…or should I title this, “Things We Did (and didn’t do) in Pamukkale?!”
There’s always more than the usual and that’s what makes every journey memorable. But, to find those extra perks, the usual is what leads you to them. Our journey in the land of the Turks was an experience I am truly grateful for. And while I have already posted an entry about my dream destination–Pamukkale’s travertines, allow me to share 12 wonderful experiences I/we had in Pamukkale.
1. A visit to the white mountain
The highlight of a visit to Pamukkale is of course a walk on the snow-white travertines (barefoot to protect them) and dip in one of the thermal pools while enjoying the view of the village below. Head up here early to secure a nice spot!
2. Take refuge under the trees
Mid-September climate on this part of Turkey is pleasant—cold in the evening and early in the morning but could be too warm at mid-day.So we took refuge under these tall plants, eating crackers (from the Philippines) and enjoying the awesome view of the travertines below us.
3. Be a friendly tourist, share your food and gain new friends
While many now have gadgets and other tools to capture that perfect selfie or groupie shot or jump shot, offering help to take their photo or cheer them up for a nice and witty picture is a good thing to do.
A group of tourists and their Turkish guide stopped just in front of where we were seated. Among them were two young Japanese guys, probably in their late teens, and like us, a jump shot at the top of the travertines is a must. As their attempts kept failing, we cheered them on, making us all break into laughter each time, until finally they got one.
As the group was allowed to have their photo ops, their Turkish guide started a conversation with us as he munched on the crackers we gave him. And who would have thought, a packet of crackers would gain us a Turkish friend who helped us big time.
4. Explore the ruins of Hierapolis
The ancient City of Hierapolis is located at the top of the white mountain. It was founded as a thermal spa in the early 2nd Century BC. And with the health benefits of thermal water from the hot springs underneath, doctors made it a healing center.
The area is so vast. The heat held us from heading up to the ruins and see further on, hence only a distant view of what’s left of the theatre and few others near the travertines is all I could share you here.
But if you really are very keen on history and archaeology, exploring the ruins of this UNESCO-inscribed site is a must-see. And if I were given another chance to visit Pamukkale, I would definitely explore more of this city, especially because I’ve read that St. Philip The Apostle was buried here.
5. Take a dip in Cleopatra’s Pool
Escaping the heat, we bought our pricey tickets (TL30) for a swim (or should I say dip) in Cleopatra’s pool. The area was not huge but neither was it cramped. The water was warm enough (data says temperature ranges from 37-57 degrees Celsius) to enjoy the benefits of bathing in a thermal pool. I wonder how smooth was Cleopatra’s skin?
Ruins of the marble portico (porch) lie beneath the pool. When a strong earthquake hit the area in the 7th Century, the marble portico fell into the pool and remained that way since. The spring water flowing into the pool is clean, the pool water however becomes murky when algae that grew under the pool bed are touched and floats around.
To enjoy more of the fresh spring water, position yourself in one of those openings where water flows into the pool…such a fun and relaxing water rubdown.
Note: Locker rooms, shower rooms and changing areas are available near the pool. Towels are not provided though.
6. Delight yourself with a cone of dondurma
Whichever flavor you want to mix and match, eating this flavorful and smooth Turkish ice cream is such a joy.
The ice cream man calls out to passersby as he mixes the ice cream with a long-handle paddle. He served Jacq a cone sticking on the tip of the paddle. When Jacq was about to take it, he swirled it around, I thought it was going to fall. Jacq looked at him and he was smiling. He did that thrice before Jacq finally got her serving.
When you try on this treat, which I hope you would, do not be upset when the ice cream man plays around with you before you get your ice cream. That’s just their way of serving it. I don’t know why but maybe it’s an added advertisement to show you that dondurma is not like any other ice cream.
A cone up in Hierapolis costs 5 TL, way higher than the price down at the town center. But I guess it wouldn’t hurt to pay a bit more if you are already up there and wanted something to cool you down besides water.
