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Published: November 6th 2015
We arrived in Denizli, the main city near Pamukkale, a little than expected. Along the way our bus stopped to pick up a guy on the side of the road; it looked like his whole village had come out to say farewell. There was lots of dancing, cheering and throwing him up in the air. Eventually he climbed onto the bus and we continued on our way towards Denizli…with a motorcade of his (drunk) friends driving in front of us very slowly, weaving in and out of each other and blocking entire width of the road so that we couldn’t overtake. After about 15 minutes of that they stopped in front of the bus and the guy got off the bus to dance with them for a while longer before he finally hopped back on and we were off again…still with the friends driving slowly in front of us. Eventually they got bored of driving like morons and decided to turn off…
Upon arrival in Denizli we discovered more large groups singing and dancing around young men. We later found out that there are four conscription intakes per year and all the young men were being farewelled before heading off
to do their national service.
After fighting our way through the crowds and asking a few people we eventually found the minibus which would take us to Pamukkale. We hopped on board and waited until a) departure time or b) the bus was full enough (still not sure which) before we left the bus station.
After about 20 minutes we arrived in Pamukkale and found our way to our hotel where we checked into the most gorgeous room of our trip. Who doesn’t love glitter on the walls, a red bathroom and an opaque glass window in the door to the room which lets all the light in. Fortunately we’d only be spending a night there.
The following morning we got up early so that we would be able to see the ruins of ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis and the hot springs and travertine terraces of Pamukkale before the bus and train loads of day trippers arrived. My outfit of bikini, shorts and winter coat was particularly awesome; the morning air was a chilly 8 degrees but we needed shorts to be able to wade through the thermal pools. We caught a taxi to
the northern entrance to the site (for 25TL to go about 2kms if that…so expensive!), bought our tickets and headed into the site.
We walked through the gates at about 8:15am, behind the numerous busloads of tourists who had arrived earlier than us. Once through the gates we were amongst the ruins of Hierapolis, which was founded early in the second century BC and eventually abandoned in about the 14th
century. Hierapolis was a medical tourism town; people would come to benefit from the ‘medicinal properties’ of the thermal springs. The ruins which remain were not that impressive in comparison to some we have seen on this trip; they were fairly quiet though as it seems that most of the tour groups head straight to the travertine terraces.
After checking out the ruins we made our way down to the travertine terraces. Large sections of the terraces are closed off at the moment as they are trying to save water, however there were still quite a few pools which were gradually being filled with the nice warm water. We made our way past the hoards in the upper pools (without slipping over) before the crowds thinned out and
we were actually able to enjoy the site.
The brilliant white travertines are the result of the calcium carbonate in the water. The thermal water varies in temperature between 35 °C to 100 °C. As we arrived early the pools were still gradually filling up, so some of them had icy cold water in them leftover from the day before; they were not as pleasant to walk through! The warm water was lovely though, and the effect of the white terraces, light blue water and bright blue sky was quite spectacular.
We made our way down to the bottom of the terraces past the tourists in their long pants trying not to get wet (shorts are a must) and avoiding the icy water as much as possible. After the initial section the terraces weren’t slippery at all so we were able to enjoy them without worrying about slipping over and giving our camera a bath. If we had towels it would have been nice to have a swim in the pools (though we would have been the only people swimming at the time…).
The water is directed to the various pools through little channels which run across
the site. We were able to find a section where the edges of the channel were reasonably dry so we sat there with our legs in the warm water whilst watching the occasional tourist walk past and pose in weird positions for photos.
We spent about two hours enjoying the thermal pools before heading back to the hotel to collect our bags and catching the minibus to Denizli where we would catch a train to our next destination Selçuk.
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