Monday, 30 May 2011

Pamukkale and Heiropolis Turkey

Olympos concluded my south coast of Turkey tour.. I continued east to the city of Antalya, and then made my way inland to Pamukkale.. Another great spot recommended by my great Turkish advisor, Robert from  If you've never heard of Pamukkale like me, it is actually one of the most unique places to visit in this country.  But why haven't I heard of these things???  Every country is full of surprises..

Riding into town, this is what I saw, and whipped out the camera!

Looks so much like snow and ice.. but it's not!  It's quite simply loads of calcium that comes from below the earths surface, via 33C degree water (which felt really nice on a cool day).. and deposits itself on the outside, here.

They don't allow you to walk here with shoes on for protection of the deposits.. but I thought it was cool that you can walk on it at all!  It looks so soft and fragile to me.

Once on the surface, I could feel how strong it is, strange yet quite nice, like a massage on the feet.

As I made my way to the top, the rain started kicking in fairly well.  Bummer, I really wanted to spend more time here.. my feet already wet, why not let the rest be too.  Everything seems suddenly very blue....

However, the rain got too heavy and crazy to enjoy anything, so both me and my new friend decide to go elsewhere.. 

It's only about 10 in the morning now and I had already intended to stay the night here.  So I went back to get something to eat and by afternoon, the weather came good again.

Let's give this another try!

Ahhhhhh it's like being in a natural day spa.  Still have my warm winter clothes on as it's really chilly in Turkey, while the countries to the north are experiencing warm summer weather..isn't that a bit backwards? Aw well, the warm water was perfect.

So I wander to the top of the Travertine Terraces they call them,  and I see this massive ancient city of ruins there, Heiropolis.  A Greco-Roman city, from here it appears to be the size of any large town..  So when I looked at it at first, I thought it was far too much to walk around all those streets as it's getting so late in the day.

However, my feet led me a little way in and that's all it took.. That need to explore every nook and cranny.

I can't believe I really have this entire city to myself.. My imagination is going wild!!

This is the main street, running north to south right up to the Travertine Terraces (Pamukkale).. They believe the city was founded as a healing center to take advantage of the thermal pools.

These columns and super huge stones are part of the city's entrance called the "Roman Gate".

After climbing the big hill surrounding the city, I just wanted to sit and think and ponder what the heck this place must have been like..

I found this nice spot.. wonder what it is (or was), part of a house, shop, church?  But it was calling me to sit right here.. ;-)

There is not a soul around here!  No complaints, but it's a bit eery as well..  On the other hand, I felt really at home and comfortable which I thought was really strange at the time.

Didn't help that I found my way into a graveyard.

Again, didn't bother much really.  I am the first one to be far too scared to be wandering around a graveyard by myself at dusk..  However, all the lids were off the 1200 tombs and sarcophogi.  So! Since everybody has clearly "moved on".. what's there to worry about! '-)  I now know it's called Necropolis and it's the largest mass graveyard found in Turkey.  Which makes me wonder.. were these healing waters NOT doing their job???

This place just blew me away, as you might gather from the amount of photos I am including here.. After visiting many other sites in the last couple weeks (Delphos, Ephesus, Xanthos, Olympos), this one is really getting to me, and actually feel a bit emotional as I explore.

This is St. Philip, the most important Christian cult building at Heiropolis, as they call it.  Built around the 5th century AD. They used the number 8 as it's base logic, finished by a large wooden dome.  Eight rectangular central rooms surrounded by an additional 32 rooms, all bearing the Christian symbols and most likely the resting place of the Apostle Philip.

It's interesting and seems that I've noticed now that I've visited a few sites, these cities start off being Hellenistic, then Roman and eventually Christian.  But seems to finally "fall" completely at the hands of Mother Earth (Earthquake).. Heiropolis had a couple big earthquakes, but the last one in 1354 brought it down completely..  So who is the most powerful ruler of all!? 

It's really getting late.. I best make my way down the hill, across the deposits of Pamukkale (only way down is to take shoes off and go back the way I came.. another spa opportunity!).

Back at the small hotel, I sit down for a small meal made by the owners wife.  A German man comes over to speak to me, and he remembers seeing me a few days earlier on the coast near Kas, taking photos, and I remember him too as he pulled in with his car to use the same spot to get his photos!  He and wife were fun to talk to, and then I hear an American voice say.. "Hey, I know you!!!"  I turn around and can you believe it was the Professor I met at Delphi Greece???  In one sitting, and proof of just what an incredibly small world it is, there are two people within a couple feet of me whom I've met before - a very long way from this one little hotel in middle Turkey. There are many hotels to choose from in Pamukkale, so how do we all pick the same?  Life.. in general.. amazes me.. ;-)

There you go.. sorry it was so full this time and a complete account of my day from start to finish.. see you next time!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Olympos and the Eternal Flame

I was told of a sunken city in the nearby area of Kekova, and wanted to check it out.

It was a small city that used to be part of the mainland until a huge earthquake tore it apart which resulted in becoming an island instead.

However!  When I found this beautiful place tucked well into the bush and seaside, I found where all the tour buses are hiding out.. again!   I honestly didn't realize Turkey was so far up on the hot destinations lists!!  However, being here now, I totally understand why!

I park the bike and immediately a guy tries to sell me a spot on a boat for 70 Euro (98 USD!!)  No way.. I'll just have a look then from the shore.. then he comes back and drops to 55 Euro.. Still not in my budget, sorry.  A walk around while having a look at other possibilities to get to see the underwater stuff.. and another guy comes along for 40 Euro.. Well, we're getting better, but I am still not up for 56 USD for a one hour tour.

