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Friday, October 17, 2014

Traipsing Down Pamukkale's Travertines on 10/12

What should have been a 3 hour nonstop bus trip from our hotel in Selcuk on the Aegean coast to the inland town of Pamukkale turned instead to a 4 plus hour journey with stops at several otogars or bus stations, 2 separate buses and then a shuttle finally to our hotel. Oh well, we finally arrived safe and sound at the lovely Venus Hotel and ready to see the amazing travertines that Pamukkale is so well known for.

From a distance, the long white smudge along the hills to the north suggested a landslide or mine. Getting closer, it was the edge of a plateau we saw, more than a 100m above the valley and edged in white travertine terraces, a geological fairyland that the Turks have dubbed Pamukkale or ‘Cotton Castle.’ This incredible natural phenomenon was created by the hot spring waters that gush up at the center of the ancient city of Hierapolis. The therapeutic properties and bizarre appearance of the hot springs were known for thousands of years before the actual town of Hierapolis was founded during the 2nd C. B.C.

After donning swimsuits under our T shirts and shorts, the hotel kindly dropped us off at the South Gate where we had a short shadeless walk to the ruins and terraces. We decided to forego seeing the ruins after just seeing the wonders of Ephesus. We headed instead directly to the stupendous cliffs and the 500m long walk down through the collection of thermal pools carrying our plastic bags of shoes and clothes, etc as shoes are forbidden in the pool area.

We saw a number of paragliders - what a spectacular way to view the travertines.

The first approach to the pools if coming from the top.
I was blowing Steven a kiss!

Not the most fetching of swimsuits I'll be the first to agree, but it's lightweight. It's one of my water aerobics suits. I had picked up the bucket hat at a street stall for about a dollar last year in Kunming, China on our stopover from Xian to Chiang Mai, Thailand. First time I've worn it since!

Pamukkale’s hotels once siphoned off  the precious mineral waters for their own hotel heated pools but now the water flow is strictly rotated in order to preserve the site and allow more diminished deposits to ‘regrow.’ As thermal water surges over the edges of the plateaus and cools, carbon dioxide is given off and hard chalk – aka travertine – accumulates as a solidified waterfall.

We sat against the chalky travertines for a long time basking in the waning rays of the afternoon sun. The water had no discernible odor.

One of the rougher sections we walked down, barefoot too, don't forget.

These young people had a blast throwing mud from the bottom of the pool at each other and also at some of the passersby. Steven, in his best Assistant Principal voice, told them not to throw the mud at us. They did not!

Another somewhat rough patch for our tender tootsies. Loved the ever changing designs wrought by the dual forces of wind and water.

There was an empty water park at the bottom; perhaps it was closed down for the season or for the day because it was getting late - don't know.

 The area in the background had no water, only the area on the right.

Without a doubt one of the most unusual places to go immediately after getting married!
Very surprising to think that trees would have any chance of surviving in these harsh surroundings.
Panorama shot of the travertines.
We were so lucky that the weather forecasters had goofed again as it was warm when we set out and not the torrential downpour we had been expecting. What an absolute blast we had sitting in the pools and walking barefoot down the sometimes slippery surfaces. For the most part however, the calcium surface made for smooth and pleasant navigation.