Today, Thursday the 31st of October 2013, we left behind the Aegean Sea and ventured inland to a part of Turkey where the natural formations have a surreal aspect. We visited Pamukkale where the calcium-rich, thermal springs have created snow-white ledges. Naturally, the Romans turned this into a spa town (Hierapolis) and there are ruins of the baths and amphitheater. There is also a museum containing artifacts that were unearthed at this site.
You are not actually meant to bathe in the travertines, and you are forbidden from wearing footwear of any type, but lots of people were wading or even sitting in them. I suggest wearing something light with a swimsuit underneath and sandals or rubber flip flops as there is no place to change.
There is also a public bath, known as the Antique Pool or Sacred Pool, that has change rooms etc. and charges an entrance fee. There are sections of the original Roman columns in the pool.
Our tour booked us into the Hotel Lycus River which is rated 3 out of 28 hotels in the area on Trip Advisor. It had indoor and outdoor hot pools that could be used free of charge, as well as, a Turkish bath, spa, and fish spa, all for a fee. At the time, I didn’t know that Turkey knew about ‘doctor’ fish as I had only ever seen them in Asia, but the sign said they were Turkish fish. I love learning new things!
Today we visited the ruins of Ephesus, a Roman city. Our guide, Huseyin, told us that there are more Greek ruins in Turkey than in Greece, and more Roman ruins than in Italy. It would have been easy to become a little overawed by the extent of historical sites but Huseyin kept it interesting by telling us about fun facts. For instance, he told us that the toilets were like a “social club” where people met and chatted whilst going about their ‘business’. He also told us about a tunnel which leads from the library to the brothel so that husbands could suggest that their wives do some shopping whilst they did some ‘research’. I was very impressed with the Library of Celsus.
After lunch, we visited a Turkish carpet shop and a school called Carpet Weavers Center. I can not find their website so I think they may have changed their name. It was at this shop and school that I learned that it is women who make Turkish carpets and the designs are handed down from mother to daughter. We were treated to a demonstration showing how the silk thread is extracted from the cocoon and how the hand knotting is done. Claudia even tried her hand at tying a knot. After the demonstration, we were led into a big room where carpets were shown in rather dramatic fashion. Then the group was split up. This was similar to the carpet co-op in Morocco but the difference was that the Turks actually told me a starting price. I bought a very small, very beautiful silk rug.
After shopping, we went back to Kusadasi where we had the rest of the afternoon and evening free to explore. I will quote directly from my journal, “I will start this the way I start so many of my journal entries – I am sitting in a bar. I am actually on the terrace of the Akdeniz Apart Hotel in Kusadasi, Turkey. The street in front of me is populated almost entirely by tattoo parlours and Irish pubs. An Irish gentleman in the lobby informed me that Kusadasi is the home of the Irish in Turkey. I have wandered away from the tourist area in search of a coin laundry. To locate something that prosaic, one must find where real people live and shop. I have found it. I have been in Turkey for five days and, except for wandering around the garment district of Istanbul my first morning, I have only been treated to the sights that tourists come to Turkey to see. That isn’t completely true. I went to the spice market twice where the crush of Turks shopping was as authentic as the Hari Raya market in Singapore.” Wed 30 Oct 2013
Today was an even earlier start than yesterday. We began by going to nearby Troy. Huseyin told us how a German archaeologist destroyed the Troy of Homer’s Iliad because he believed it would be found in the lower layers of the site but, in fact, it was much nearer to the top. There is a replica wooden horse that you can climb inside and have your photo taken. There is also a chariot and gladiator costumes in which you can dress for a photograph that will cost you 10 TL. I must admit to being underwhelmed. I bought a tiny wooden horse and we got to watch the Brad Pitt movie ‘Troy’ on the bus.
After approximately 4 hours , we arrived in Bergama where we visited the ruins of the Pergamum Acropolis. The library of Pergamum was second only to the library in Alexandria. Pergamum was a Greek city and, in its heyday, it was home to about 200,000 people.
Our home for the next two nights was the Grand Onder Otel (this is not a spelling error, this is the Turkish spelling) in the port city of Kusadasi on the Turkish Aegean coast . This hotel ranked 64 out of 157 on Trip Advisor and has since changed its name to the Suhan Seaport Hotel.
A lot of cruise ships stop in Kusadasi and offer day trips to Ephesus which was our destination for Day Five. In the evening we strolled the streets along the port stopping at a cafe where some of our group tried shisha, the molasses-based tobacco concoction smoked in a hookah pipe.