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Turkey Trip Day 7: A water day from start to finish

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?

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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. :-)

 

Random street kitten! :-)

Random street kitten! :-) We saw it on our way up the hill to Hierapolis.

 

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 realize I posted this yesterday, since it was yesterday's Selfie of the Day, but it gives you an idea of where we started (we're standing just below the lower entrance) and where we had to climb up to.

I realize I posted this yesterday, since it was yesterday’s Selfie of the Day, but it gives you an idea of where we started (we’re standing just below the lower entrance) and where we had to climb up to (top of the  hill.)

 

Selfie of the Day attempt #1.

Selfie of the Day attempt #1.

 

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 did get a shot of the guys that came out pretty decently. :-)

I did get a shot of the guys that came out pretty decently. :-)

 

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.

Playing in the water. :-)

This was pretty much right at the top.

 

View at the top!

View at the top!

 

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!

 

Map of the city. Back in its day, it was a huge city!

Map of the city. Back in its day, it was a huge city!

 

They’ve done a fair amount of reconstruction of the old city, including an archaeological museum, amphitheatre, and some other stuff.

John and a reconstructed arch.

John and a reconstructed arch.

 

Ancient frieze in the museum of the story of Polyphemus (the Cyclops) from Homer's Odyssey.

Ancient frieze in the museum of the story of Polyphemus (the Cyclops) from Homer’s Odyssey.

 

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!

Back when we were in Budapest a few summers ago, you could even get a doctor's prescription to go soak in the hot springs there. I love this idea so much.

Back when we were in Budapest a few summers ago, you could even get a doctor’s prescription to go soak in the hot springs there. I love this idea so much.

 

I had a waterproof bag for my phone. Unfortunately, it didn't work underwater, since my touchscreen doesn't work under water. But I still got some pics. :-)

I had a waterproof bag for my phone. Unfortunately, it didn’t work underwater, since my touchscreen doesn’t work under water. But I still got some pics. :-)

 

I spent probably at least 20 minutes watching this swallow fly in and out of her nest, which was on the underside of a bridge over part of the warm spring. There were three hungry little baby birds in there! :-)

I spent probably at least 20 minutes watching this swallow fly in and out of her nest, which was on the underside of a bridge over part of the warm spring. There were three hungry little baby birds in there! :-)

 

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.

John trying to see how deep it was.

John trying to see how deep it was.

 

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.

Poppies amidst the ruins.

Poppies amidst the ruins.

 

Ancient amphitheatre. This was pretty amazing!!

Ancient amphitheatre. This was pretty amazing!!

 

Nesler in the distance. :-)

Nesler in the distance. :-)

 

Stage area.

Stage area. They’ve reconstructed a lot of it from original pieces–you can see what’s nor original because (other than the stage itself) they molded it in gray concrete so that the contrast was obvious. It’s like the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle!

 

We walked through a necropolis, which literally means “city of the dead”–it’s a bunch of ancient crypts.

There was an impending storm, so we joked about hiding in one of the crypts to hide from the storm. Then we decided it sounded like the plot of a horror movie. :-)

There was an impending storm, so we joked about hiding in one of the crypts to hide from the storm. Then we decided it sounded like the plot of a horror movie. :-) (They’d been using towels to keep the sun off them, since it was sweltering.)

 

So… about that storm…

You can see the line of the storm on the horizon.

You can see the line of the storm on the horizon.

 

We knew it was going to rain, but I don’t think we realized just how hard it would rain.

 

One of the old city gates. It was just starting to rain when I took this, and we were starting to realize we needed to find shelter.

One of the old city gates. It was just starting to rain when I took this, and we were starting to realize we needed to find shelter.

 

The main road into the city. The reason the guys are all the way down the road was because at this point they were double-timing it to try to find someplace out of the storm, since we were starting to get drenched. I was, of course, still trying to take pictures.

The main road into the city. The reason the guys are all the way down the road was because at this point they were double-timing it to try to find someplace out of the storm, since we were starting to get drenched. I was, of course, still trying to take pictures.

 

Just one more picture!!

Just one more picture!! You can see someone standing against the gate pillar–they were trying to shelter there to stay out of the wind, because at this point it was blowing the rain sideways.

