After a few days in Rhodes, it was time for us to leave the beaches of Greece and get back on the path of adventure. The first step was a catamaran ride to Marmaris Turkey. Marmars (Ma-mar-is) is typically just a day trip for tourists in Greece. However we planned on going further into Turkey to a small town called Pamukkale (pah-MOOK-kah-leh).
The bus stations in Turkey work a little differently. The companies all have their own kiosks next to each other and you buy a ticket from which ever company you would like. It’s a reasonable walk from the port in Marmaris to the bus station. It’s still hot in October here and with a full pack it can be a challenge to walk up a very gradual hill. However the ticket wasn’t expensive and it was about four and a half hour ride in which we had to change buses in Denizli.
The town of Pamukkale didn’t match the nice attraction. Parts were run down and we kept hearing odd noises during the day and at night…. we think(hope?) it was a goat. In contrast, sticking out like an apple at an orange party, the hotel was very well kept. With a pool and excellent restaurant attached, The Venus hotel made us feel welcomed. It’s only about a 10 minute walk to the traventines of Pamukkale and about five minutes to the bus station.
Heirapolis-Pamukkale is world heritage site and is a one of a kind tapestry from mother nature. Pamukkale means “cotton castle” in Turkish. Blindingly bright white terraces lump out of a mountain side for about three kilometres. The lumps are made from travertine, a sedimentary rock which comes to the surface via hot springs. The water is supersaturated with calcium carbonate. Which after it oxides, deposits as a soft gelatin. When it hardens, it becomes travertine.
Three entrances serve Pamukkale (fee 20TL). Two are at the top and it’s where the buses unload the swaths of tourists that come to visit. But if like us, you stayed in town and are taking the non-tour guide approach, the lower walking-only entrance is much more rewarding. Just be sure to take off your shoes, or you’ll be greeted by a loud whistle and a stern looking security guard. You wouldn’t want to keep your shoes on anyway. As the whole walk up the water is pouring down the mountain, trickling around your feet and splashing over the edges of all the formations. The lower part of the mountain is much less crowded than the top. Most of the tourists stick near the first pool or two so if you want to get better pictures and some room to breathe stick to the lower part.
You can tell the water is pumped down it now. The site had to be put under the care of the government in the 1980s after becoming a world heritage site. Until then, the resorts that were built around it were causing damage to the hot springs. In order to keep the site preserved, the pools that you can go in to are man-made. The natural ones can still be observed but are off limits.
What was odd though, was after putting on their bathing suits a lot of the women felt like they were now at a photo shoot to become Pamukkale’s next top model. I’m not talking about the souvenir photos in your bathing suit. I’m talking about full on poses from seductive to disinterested. Hair whipping, eye lash batting and throw in a duckface for good measure and it was all just a little silly to me. But to each is own…..
The ruins above Pamukkale have an interesting history and are worth exploring. If you take everything in you’ll come to see it change hands as much of the area has (Roman-Byzantine-Ottoman). There is a place to grab a snack and if you feel like it, swim! These are the hot springs that have been used since the 2nd century BC. However be prepared to pay. To hang out in the pool with people watching all around costs 30TL per person. We opted out.
Pamukkale is quite a sight. Yes it was hot and crowded but I couldn’t stop thinking how cool this place is. I recommend making it part of your Turkey itinerary. And I love how every fellow Canadian just says “It looks like snow!”