… And so it’s been several days before I published this entry after Epic Ephesus. I am epic late. Haha! Anyway…
After three hours on the road, we arrived in Pamukkale. We spent sleeping and talking and sleeping in the mini bus. The conductor also served as a steward offering us coffee and dried fruits on the way. At around eight o’clock in the evening, we were dropped off in a roadside somewhere. Somewhere? How’s that for a night adventure?! Haha. It was drizzling and dark and we didn’t know where we are. Two Chinese lads joined us in a waiting van and we were off. We journeyed for another hour in zigzag roads. It was so dark outside because there were no street lamps! At the 30 minute mark, we already saw the city lights below us. We were going up an area of which we were not aware of. Truly, this is some kind of a cheap thrill huh, haha!
Anyway, we finally saw the sign of our hotel, Colossae Thermal Spa Hotel, an award-winning hotel located near the ancient thermal city of Hierapolis ruins and the travertine of Pamukkale. Its name comes from the Colossae ancient city which is considered to be one of the most important settlements of Phyrgia. This hotel is known for their spa treatments along with their hot springs pool. Too bad we were only staying for one night; we didn’t get the chance to swim in their pool. However, after a buffet (still no meat wth), my friend I tried their full body massage. Oh my goodness it was sooo relaxing! The masseuse even placed a mud mask on my face after the massage. When I rinsed it off, my face felt so smooth and soft. No kidding. I wanted to buy the tub of mask, or maybe just ran away with it. Haha! Our room is big and has adequate facilities. We rounded up our night with a toast to such a fabulous trip so far.
TIP: If you’re not happy with the suggested hotel by the travel agency, you can ask for another option. Don’t be shy to ask because it will be your trip. And while the itinerary is handled by the agency, it’s still your prerogative to decide where to stay and what to do.
Yes, the lone glass of Coke in the midst of white wine is mine. I balk at any drink with alcohol, haha chos. It was obvious we all had a good night’s sleep. We woke up around 7 o’clock in the morning to eat breakfast and look at the views outside the hotel. We checked out of the hotel too because we were not coming back here after our day tour.
Our tourist coach and tour guide arrived quarter to ten. And off we go into another adventure…
Our first stop is the Hierapolis, an ancient city in the Buyuk Menderes valley adjacent to Pamukkale and Denezli. It has an arcaheological museum designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can find the history of the place HERE. Because for now, I’m just going to show you the photos of the place. Truth be told, the ruins are less pronounced than the ancient city of Ephesus, maybe because they haven’t excavated much of this place. It was a huuuuge area.
The good thing about being a part of a tour is we get to meet interesting people like our friendly guide Octi and the only person traveling with us in the coach, Nina, a Japanese from Tokyo who was amused with us. Don’t be surprised, his name is really NINA. Haha! We took as many groufies as we can. (And we befriended him in the hopes of having a guide when we go to Japan, hahaha!). TIP: Bring a monopod. Seriously, it helped us get group photos effortlessly. A lot of Turkish and some tourists threw glances at us when we were using it, probably weirded by it because not a lot of tourists in Turkey were using it. But really, it was such a help. Special thanks to our friend Chynna who was in-charge of our monopod. Bawal ma-lowbatt ang iphone nya! Haha!)
Again, the day started with a drizzle. Our guide was urging us to take an umbrella or rain coat for our walk but we said, “tiwala lang, sisikat din ang araw, tiwala lang.” (Just believe, the sun will shine, believe!!!) LOL. So look at our pics, it was as if we were in the set of the Lord of the Rings, or something like it. It was foggy and we couldn’t see much of the ruins. It was cold and wet. But indeed, our prayers were answered. The mist lifted after a while and the sun shone brightly.
So after this, we were a bit bored since we couldn’t see a lot of ruins in the Hierapolis. Unlike the ancient city of Ephesus, there are fewer ruins to be seen in this place. Most of the statues and columns unearthed were kept in a shed and most artifacts were inside the museum. We thought there was nothing in the Hierapolis that can excite and surprise us anymore until Octi suggested we go up the hill on a vehicle (3 TRY per person). We shrugged and said yes. The van took us to the top of another theater but since we saw one in Ephesus already, we didn’t pay much attention until we got down the van and entered. We looked down and our jaws literally dropped. This scene took our breaths away and we stopped in our tracks. It might just be a ruin, just a relic of the past but my goodness, this place is still amazing in the present. We got carried away looking at it and had tears in our eyes by the sheer magnanimity of this trip. I’m not kidding, we were all emotional until we remembered we should take photos already hahaha!
The theater was constructed under the reign of Augustus but finished under the reign of Severus in 206 AD. It’s astounding how the stage and the columns and statues were preserved like time didn’t wear them out. Standing at the top of the cavea (seats), we felt gravity pulling us downwards. I mean you will be compelled to descend those steep stone stairs and it was a bit scary because they were slippery. Tourists can only go upto the wooden railings in the middle. This theater has a capacity of 15,000.
This is by far my favorite ruin among the ones we’ve visited in our Turkey trip. Come to think of it, that stage looked like the facade of the Library of Celsus in Ephesus. And this theater has a not-so-kept secret. It has a built-in surround sound system that when you shout, you’ll hear an echo and the acoustics is great! We urged our newfound friend Nina to sing a Japanese song. Haha! After a few minutes, we had to leave and get back to Cleopatra’s Pool. Did I mention Cleopatra’s pool is here in Pamukkale?
