Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Turkish Odyssey - Day 6

We have gone off the map so to speak. I am no longer sure what comes next. Ephesus was the place I most wanted to see, and now we enter the central part of the country and the unknown. A word about the Turkish countryside. Small town, overcrowded with marketplaces and shops punctuate a largely agrarian landscape. Ramshackle houses, herd of sheep and goats tended by shepherds, half built concrete shells, tractors and gas stations dot the landscape at regular intervals. As I write this and reflect, it reminds me of West Virginia of Morgantown, of places near the farm. The ingenuity of the farmer is not exclusively an American trait. It is on full displace in the Turks we pass. No mega-agro-complex here. At least, I see no sigh of them. They grow what grows best in that area. While I am sure they use chemicals as well, the farming appears closer to show it should be done. That is to say, it looks that way from the bus window at 90km/hr, for what thats worth.

Day 6. We must sadly depart our very nice hotel. A further disappointment comes when we find our bus seats with leg room that is 3 sizes too small. Torture chairs is perhaps too hard a description, but not far off from the pain this arrangement causes in foot knee and back. Mercifully it is a short bus day with many breaks. The first comes 20 minutes in at Pöpülar Leather.

We are subjected to an unfortunately awkward fashion show of 2013-2014 "looks." The Turkish models were too stern and very clearly part-time. One man had a scar across the back and top of his head, leaving me wondering during the whole show, where that had come from. Post show we are herded into a show room with very expensive leather coats and goods. The experience is unseemly and I desire to leave immediately upon entry. The tour groups must recoup some cost by taking a fee for dropping us there, no other reason to do this. Makes senses that our trip is cheap, if we stop at places like this. Crammed back into our sardine tin we depart for Pamukkale and Hierapolis.
[We also are told at this point that Levent may be leaving us that evening to return home to his wife who has been injured in an automobile accident. She is OK but is in the hospital, and Levent is clearly feeling the effect of not being able to go to her, which is understandable.]

I had no expectation of the place, and no idea it was home to thermal calcium carbonate waters and deposits that cover several cliff sides. The Romans built baths and a city on top of the waters as part of a large clinic area. People would come to soak in the waters to be healed. The pure snowy whiteness of the cliffs is amazing. You can still walk and swim in the pools and also swim in an "ancient pool." The introduction to the place is mercifully short and we are given several hours to explore the site and eat. We love this site and immediately hike to the highest point of it. Out efforts are rewarded with the Martyrium of St. Phillip and his tomb. At least we hunted for the tomb, but without the correct staff height we looked in the wrong place and found no informative signage. [Just discovered that we did actually see it. It was in a small church below the Martyrium] As the hill was such a distance from the more "touristic" parts of the site, we are nearly alone on the peak. A polish woman that scaled hills like a mountain goat was the only other. The view of the valley below was stunning. You could see why the spot was picked even without the white cliffs.
Tombs were all around us. The necropolis there was over 8000 strong. A fine final resting place, but in the silence of the hill, it was creepy and slightly unsettling to be among the mausoleums and graves. The hike down from our small modest peak was a pleasant one, apart from an odd rustling in the brush that took us off our game. I pictured a cougar leaping forth, but nothing materialized.

The remainder was spent watching Germans take the waters and exploring the white cliffs. A fact of life is that food must be had. Unfortunately, food consisted of questionable frozen pizza with "sausage."  It was cooked in an oven, cut, and then microwaved. I think we are quite sure the pizza is fully dead. We shall not speak of what passed for a meal again, may it rest in peace amongst the necropolis.

Levent gives us a bit more information on the way out and we arrive at Pam Thermal hotel for the night. The hotel has a pool fed by cloudy thermal waters as from Pamukkale. Questionable. We take a pass. The waters can even be pumped into your tub from a special gold faucet at certain hours of the day. Helps with arthritis we are told. Pam is kind enough to host a belly dancer in a dark club with loud music. The dancer was in her prime 15 years ago. We postulate she is hired to appeal to middle age men who attend with their wives to ogle her. So long as the wife is there, it is ok...right? The scene is unseemly. Body glitter, gyrations, rolls in places that make one wonder how abs like that can co-exist. Terribly awkward. We beat a hasty retreat when she starts pulling men from the crowd. We find out later that Everett was selected to selected to tickle a German mans stomach, and tweak his nipples. Very glad to have left that.

Thankfully the damp feel of our room has passed and sleep comes easily. I dream of washing clothes in an outdoor machine full of plant mater which is used in lieu of soap to clean the clothes, and having to air dry the laundry.

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