Selcuk to Pamukkale
Yesterday (Tues 24-Apr), I got up at 07:30 in order to get ready and head to the Dreams Oasis hotel lobby in Selcuk for an 08:50 departure. It wasn’t too bad of sleep except for the fact that I was a bit hung over from the drinking and dancing at the awesome BBQ the night before.
The group all met to walk the short distance to the train station. We would catch the 09:27 train to Denizli which is the commercial city (famous for making towels for the world) nearest Pamukkale. As soon as the train pulled into the station, everyone clamored aboard the already packed cars. I managed to maneuver my way to the last car chugging my backpack along with me. There, I sat next to an old Turk who offered me the seat next to me. I thanked him and sat down and pulled out my iPad to write yesterday’s post. I’m convinced that my new iPad is the perfect travel companion. I can obviously use it for emailing and web surfing when in a “wifey” zone which most hotels seem to have (albeit often weak signals). Yet for the first time I’m also using the iPad for writing my journal using the QuickOffice apps (similar to MS Word, yet for the iPad). I’m also using it to review, edit, and post photos to Facebook. The wonderful new iPhoto app works well for looking at my photos which I load onto the iPad direct from the memory cards. I can even do some fairly serious editing (though I haven’t so far due to lack of time mostly) and posting online (i.e. to Facebook or Flickr) from within the app. I’ve also been reading a book (“Bird Without Wings” which was recommended by the guide, so I bought it online in Istanbul) fom the native iBooks app. To save space in my backpack, I cut back on my electronics gear and heavy items, so the Kindle and paper books were out, only the paper Lonely Planet made the cut. This iPad is really the perfect traveling companion. If only it came with a matte screen and Kindke-sized battery life. In fact, the 10-12 hours of battery life right now works well for my long bus and train journeys since I can recharge over night.
Anyway, we got to Denizli at 12:26 pm and promptly loaded into a van which drove us the 10 km or so up the Pamukkale. Besides the travertines and neighboring Hierapolis ruins, there would be nothing in Pamukkale. We had about 3 hours to lunch and relax at the hotel, so I organized my backpack a bit and took a nap on the bed. The room was nice and simple. My door opened onto the pool, as did several others. It was a very nice place to relax. At 4 we regrouped in the lobby and walked down the little main street lined with tours restaurants and shops. The entrance to the travertines wasn’t too far away. The travertines are huge terraces of white calcium that have trickled out of the earth for eons. I’d seen similar formations in Yellowstone National Park, and was amazed that people were allowed to walk on them. You’d never be able to do this in Yellowstone. At the entrance, people must remove their shoes…I’m not sure if it’s because of potential damage to the travertines or to be safer (since walking on them is very challenging due to the sheer slipperiness). I removed my shoes with the group, and many other tourists and began walking up. Quite a few people were headed down since it was late in the afternoon. As we headed up, I heard a lot of Russian (maybe Ukrainian) being spoken. This area seems to be popular with the Russians…many of whom were illegally swimming in the pools.
We slipped and climbed our way to the top, helping each other in various difficult sections. Once at the top, we had some free time to wander around the ancient ruins of Hierapolis, which was a fine old Roman city with a truly outstanding theatre. After tromping around the grounds and necropolis with a couple others, we all met back up at the theatre at 7. There, we would crack open a couple bottles of fruit wine we had collectively bought in Sirince (near Selcuk) and watch the sunset. I tried to envision what it would be like to climb up the hill to see a gladiator competition about 2000 years ago and sit in the exact same seat which I was sitting in. The scene behind the theatre was outstanding..the travertines glowing in the sunset, snow capped mountains beyond. Such a great scene.
After the sun had sat, we finished our little soirée and went back to Pamukkale village for a gander at the handful of tours restaurarnts. We settled on Mehmet’s Place, a little restaurant of looking the travertines. Quit a stunning view! Mehmet, himself, greeted us at the door and walked us through what amounted to his living room as young kids watched tv and played games on the floor. I had a delicious mixed meat grill (something I’m really enjoying here) with a couple bottles of Efes beer. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel where I crashed for th night as we had an earlyish morning (again) the nest day.
From Pamukkale, we took a public intercity bus down to Fetiyeh which was the sort of gateway town to the Turkish Riviera (or Turquoise Coast). Here, we got onto a little dolmus type of van/bus that takes people between smaller towns. We got off at our pensione in Karakoy. This pension was a small farm with chickens, goats, roosters, cows, cats, and dogs. The owner came out and greeted us, a very large bearded man who clearly enjoys the good pastoral life of fine drink and good food. The owner also serves as butcher and grill master!
