Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hieropolis and Pamukkale, Turkey

The hour ferry followed by a 6 hour bus ride from Bodrum to Danizli made for a long day. The bus stopped every hour and each stop was at least 15 minutes. By the third stop I was getting frustrated. I wanted to scream! Why was this bugging me so much? I knew it was all the long stops an I just wanted to arrive in Denzili and get the dolmus (minivan bus) to Pamakkale. I arrived in at 5:45 PM. It had been a long day of travel from the island of Kos. I needed a drink and was ecstatic when the owner of Ozbay Guesthouse, Öner, brought me a complimentary glass if wine. Yay! It tasted so good! A hot dinner and I was ready for bed. But, Öner  talked me into an evening walk to see the Nature park in the evening.
I returned to the hotel cold and tired and went straight to my room. Luckily, it was cozy and I slept well.

The next morning, I went to explore the ancient ruins of Heiropolis and the Pamukkale pools. Öner offered to give me a motorbike ride to the top and then told me to walk back down the hill through the turquoise travertines. I jumped off his bike and waved goodbye as I made my way to the ruins. The city was destroyed years ago by an earthquake. Restoration work was ongoing and the theater was amazing. 
I explored the ruins of the north gate and enjoyed the views. On this trip I have grown to love the peacefulness of exploring an area solo. It is just me with my thoughts and the sound of nature.  
 I also explored the sarcophagus surrounded by flowers or resting in dried travertines. 
Then I decided to be a tourist and go for a swim at Cleopatra's Pool. Why not? It supposedly makes you look 20 years younger and it is cheaper than Botox!
The spring filled pool was warm but crowded with tourists. I looked around and realized whoa! I could wear a bikini in this crowd. I saw tummy fat everywhere and wondered why is it that Americans feel so ashamed by any fat bulge but Europeans embrace it and put it out there? Are out body images that much worse? I have found that European men are more appreciative of my curves and like a little more voluptuous woman. I love the attention and the fact that they are willing to wine and dine women still. Don't get me wrong, they are talkers and I have met my share of Casanovas but they are handsome here in Turkey!

After soaking in the warm hot springs and enjoying the people watching, I dried off and changed my clothes for the walk down the Pamukkale travertines or the "Cotton Castle". The travertine terraces were formed by hot water that is 320 meters from the terraces. The water falls into terraces and forms the travertines. This water comes out at 35.6°C and contains high concentrations of calcium carbonate. Over time, the formation gets stronger and forms the travertine terraces. It is a stunning sight.

I continued the walk down the hill to the Ozbay Guesthouse. I realized I had been gone all day and it was 4:00 PM. I was hungry. I sat down at the restaurant and ordered a glass if wine and dinner. That was when I met Shannon, a young Canadian woman traveling that has stayed and worked at Ozbay Guesthouse  for the last 3 months. We laughed and bonded immediately. We enjoyed some drinks and wine with the guys and decided we would go to the Red Rock Springs tomorrow.

The next morning was a special day at Ozbay Guesthouse. Their father had died over the summer and according to Islam and Turkish tradition, the family provides lunch for the entire town 52 days after his death. It was a time for remembrance of their father and thanks to the community. Öner and his brothers invited all of his guests to the lunch. I walked over to the open park and he told me to find a seat while he got me a meal. I noticed the men and women were sitting separate so I followed suit by sitting with the women and girls. An older woman immediately brought me a bottle of water and a meal. I thanked her and started to eat. The young girls practiced their English with me and attempted to teach me Turkish. Everyone laughed a I slaughtered the language and could not remember all of the words they taught me. The girls explained that the man was singing the Qur'an. It was beautiful. I watched and smiled to be invited and welcomed into this community event. Women came over to say hello and smile as they pinched my cheeks or touched my hair. I felt so blessed to have another experience like this during my travels. 

