Ghost Cities – Pamukkale

4th July 2006

We got up the next day and drove to the ancient city of Herapolis. It was a misty cold morning and it had rained the night before and fog hung about in the mountains which we were passing. We got to the city of Herapolis which was eerie in more ways than one. We went to the necropolis first which was huge, the cenotaphs, graves and mausoleums were the most intact I had seen. The city of Herapolis had been somewhere the Greeks had sent their terminally ill for their last hope of a cure, once they were sent there, they never returned. Hence the huge necropolis. As we walked around elderly souvenir hawkers seem to appear out of the misty mountains behind the city, selling tablecloths, tea towel and all manner of linens. These people just came from nowhere, almost appearing like ghosts from a land that time passed over without a mention, and this also made the scene quite eerie.

We then proceeded to the ancient city itself. It was wet and there were puddles everywhere, it was in much better condition than Olympia and it also looked as though it had suffered damage in an earthquake. We then got back on the bus and drove to the calcium cliffs of Pamukkale. Something I had been absolutely dying to see. We arrived and I couldn’t believe what I was looking at. The cliffs were completely covered in white rock deposited there by the volcanic vents and tepid water running over them. As I got closer, I could see that it was covered in the tiniest little frogs jumping all over the place. We took our shoes off and proceeded to walk down the cliffs. The rock hurt and it was very difficult without shoes. It was funny, because it was white I kind of expected it to be cold, like snow, but it was warm and the tepid water ran over my feet.

Cleopatras pool Pamukkale
Swimming among the ruins in Hera’s (former) sacred pool

On the way down I met a girl named Kylee, who was the girl we had spotted by the pool travelling with the elderly lady, who turned out to be her great Aunty, but who she just called Aunty. We chatted and she took my picture on the cliffs with one of the local stray dogs who were wandering around. We then climbed back up to go and see the Antiquities pool, which is also called Cleopatra’s pool, I have no idea why. It used to be the sacred pool in the temple of Hera at Herapolis, but the temple had collapsed in antiquity and now the pool contains its remains.

We reached the pool and low and behold, what did I see, but people swimming in it, amongst the ancient columns and statues. Well, I though what am I waiting for, I paid the 17 Turkish Lira, which Kylee refused to pay, it was pretty steep, but you only live once, and I got into the pool. It was like a warm bath, I only had about 15 minutes before I had to get back on the bus, so I made the most of it. Kylee took a photo of me in the pool sitting on a statues head, with beautiful pink flowers in the background. We then got back on the bus for the long drive to the ancient city of Aphrodisias.

I had a little sleep and about two hours later got off the bus at Aphrodisias. I went to loo, which had to be paid for and then to the souvenir shop and bought myself a small charm made out of a Turkish Carpet and some pretty earrings. The city of Aphrodisias was strange it looked like someone had stuffed it full of TNT and then detonated it. Everything was everywhere. The theatre was surprisingly intact, and I shocked my tour guide and everyone else when it was time to move on. They couldn’t find me; I heard them calling me and I came out from under a crack in the stage to very surprised faces. We headed to the main temple complex, the temple of Aphrodite, which was also all over the place, including some very disturbing columns which seemed to be teetering within an inch of falling over and crushing us. We walked through some baths and then to another restored temple before heading to the stadium, the largest in Anatolia.

The stadium was truly awe inspiring. It was massive and very well preserved; it even had a gladiator pit at one end and tunnels that the gladiators would have come out of into the massive theatre full of people never having seen anything like that in their lives. Kylee and I actually ventured up one of the tunnels and closed our eyes and then came out into the stadium, I imagined the stadium full of people cheering and yelling, I could almost hear it while in the tunnel. The experience took my breath away and we then did a lap of the stadium before following our guide to the site museum. The site museum was full of statues and there was one especially muscular statue, of which I took some cheeky pictures of Kylee in front of. We waited around for a bit before boarding the bus and I played with a small Turkish black and white cat. If I thought stray cats had been abundant in Greece they were rampant here.

Turkish cat
Cuddles with one of the many Turkish cats I would meet
Stage at Aphrodisias
On stage at Aphrodisias

We then headed to Kusadasi, where we would be spending two nights, it was a three-hour drive and when we got there Cam, Emily, Kylee and I decided to grab some drinks and head for the beach. We got to the beach and even though it was about 5pm and empty they still wanted to charge us for the sun loungers, so we sat on the sand. I’m not even sure what Kylee and I were drinking, it seemed like an energy drink, possibly laced with Vodka.

We sat on the beach and watched the sunset and Kylee took a few pictures of me paddling in the water with the sun setting over the Aegean behind me. They were really good pictures as by this time I had gotten really thin. We sat on the beach and talked for a while and then went back to the hotel. Out hotel was beautiful. I was staying on the 5th floor, and I had been given a double room again. I had a nice shower and a big bath. The hotel itself had a magnificent swimming pool which overlooked the town and the beach and an outside restaurant. We sat down with our tour group for dinner which was a buffet and ordered drinks which were unbelievably expensive, I think a Coke was the equivalent of about $7.00AUD.

I managed to spot some people from my Greek mainland tour across the restaurant, small world I thought. It was Yvonne and Fernando, I sat at their table and chatted to them and their tour guide Levant about their travels. Yvonne told me how much she had been enjoying Turkey and that Levant lived in the Fairy Chimneys of Cappadocia and that he was an excellent guide. I talked to them for a while and Levant offered to put all my photos onto a CD for me, so I went back to his room in the hotel with him and ended up staying there until about 1am watching history documentaries on the Hittites and the ANZAC’s. I eventually went back to my room and went to bed.

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