Saturday, October 23, 2010

Pamukkale: Travertine Hiking and Healing Waters

Posted by Melissa
September 13, 2010
Today we rode our first long distance bus in Turkey. We found the bus to be very nice with reclining seats, an attendant who served us tea, Nescafe (if you want American style coffee here it will be instant Nescafe), sodas and small snacks. After snacks, the attendant came around with the ever present, lemon water that Turks love to use to freshen up, splashing it on hands, arms and face. It is quite effective and definitely made me feel fresher. Our destination: Pamukkale and the ruins of Hierapolis.

This photo shows the town with the travertine terraces of Pamukkale in the background.

We stayed at The Allgau Pension, a very inexpensive little place (30 Turkish lira or about $20 US including breakfast for both of us). The room was a no frills, clean room with a bed and small bath - shower head in the middle of the wall. That's about it, no desk, no chairs, no dresser, but clean and functional.

The pool here looks very refreshing in the pic, but it was actually so milky that we could not see the bottom. It is filled with water coming off the nearby travertine terraces, however it flows though an open ditch along side the road for about a mile or so before entering the pool. Although I saw a few people swimming, it just didn't appeal to me much.

These little treehouses were located in the garden of our hotel.  It looks as though they may have been open air rental rooms in the past, but now they were quite rickety and didn't seem to be in use.

Just another stone building along the walk to lunch.

Tap water in most places in Turkey is not considered clean enough to drink, therefore nearly EVERYONE buys bottled water. If you have a large refillable water dispenser in your house, it's not a real problem, but while traveling we, like most all others, have to buy our water in smaller, disposable bottles. We are very careful to buy the biggest we can carry and refill our little personal size bottles.

Although Turkey does many things very well, sometimes better than the US, the lack of potable water in homes leads to a disposal nightmare. I'm not sure what the solution is though, in the US we waste clean filtered water on lawns and toilets and in Turkey, there is the mess of the empty bottles.We stumbled upon this stash of empty bottles along side the road. Sad...

Before our hike up the travertines , we stopped for lunch of at a little restaurant with a lovely breeze and delicious gozleme. We mentioned gozleme in a prior post but I wanted to post a couple better pics for you. It reminds me of a very thin tortilla. The dough part is made fresh, rolled thin with a small dowel to about a 24" diameter, then sprinkled with toppings and cooked on a large metal pan, typically with a wood or coal fire beneath. Delicious and very inexpensive at about 4-10 TL or $3 to $7 depending on where it's purchased.
The one above has cheese and meat sauce and the one below has spinach and cheese.

With full bellies and the hot sun shining on us, we started our hike up the blindingly white travertine hill. Hmm, no one told me we'd be hiking THROUGH the water.

This spot is about midway up the hill. We're all moving pretty slow - no shoes are allowed and the rock is slippery in places and hurts your feet in other places. The water was cooling and felt great though on this hot day when temps pushed 100. Despite the hot weather, we saw several women covered in conservative coat type garments. They, like us, had to take their shoes off though - Risque!

There were several small pools along the walk up the hill. I loved this pic with a bikini clad young girl and a fully covered woman, both enjoying the water.

These terraced pools on the way up are now off limits for swimming as excessive use was damaging them.

Yay! We made it to the top. This is the view looking back to the town, pools, and valley below.

The reward for all good hikers?? Swimming in this amazing pool with marble ruins scattered underwater! The natural, hot spring waters have a high mineral content and are said to have healing powers. I am a believer! It soothed my body, soul and hot tired feet. I felt a distinct peacefulness as I paddled and floated away the afternoon.

There are also significant ruins here of the ancient city of Hieropolis, founded sometime between the 4th and the 2nd century BC. We strolled through them on our way back down the hill, taking the long way home rather than hike back down the travertine.  Sorry though, no pics of them. You'll just have to go there yourself!

As our readers already know, we are traveling  s  l  o  w  l  y   on this trip.   Although many people recommend going to Pamukkale as a day trip, we planned to stay here for two nights to enjoy the scenery. After being eaten alive by mosquitos and finding that there was really nothing to do or see here other than what we had already done. We checked out a day early, boarded an overnight bus and headed off to Cappadocia.

Up Next: The Surreal Landscape of Cappadocia  Here is a sneak peak.


Rosemary said...

Gorgeous!!! Fabulous!!! I'm so excited for you!

Marion Laramie said...

This looks and sounds amazing.. You have such a talent for writing , . Just beautiful