Pammukale, Heiropolis, Kaputas, & Kas

Trip Start Jun 08, 2011
Trip End Jun 19, 2011

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Pammukkale & Heiropolis

Flag of Turkey  , Antalya,
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

"You have to be kidding me...close the curtains and quit making noise." - me at 6:45 this morning...Heather popped out of bed because she went to sleep at like 11. I'm like a crack addict coming off a binge every morning, total zombie trying to drag myself to the shower to wake up. The Turkish coffee at breakfast is some good go-juice to jump start my day though. Another good wake up was the dung smell outside the hotel. Heather and I had a lively debate on whether it was cows or goats that the smell belonged to...we didn't go check but I think she was right with the goats. But in all honesty, it wasn't overpoweringly strong and for some Rodeo Houston fans it was standard fare.

Things we leaned about Turkey today:
-There are tons of stray dogs and cats. The animal activists in Turkey pick the stray dogs up and get them their shots and check them out for diseases, if they aren't adopted in a week they turn them loose to be strays again but with a tag on their ear to show they have their shots…
-The stray cats are centered around restaurants, particularly the open area street side variety that Heather and I frequent. Cats are nasty, filthy creatures.
-The words "meat" and “lamb” are 100% interchangeable in Turkey. If you order something in Turkey “with meat” or “meat doner” or “meat pide” it really means, “with lamb, lamb doner, and lamb pide.

Arrived at the South gate of Pamukkale right at 9am (even though it is open at sunrise) to find tour buses already pulling out and leaving! Come to find out, they drive in the night before like us and stay in a hotel and hit the site at the crack of dawn (discovered this on the drive to Kas late in the afternoon). So yea, there were 8 tour buses at the South gate when we got there. The place is huge so we actually didn't see anyone for at least the first 10 minutes of walking. The travertines are simply amazing, no other way to describe it, no other place on Earth looks like this, and the scale is mind blowing. They have documented settlements around the area dating back 3000 years...people have been drawn to this natural wonder for a long time. Anyhow, so a bunch of hotels ruined it for everyone else back in the late 80's so now all the naturally occuring pools are shut off to foot traffic and you can only explore the man made ones; however, there isn't a real big difference in general appearance. Its still calcium covered rock or cement in the case of the man made ones. Its probably for the better though, I wouldn't trust all the speedo clad Russian men not to smear their butt juices on the stone and mess it least this way its man made so its not a huge loss if they damage it. In 2+ hours on the travertines we didn't hear one other person speaking English as their first language. Tons of Russians, Germans, a few other non-English speaking European folks, and of course the Japanese.

The next stop was the thermal baths at the top of the hill inside the Heiropolis ruins. Cleopatra used to swim here. An earthquake or 2 came along sometime between then and now and dumped the columns into the water, or so the story goes. I'm thinking there was just one in the water and someone thought they could make some money by selling $25 TL tickets to each person that wanted to swim in the pool...all they'd have to do is attract the people by pushing the rest of the columns in the water, then arranging them nicely and lining the bottom of the pool with pea gravel so it didn't hurt their feet. But hey, who am I kidding, I wish I was sitting on this gold mine. All those Russians and Europeans eat the pool up when they get off the baking white hot Pamukkale at lunch time. We timed it just right by getting in the pool around 11 am and out by 11:30. Heather spent most of the time sitting up on a rock with nothing but her ankles and butt in the water because its about 100 to 104 degrees. We found the first free thing in Turkey, the lockers at the pool, we were amazed.

Over breakfast Heather told me of a dream she had last night about a flying magic carpet. Between the pool and the lockers, sure enough, there is a guy with a green screen and a carpet that you can pay $30 TL to make your own flying carpet movie. Heather said it was a sign, I said it was a rip off.

Heiropolis has one of the best Roman ampitheaters in all of Turkey, but the path to it is a decent walk in the other direction of our car plus it was swarming with people so I settled for some telephoto lens shots of it…there is another one at Patara. On the way out we found the ancient gym which only consisted of a couple knee high walls and a few columns they have re-erected, but we snapped a couple cool photos.

We passed on the overpriced tourist food sold around the pool area and loaded up in the car to start our trek to Kas, on the way out of the parking lot and the surrounding roads we counted no less than 50 tourist buses. Saw a camel at the bottom of the hill.