The next morning I got up and met Shannon for breakfast and then we took the afternoon bus to Red Rock Spring. 
We both giggled when we arrived because we expected it to be huge and it was just a small little area. We wandered the area and stuck out feet in the water with the Turkish women. 

Then we walked over to the mud bath and decided we wanted to bake in the sun with some mud. I got in the mud bath and covered myself from head to toe with the black wet mud. Then I sat baking in the warm sun. Shannon did the same. As we sat there enjoying the afternoon sun, we became the tourist attraction. Turkish families walked by and took photos of us. We giggled. Then, two old women walked up and pointed to our bucket of mud. We thought they wanted to put some on themselves. We handed them the bucket. They grabbed a pile of mud and started rubbing it on us. What a surprise! They giggled as much as we did. We were so thick with mud that I knew it would take some work to wash it off. I walked over to the shower and started scrubbing my body. When I was mostly clean, I walked over to the hot spring pool to soak. I stepped on the first step and about wiped out. I decided immediately to sit down and slide into the pool. The heat was fantastic. I soaked until the man came to get me for my massage. I love spas am have tried one in all of the countries I have visited. I consider myself an expert on the art of relaxation. This massage was different. I was told to remove all my clothes and lie face down. There was no sheet or dry towel so I covered myself with my wet towel. I lay face down as instructed. I heard someone walk in and his deep voice. He removed my towel and put it to the side. Brrrr! I was shivering and cold! I asked for a dry towel but he did not understand English. I was shivering and had goose bumps. A few minutes into it he grabbed a towel. Thank goodness! But it got taken away when he had me turn over. I asked for it back but he didn't understand. Or pretended to not understand. I was not certain which. I was trying to relax but I was so cold. Then he started to massage my boobs! I wasn't sure if he was just feeling me up or this was how they did massages in Turkey. I started to laugh. I was too cold and it was just odd. I shook my head no and covered my boobs. I was going to have to compare notes with Shannon. Otherwise, the massage was uneventful. When I finished, I was offered tea and a heater to warm up. Shannon decided not to get a massage so I still did not know if that was normal. We took the dolmus back to Ozbay Guesthouse and sat down with other travelers to chat. I loved my time at Ozbay. We laughed and relaxed. I was tired from the fast paced travel of the first 7 months and could tell I was really slowing down. The staff and owners at Ozbay talked me into staying an extra day, I did. I decided to get a flight back to Istanbul to meet my mom and see Ephesus when I travel with her. 

My last day was spent laughing and chatting with all of the local people. I was relaxed and happy. The family included my in their delicious evening meal of grilled fish. Mmmmm! It was a fantastic time with with the laughter of new friends in Pamukkale. I said goodbye with a heavy heart and waved to everyone as my bus pulled away. 
On the bus to the airport,  I met three Malaysian women traveling Turkey. They asked about my trip and were excited when I told them I had spent time in Malaysia. They were so funny and sweet. I laughed as one of the women told me about the handsome Turkish men she had met and how she was sad to be returning home. We giggled and laughed like only women do with old friends. Then they asked me a question that saddened me. They asked if all Americans hate Muslims. I explained that was not true. There are people in America that live in fear and propaganda but not everyone is that way. The three of them wanted badly to travel to America and their eyes lit up as they talked about cities and sites they would like to see. They were afraid to do so because the wear head scarves and had heard how badly Muslims are treated in America. I was sad. I am not preaching but I want to remind everyone that what a few people do does not make everyone from that group bad or terrorists. Be open and learn about other religions and understand extremist groups exist in all races, religions and political groups. That small portion is not everyone. Take a moment and open yourself up to the different cultures, races and religions and find the positives. Welcome others of all backgrounds into your life. Please. I promise you will gain much more than you ever expected. The world is small and we are all much more alike than we are different.

1 comment:

  1. Hi , It looks like ice but it is not . Its really amazing place . Thanks for sharing these outstanding pictures . Turkey Tours Packages from India