As documented in last Sunday’s post, we were having a quick, slightly off-season break in sunny Turkey, based in the pleasant coastal town of Cesme in a lack-lustre, budget hotel.
I’d had a week in Turkey a few years before and had taken a mini excursion to Ephesus and Pamukkale, an experience I was happy to repeat and knew Husband would like. The trip would be by coach, with a tour guide. It would also mean a stopover in a hotel, providing us [hopefully] with a break from Donna Summer’s ‘Hot Stuff’, our Cesme hotel pool man’s obsession.
There are various ways to visit archaelogical sites. You can do your own thing, either with or without a guide book, but you will miss out on a wealth of historical background. You can take up an offer of one of those audio-guides that hangs around your neck, although more often than not the narration will be out of sync with the points of interest [this often happens on open-top bus tours] or the sound will give up half way round. Then there are tour guides, who may be earnest, well-meaning and deathly dull or knowledgable and entertaining. On this occasion we got lucky and our guide, Uys was charming and urbane, maximising our experience of exploring beautiful Ephesus by feeding us interesting stories and giving us plenty of time to wander by ourselves, too.
It is an extensive site, notable for the remains of its iconic library and a stunning paved road, lined with roadside columns and statues and all well worth a visit.
Though I harboured no expectations of the hotel we were to overnight in it was a vastly different experience to our Cesme place, a vision in marble with a grand entrance lobby and rooms spread throughout the grounds. There was also a buffet style dinner which was more than adequate. We were able to relax and chat with Uys, our tour guide, who seemed more than happy to socialise.
The second day of our trip consisted of a visit to Pammukale, a stunning natural formation of calcium pools that cascade down a mountainside. I’d visited before, when none of it was fenced off and visitors could wander down and in and out of the warm, cloudy water in the saucer-shaped pools as they pleased. By the time I went with Husband the powers that be had grown wise and cordoned off the majority of it, leaving just one or two areas for a paddle or a bathe. Before I’d ever visited Turkey I’d never heard of Pammukale and I’ve subsequently wondered why it isn’t much better-known, as it is a natrual wonder of the world!
Above Pammukale lie the ruins of Hierapolis and a hotel where we lunched after swimming in the warm, sulphorous waters of its pool, among columns and relics long fallen. To swim in such a place leaves a lasting memory. We journeyed back to Cesme and I was struck by the vast amount of ancient history, aged architectural remains strewn around in the open, uncatalogued and unremarked.