The drive to Kas is supposed to take 4 hours according to the GPS and the guide book…I did it in 2. Really I’m kinda pissed at the guide book, they talk about the roads and how the signage is bad and they may be dangerous. We’ve had absolutely no need for our GPS, infact it’s a good thing because the goofy thing won’t stay in the cigarette lighter and the battery is run down…waste of money, the road signage is Turkey is superb, its on par with anything in the US. There are very few cars on the roads because gas is $3.50/liter which is something like $9 or $10 a gallon. Heather slept the first half the drive so I had an opportunity to find out how fast the car would go, 160kmph is all I could find road for it to do, but I think that is pretty close to topped out. The biggest road we’ve seen so far is 3 lanes so 90+mph feels a lot faster than it does on a 6 lane highway in Texas.

We took the “short cut” to Kas by bypassing Fethiye and it supposedly saved us 25 km’s, but I’m doubtful that it was faster, just shorter. It is definetly the scenic route though. It’s the road that takes you to Sakelient Gorge, and the other side of the road from there is like the lost road of Turkey that no tourist has probably been done in 3 years. This thing takes you through some mountain dirt roads with no guardrails peering over the edge of a 900’ cliff…pretty amazing. But the coolest thing about the detour is that we stumbled upon Gakilent Canyon. There is a little gravel road and a small sign with a picture of a waterfall. Heather gets full credit for this discovery, she said lets go check it out…so we did. After about a mile drive done this white gravel road twisting through farms and past houses it opened up on to a big black canvas tent and parking area. No cars in the lot, and certainly no tour buses. A guy with decent English approaches us and I question him about what this is and how much it costs. “3 lira to park car, water fly is free” he says. I’m thinking, what the hell is a water fly? Come to find out he was trying to say water fall. So we give him 3 lira, strap on our water shoes, and take off down the path. It’s a self guided trip to the waterfall normally, but for some reason one of the guys came with us, Mamet. Turns out to be a very nice dude about our age and he has decent English. He led Heather the whole way and probably knocked 30 minutes off our trip time because we didn’t have to scope out the path through the river, he knew each step. Its about a half mile up the river to the waterfall and the path is 90% through the water, over boulders, up small rapids and around fallen trees. Its fairly hot and humid down in the canyon, which is about 30 to 50 deep throughout. So by the time you get to the waterfall, you’ve worked up a decent sweat, but you’ve only gotten wet to mid shin if you have done it right. The water is freezing, but amazingly refreshing after the steamy walk. We jumped in the waterfall, took a bunch of photos and hung around for about 15 minutes before heading back down stream. The return trip is obviously a lot quicker. Back at the top of the hill we got a couple of waters and hung out on some tree house platforms that they had just built. Turns out the place has only been open for 20 days…no wonder there are no tour buses yet!!! We gave Mamet a $20 TL tip for being such a great guide and he was genuinely surprised, he didn’t expect a tip! We were floored.

Back on the road we finally made it to the coastal road and saw the Mediterranean Sea again…oh how blue you are. We quickly arrived at Kaputas Beach and went down the nice set of stairs to enjoy the last rays of sun. Heather is in love, except for the pebbles, I think they are great, they don’t get all up in your creaveses like sand does, they don’t stick to you, they don’t get into your clothes and bags, they don’t gum up your camera lens, etc. Just nice round pebbles that you can easily brush off…I’m in love, with this beach, and Heather of course. J

As the sun was starting to set, we arrived in Kas and our Hotel. Hotel Begonvil. Its beautiful from the outside, the inside is nice, and it looks fairly new. The bed sucks…we have 2 singles, “I push together for you for big bed” said the front desk worker. It has a fitted sheet, but only some double thick sheet to sleep under, not even a blanket. Its hard as a rock, the pillow is harder…maybe like steel? The room does have a great sea view though. We changed and headed down to the square for dinner. We are very turned off by the aggressive sales techniques of the restaurants. They pay someone to stand out front and try to entice you to come in…Turks like pizza (pide) and their favorite lines seems to be “we have wood burning brick oven, no one else does, we have the best pide in town.” I think my response to the next one is going to be, “dude, I’ve seen the same damn brick oven in every restaurant in this whole country. We’ve had the pizza in at least 3 different places, and it ain’t that good. In fact, I could go for some Centercourt Pizza about right now.” In all honesty, their pizza is very good, its just different than ours. We decide we both like this town, its quaint but lively at the same time. We have dinner overlooking the main square. Its 11:30 when we finish, but we’re amazed to see 20 Turkish kids still playing soccer, riding bikes, and helping their folks in the stores or restaurants..they have school tomorrow. But apparently it’s the last week of school so no one really cares.
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