We got our rooms and had a bit of free time. I did laundry and got some photos organized. At 4 pm, we all met and went on a little hike up to the abandoned village of Katakoy. This used to be a pretty decent sized little town until the Turkish civil war concluded and Greeks had to leave Turkey and Turks had to leave Greece. There were far more Greeks in Turkey than the other way around, so when this town’s Greek residents were forced to move, there weren’t many Turks left to fend for it. So, it dwindled in size until the mid 1950s when earthquakes forced the entire abandonment of the town. Today, the buildings are still standing. It’s an open air museum, more or less. It is a very powerful moving experience to think about what it would have been like to be forcibly removed from your land that your family may have owned or farmed for hundreds of years.
Once we got a good feel of Karakoy, we walked back to the pensione/farm for our BBQ. The owner/butcher was preparing lamb chops for all of us as we came back to the farm. I dropped off my bags in the room and rejoined the others for pre dinner beers and Revellery. Dinner was soon served and a few of us split a bottle of wine. The food was absolutely delicious…grilled lamb chops, Turkish bread, rice, and lettuce salad. Te conversation around the communal dinner table was great, too. I’m getting a kick out of hanging out with my group. Everyone seems to spend their time talking to others and not in little cliques. After dinner, the big table was cleared and we danced to music streamed over the farm’s computer. The group would type in songs and stream over YouTube. We sang and danced. I searched for and played “American Pie” and sang it loudly to the version I used to sing in college with fraternity brothers at O’Malley’s pub in Champaign, IL. Some of the group laughed and joined in with me until the very end…quite a fun time! Eventually, the beer and wine got the best out of some of us, so a night was called and we crashed in our beds.
I was awoken the next day at 5:08 AM by the imam wailing his morning call to prayer, which then conveniently awoke the roosters. They cock-a-doodle-dooed until 6 or so when I went back to sleep for an hour until my alarm went off. I stumbled out of bed, showered and met the others for breakfast. That day, we were going to hike a part of the Lycian Way from the farm, through the ghost village, up and over the mountains which separated the farm from the Mediterranean, and then down to the ocean and to beach resort area of Oludeniz. The hike was great, not too demanding, yet it had its moments. We encountered some new wildlife that I’ve never seen on a hike before in my life – tortoises! After about 3 hours of hiking,we came upon the ultra touristy beach town of Oludeniz. Some of us had lunch, others went paragliding (much to the chagrin of our guide Yunus who strongly suggested not to), and others went to the beach. I went with a few others to the beach and we each rented a lounge chair and umbrella. I spent about 2 hours there before packing up and taking a dolmus bus back to the farm with one of the women in my group, Silvie. I didn’t go in the water as it was quite cold and I didn’t have trunks. So, I sat in my lounge and read and slept under the umbrella. I had sweat quite enough by the time I got back. The weather was actually quite spectacular, probably low 80s and 100% blue skies. The sea was ultra turquoise in color, so beautiful. Honestly, when I had images of Turkey in mind before this trip, I did not think about Riviera style beach resorts.
Back at the farm, I showered and joined the others in the group to hear all the takes of the day. We laughed and had some Efes beers and/or wine before dinner. That night’s dinner was mixed grilled meat…and it was also so very very delicious! I had it with a couple full glasses of a Turkish red wine (I can’t recall the name). Since we had an early day the next day (which, incidentally, is today, Friday 27-Apr, as I write this), it was a quiet night after dinner and we all god some good sleep.
This morning, I got up with the imam wailing, again, at exactly 5:07 am, yet had a hard time falling back to sleep. Finally, my alarm went off and I showered and packed my bag for the day. After breakfast, we all piled into a dolmus which took us to the Fetiyeh bus station. There, we transferred to a larger public inter-city bus for the shortish 2 1/2 hour drive along the Mediterranean coast over to Kas where I am now. This little seaside town is much cleaner and a bit upscale compared to Fetiyeh. I live it here. A quaint central city has scores of lovely shops with all manner of Turkiah products. Also, an ancient Greek theatre in very good condition sits on a hill above town, and ancient Lycian sarcophagi litter the hills which rise up of the sea just behind the town. When we checked into the hotel, the group had a little orientation walk with our guide, Yunus. I got a good feel for the town, so I kinda went off on my own to at lunch and explore the sarcophagi and the old old old Greek theatre (which really is in amazing condition). After some shopping, I went back to the splendid little hotel perched on the hills above the town for showeering and finishing this long overdue post. I think I’ve been writing this on my iPad in bits and pieces over the past few days. Anyway, it’s about 6:30 pm, so I’m going to meet the group for some wine and on the hotels rooftop terrace overlooking the gorgeous Mediterranean sea and a curious little Greek island just a few km off shore.
Here’s to continuous adventures on this very wonderful country!