March 17, 2015
We were up early to pack and have our breakfast at 8 am, because we needed to be at the otogar at 8:45 am for a 9 am departure. But we were quite surprised—the direct bus to Pamukkale turned out to be us (and a few others) filling in the empty spaces in a tour group’s minibus! So we benefitted from the guide’s knowledge as we travelled. We saw marble quarries and geothermal plants, and found out that the trees with pink blossoms were peach trees.
Upon arrival in Pamukkale we were dropped off right in the centre of the town. We left the tour group and set out to find the Venüs Hotel. It was on the outskirts of the town, but since Pamukkale is very small it only took us 10 minutes to find it. We were greeted at the door, signed in, and were shown our room. It was on the second floor and had an outside balcony. Not a great view of the travertines because we were too far away, but still a nice place to stay.
We didn’t have any plans for the afternoon, but we did discuss some options with the man at the desk. Unfortunately our plan of taking a tour to Afrodisias was foiled by the time of year. To run a tour the company needs six people and it would be unlikely to find four other people who wanted to go on the same day as us. So that put a day-sized hole in our plans. Not only that, but rain was predicted for tomorrow. So now we had two days here with not much to do and bad weather as well; we would have to do some homework.
But it was a nice day so we decided to go for a walk around the town, and soon we were by the travertine terraces which give the town its name. We sat at the lakeside café for a while, drinking tea with cookies and watching the ducks and geese puttering about in the pond there. Then we decided we might as well go up the travertines and walk around Hierapolis. It was on our agenda after all, and who knows, tomorrow it might rain all day.
So we entered at the gate nearest to the travertines, paying our entrance fee of ₺25 each. Once we reached them we had to take off our shoes and socks to walk over them, so as not to damage the rocks. At this time there was very little water flowing over the travertines, so we didn’t get to appreciate the lovely blue colours. There was a crew which was busy jackhammering out water channels to direct the water flow, but they hadn’t got the rock pools filled in yet. Walking up the travertines was hard on the feet, some spots were covered with hard ridges and others were almost smooth. It also looked slippery, but of course it was rock and not ice so it wasn’t slippery at all.
Up at the top we were at the ancient city of Hierapolis, so we could put our shoes and socks on again. There is a team of Italian archaeologists working here, and not only have they excavated a lot of interesting artifacts, they have also been reconstructing some of the buildings based on their investigations. The most amazing Roman theatre was here, due to their efforts. It was in really good condition and sitting in the stands you could just imagine watching a performance. The seating capacity was over 12,000 people!
As in the other sites we had visited, there were a lot of random piles of rock out in the fields. But continuing up the hill we came to the Martyrium of St. Philip the Apostle, which was a great pilgrimage site a thousand years ago. This ruin was unusual because it was octagonal in shape, and it had eight full arches still intact. (Possibly that was due to the Italian archaeologists as well.) It was getting later in the afternoon, but the weather was still good so we carried on walking around the ruins. At this time of year the hillside was filled with red anemones, yellow dandelions, and several other plants which we didn’t recognize.
When we finally decided to leave we had a choice of gates to exit by, but we didn’t really want to walk back along the roadside so we retraced our steps, back to the path down the travertines. There seemed to be a lot more people here now, and down at the bottom we could see a fleet of tour buses. Trotting down the travertine slope was still hard on the feet and when we got to the bottom we sat by the lake while the sun went down. We were hoping that the white calcite would glow orange in the sunset, but that didn’t happen.
We decided to have dinner at the hotel tonight; there are a lot of restaurants in Pamukkale but there’s nothing special about any of them. Rosemary had the clay-pot casserole, which was chicken and vegetables cooked in a clay dish. It was enormous, nearly enough for two people! Paul had sea bream, which was grilled and came with rice and chips and some vegetables. Both were very good, but we’re going to try for less food tomorrow!
March 18, 2015
We slept in this morning and then had a great breakfast at 9 am. Decisions were to be made this morning—stay here for another day or travel elsewhere? The obvious thing was to skip out a day early and go somewhere else, preferably somewhere en route to Cappadocia. But where? Eğirdir? Konya? We’d looked at those and they might be okay, but you still had to take a night bus to Göreme and from those places it left at horrible times like 3 am. But then we came up with adding another night in Göreme. We knew the weather wasn’t going to be great in Göreme, but at least there were a lot of things to do there.
So Rosemary went downstairs to see if we could cancel our second night without paying a penalty (although we wouldn’t have cared much if we did have to pay for the night). And as long as we were out of the room we wouldn’t be charged for the night. Great. We had half an hour to pack up, but as we hadn’t really unpacked it took us no time at all. Luckily for us the weather was okay so we left our bags in the hotel’s lounge area and headed out for a walk.
We stopped off at the Metro bus office to buy our ticket from Denizli to Göreme tonight, which didn’t take long except that we had to endure a sales pitch for tours in Cappadocia. This made us feel even more negative about Pamukkale. Once we escaped from there, we decided to walk up the hill to the south entrance of Hierapolis. It was a nice walk up the hill, with reasonably good, and the road had a sidewalk so that was a plus. We looked around there for a bit and then headed back to the town. On the way back it started to rain, so we put on our raincoats, but it wasn’t much rain.
We bought some simits and chocolate buns for lunch and returned to the Venüs Hotel to sit in their lounge. We had already checked out but they didn’t seem to mind. At 6 pm we took all our bags and went up to the bus office, and had dinner at the restaurant next door. At 7 pm the Denizli dolmuş came along and took us down to the otogar there.
Our night bus to Göreme was scheduled to leave at 9 pm, so while waiting for it to leave we spent the time writing up our journals. The bus was quite full and very hot, so the ride was uncomfortable. Paul passed out while en route, but in the end didn’t have to be taken to the hospital. We got them to turn the heat down, and he drank some water and ate a chocolate bar. Later we got off at one of the rest stops to get fresh air, which also helped.