Cleopatra’s Pool in the Hierapolis is now modernized. Unfortunately, you won’t see people garbed in white Grecian dresses and robes being fanned by peacock feathers and adorned in gold. Haha! The spa water is flows into a pool that tourists can swim in for additional fees. Our tour guide suggested we bring swimming attire before we left our luggage in the van but we decided not to. The water in the thermal pool is 36-57 °C. It contains bicarbonate, suplhate, and carbon dioxide as well as iron. It’s a cure for some ailments so swimming here and drinking the water is actually good for the body.
A deep area at the end of the pool served as a wishing well. We asked for coins and we threw them and wished! Nina and Octi were amused that we were so game! They even happily took photos of us while we took the wishing part seriously. Like our life depended on it. Haha! T’was fun!
After touring the pools, we went to Pamukkale’s most famous tourist attraction (it’s about time!),
Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. This is because the ancient Greco-Roman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white “castle”. This castle is composed of travertines, terraces of carbonate minerals left by flowing water, that looked like cotton or snow. This area is about 2,700 meters long, 600 meters wide, and 160 meters high. This is what National Geographic and tourist magazines pages are made up of.
From where we were standing, the terraces didn’t look much but that was because we didn’t ventured to the areas below where the pools of water converge. The area is really guarded and the security is tight because it is recognized as a World Heritage Site. Most of the terraces and pools were off limits. Visitors are asked to follow the main pathway and only small pools are allowed to be used. Footwear was a no-no that’s why we had to leave our boots in one of the benches and walk barefooted in the rough, hard rock floors. It was cold and wet too.
Before venturing into the travertines, we dipped our feet in the hot springs flowing through the terraces. Ahhhh it felt so good! Our feet was given an instant massage by the force and warmth of the water. We took lots of photos and joked that we will pass off the white calcium as snow so our families and friends would be envious of how we are enjoying ourselves in the snow (by this time in our trip we haven’t even encountered a single snow flake, haha!). In the pictures, we really looked like we were in winter wonderland until you realize that we are all wearing “nude boots”… ermn our bare feet and legs. 😉
We spent an hour or so taking in the view. Our legs froze from the cold and when it started drizzling, we knew it was time to head to Cleopatra’s Pool to meet our guide and go back to our van. We were sad to bid goodbye to the cotton castle but we knew we have more places to go to and more fantastic views to uncover.
After our visit to the Hierapolis, we had our lunch at a buffet restaurant. This time, there was chicken in the menu but a waitress was controlling the portions. This is the first time we encountered meat in our meals and they were keeping it away from us?!? We just returned for seconds and she couldn’t do anything about it. Buffet right?! Haha! Lunch was made better by delicious thin pancakes with pumpkin and spinach. (Did I just consider veggies delicious?! I must be really hungry.)
A jewelry shop was next in our itinerary. Turkey is known for their opals, among many other stones and minerals. We entered a workshop and was shown how they shape and polish an opal. They also showed how to differentiate a real opal from fake ones (it glows with light; almost translucent).
What caught our attention though was a stone that changed colors under different light conditions. It’s called zultanite and we went head over heels in love with it. This stone is mined in Turkey only so what better souvenir for ourselves than a piece of the Anatolian Mountains treasure? Photos are not allowed inside the jewelry showroom but we spent hours choosing from among the many designs. Ahhh women and shopping and jewelry. Lethal combination on a tour. Everything halts. It’s a good thing we only had Nina on our group or else, others might have walked out on us. Haha! We settled for rings and pendants of the zultanite. Depending on the light source, the stone’s color varies from deep green, yellowish green, light gold, and purplish pink. I love when it turns champagne pink when it’s out in the sun. We were mesmerized.
Our moment of jewel insanity ended when our tour guide ushered us out of the showroom and into our van. He asked us if we want to go to another leather shop and we all said no. (As in, in chorus ang NO!!! Hahaha!) He suggested we go to the center of the town but once there, we’ll be on our own to find our way back to an in-between hostel where we’ll be spending a few hours to wait. Our 10-hour bus ride to Cappadocia was at 8:00pm and it was only 3:00pm when we finished our tour. We opted to stay in the hostel’s small lobby. We parked ourselves and our luggage in their common room and drank coffee and went online. The hostel concierge and the guys watching football were friendly. They didn’t mind that we were siphoning off their free wifi and free coffee. Our guide even offered us a Turkish delight sandwich to shut up because we were so noisy while they were engrossed watching a football game on tv. Men and football. Haha!
It was around 6:30pm when the van that will take us to the bus terminal arrived. We piled inside and off we went. We were given our tickets and we had to show it to the bus booth inside the terminal. Their bus terminal was huge and clean, almost like a domestic airport. We spent an hour drinking coffee (again) before lining up to the bus platform. Our bus arrived and it looked like the SAPTCO buses here in Riyadh. We settled in our seats and got ready for our ten hour trip to Cappadocia.
Yes, ten hours. Ten friggin hours. But what are ten hours when we actually survived thirteen hours on the road from Jeddah to Riyadh in 2013. Remember that?! Haha. I’ll leave you to reminisce and when I return… Cappadocia. Our favorite part of this journey.