7. Watch the sunset
As the day comes to a close, find a perfect spot to watch the sun go down. Be awed at how the pools color shifts from white to blue to red-orange. Tourists, even couples having their pre/post nuptial photos with their photographers, hurry to take that perfect sunset shot.
The most heart-warming part is to see how people freeze into a moment of awe just before the sun fully hides behind the mountains in the distance, with only a faint red-orange hue painting the horizon.
8. Be at home
Our 2-day stay in Pamukkale wouldn’t have been more wonderful had we not stayed in a homey place—Sinter Terrase House Hotel. The couple and their children were very friendly, considerate and made sure we felt comfortable. We loved their home-made lentil soup!
Sinter Terrase is located about 15-minutes walk from the travertines in a quiet neighborhood, giving you a chance to see how the locals live and get to exchange greetings of Merhaba with them.
(For price inquiry and reservations, email Sami and Senay at email@example.com or call +905317088116. You may also check their website: sinterterassehotel.com)
9. A bit of shopping
While backpacking should mean traveling as light as possible, buying a few souvenirs wouldn’t hurt. It’s always good to bring home a piece of the place to remind you once in a while of the memories.
10. Lunch at Mustafa’s Restaurant
Try their flavorful grilled mixed kebabs and that chicken dish with tomatoes.
11. Go paragliding
This wasn’t in our itinerary nor in our budget, but thanks to Birol Goksudelik for making it possible and affordable for us. I did parasailing one time and the feeling was amazing and at the same time being up in the air alone made my heart thump fast with all these crazy ideas popping in my head. If I were to fall, at least I still have a better chance to be alive because I’ll be plunging into the water. This time, if I fall…go figure!
I started shouting and laughing the fear already creeping inside me as my pilot, Artoosh, was helping me put on my orange suit. I was banking between the idea of trying and leaving it all up to God and backing-out and wonder what could or might have been if I tried for the rest of my life.
Artoosh strapped on my knee supports, inserted the helmet on my head and hanged on my back this heavy bag. Crazy ideas popped like fireworks in my head. Only when my pilot advised me not to sit, just run, that I realized we were already running (more of dragged) to the edge of the cliff. I swear my heart skipped a beat when my feet were no longer touching the ground! For a moment there, I was silent and only zapped back to my senses when Artoosh pulled me back to position me properly on my seat.
He started talking me out of my fear, taking pictures of me up in the air with his GoPro camera. He asked me to let go of my hands, firmly held onto the sling and give out a smile, wave on the camera and shout if I wanted to. Phew!
The view above was incredible. Seeing Pamukkale from a bird’s eye view made me thankful and proud for taking this flight. Fear is a normal human reaction and sometimes facing it could be this awesome.
After 15 minutes of hanging around in the air, we landed on safe grounds, unscathed and standing. I just can’t help but feel proud of myself!
NOTE: Artoosh and Borish (Jacq’s pilot) work for this newly opened paragliding company in Pamukkale. Their office is located just opposite the Metro Bus Office.
12. Trusting a new friend
Birol promised to come and see us at the paragliding company’s office after our flight. He may have arrived an hour late, he still managed to come. It was a very busy month in Pamukkale and for him to try his best to fulfill his promise, is something we are grateful for.
After having tea and helping us arrange our balloon flights in Cappadocia (at a very reasonable rate), he and his boss (whom we came to know has a brother in Hongkong who is married to a Filipina) drove us all the way to Denizli for our trip to Goreme…for free!
NOTE: We have not stayed in Koray Hotel but the owner treated us very well when we went there for afternoon tea by the pool side so I think this is a reflection of a nice service in their hotel. For inquiries or reservations, please email Koray Hotel at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0258 272 2222 or visit their website: www.hotelkoray.com. They also arrange tours and transportation.
Two days, two nights, 12 things and a thousand photographs! #Grateful # Blessed