Pammukale Saunter

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Saturday, September 2, 2006

The sun was setting as we approached the shimmering white of the Travertens, seen from a distance as we headed to our hotel. It had been a long drive from Konya but I was not going to let that stop me get my sunset shots at the Travertens.

Pretending to my childhood hero Spiderman, I made my way down gingerly to some of the best formations, pausing every now and then to make sure I wasn't caught by the patrolling wardens. It wasn't an easy task as some sections were quite steep but I wasn't to be denied. Somehow the reflection of the fading sky in the traverten pools gave off a unique shade of baby blue, and in the distance an incandescent orange glow followed the descent of the sun.

Back in the hotel, there was still enough time also for a welcome dip in a Jacuzzi, before dinner by the this point I could have easily paid 10 Euro for a bowl of hot spicy noodles but alas, where is the Ramen dispensing machine when you need one!?

The ruins of the ancient city Hierapolis (or Greek for Holy City) were bathed in a lovely orange glow the next morning. Stepping through the ruined marble arches and columns, it was easy to imagine how this was once a bustling city with day spas for the rich and famous. Since the pace of life was much slower then, I imagined baths and massages must have been all day long urgent phone calls, no emails, no sms's, no laptops; no wonder many people moved here to retire and spend their last few days soaking up the atmosphere!

Indeed the Hierapolis is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and I found it to be a fitting title when I made the early morning climb up to the well restored and almost intact amphitheatre, making sure I didn't walk a straight line so as to dodge the hordes of postcard touts and knick knack sellers. From the top you have a commanding view of the countryside and its surrounds, and on a clear and moonlit night watching a play here would have been even more romantic than any drive in theatre.

A pool filled with broken columns was also open to the public (for a small fee) and was one of the main attractions of the Hierapolis. People of every age and sex, size and colour were having a soak in it, some pretending to be ancient gods and goddesses with their well sculptured bodies and others hiding in the corners trying not to get their fats noticed. Not wanting to fall into the latter category, I made my way back to the travertens for more pics and after sprinting through the Hierapolis Museum at breakneck speed we were off to visit the ancient city of Aphrodisias, named after none other than Aphrodite, the Goddess of Luuurve, who according to legend is the most beautiful woman of all time (sorry Britney!).

A key feature of the city is the temple of Aphrodite, with its monumental columns, and the well preserved stadium, much like the early Olympic Stadium in Greece. Sculpture lovers would be captivated by the museum of Aphrodite, situated at the entrance to the ruins, where I came across a bust of my high school arch nemesis...the great Mr Pythagoreas.

After a full day of ruins, it was off on another long drive to catch some sun, sand and the sea.
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