I give up and get a cold drink instead while busloads of tourists board their various pre-sold boats.

Eventually, the first guy comes running up to me.. "10 Euro, 10 Euro!!!"  I'm like, "Really?''  He says, yes, but I have to come now!

Anyway, in a panic, we go running down the jetty and jump on the boat as it's pulling away.. just like in the movies!

I was quite embarrassed as I was full dress in my riders suit, big heavy clunky boots making all the noise on board.. so I hung out below to watch through the glass bottom boat, as mostly American tourists were upstairs on sundeck.

Here at the city, you can see from the boat where and old roof line is.

Steps leading down..

While on board, an American lady comes down and strikes up a conversation with me.. needed to explain the gear I'm wearing etc.. She and her family live permanently in Italy, but they are here on holiday.

After a good long chat, she goes back upstairs to her family.. brings all of them down to meet me and.... gives me money!  I couldn't believe it!  There was no conversation about lack of funds, etc.  They just wanted to do it.. I was embarrassed!  It's a hard line of what to except or refuse and which choice might offend. But to this day, the thought that they would do this completely flabbergasts me!

Here they are.. good looking family!

So while disembarking the boat, I was thanking them again, and they asked, "So how much did this cost you?"  I said "Not much",  and the guy is waiting for his 10 Euro.. The kind husband pipes up and says to the Turkish captain, "Look, she is traveling the world, can she get away with 5 Euro? (7 USD).. They said yes, can you believe! (I'm about to fall over here..) And then the husband gives them the 5!!  Gee Whiz!!  How do I get so lucky to meet the most amazing people on the planet - DAILY!!  So from 70 Euro to Free.. totally unbelievable..

(This is the Turkish salesman, taken after the tour)

Well,  I didn't get too far down the coast today.. Ruud,  the tall young yellow Dutchman - as most young guys, is really good at computer stuff (I am not!), and with my gps not working in this country, he thinks he has a map and solution to upload for me.  So I head back to Kas, and meet with him in the place he is staying from "couchsurfing".  I have heard of couchsurfing before, just have never signed up or used myself. (In case you haven't heard of, it's a huge website containing generous people from all over the world offering their "couch" to travelers. A VERY economical way to travel).

Ruud has been traveling around Europe for almost one year on his super cool tall yellow bike, which completely matches the super cool tall yellow rider.. ;-)

On this night, he organizes for me to stay here,  as there is an available couch for me.. yay! (I feel really young!  This place reminds me of my college days!)

The gps project took quite a bit longer than even he expected, but not being one to give up, he made it work.. thank goodness.  Much appreciated and used well during the rest of my time in Turkey!

The next morning (late morning) before I go, our host organizes for us a homemade Turkish dish called Menemen.

Aren't they cute!

Really good guys.. super tasty, and it really filled the hole in my stomach well..

Thanks again for another place to sleep, another great meal.. I literally can't believe even STILL all the generous people on this journey.. my biggest discovery so far..

Now, it's time to make my way to Olympos.. really looking forward to the next stop!

Olympos is another Hellenistic city with it's fair share of tragedy.  So interesting that it's located right on coastal beach, it made for one of the most unique experiences of ancient history I've seen so far!  I can only imagine how they lived their lives on the sea.  Sounds like a beautiful life until you know that this city was constantly rampaged and taken over by Pirates, and eventually the Romans too..  Can't we all just get along???  There was probably an earthquake in there too, as Kekova, the last city I showed not far down the coast, fell to this demise..

Above are the Roman Baths along the river.

Below, an old tile floor from a building well tucked away in the bushes.. incredible..

Here is an old Sarcophogus from a ship captain, just as you enter the city from the beach.. on the right side is an epitath and the translation of which is:

"The Ship is entered and anchored in the last port, for not to go out anymore.  Because there is no more benefit from the wind or the day light.  After leaving the morning twilight the Captain Eudemos, buried there his short lived ship like a broken wave."

He must have been such an important man..

That was just amazing to walk through this old city.. as always, I really wish I could step back in time and walk it during the best days.  I also think it would be great to come back to NOW from 2000 years in the future, to see which cities/buildings are left behind from what we build today.. would they be sooo interesting? I make my way on to the beach.. where I can enjoy some good weather, the lapping waves and stare at the ruins at the same time letting my imagination go wild.

Geez, I like it here...  I could easily stay several days to soak up some sun and stroll through an ancient city whenever I felt like it.

Also near Olympus is a most unusual, mysterious and I'd say spiritual place called Chimaera. At this place are eternal flames coming out of the mountain.  I'm just wondering what the early settlers must have been thinking to see fire coming out of the earth constantly and what stories they would have made up to explain it.

Chemical analysis shows that it's methane gas. Some historic writers have mentioned these flames since the 4th century BC!  They also have been a big help to sailors in the past, as they used the flames similar to a lighthouse while they sailed along this coast at night. Pretty darn cool, and I had never heard of such a place like this before.. I should look that up if there are more "Chimaera's" on the planet, there must be?

It's a 1 km hike up the hill to visit, and I did so in my riding suit.. Left the boots behind.. but a great opportunity to get some morning exercise before I hit the road.  However, looking a bit rough in this photo, very hot and sweaty from the hike.

And since I have been more exploring in this post than riding a motorcycle, here is my one and only obligatory moto photo for the day waiting for me patiently to return from the flames... alive!!

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