Monday, July 13, 2015

Pamukkale

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WOW! That's really all I can say about Pamukkale.  Just kidding, I have lots to say, but WOW is a good summary.  Pamukkale is amazing and definitely something you should do if you're in Turkey in the summer time. We knew we wanted to go somewhere this weekend because the thought of spending the weekend sitting in our lawn chairs just really wasn't that appealing. A weekend isn't really enough time to travel very far, so we knew we'd have to stick to somewhere close and after a little bit of research Pamukkale won the vote.

Mike doesn't get done with class until 6:00 on Friday, so leaving Friday night is pretty difficult. Instead, we decided to stay in Izmir on Friday night and go see Jurassic World in 3-D! It was playing in English with Turkish subtitles, which added a little bit of entertainment. Even I could pick out a word or two every so often, which means I'm basically fluent, right?  Just kidding. I've got a long way to go.  Anyways, it was a fun little date and the movie was pretty good.  Predictable, but good. Oh, and the movie prices? Super cheap for a Friday night.  We paid the equivalent of $15 dollars and that included the 3-D glasses (which we had to pay for but could keep).  Definitely worth it!  Plus, they had a few other American movies playing there in English, so it was a good find.

Saturday morning we woke up before the sun (read 5:00am) caught a taxi to bus station.  It was funny to be up and out so early because we were catching the very end of Friday night because we saw some true characters.  I think my favorite was the girl who was striking a pose in front of a motorcycle.  My idea of a wild Friday night is staying up until midnight, so the thought of being up when the sun rises is on my top ten list of things to never do, but to each their own I guess.

I digress.  Where were we? Oh yes, the super early bus ride.  We took a taxi to the bus station and caught the 6:30 bus to Denizli.  Being in Izmir without a car is not an issue at all because there are tons of buses that go almost anywhere in the country.  We boarded the bus and quickly fell asleep for a couple of hours, which helped make the 3.5 hour bus ride go quickly.  Once we were in Denizli, we caught a Dolmus (pronounced dolmoosh) to Pamukkale.  The dolmuses are like minibuses or cabs.  Each one says it is going to a general area, so you board the one that is going to your area and then it will drop you off in your location. They're great and are a lot cheaper than taking a taxi.

For those of you who don't know what Pamukkale is, I recommend google image searching it because the pictures are breathtaking.  Pamukkale means "cotton castle" and that's exactly what it looks like.  The water from the falls is full of calcium carbonate that has deposited and makes these huge white rock formations.  The water that falls over these rock formations forms into pools of water which you can swim/wade/relax in.
We quickly dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed to the park.  We had a quick lunch before going into the park.  It was 25 TL per person to get into the park and definitely work every bit.  We started at the bottom and walked up, which is the opposite of what they recommend, but it was actually worth it because it wasn't crowded at all at the bottom and we could actually enjoy the park instead of weaving through the throngs of people.

The pools and rock formations were one of the coolest things I've ever seen, as I stated many a time when I said "This is so cool!" to Mike every two seconds. It's a weird sensation because it looks like snow from a distance, but it's pure rock.   People were wearing their bathing suits and going for full swims.  I didn't realize this was going to be thing and wore shorts and a t-shirt, which was fine.  I probably wouldn't have worn a bathing suit anyways, but you definitely could.












Once we got to the top, there is a museum and a bunch of different ruins that you can walk through.  We paid the 5 TL each to go in the museum and it was actually worth it.  They had statues of the Greek gods and goddesses and a lot of other smaller artifacts.  Definitely worth it for 5 TL (about $2 USD).  The ruins were also cool, although Mike kept saying that they weren't nearly as cool as Ephesus, but whatever. I thought they were amazing.  There is an amphitheater that you can actually go in and sit down, which was incredible.  Apparently, St. Philip's Martyrium is there too, but it was closed.

We ended up at the top where there is a shuttle that will take you back down to the bottom, but we had a ton of time and ended up just walking back down through the pools and falls.   It was so hot that it felt good just to get wet, even if it meant a little bit of a hike.  At least it was downhill!





Hey Dad, it's your namesake!

Even the ruins were beautiful!!




After we finished the park, we went back to the hotel, surveyed our sunburns (the current author of this blogpost is actually lobster Sarah), and took a nap.  It had been a long day and a nap was much appreciated.   After we woke up and got ready for dinner, we headed out.  There are a few restaurants that we had passed on our way to the park, so we went back to one of them.  On our way there, we saw this guy!!

World, meet Karen* the camel

  I didn't think our dinner was anything to write home about, but it was nice to sit outside and drink some Turkish tea before heading back to the hotel.  When we got back to the hotel, we were greeted by the owners who were serving tea to some Canadian guests, so we sat down and had tea with them.  The Canadians had just finished a 12 day boat tour around the Aegean Sea and were spending the next week travelling around Turkey!  It was so fun to just sit and talk to them and the owners about Pamukkale, Turkey and where everyone was from.    My biggest regret about this trip is that we didn't eat dinner at the hotel because it is all homemade and I'm sure a true Turkish dinner.

Pamukkale is definitely something I recommend to people who come to Turkey in the summer.  We went on Saturday and it was super crowded, but it was still worth it.  We also spent the night, which is completely unnecessary.  It took us about 4 hours to do the entire park.  We could have spent more time in the pools, but I think 4 hours was just enough.  If you do end up staying the night, I would recommend staying at The Sinter Terasse House Hotel because you'll get the true Turkish experience.
homemade and free breakfast!

*When I found out that Mike and I would be moving to Turkey, one of my best friends, Karen, (jokingly?) said we should get a pet camel.  I didn't think there would be any camels in Turkey, but I told her that if we found one we would name it Karen the camel.  So, when we found this big guy just hanging out in someone's backyard on our way to dinner, we knew that we had to name it Karen.