Pamukkale (Pa-MOOK-ka-leh) is about three hours away from Kusadasi which is famous for its calcium carbonate mountains. The thermal water comes up and deposits the calcium on the hills, creating pools of spring water of 35C or 95F. The “terraces” allow you to wade into the pools and allow the mineral-filled water to cure whatever ails you.
Next was a bite of early lunch to sample the typical fare of this region. The pide is a pizza-like dish with the crust shaped like a two-ended boat bow filled with ground beef, cheese, and mushrooms. We hadn’t seen this anywhere else so far. The Turkish family next to us were eating this country’s version of pita bread but we didn’t see any in any of our travels anywhere else. There was enough to pack up and take with us for the end of the day.
People come from all over Turkey and Europe to gain the benefits of this World Heritage Site from UNESCO. From the terraces, we drove another 10 minutes to Hierapolis, an ancient city that hosts the biggest necropolis (cemetery) in Anatolia. It also has an incredible theater, not unlike the one at Ephesus, more preserved but a little smaller. The Ephesus one is viewed from the bottom, while this one is viewed from the top looking down. the acoustics are amazing, so you can see and hear why it was the perfect venue for theater and later for gladiator fighting. The sound of yelling and clapping must have been overwhelming.
We donned our bathing suits and ventured into the pool, walking on small pebbles, which was strange. when you get closer to the larger pool, you have to navigate around the Roman ruins that are hidden just below the shallow water. We met two petroleum engineers from Iraq who drove down just for this experience. It took 30 hours of driving, switching off drivers on the way. They met in grad school in the UK, so their English was excellent and they were fun to talk with.
Time to dry off and head to our driver, who was taking us to Fethiye to meet our sailboat tomorrow. We opted for a private driver rather than taking the public bus to save 1.5 hours of driving. Three hours later, we were happily ensconced in our lovely hotel just across from the dock. We enjoyed a beer on the roof-top restaurant deck, looking out at the lights of the city and the many boats awaiting their passengers in the morning.
The view looked just like Puerto Vallarta. Except for the cruise boats that said they were going to Rhodes or Samos, Greece daily, you wouldn’t know the difference. We were tired from the drive and ready for some peaceful sleep.