 

We finally ended up sheltering on the side of one of the other city gates, where there wasn't an overhang, so we were still getting rained on, but at least it was protected from the wind. We still got soaked.

We finally ended up sheltering on the side of one of the other city gates, where there wasn’t an overhang, so we were still getting rained on, but at least it was protected from the wind. We still got soaked. (If you enlarge this picture, you can see the rain going sideways. Heh. WHOOPS.)

 

Funeral bier filled with water.

Funeral bier filled with water.

 

After the rain finally cleared up, it really was quite gorgeous.

After about 45 minutes, the rain finally cleared up, and it really was quite gorgeous.

 

At that point, we were soaking wet and chilly, so we found a spot in the sun by the terraces to dry out and wait for the sunset.

At that point, we were soaking wet and chilly, so we found a spot in the sun by the terraces to dry out and wait for the sunset.

 

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.

 

I couldn't stop taking pictures. Seriously.

I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Seriously.

 

I love the reflections of the clouds.

I love the reflections of the clouds.

 

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Just after the sun set.

 

 

Panorama shot

Panorama shot

 

Selfie of the Day attempt #4. Or something like that.

Selfie of the Day attempt #4. Or something like that.

 

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.

 

Hiking down.

Hiking down.

 

HIking down.

HIking down.

 

What an absolutely amazing day. Rainstorm and all. :-)

Turkey Trip Day 6: Bionic germ resistance, or lack thereof

I rarely get sick. The last time I had a cold was April of 2014, and I generally only ever get maybe one per year. I’ve never gotten sick easily, even as a kid, but I think 13 years of teaching has exposed and immunized me to pretty much every germ out there.

So thankfully, while a lot of people have a to pick up a bug while traveling, I’ve rarely been one of those.

The guys, on the other hand, haven’t been as lucky.

Matt was the first to fall. He started to feel like he was getting a cold about two days into the trip. By now, Day 6, he has a raging cold. And, because colds are the gift that keeps on giving, John is now coming down with it as well. I’d like to stay away from them, but that really isn’t possible, so all I can do is make sure I’m well-rested and hope I don’t catch whatever it is that they have.

Anyway, so Day 6 began on a bus, which is where we left off in the previous post. We took an overnight bus from Goreme to Pamukkale. I didn’t think it was going to be too bad–I’ve taken overnight buses before, and I usually sleep pretty well on buses. But for some reason, I was having a really hard time getting comfortable. Matt (who was sitting next to me) was sick, so he didn’t sleep well, and John (across the aisle) was sitting next to someone who, well, as he put it, “Smelled like a goat. Or, if possible, worse than a goat.”

In case you've ever wondered what a Turkish rest stop looks like at 4AM, well, wonder no more.

In case you’ve ever wondered what a Turkish rest stop looks like at 4AM, well, wonder no more.

 

Side note: night buses are actually apparently a huge thing for certain routes. It makes sense–why lose a full 10-hour day to traveling somewhere? When we got to this rest stop at 4AM, there were at least a dozen other buses there at the same time. Crazy.

Anyway, by the time we got to Pamukkale, we were all pretty fried.

Dog at the bus station. I love goldens and their goofy tendency to want to always carry whatever is on hand.

Dog at the bus stop in Pamukkale. I love goldens and their goofy tendency to want to always carry whatever is on hand.

 

Thankfully, the owner of the small hotel where we were staying was apparently used to people showing up looking like something the cat dragged in, because he let us check in early (about 10AM!) and head up to our room, where we proceeded to shower and crash hard.

When we woke up, John was actually the only one in a wandering mood. I was punchy and feeling off, and Matt was feeling downright miserable. We went to wander the town, but with two of the three of us feeling grumpy, it was a short-lived trip.

We did at least get our Selfie of the Day in. :-)

We did at least get our Selfie of the Day in. :-)

 

We did manage to at least get lunch in, and no kidding, this was the best meal we’d had in Turkey so far. We actually opted to eat here the next day as well. It was that good.

Appetizer: Turkish cheese, hummus, and flatbread.

Appetizer: Turkish cheese, hummus, and flatbread.

Lamb shish kebabs. Also amazingly good.

Lamb shish kebabs. Also amazingly good.

 

Turkish currency rainbow.

Turkish currency rainbow. This is worth about $73. WHY IS AMERICAN MONEY SO BORING-LOOKING!??!?

