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Saturday, October 18, 2014

10/13 Being Pampered by Karahayit's Elders

There was nothing in the village of Pamukkale to see, no fun markets or stores to shop at and we didn’t feel like going back to the South Gate to see the ruins there. The hotel had told us about a nearby town, Karahayit, that had its own small mineral bath and hot springs so we hopped on the dolmus, the shared bus/taxi I mentioned in an earlier post, for 2 TL each. What a delightful surprise the day turned out to be!

Photos of Karahayit from the dolmus:

After getting off the dolmus, we walked for 10 minutes through the tiny town heading directly to the hot springs without stopping in any of the shops on the way. We made up for that in spades on the way later though! The springs area was pretty empty when we got there but changed soon enough. See the tiny spring by the barricade below? There's a larger photo of it below this one. VERY hot water bubbled up almost nonstop and heated up the water by the bench where most people congregated very quickly.

We met 2 women on the bus, each traveling separately: one, Anush, a retired federal employee from Maine and Florida who’d traveled so far to 159 countries and was planning to visit soon the remaining 8 in Africa she’s still not visited including Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. More power to her! She’d stayed at the same hostel in Jerusalem we’ll be at pretty soon and suggested we take a day trip organized by the hostel to Ramallah and the West Bank. The other, much younger woman was from Kazakhstan but only Steven chatted with her; above, they're sitting way above where I was. Steven was giving the peace sign as the Chinese always do in photos!

This lady and her husband (below) were espeecially friendly to me.

I had the time of my life standing in the pretty hot waters of the town’s free hot springs that bubbled up every few minutes and made the water almost unbearably hot. The springs and pools are obviously the town’s place to be for the older generation in the morning hours as I was the only foreigner there for a long time. Steven and the others were a distance away from the action! It was immediately evident that they all come for the medicinal powers of the hot mineral water and the mud in the adjacent pool as both the men and women alike showed me their scrapes and calluses, etc. There was a much coveted bench that sat two comfortably and three at a pinch if you didn’t mind being wedged in by the fairly capacious older women. It was sort of like that old children’s game of Musical Chairs but here there was no music!
I had fallen flat on my face over spikes in the road about 10 days earlier in Istanbul
right outside our hotel and severely twisted my left knee and right wrist, particularly my thumb. I was so fortunate I didn’t break, a bone, my camera or more severely scrape my knees as it could have wreaked havoc with the rest of the trip. It’s been challenging ever since though to walk up or down steps but Steven has been an absolute trooper holding my left hand when we come to steps. Unfortunately though, my knight in shining armor couldn’t come to my aid when I had to use squat toilets! That’s been, excuse my language, bloody painful, because of having to bend my knees and then bracing both hands on either side of the walls try to get up again – not the most graceful of images, I assure you.
All that to say, when I was at the pool/hot springs, the wonderful ladies took sympathy on my scraped knees and very bruised wrist and began patting mud on them all.  How I wish I could have spoken a modicum of Turkish to convey my sincere appreciation for their kindness to a stranger. Luckily they didn’t mind my and later Steven’s taking photos of them. The lady in the purple scarf kissed me on both cheeks before she left with her husband, the man in the hat. I remain very touched by the whole experience. To me, moments in time like this are what I’ll remember from the trip long after I’ve forgotten the details of a specific mosque, temple or museum.
My knee did indeed feel better for a while after the healing properties of the mud, the mineral water, the ministrations of the women of XXXXX or perhaps a matter of wishful thinking? 
While I was being pampered by the lovely ladies, Steven had wandered off and took photos of these bathing beauties at some mud baths nearby.
We wandered back to the thriving market in town walking down the middle of the one main street, needing only to move when a car beeped at us announcing its arrival. I bought a pair of black, incredibly comfortable, lightweight palazzo pants for 10 TL that were then shortened on the spot for me on the oldest sewing machine I’ve seen for an additional 5 TL, or a total price of about $6.75. I hope they’ll be the perfect weight to wear in both Israel and Jordan.

Bought some decent raisins at last.

Those of you who know me well know I have a certain fondness for caramel and chocolate mixed together so I was in hog heaven seeing these minute caramello bars for only ¼ of a TL, about a dime. After trying one, I went back and bought 10 more, then decided to hell with it and bought the whole box! Steven made sure to record the event for posterity.
At the town's only roundabout, there was this very large replica hot spring in case you forgot what Karahayit's famous for.
We’d seen doners, i.e. the chicken or meat cooked on a vertical spit everywhere in Turkey but Karahayit was the first place we’d seen a lamb doner and on a horizontal spit. Lamb's my favorite meat ever so I bought one with sliced tomatoes on a half of a toasted baguette and Steven and I ate it walking down the street to go pick up my newly hemmed pants. It was so yummy, my mouth is watering now just thinking of it.

We sure needn’t have spent time in Istanbul’s Spice Market as Karahayit was overflowing with spices of every shape, form and description. Even though I thought I had bought our fill of spices in Istanbul and Sirince outside of Ephesus, I bought some meatball spice since it was so colorful in the bowl. Cheryl: I thought of you when buying it so please let me know if you and Dennis like meatballs OR want to use it in another recipe!

Never seen shoes this big before!
After taking the dolmus back to Pamukkale, we walked back to our hotel, passing this really nice playground but on the rockiest terrain I've seen.

Photos of the lovely Venus Hotel:

How great relaxing in the sun out by the pool after the kitchen staff kindly allowed us to hang up our washing on the line. When the rains finally came they were so kind in popping it in the dryer for a bit and even then folding our shirts and unmentionables. Somehow we couldn’t justify spending a whopping 40TL ($18) for the hotel to do our laundry  - by far the highest price we’ve seen ever.