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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The White Wall at the end of Turkey

June 29, 2011

What are the odds that I am reading the first Game of Thrones book and today I encounter the White Wall? Not nearly as big as in the book and also not made of ice but it looked similar.

This morning we woke up and headed to the Pamukkale travertines which officially are my favorite thing from my trip to Turkey. The name Pamukkale means "cotton castle" in Turkish, which is a perfect name considering this valley of white stretches across and up to tower over the town. The travertines are thus named because of the calcium carbonate rock sediment from which they are created. When you walk in the pools it feels like slimey chalk while on the harder ridges it feels like soft stone. By the time you reach the top of the travertine staircase your feet are super soft from the mineral water (you are forbidden to wear shoes in an effort to keep them white). It really does look as though the end of the world exists on the other side.

Instead the top or "other side" of the travertines to covered by the ruins of the Greco-Roman city, Hierapolis. Hierapolis means "holy city" and was erected in the 2nd century as a place for Roman to visit to to heal their ailments in the mineral springs. The ruins contain two well preserved outer walls, a latrine, an agora, a cathedral, and the Martyrion of St. Philippe one of the twelve apostles. The Martyrion, the agora and the latrine were by far the coolest sites. The farthest reaches of the area are taken up by a massive necropolis of ruined tombs, some of which still bare the names of those who were buried inside.

As a side note it costs 20 lira per person to walk the travertines and visit Heirapolis. In addition you can pay to visit the museum at the top (pretty much worthless) and pay to swim in the mineral springs (25 lira per person). Since you can eat, wander, and suntan in the mineral spring area we didn't bother paying to swim. It was SO hot swimming in hot water didn't sound that appealing anyway. The doner sandwich I ordered on the other hand was extremely appealing. The best part about lunch was watching this monitor that showcased tourists who had paid to star in a DVD of them dancing on a flying carpet that flies over all the sites. After filming you can obviously pay to take this DVD with you. My mom was all about it but I refused to be ridiculed in front of the entire swimming area.

We had arrived at the base of the travertines at 9am and it was now 4pm and we were burned to a crisp so we headed back to the hotel. My mom went up for a nap while I attempted to cool my sunburn in the freezing pool water. As I sat there treading water the cousin of the hotel owner came by and mirthlessly started flirting with me. He more or less asked if my mom "would let" go out tonight. Luckily my mom walked up right after he popped the question I was able to redirect the conversation. Phew!

A bottle of wine and some Turkish dancing later my mom and I headed up to shower. I should take this time to tell you a little more about our hotel, The Melrose House. It is AMAZING. The room is large with a terrace and the downstairs pool/restaurant area is so homey. This is an inside joke because my mom was reading the hotel brochure in the lobby and it said "we welcome you to our homely hotel." She pointed out to the staff that this was not what they meant to say. It was pretty funny. I wish that we were staying here longer just so I could hang out at this hotel.

For dinner my mom and I walked into town mostly because we were bored. Once you've seen the travertines and Heirapolis there isn't too much more to look at. Maybe I'm glad we are only here one full day afterall. We dined at Kayas which feels more like a Jamaican bar then a Turkish restaurant. We had spaghetti and salad which were fine but not great. Mostly we just watch Akilli TV, a Turkish show of hilarious, dangerous and ridiculous YouTube-like videos. Mostly it was llamas eating hair, semi trucks crashing and bikers doing stunts. There was even a photo of a girl on the beach smiling in the foreground as a shark is leaping out of the water in the background about to swallow a man on the beach.

We headed back to the hotel around 11pm. It was kind of scary since every car slowed to stare at us filled with men and every bar we passed we could feel heavy, drunk eyes staring. But we made it back safely and locked the doors before passing out.

June 29, 2011

Today is essentially my last day in Turkey as we head back to Istanbul and then I head on to Greece while my mom flies home to the States. I spent most of the afternoon sunbathing and reading Book Two of Game of Thrones while the backs of my legs cooled from the massive sunburn I'd gotten yesterday. The one place I didn't put sunscreen!!! Odds this is my last post before Greece as we are leaving on a night flight to Istanbul tonight and then leave early for Greece tomorrow morning.


  1. We only had six hours at Pamukkale (Hierapolis) so when we arrived it was decided that two hours would be spent in Cleopatra’s pool. This is a large pool with shallow spots and five meter deep parts, the pool is about 35C with Roman columns within it. I have never in life experienced anything like this before and recommend that everybody does go in the pool. Note there is an additional charge of about £10 GBP, which is worth every penny Some time should be saved for the rest of the Hierapolis and the massive theatre, also the St. Philips Martyrium is well worth a hike up the hill. We spent the remainder of our time at the travertine’s which will also be very memorable, I recommend walking to the bottom of the hill to get photos of the pure white travertine’s and I found it was a pleasurable experience to be away from the thousands of people.

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