 

After lunch, given my crabbiness and Matt’s head cold, we opted to split up. John wandered the town a bit more, while Matt and I went back to the hotel, where Matt crashed again and I read for a while.

A few hours later, John came back to the hotel with a loaf of bread, a block of cheese, and a bottle of Turkish wine, and suggested we got up on the hotel’s terrace and have dinner and watch the sunset.

I of course had to get all artsy with the wine bottle.

Turkish wine. I have no idea if it was any good or not, since I don’t know anything about wine. But I drank it and it was, well, wine.

 

Lacking a bottle opener, the guys had to get creative with our room key and a rock.

Lacking a bottle opener, the guys had to get creative with our room key and a rock.

As Matt put it, “THARG USE ROCK. IT… KINDA EFFECTIVE.”

Wine. Wine everywhere. Which, when it spilled, they tried to wipe up with bread. Since we all were feeling better at that point, we all had a good laugh over it. :-)

Table carnage.

Table carnage.

 

And that was it for Friday! :-)

Turkey Trip Day 5: That hoodoo that you do so well

On Thursday, we headed out to valley outside of Goreme that’s known for its fairy chimneys, also known as hoodoos. Per Wikipedia, hoodoos “typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements.”

In the case of the hoodoos in Cappadocia (the region of Turkey where Goreme is), the rock layer the hoodoos are in were caused by a volcanic eruption about 2000 years ago, and over the centuries, the wind and water have eroded at the soft underlying rock layer, leaving the harder cap rock on the surface.

Selfie of the Day: In front of the fairy chimneys

Selfie of the Day: In front of the fairy chimneys

 

View of the valley.

View of the valley.

 

Random formation

Random formation

 

Panorama shot

Panorama shot. Stupid bus.

 

I'm not going to make the obvious jokes, so you'll just have to make them to yourselves as you read this post. :-p

I’m not going to make the obvious jokes, so you’ll just have to make them to yourselves as you read this post. :-p

 

At some point in our wanderings, we stopped and had lunch at what I can only describe as a Turkish taco stand.

 

Hot day outside--so glad to have the shade.

Hot day outside–so glad to have the shade.

 

We decided to try Turkish pizza. It was, ummm, interesting.

We decided to try Turkish pizza. It was, ummm, interesting.

 

We also shared some Turkish ravioli, which is really more like gnocchi--it's dumplings, not stuffed. And it's covered in a tomato-dill sauce with yogurt on the side. Not bad, just different.

We also shared some Turkish ravioli, which is really more like gnocchi–it’s dumplings, not stuffed. And it’s covered in a tomato-dill sauce with yogurt on the side. Not bad, just different.

 

I'm slightly disappointed that all the Coke we've seen thus far has either been in cans or plastic bottles. I have a collection of glass Coke bottles from different countries, and I was hoping to add to it.

I’m slightly disappointed that all the Coke we’ve seen thus far has either been in cans or plastic bottles. I have a collection of glass Coke bottles from different countries, and I was hoping to add to it.

 

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We had a very cute guest begging under the table. :-)

 

We watched some people play foosball.

We watched some people play foosball.

 

After wandering around some more, we headed back to Goreme and spent some time reading in a park. We had a bunch of time to kill until our bus to Pamukkale (our next town), which didn’t leave until 10PM (overnight bus.)

 

The town of Goreme.

Goreme skyline.

 

We headed back to our hotel for dinner. Even though we had checked out, they let us leave our luggage there for the day. They had also made our bus reservations for us, and were going to give us a ride to the bus station (although we could have walked, it was easier since they had the tickets.) And I finally got to try something I’d been meaning to try since we got to Turkey.

For this one dish, they cook meat inside a clay pot, and then you get to break the pot and eat the contents.

For this one dish, they cook meat inside a clay pot, and then you get to break the pot and eat the contents.

 

You can't really tell, but this one is a beef/lamb stew. It was really tasty.

You can’t really tell, but this one is a beef/lamb stew. It was really tasty.

 

Finally, we headed down the hill to wait for our bus, and I made a new friend. There are some seriously friendly stray dogs in this country!

Finally, we headed down the hill to wait for our bus, and I made a new friend. There are some seriously friendly stray dogs in this country!