Saturday, December 12, 2009

Pamukkale and Hierapolis, Turkey

By Claire and Chuck
As I sit inside Homer where it’s warm and cozy, thanks to an electric heater, I am listening to the sounds of a mooing cow in unison with the muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. Turkey is so entertaining.

We had dinner tonight at our campground, Hotel Pamukkale Mocamp, 25 TL, prepared by the owner, Javide. She and her husband watched a show on TV, something like a Turkish version of The Dating Game, while Chuck and I ate her delicious meal.

We had lamb and chicken kebabs, salad, rice, French fries (fried in olive oil, the best!) and grilled onions and peppers. We also tried the Turkish drink Aryn, yogurt and water, which tasted like yogurt and water—maybe a little like buttermilk—interesting to try but next time I’ll have wine.

Pamukkale (Cotton Castle) is a fascinating place and we really loved it. This is not snow but calcium deposits. The unique travertine (calcium carbonate) shelves and pools above the town were created when warm mineral water cooled and deposited calcium as it cascaded over the cliff edge. The Romans built a large spa city, Hierapolis, to take advantage of the water’s curative powers.

Yes, another ancient city with temples and a theatre. Be still my beating heart. So many ruins, so little time. If it’s Tuesday, we must be in another ancient Roman city.

We hiked up the calcium deposit road in our bare feet as required, throwing our shoes into our backpacks. It was fun and interesting but sometimes a little tough on tender feet. We were joined by one of the usual yellow dogs.

Some of the calcium was squishy.

We made it to the top without incident and walked a very long way over stone pathways and boardwalks to the ancient city of Hierapolis. We are so grateful for our Keen sandals.

They are wonderful for climbing over rough surfaces and uneven terrain. They are also waterproof, a big plus around this area.

At the top of the walk up the Travertines is Hierapolis. This vast and ancient city has elements from pagan, Roman, Jewish and early Christian cultures. Founded in 190 B.C. By Eumenes II, king of Pergumum, it was primarily a cure center. A series of earthquakes finally caused the city to be abandoned in 1334.

Hierapolis—it’s vast!

A tiny portion of the city

The sacred pool of yore has a steady temperature of about 102º F. This is where you can swim among the fallen fluted marble columns. We passed on this opportunity: It was an extra fee, and it is winter, and the pool is outdoors.

We first visited the Necropolis, a section with sarcophagi scattered throughout.

Ancient sarcophagus

The main street of the ancient city was covered by 2 meters of calcification before archeologists used pneumatic hammers to reveal what lay beneath. Along the Appian Way of Hierapolis were some marvelous ruins of baths. This section had an interesting keystone in the arch; I have never seen them cut like this before. There were also several square arches with broken mantles; they looked like they could fall at any moment; yet there was no attempt to rope these sections off.

Archway with cut keystone piece

The 12,000 seat Roman theater is in an excellent state of preservation/reconstruction; but, we could only observe from the outside as all gates were closed. We were taken with the actors' masks on columns just outside the theater.

We wandered for quite a long time then decided it was time to head back to Homer as the clouds were coming in and the temperature was dropping. On the hike down, we both soaked our feet in the warm water rushing by.

I was mostly watching my footing as we made our way down but happened to glance up just in time to see Chuck fly up into the air and crash down on his back. It’s nice to have an early warning signal. If he hadn’t fallen, I would have. It was very slippery in that one spot, a lot like walking on an ice rink. His clothes are coated with calcium. We’re hoping it will dry and we can just brush it off. Doing a load of laundry would cost 20 TL.

He’s OK, just a little sore and a little wounded pride.

Later, we went shopping and as we were heading home we were beckoned into a woman's home for tea. Naturally, she was selling some handmade tablecloths and pillow covers. But, she was sweet and it was interesting. I did buy one item. I just couldn't walk out of her living room empty handed. It wasn't a lot of money.

There is an uphill for every downhill, and a downhill for every uphill ~ Turkish Proverb


Pat in Santa Cruz said...

Well Turkey is just amazing!! I thought for sure it had snowed when I saw your first photo. Chuck's fall reminds me of my first time on an icy sidewalk in Illinois. I was down before I even knew I was falling. A belated Happy Birthday Chuck! How interesting to be invited in for tea. A very nice sales approach I think. Your lamb meal looks delicious. Ahhh...what a life. Again I really appreciate the photos of the people. It's just fascinating to see so many different lifestyles.

Chuck and Claire said...

We feel so fortunate to be meeting so many people. Even with no common language we are somehow able to communicate and the warmth we feel from the Turkish people is like nothing we've ever felt before.