I know I’m the only one who would realize this, but I’m actually reusing the title of a post that I wrote almost five years ago. I could come up with a couple of better ones, but this one seemed appropriate, and there was some fun overlap between that day and this one, so hey, why not?
I’ve kind of gotten behind in blogging–we’ve had too much fun running around! Right now it’s Thursday afternoon and we’re sitting at the airport in Izmir, and I’ve finished writing postcards, so I guess it’s time to work on this thing again. :-)
I had to check our itinerary to figure out which day this was–I’ve kind of lost track of time! It doesn’t help that I’ve subconsciously been trying to remember the day/time at home as well. Anyway, apparently this was Saturday, June 13th.
We got up early on Saturday, had breakfast at our hotel, and headed up the hill about five minutes to the entrance to Hierapolis, an ancient city and the third of the four UNESCO World Heritage sites we get to see on this trip. Being the history nerd that I am, I pretty much use the UNESCO World Heritage List as a travel bucket list. :-)
Hierapolis is built on the top of a big hill (or mountain, if you’re from the midwest) and has two entrances. There’s one at the top, which you can take a bus or taxi to. And there’s one on the bottom, which means you have to take off your shoes and hike up the travertine terraces to the top.
We opted for the entrance at the bottom of the hill, since hiking up the travertine terraces seemed like a good idea.
I ended up not taking too many more photos on the climb up because it was so bright, my phone was having issues figuring out what should be light and what should be dark. It was like climbing on snow on a sunny day, only worse, because not only was everything white, but there was water, so it reflected the sun even more strongly.
I thought the travertine would be slippery–they even make you take off your shoes and climb, ostensibly because it’s slippery. But it actually wasn’t. You could go wading/swimming in the water–it was lukewarm, but not hot.
Something neat about the terraces: a lot of the streams/water sources that have historically fed the springs have been diverted, so they don’t kick out as much water as they used to. In order to preserve the terraces, the Turkish government (who maintains the site) has dug a series of trenches and installed sluice gates, and throughout the course of the day, they’ll divert water to different parts of the terraces to make sure that the travertine is continually replenished.
When we first climbed up, the springs at the very top weren’t “turned on”, so there was water in them, but it was stale, and they weren’t flowing. But then when I took the above couple of pictures (when we ate lunch) they’d diverted the water so that the uppermost terraces were flowing and replenishing the pools. Neat!
They’ve done a fair amount of reconstruction of the old city, including an archaeological museum, amphitheatre, and some other stuff.
Also at the top, they have what they call the “ancient pool”–it’s a pool built around some of the warm springs (which is why the city was built there in the first place), and on the bottom of the pool are old ruins from the city.
People in a lot of other countries see soaking in warm/hot springs as not just therapeutic emotionally, but also medicinally. I wish we had that mentality in the US!
They had the part of the spring gated off where the water actually entered the pools. It was pretty neat–not only it was warm, but it was bubbly–like, fizzy soda up your nose bubbly!! It was also very easy to float in, and deceptively clear. We thought it was probably about 12 feet deep, but kept not being able to touch bottom when we’d go try. Finally, John decided to use the gate to pull himself down until he could touch the bottom.
Video of John swimming down the gate:
We didn’t want to, but finally we got out of the pool and dried off and went wandering through the rest of the ruins.
We walked through a necropolis, which literally means “city of the dead”–it’s a bunch of ancient crypts.
So… about that storm…
We knew it was going to rain, but I don’t think we realized just how hard it would rain.
I’d randomly stumbled across someone’s blog post online that had suggested hanging out and waiting for the sunset over the travertine pools, and I’m really, really glad we did. It was absolutely mindblowingly incredible.
Finally we realized we should head down before it got too dark. The whole place is open until 9PM, which I love, because it means we were able to sit and watch the sunset, which was about 8:30 or so.
What an absolutely amazing day. Rainstorm and all. :-)