, a Brazilian and an Argentinian, a couple from Canada, a couple who were on their honeymoon from South Korea - a good mix! The guy who sold me the tour started to come on to me and after the previous evening I was even more grouchy so I told him to back off too - no I didn't want to see the friggin sunset with him tonight. Fortunately he was only with us the first part of the journey up to the top. The tour guide, Ali, was a young guy born and raised in Denizli and he was awesome - and very proud of his community. He was also very knowledgeable about the area and while the tour information was kind of repetitive if you've done this kind of thing before, if you hadn't, it was interesting.

The day was getting HOT, but we started out at these HOT springs near the top of the hilly area above Pamukkale - Karahayit - which is the "red water source." Apparently, there are abundant minerals in the water, so when they come out of the springs, the deposits leave these remarkable colors. In this area, the iron comes out and makes a a reddish color at the source, while a little further down it becomes yellowish due to the sulfur. This particular hot spring area was HOT. There were older people soaking in the springs and it seemed like a nice little touristy area.

We then proceeded onto Hierapolis - an ancient Roman town that became wealthy due to the healing powers of the mineral springs. We started walking 2 km through the necropolis (giant graveyard) and onto the city gates. Just outside the city gates was a Roman bath where all visitors had to clean themselves before entering the city; there were many people who journeyed here because they were sick and wanted to be healed from the springs, so this was the way the city protected its people. Right inside was the big latrine - we got a lot of history on this, some of which I remember from school - like how it was kind of a "social" activity to sit there and do your business with 50 other people (men's times and women's times) - and sometimes actually do legit business. Weird! Other than that, the ruins were not too impressive; when a major earthquake hit and when Christianity took over the region, the people moved elsewhere and took many of their building materials with them.

We then stopped by the Cleopatra pools, which is apparently pools that formed after an earthquake in the 7th century. You can see the bubbles rising in the pools and it is said to be therapeutic. It is an additional 30 turkish lira, so I opted to do that the next day. We then made our way to the Pamukkale stepped pools. These are made from the Calcium deposits of the mineral rich water flowing over limestone. So, the rock is almost pure white (with some reddish oxidation in places) and the pools are this beautiful aqua blue.

Our guide gave us two hours for free time before lunch, so I spent the first hour taking photos and finally sitting and relaxing and people watching. Then I gobbed on some sunscreen, took off my capris and made my way down the hill via the trail through these stepped pools. They were warm, the sun was hot and reflecting off the white, and it was just an incredible experience. It was busier than I thought and I was scared some punk kid was going to come careening into me at some point and knock me and my precious camera down into the water (yes, I am old!). I found a pool about halfway down that I liked and was not full of people, so I found a dry spot to set my bag down and go wading into the water. The pool bottom is squishing with the fine sediments of eroding limestone - it's almost like taking a white-clay bath. Fantastic.

I met our group and we made our way to lunch, which was included in the price and was a buffet. I wasn't really that hungry so salad, chicken and spinach was all I ate.

Then I went back to the hotel and crashed for a couple of hours. I was woken up around 5:30pm because the wind had picked up and my door to my balcony was rattling. My room is ok - it is private with two twin beds, my own bathroom, and a private balcony. The duvet is warm and the AC works. The mounted tiny tv doesn't work (no biggie) and the curtains are basically white and see through. I am a little afraid of bed bugs.... 😊 Overall though, the hotel/hostel is a good place if you are just passing through. If you stay longer, definitely splurge for the nicer hotels. I was able to borrow an adapter from the front desk so I could charge my laptop and update you all on today's journey.

I ended the night by having dinner at a restaurant nearby with a view of the travertines at sunset. It was great and I definitely have eaten more lamb in this trip than I have combined in my whole life and every single time was DELICIOUS! I decided I do like lamb as long as it is grilled - like a kebab style. In fact, I love it. Not sold on lamb prepared other ways. After dinner, the guy who pulled me into the restaurant wanted me to come back and have wine with him. I said I would and then determined I would take a different route to the hotel. Dirty old turkish men have just annoyed me the last couple of days and I may start getting really mean... I walked around to check out the town, including taking a back path where I got to see the aqueduct that serves the city and comes from the springs. Cool!


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Roman bath outside city gatesRoman bath outside city gates
Roman bath outside city gates

Later converted into a church
City gatesCity gates
City gates

only the aristocrats walked through the center arch; everyone else to the sides


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