Monday, July 13, 2015

Pamukkale, Turkey: Alien Snow Land

PAMUKKALEEE, the funnest word ever to sayyy. That is all.

What It's All About:
Pamukkale is a tiny village in the province of Denizli in Western Turkey. It means "cotton castle" in Turkish - because it is best known for its natural cascading travertine pools made up of white calcite deposits from the town's natural hot springs, which sits 200 meters high on a cliff overlooking the town. The calcite build up has created these snow-white petrified waterfalls, pools, and cascading terraces - it looks crazy because it covers the entire top of the town's mountain, and kind of looks like this weird alien snow land, maybe combined with the surface of the moon (since I've clearly seen that), except the "snow" feels like hard salt. They now limit tourists to a certain part of the terraces, where you can wade/swim in the thermal waters.

Mineral hot spring wading
Atop the mountain and next to the terraces is also the ancient city of Hierapolis from the 2nd century B.C.; where the Romans built a city to take advantage of the thermal springs. The ruins are a part of the same park where you visit the cascading pools - excavations are still ongoing; I imagine it's what Ephesus looked like way before they reconstructed a good portion of it, as parts of Hierapolis are basically huge fields scattered with rocks.  This is where I learned that archaeology was not my life's calling.  Trying to fit a giant field of rocks together to form some semblance of a building does not, in any way, excite me.

Cliffnotes of the Day:
  • So this was actually from the day before, but I have nowhere to put it, so I'm sticking it into the Pamukkale post.  In Selçuk, Sam and I ventured to the nearby town of Sirince, which is known for its fruit wines and adorable-ness
Sirince looks like a little picturesque Italian village!

Fruit wine tasting. Peach, mulberry, blackberry, honeydew, and pomegranate. Honeydew was the best
  • The next day, we headed more inland by bus to the tiny town of Pamukkale

On the 3 hour bus - the bus attendant served water, and THEN these tiny delicious smiling choco/orange cookies, THEN tea/coffee.  Turkish buses are so incredible. My infatuation with them continues
  • Then, we arrived at PAMUKKALE.  Ok guys. There is this phenomena, that we've seen so many times everywhere we go, that I feel comfortable calling it a phenomena. It involves an Asian female tourist, typically dressed up in a flouncy sundress (sometimes with props like scarves or hats), who basically goes on vacation and uses every popular tourist site as the backdrop to her own personal photo shoot (usually done by her sad male companion), complete with ridiculous glamour-shot poses and often monopolizing prime photo spots. It usually involves her twirling around in her sundress, or propping her feet up on an ancient ruin, or flinging her scarf about like she's walking the runway at Fashion Week - no joke.  I was wondering if we were missing out on some huge part of life, so we attempted our own version while visiting Hierapolis. 

Oh, just sitting totally naturally at the ruins of Hierapolis 
Vogue atop a pillar
    The stadium of Hierapolis. The scale and size were so, so impressive.

    • We then visited the Antique Pool of Pamukkale - which is a thermal pool that has water constantly flowing through from the natural hot springs (the same water that created the cotton terraces and that old-school Hierapolians bathed in). It's considered sacred, as inside the pool are ruins from the Temple of Apollo, and the waters are rich in minerals and believed to cure a lot of medical ailments (including, but not limited to: acne, heart diseases, high blood pressure, kidney stones, rheumatism, etc.)  Cleopatra is said to have swam here back in the day, so it's also called Cleopatra's Pool.
    People curing their skin diseases, one soak at a time. The pool was gorgeous; there were oleanders all around and also, RUINS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL. You could sit on them.  It was crazy.
    We did end up getting in. My face feels clearer already
    • And then.....drumroll.....we finally made it to the white calcium terraced pools of Pamukkale!
    Terraced pools. And hoards of people
    But the water was super warm and so nice. The bottom of the pools are a gooey clay material
    Which you can put on your face
    Petrified calcium waterfalls
    Weird alien snow-like landscape
    More terraced pools

    Soaking our feet in the running falls
    Calcium cliffs lit up at night

    The Hotel:
    The town of Pamukkale only has a population of about 2,000 people. It's the weirdest because it's basically a sleepy little farming village, but then it has this huge tourist attraction/national park nearby. So our hotel, Hotel Venus, was this gorgeous, blinged-out boutique hotel...and next door, there were dirt roads and cows hanging around and people driving tractors through the streets. Moo.
      Our hotel's second pool
      Versailles-like bed, complete with leather tufted headboard studded with rhinestones and ceramic tiled art

      Gratuitous shot of after-dinner baklava with ice cream

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