29 September 2003 Monday - Termessos/Hierapolis/Pamukkale - 121 Photos

Kathy and I got up early this morning so we could take a good picture of the harbor near our hotel.

Today we were just supposed to drive from Antalya to Pamukkale but shortly after we left the city, we noticed a road sign indicating another archaeology site. I asked Mete, "What's that site?" He said it was an ancient Roman city up in the mountains called Termessos. Even though it was not on our itinerary, I asked, "Can we see it?" He didn't want us to be angry, so he agreed and we turned back into the site.

Termessos wasn't on our tour, so we paid extra money to get in, but it was well worth it. We drove way up a tiny dirt road into the mountains. Halfway up, I spotted a large brownish-gray lizard on the side of the road. I yelled for Mete to stop, and he did. I grabbed my camera, jumped out of the car and took a photo. Kathy and Mete got out too. I'm not a reptile expert, so I asked Mete what it was, and he told us it was a chameleon.

I thought that was pretty cool, because I've never seen a chameleon in its natural environment before. The lizard was quick, however, and within a few seconds, he crawled up inside the car. We were in a predicament: the car was in the middle of the road, blocking any cars that wanted to enter or exit, but if we moved it, we might kill the chameleon. We looked under the car, and spotted him up inside the wheel well, which made it all the more likely to get smooched by the car as we rolled away. Mete got inside the car, put it in drive, then slowly moved the car forward, inch by inch, until the chameleon rolled out with a plop onto the road. As you know, chameleons have the remarkable ability to change their colors to match their environment, and since he had been sitting on the tire, he was almost completely black by the time he hit the road. Startled, he walked toward the roadside, and we snapped a few more photos as he headed off into the bushes.

When we got way up into the mountains, we parked the car. Then we walked a longer way up. In that respect, it reminded me of the mountaintop where Machu Picchu was located, but not quite that beautiful and not quite that high up. It was a very long and tiring walk, but it was worth it.

Unlike most of the other Roman cities, Termessos, has not been restored much, so we could walk among the ruins, seeing the stones almost right where they fell.

That's cool because we were not seeing some heavily reconstructed site, so we could imagine the day that archaeologists found the place and the wonder they beheld.

The best part was the Roman Theater at the top of the mountain. Very beautiful.

It looked like it could topple over the side of the mountain if a strong enough wind kicked up.

Not far from the theater, we discovered a series of holes in the ground. It turned out we had been walking on top of an enormous cistern with rubble at the bottom. Walking on top of it was kind of spooky, because it seemed like a very thin, fragile shell on top.

On the way down, there were many grave sites.

The scenery was extremely beautiful.

We were so enamored of the place that we explored there for three hours! That made us late for lunch and our next site, but of course, that was our fault. Poor Mete waited a long time at the car for us to return from our exploits.

After lunch, we drove by way of the Mediterranean Sea to Pamukkale, also known as Hierapolis, which was about an hour's drive. As usual, we discussed religion, politics, and told stories. Mete told us a story of one time when he gave a seventeen-day tour to an American man who was gay. Apparently, the man kept hitting on Mete, and touching him, making him very uncomfortable. He kept calling his company, asking if they could use another guide, but the answer was no. He asked for a driver, but the answer was also no. Then, when he was driving in a tunnel, Mete said that the man grabbed his penis. He was so shook up that he hit the side of the tunnel with his car and had an accident. This time, he was more insistent, but the answer was still no. Finally, he bought and donned a bunch of gauze bandages and bribed a hotel guy to say that he was hit by a car while crossing the street and had to go to the hospital. Game over! I think I would have done the same.

Also, Mete gave us his e-mail address today: metetheguide@yahoo.com

What I like most about Turkey is the variety. When we were in Greece, we saw Greek ruins. When we were in Italy, we saw Roman ruins. Egypt, Egyptian ruins. Peru, Inca ruins. Guatemala, Mayan ruins. But here in Turkey, they have lots of different ruins from lots of different civilizations. We can see ruins from the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Hittites, Ottomans, and literally hundreds of other civilizations that came and went in these lands. Very cool.

Pamukkale is another ruined Roman city.

We took lots of pictures, and they sun was at a good angle to cast everything in a golden glow.

It has a very nice and big Necropolis (graveyard)

that contains the ruins of more than 1,200 tombs.

Some of the tombs are still being excavated. At the top of a nearby hill, according to Mete, was the grave site of St. Phillip. We decided not to go up there, though.

It also has natural hot springs, which attracted settlers for literally thousands of years. Pamukkale means "Cotton Castle" and it got its name because of a large cliff that has natural calcium carbonate that gives the cliff the appearance of a snowbank.

The natural hot spring water cascades down the hill. In the recent past, hotels in the area were using the spring water and it caused the hills to become darker and darker. As a result, the government closed the hotels. Now, crowds of people file off the tour busses and walk down the ledge. We got some beautiful photos of it though.

We stayed there until sunset.

We are staying at a five-star hotel called the "Colossae Hotel Thermal." It has a natural hot-spring indoor pool where Kathy and I went swimming, after dinner. (No, we didn't swim on a full stomach. We waited an hour afterward.)  We feel a bit out of place; I think we’d be happier (and save some money) in a cheaper hotel.

Kathy says that this area has Earthquake tremors almost every day, but I haven't felt any so far. I think it would be cool to be in an Earthquake, but of course, not a dangerous one. This morning, when we were climbing on the Roman theater of Termessos would have been a bad time. It looked like even a small Earthquake would send the whole side of the theater off the side of the mountain. Tomorrow we are going to Kusadasi, where we will visit the ruined ancient town of Aphrodisias, named after the Greek goddess Aphrodite, where there is a very well-preserved stadium. In a way, I hate to be going back to the coast, because it's nice and dry here in the mountains, with low humidity. We've had wonderful weather in Turkey. I'd say we picked the perfect time to go. They say that October is rainy, so I'm glad we're here now.