Day 8: Pamukkale

We’re not in a particular rush to start a day of all travel. We don’t really know when the bus leaves but its every hours or two and takes 4+ hours to Pamukkale. First up was breakfast, nothing to write home about, and then into dirty clothes to make walk into town to the Archeological Museum. It’s already hot out and most of the stores aren’t even open.

The museum isn’t that impressive, two smallish rooms, and a bit of information about the Lycians. We took a tour of the gardens and then headed back to our room.

Jenn noticed outside that her ring was catching again but all the stones were there, but she did notice that one of the little points loose and moving about. Luckily Fethiye has no shortage of jewelers doing brisk trade in this touristy town. We should be able to find someone to help.

Angie back at our hotel is able to give us some slightly confusing directions not knowing the area on how to find a guy who does jewelry repairs nearby and we set out to try to find him. Turn right at the Quicksilver store, and then left down the little side street and he’s between two tailors and next to a tea seller. We find our alley way and walk down a bit, spot one tailor and then another then success, we found our guy. He calls someone from the store front on the street to help translate and with a bit of hand motioning we get to an understanding and he looks at the ring poking and prodding. He says the only way to fix it is to use jewelers glue and we consent figuring that if it’s noticeable we can have our guy at home remove it, but for now it should at the least keep the stone safe. He dabs a little metal tip with some clear glue and dabs the end in a few spots and is done before we know it. The fix is imperceptible and we’re relieved. I ask how much and he waves us away. I try to give him at least 5 lira but he won’t take it.

After showering and packing we checked out and had Angie tell us when and where to get the bus. It’s a long ride so we grab a bite at a stand near our hotel, the same one we’d enjoyed the wrap before. We think we have the directions, but when we get out to where we think we’re supposed to meet the bus, really close to us it doesn’t look like the place to make the bus. We ask around and it seems we missed that we’re supposed to take the minibus from here to the main Otogar (bus station) and from there onward, which makes sense.

While we stand around debating what to do and decide on a taxi a woman slowly backs her red compact out of the parking space in front of us, a much larger truck waits on the driver. Suddenly the red compact accelerates in reverse, hits the curb and hits the truck. Holy Shit! With the way they drive here I half expected to see a car accident, but not like this. This is the kind of accident that can happen anywhere in the world, someone not focused with the wrong gear selected. I’ve almost done this once myself. We’re in shock, and thankful the car didn’t jump the curb as we stood a couple feet from the curb. I can’t imagine how bad that could have ended up. But it’s just a couple of bent bumpers and a little red car probably needing to be re-aligned.

There aren’t any taxis coming down this road any time soon, so we walk out to the main road. Time is running thin quickly. We determine to take the next taxi or minibus to come our way and around the corner comes a minibus and a taxi. We don’t know if the taxi has a passenger so we hop the minibus in front which turns out to be a good choice. To the otogar we go.

We’re two minutes late and run towards the sign for the bus station, only the busses aren’t there. We snag one that has Pamukkale painted all over it, but this is just the brand name, not where it’s going, but he understands and parks his minibus and runs us to the bus just about the leave. They exchange a bit of money and we’re on board. A pair of girls speaking a language I can’t identify also run up thankful we’d got the bus stopped. Just in time. We find 2 of the last seats and celebrate our luck today.

The Bus is hot though, and we’re hot from running. It’s 42C/106F, and the bus doesn’t have AC. We’re baking our little brains. The bus is run by 2 guys, a driver, and a steward. The steward brought us cold water, then hand sanitizer and a little snack and some cold coke. Pretty cool service. Out of town he opened a hatch in the roof letting in cool air, angling it to bring in a good amount when we went up hill slowly. On the down hills he would close it though for unknown reason and the bus became a sauna. Jenn wasn’t happy but I reminded her she’s been wanting heat training to get ready for the Tevis race she has coming up. Everywhere is hot here, our entire trip will be a sauna. An hour in or so and we stop for bathrooms and some ice cream to cool off. The breeze is nice, and it’s only 34C/93F here. Back on the bus, things are easier, not quite as hot, we’re feeling better. The ride takes longer than we were told, closer to 5hrs than 4hrs. We arrive in Denizli about when we should have been arriving in Pamukkale further down the road. We get unloaded and shuffled to a minibus. We seem to sit forever waiting to move while they haggle over the price for us.

The last stage takes us another 30 minutes but finally we get dropped off at a tourist office in town. Pamukkale is a bit grim compared to Fethiye. Denizli is pretty large and modern, a bustling city, but Pamukkale is a farming town that happens to have an UNESCO sight in its back yard. We’re not sure about hotels, but Lonely Planet and Trip Advisor both suggest the Melrose Hotel, so we head there looking for a room.

Luckily the hole is clean and the manager speaks good English. The price is fine so we check in and ask for directions up to the travertine pools. We’ve timed it pretty perfectly. The sun is high enough in the sky, but the golden hour isn’t so long from now. We change into swim suits and grab enough cash and head up to the main highway past town and the entrance to the park.

It’s quite surreal walking up to, a wall of white amongst brown hills. At the bottom we pay our dues and not long after meet a sign saying to take off your shoes. There is a steady light stream of water running down white travertine with pools large and small to the side. It’s smooth and grippy under the feet, with little ripples formed into the stone. The pools are filled with a white mud that reminds me a lot of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. We had seen people walking slowly, and it wasn’t because of it being steep and hot apparently, but the experience is so unique. The water rolls over toes nice and cool and refreshing and in a few places it’s hard to avoid wading up to your knees. The view quickly becomes spectacular, but it’s hard not to pay attention to your feet. It’s a long walk but not unpleasant. At the top we buy a bottle of water and down it before heading onto the Antique Pool, which in the pictures I’d seen looked awesome.

It isn’t so much though. After paying $32 for us to visit, it turns out to be a relatively small artificial pool with natural water made to look like it’s part of some ruins. I’m not sure if the columns are recently made or actual antiques. It’s pleasant though and we enjoy about an hour of swimming around in the luke warm waters. The sun is getting low and I’m anxious to not miss the most beautiful part of the day at Pamukkale, the whole reason we’re in this town.

We leave at take a circuit along the outer rim, at times finding some privacy to enjoy the setting sun poking through clouds and a thick haze as it sets over these natural infinity pools. It’s really pretty. No wonder its part of the UNESCO list. We make our way from one end to the next, and get some spectacular views. The pictures can describe better than I ever could with words.

We started getting hungry and made the walk back down to our hotel, maybe 10 minutes from the base, got out of our swimsuits and went straight to dinner.

The service was excellent, and Jenn’s stuffed mushrooms were one of the best things we’ve had this trip. The lamb kebabs weren’t that great.

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