Turkey 27: Pamukkale

It was thirty degrees out today, and the best frame of reference I had for what I was seeing was Alaska.

When I worked for Royal Caribbean, I was able to do an Alaska run and saw a whole lot of ice.  Glaciers, big, white and blue, spreading across mountains and into the sea.  Beautiful white mounds that defy belief with their sheer size.

That’s what Pamukkale reminded me of.

It’s known as the “Cotton Castle” in Turkey and, yes, I did see “100% Pamuk” on a towel, and Kale does make up the word “Kalesi”, which is castle, so it’s a literal translation.   Hieropolis, at its top, was founded in the 2nd century BC and was known as an ancient curative centre.  In fact, if you shell out the extra lira (32!) to go for a swim in the Sacred Pool, you’re being exposed to minerals that, according to the signs, can help cure anything from respiratory infections to foot issues.  The site contains a toxic spring at the Temple of Apollo, where small animals were gassed by priests as sacrifice, and a wonderfully restored theatre. 

The walk up the hill, though, is the definite highlight.  It’s white on white on white, absolutely beautiful, looking like the mountain was just covered in fresh snow, an interesting visual as Russian tourists waddle uphill in their Speedos (I spoke too soon yesterday).  It’s muddy with white clay in some places and there are plenty of travertines where you can take a dip.  Granted, these ones have been made by the Turks for the tourists, but it doesn’t diminish from the magic of the place.

Tomorrow morning, we’re up early to fly to where this all started, Istanbul.  Daina’s leg of the trip is winding down, so we’ll just be KBackpacks for a few days afterwards. 

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