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Monday, 28 November 2011

Turkey Part 2: Pamukkale & "Hierapolis"

(...continued from Turkey Part 1.)

December 29th 2010, and it was time for us to move on from Goreme. By now I’d stopped caring about the destinations we were going to, and reading up about them in the guides.  I was just going to go with the flow. I’d already seen all the highlights I’d wanted to see and, having gained a lot from having little or no expectations of places, I decided to continue this way.

Through Chinese whispers across a multitude of accents, I’d picked up that we were next headed to a place named after one of The Beatles - Paul McCartney. It was only when we reached the town I discovered it was actually called “Pamukkale” (pronounced ‘Pa-moo-kar-lay’).

We didn’t make it there in the day, so parked up at yet another abandoned Turkish service station/layby. Here, Son and I had the dubious pleasure of being the trip’s last ever cook group (despite being the 'last ever cook group' last week, in Jordan too!). As it was Homeless’s birthday, and it was absolutely freezing, we made a massive pot of homely minestrone soup with hot chocolate and pancakes for dessert…this made Homeless extra happy as hot choc and pancakes happened to be some of his favourites. The fire roared on into the night with the cracking, popping and cackling at the very least implying heat as we tried to fend off the cold in our tents through the twilight hours.

Berbs- hanging out during a cold toilet stop on the roadside.

Pat = cold. Yoich = living up to stereotypes!

Allison - a cold reminder that she's a long way from Darwin.

Homeless - breathing fog in the back of the truck.

It was pissing it down early next morning, so instead of hanging around for brekkie, we made haste and served up hot chocolate on the truck. Upon arrival in Pammukale, we pitched up at a dodgy-looking campsite, which was met with more than a few moans from disgruntled not-so-happy campers. Whilst details were worked out, everybody went about exploring town and finding somewhere to eat some lunch. The town didn’t seem to have much to offer so we weren’t exactly spoilt for choice and just jumped into the first place that had heating. After grub, and a debate about whether or not the main site would be worth the entrance fee, Allison, Ish, Son, Yoichi, Ronald and I all ventured up the hill that overlooked the town towards what looked like a network of frozen bright white and turquoise cascades. 

After paying our entry (20TL) at the gate, we were advised to take our shoes off and carry them, as our feet would be underwater for most of the hike. Initially, I braced myself for what I thought would be icy cold water on my feet, but was pleasantly surprised by the warmth the water provided. The icy look of the hill was actually thousands of years of built up 'travertine' (a form of limestone) and other minerals deposited by the age-old flow of warm, turquoise, crystal clear water flowing straight from a spring in the heart of the hill. Pammukale means ‘cotton castle’…and now I can see why. The place could have been home to The White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Son - first to get her toes wet.

The troops (Yoich, Ish and Allison) trudging onwards and upwards.

Surf's Up.

Yoich. Taking some time to reflect.

Looked like snow from a distance, but felt just like clay.

Allison & Ish - Sponge-Glove Square-Pants

Looking around, I couldn’t help but notice the tourist posters and postcards in the souvenir shops showing hoardes of tourists wading, bathing, splashing and swimming in the many pools that punctuated the hillside like paddy fields. In the photos, the sun was beaming and the tourists were just in their swimming costumes. Again, I rued the fact that the Turkey leg (no pun intended) of the trip was in Winter and not the Summer.

Above and beyond these natural, warm pools was the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis. We trundled through this World Heritage Site on foot (now with our shoes back on) taking snaps along the way. There was a café /complex at the heart of the site which was built around the source of the spring and open for use as a swimming pool. Ish and I considered coming back later with our swimming gear, but once we’d got back down to the warmth of indoors, these ideas soon disappeared.

Don't be fooled by the innocent look. This guy guarded my Crocs well.

See? (Photo courtesy of Allison Harvey.)

Thermal swimming pool - complete with ruins.

Ish & Allison - excited about the ruins of Hierapolis.

Yoich shares the excitement with Allison and Ish.

Photographers. Such a strange breed.

(Incidentally, whilst we’d been exploring the Hierapolis ruins, the choice had been made to move from the original campsite we’d pulled up at to a warm hostel near the foot of the path that leads up the pool-strewn hill.)

The next morning, it was another early rise in time for a spot of breakfast before hitting the road again bound for Selcuk, home of  ancient Greek city of Ephesus.

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