Friday, October 22, 2010

Pamukkale, Turkey

The Taurus mountains in Turkey.

I left Olympos with the intent to bike to Pamukkale. However, my legs were not quite there yet. The heat wasn't helping either and when I realized my map was off on the distances that was the final straw. After biking a third of the way there, I stopped in Keper to catch a bus. The bus ride there was beautiful. We had to cross the mountains to the central Anatolian plateau. Once we were there, I guess the scenery did not change up much, but I would have loved to have had the time and energy to bike it. However, since the buses are like flying on planes it almost made up for it. Next time.

Buses don't suck in Turkey. They are like planes with TVs, stewards, and everything!!

Most of the roadside stops have a small mosque.

Pamukkale was amazing. If the white travertines don't captivate you, then the ancient ruins of Hierapolis will. It was fantastic to have such an amazing natural wonder so close to a ancient cultural wonder. The white calcium carbonate pools are a classic image of Turkey. What those images and stories never tell you is that the whole location is built on a plateau full of Roman ruins that used to be an ancient spa. Very very cool. When you pay to get in, you also get into the other site, and can soak in the pools. That is a trifecta for me.

The walk way up the was like ants marching up a hill.

The calcium carbonate (limestone) run off of Pamukkale have coated the entire mountain.

Soaking in a pool.

I arrived at Pamukkale in the late afternoon. I found my way to the entrance, paid my fee, and then had to take off my shoes. They don't let you walk through the hot springs runoff with your shoes on. I assume it is so you don't pollute the pure white color of the next generation of travertines. This isn't a bad thing though. Along the way, there are some places to soak.

The wall of a travertine pool.

Empty pools at Pamukkale.

The most famous images we see of Pamukkale are of the travertine pools filled with water. Things are not like that anymore. I have heard a couple reasons why. First, the hotels drilled into the hot springs and messed up the water flow. This caused the natural springs to stop flowing to the original site. The water running now would be supplied by man. The other story is that the pools just lose their access to water over time and dry up. Those amazing pictures we see were only possible because they artificially filled those pools up for the photo shoot.

These were the best pools I found.

How do the pools form? The pools form similar to how stalagtites and stalagmites in caves form. Water flows along carrying calcium carbonate with it, but sometimes leaving some behind. This calcium carbonate dries up and makes a solid structure. In this case, it makes the wall of the pool higher because the water flows over the walls when there is sufficient flow. I guess the reason the deposits don't also fill in the pool is because the bottom of the pool is wet so it stays in solution form. At the top of the pool, the calcium carbonate can contact the air which will dry it out and make it stay in place.

I love these ornamental grasses.

Domitian Gate.


Thinking back to the ruins, I can't think of anything super special about them. I just loved them though. I don't know why. I think it had to do with how large the site was. It was not just a couple hundred feet. The ruins of Hierapolis stretched over a kilometer main street with side streets. This site had the usual entrance gates, but it also had latrines. I think it was memorable because seeing it spread out made it look more like a real town than the ruins of a couple buildings normally do.

A paraglider over the ancient ruins.

The outside of the Roman theater.

A Roman theater.

Streaks of sunset light.

In the center of the ruins is a restored building where you can soak in hot springs. Supposedly, Cleopatra once soaked there. I skipped it because it looked crazy crowded and was expensive. My friends on the Blue Cruise said it was their least favorite part of the site. I opted to trust their judgment and save money, especially since they only took cash, and I still didn't have an ATM card.

This photo makes me think of Antarctica.

The textures of the drying calcium carbonate.

What else? I don't think there is anything else. I spent a long time there. I started in the afternoon and left after the sunset. Between soaking, the ruins, and the great view of the valley I probably could have stayed a lot longer too. Maybe its kitsch because it is one of those classic images of Turkey, but it got famous for a reason. It is amazing to see how the calcium carbonate run off has turned the entire side of a plateau white after thousands of years.

A soak pool at sunset.

I think this is my favorite picture.

My hotel was interesting. I asked about Internet. They assured me it was 24 hours. I could not use it half the time because their 5 year old son was using it to watch cartoons. The rest of the time I wanted it, at 5am, it was locked. This was a reoccuring theme in Turkey where the Internet wasn't really 24 hours.

Another reoccuring theme was the breakfast. They were always the exact same breads, spreads, and even the company of the spreads. In total it included tea, bread, fake nutella, sour cherry spread, butter, honey, a mini cucumber, a tomato, olives, and a hard boiled egg. I am not kidding when I say this is the Turkish breakfast at EVERY hotel. I think I remember one variant. Anyway, it is free food. I am not going to complain about that.


1 comment:

  1. Very very cool to read about. Keep it up!