Snowy white Cotton Castle–Pamukkale [YQrtw Day 53 May 30]

Cotton Castle--Pamukkale

Location: Pamukkale, Turkey

Pamukkale terraces

Our bus reached Pamukkale town around 6:30am. Fortunately, our hotel had a free twin room and we were allowed to check in ahead of the official timing.

We went for breakfast–half knowing that this probably wasn’t covered in our hotel charges–and ate loads of carbs to give us energy for the day. (Later, the receptionist confronted us about the breakfast. We paid 7 lira each for it.)

Originally on our itinerary, we were supposed to have a free day today and have our tour the next day. I decided that it would be too tiring for us tomorrow to finish our tour at 4pm and hop on the bus to Selçuk 30 minutes afterwards.

So I went out to ask if we could do the tour today instead. I bumped into a person who claimed to be from the travel agency–I found out much later that he wasn’t–who said we could do the tour earlier.

The man also creepily asked me to sit in an empty shop to “chat”. I gave an excuse that I need to bring the Wi-Fi password to mom so I could not stay even for 1 minute.

Later during pick up time, we were approved by the real tour company people to go on the tour today.

I’ll just skip the first two sights that we visited, although they are quite amazing on their own.

First we saw the red hot spring source. The water had a lot of iron in it so the mineral would deposit on the sand and leave red marks. The water did taste like blood, as the tour guide said, due to the iron inside.

Red hot spring

Then it was Heriapolis where we saw about 2km of stone coffins, tombs and mausoleums. We also saw the ruins of the city itself, with plenty of columns around.

I was disappointed when the tour guide told me that there were no ghost stories about the necropolis that we were walking through. I want ghost stories, please!

Tomb

Visiting the Cotton Castle

YQ in Pamukkale

The highlight of this tour was the Pamukkale terraces. The hot spring water that had much calcium in it would deposit the mineral and leave the side of the mountain looking like it was covered in snow

Pamukkale’s name is Turkish means Cotton Castle, which I think is a really cute name. Cotton Candy Castle will make it even sweeter.

Since we had 2 hours of free time, I took the opportunity to bath in one of the hot springs pool. Entrance fee was 32 lira, a little steep but I felt that it was worth it since I did not have to be in the sun. I hide in one of the shades of the flowers.

* If you want to swim in Pamukkale for free, do it in the terraces where the calcium deposits are.

The walk down from the hill top was treacherous. Mom and I had to take off our shoes so we don’t spoil the pristine white surfaces.

Water kept flowing and parts of the ground was slippery or filled with water that passes an adult’s knees. Luckily, we made it in the end without any major catastrophes. A minor bump during our walk down was when one of my shoes fell into the water.

Later in the evening, I went with the hotel shuttle bus to watch sunset on top of a mountain. There, I managed to slip on a little slope and hurt only some small parts of my hands.

More on the blog:

Last week, I was travelling from Athens, Greece, to Istanbul, Turkey, on an epic 15-hour bus ride.

Joining the ‘Green Tour’ of Cappadocia, Turkey [YQrtw Day 52 May 29]

Göreme panorama

Location: Goreme, Turkey

It’s a little funny how all the travel agents in Cappadocia have the same itinerary. (I didn’t do a scientific test but 5 out of 5 tour companies I’ve seen have the same route.)

Today was our turn to go on the “Green Tour” route which would take us to Göreme panorama, Derinkuyu underground city, Ihlara valley, Yaprakhisar, Selime monastery, Pigeon valley viewpoint.

The only thing I was expecting from this tour was the 3.5km walk in the valley. Remember, walking and I are not the best buddies so I wasn’t looking forward it to that much.

A bus full of Asians

Our minivan arrived at our hotel slightly past 9:30am. Mom and I got on the wrong bus before this so we were careful to check that this was the right bus.

The bus picked up several people from their hotels and from the travel company HQ. Interestingly, the bus was full of people with east Asian heritage (so PC!).

There were two men (who we later found out to be from Singapore), us Malaysian Chinese and 7 Korean people.

Statistically speaking, the chance of having a bus full of Asians here in Cappadocia is not that high so I wonder if someone pulled some strings, thinking we would be more comfortable with each other, or something.

So as the itinerary said, our first stop was the Göreme panorama. Panorama stops are a big thing here in Cappadocia because the landscape is pretty amazing.

Overlooking the Göreme panorama

Göreme panorama

These pointy mountains are the result of residues from volcanic eruptions. The walls of the mountains are soft, allowing the residents to cut through the stones to make cave houses for themselves.

While waiting for the bus, we spotted a pomegranate tree with baby fruits. It’s a shame that it’s not pomegranate season now because I could use some of those juicy seedy fruit.

Baby promegranate

Derinkuyu underground city

After a long journey during which I napped, we arrived at Derinkuyu underground city. We could only visit up to the 8th underground floor of this now-abandoned city but it was fun hiding inside the cool caves.

YQ in an underground city

Some of the more interesting points of the tour was the visit to the graveyard/morgue which did not have any dead things in currently.

It wasn’t very fun crouching and climbing the stairs to get to one floor or another so those with back problems should be aware of this before signing up for the tour.

Ihlara valley

Ilhara Valley

After the underground city, it was a 50-minute bus ride to the Ihlara Valley where we had to walk a lot before we could lunch.

Even though the valley was pretty, the exercise I got getting down the stairs into the valley made me a little grouchy.

Ihlara valley

At the end of the staircase was a little cave where cartoon Christian frescos remained. The paintings reminded me of this news when compared with Renaissance period Christian works.

Christian fresco in Ihlara valley

Our 3.5 km walk didn’t seem too long since there was a little river with clear water and the trees shaded us from the sun.

In between the start and the end, there was a small rest area where enterprising locals made 3 lira orange juices and boys chased ducks.

3 lira orange juice

Boy chases duck

Mom and I survived the 3.5 km walk. Everyone was treated to lunch by the river. Drinks of course require extra payment.

YQ in Iharla Valley

Yaprakhisar caves

Following our itinerary, we arrived at the Yaprakhisar caves which included the Selime Monastery. There is more than enough climbing for a lifetime at this place.

Yaprakhisar caves

One of the cave chapels still have signs of frescos but everything was covered in what looked like black soot.

Far from this location was the set for the filming of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. From where we stood, we saw pointy mountains with holes as windows and doors, but not anything more.

Surprise location

Well well well, one of our last stops turned out to be a souvenir shop that sold onyx and other jewellery.

I managed to win a low-grade onyx paperweight by remembering that Cappadocia meant “beautiful horses”. (My answer was actually, “Many horses? Beautiful horses? Strong horses?” I need to cover every possible answer.)

Onyx paperweight

Right next to the shop was our last stop: the Pigeon Valley Panorama.

Pigeon valley panorama

There were a few pigeons around but I was more curious about the stall selling “Turkish Cappadocia Naturel Viagra”. I never found out what the place sold.

Naturel Viagra, anyone?

Back to the bus we goGoreme bus station

That night, we still had to take the bus from Goreme to Pamukkale. The bus ride was about 11 hours and I was stuck in front of a lady who seemed to be leaning forward alot, bumping into my seat from time to time.

I couldn’t recline so I ended up with a stiff neck when I woke up.

More on the blog:

Last week, I was in Greece and I visited Delos, the birthplace of Apollo.