1563-1565 : Terraces and Travesty

1563:   Pamukkale Cave

Tuesday 16th June 2020

A nod from the apartment cleaner that all was OK with the way we left the flat … it was probably cleaner than when we arrived!  We set off on the road … destination a cave with some travertine terraces inside.  

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A hideous landscape nearby as scarred by mining, but we’d read about the cave in ourbumble.com.  

The guide spoke some English and told us we couldn’t park overnight in the car park … Gov regulations.  He suggested a lake, but it was a good hour in the wrong direction.  And true Turkish hospitality offered us a stay on his small village so we could drink tea with his family … numerous sisters and offspring.   As it was still very hot and we couldn’t leave the dogs in the van, he kindly turned a blind eye and let them into the caves.

The air smelt faintly of bad eggs and the tortoise swimming in the water had coats and fringes of algae.  Given Covid, the pools that visitor would normally be able to swim in had been drained.  Not huge in size but huge in wow factor.  Despite the walkway, it hadn’t been tampered with too much.

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The entrance was a circular hole in the ground. 

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Water gushing, still shaping the caves.  Feet were wet and we also had to run the gauntlet of a curtain of water.

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Just stunning calcite formations.

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Pamukkale is Turkish for cotton, and you can see why the calcite rock is given this name.

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The start of mini travertine terraces.

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We tiredly set off for the ancient mega city of Laodice with the hope of being able to park overnight there … no chance … a barrier with security staff.  So we headed up the road to Pamukkale.  David and Karen, ahead of us had programmed in a parking, but were flagged down in Pamukkale town … you must stay in our OtoPark … great views, pool, electric etc.  No too expensive … so we negotiated a discount. I think we may have been the first post Covid customers.  We certainly had the field to ourselves – great for CO2 to be able to wander around off lead.  Despite the choice of where to park up, I managed to park under a Mulberry tree … it took some effort to get the sticky sugary fruit off the soles of our shoes and necessitated a floor clean!  We moved the van!

A wander around the dead tourist (town) facility and back to the restaurant attached to the Otopark for a glass …

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Says it all really!

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Turkish H&S!

1564:   Mixed Emotions at Pamukkale

 Wednesday 17th June 

I visited Pamukkale with friends when we back packed in Turkey about 35 years ago.  We bathed in the terraces with water flowing over them  It was crowded.  Visitors were supposed to walk barefoot … but I remember being shocked at how many had shoes, especially military with their hob nailed boots.  The impact of this lack of care of nature was truly evident here.  Water was largely diverted in man dug trenches to flow over parts of the man made terraces where the public could bathe.  There was much less water flowing as it is, as local industry and farming has harnessed it.  Concrete large terraces / pools have been constructed on the slope up from one of the entrances.  It is staggeringly evident how the walls of the pools have been destroyed and lost their definition … in some places the concrete used to rebuild them was clearly identifiable.  Shocking abuse of the beauty of nature.

And yet … it really still is stunning.  So fortunate not to have coach loads of tourists.  A huge expanse of white.  Blinding in the sun even with sun glasses.  Hard to actually see what I was photographing in the view finder.  I had completely forgotten how vast the cotton castle is.  From below it just looks like a mass of white rock.  From up top, you can see terrace after terrace.  The ancient site of Hireapolis is at the top, with a museum contains some quality relics from here and Laodice.

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Nothing so wonderful as the beauty of nature  

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D & K wading up through one of the concrete pools.

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Another travesty … this pool at the bottom had pedaloes.

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You could hear the water gushing through channels under the boardwalk.

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So much definition of the pools lost in places.

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Sarcophagi in the museum.

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We had intended to visit Laodice in the afternoon … but over the night, we had both started to think about leaving Turkey via Bulgaria.  The number of Covid cases in Turkey is on the rise and could result in a further lockdown.  The Greek border may not open on the 1st July … there would be a meeting to review it on 30th June.  The UK Consulate confirmed that we had to leave Turkey by 11th July.  Danny and Lisa had made it through Bulgaria and into Serbia.  It seemed like time to leave.  Then David took a call from the Greek consul in Izmir … he confirmed that the Greek border opening to Turkey was looking unlikely and given the infection increases, it would be sensible to leave soon.  So we did!

We drove all afternoon to Ayvalik, within a few hours drive of Canakkale, where we could catch a ferry to European Turkey., thus avoided the long drive around by Istanbul

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Ayvalik: A pretty town.

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We found some interesting small streets with lots of quality craft shops.  Including a wool shop, where I bought balls of cotton and sock wool for about £2 each … better finish the jumper I started this trip!

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Whilst not our last night in Turkey, we believed it would be the last opportunity to sample good quality Turkish fare.  Surprisingly hard to find a restaurant that didn’t just offer kebabs … but we did.  Mixed mezze, and then I had one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.  

1565:   Canakkale Crossing

Thursday 18th June 

A leisurely start … today was all about getting as far as Galipolli … we’d agreed that we would visit this before we left Turkey.  The ferries seemed to run very frequently and we we were sandwiched between coaches.  Under £10 for the crossing.  

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And that is our first sight of geographical Europe geographical since the 12th March.

We overnighted at one end of Ecebat, by the Boomerang Bar, which hadn’t opened yet due to the lack of tourists.  J and I wandered the town in search of an ice cream.  En route we had to pass a street market … and I managed to stock up on harem pants … the ones with the low gusset where you can store your jam sandwich … Paddington Bear style.

David had organised a private tour for us on the morrow morning, starting at 8.00 a.m., so a quiet night … other than the usual barking dogs!  And not just ours!

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