The next morning after a generous breakfast replete with homemade jams of oranges and plums, the loveliest grapes, olives, cheese, eggs and cakes we made our way to the bus station for our bus to Denizli in a bus booked the previous evening.
The bus itself was such a delight with in-bus entertainment of Turkish movies, series and video games that we enjoyed for a bit. Even in such short a ride, we had a wide selection of snacks and drinks included in the price. There was a bit of confusion about tickets the connecting bus to Pamukkale but we finally got there.
After a relaxed lunch and some rest, we decided to head out to the thermal springs that were just a few meters away from our hotel. No matter how many pictures of it you may have seen it continues to be stunning in person. The sheer expanse of white feels like exactly what heaven would like it- a world where everything is pristine and perfect. The description of the limestone formed over centuries by calcium-rich springs does no justice to what it visually looks like. The calcium carbonate itself has solidified into travertine which makes up the slippery white surface today.
It’s no surprise that it’s a World Heritage site and one can only hope it stays as wonderful it is for the times to come. It was used as a spa since the 2nd century BC and you can still take a dip now but subject to the crowds it may/may not be permitted in future.
- We found recommendations online to visit it at 4pm which worked out beautifully for us.
- Also, we entered at the gate to the thermal springs which honestly is where you’d want to spend more time.
- The third recommendation is to dress in layers so you could get into the pools with your swimwear in case it is not crowded + not too chilly.
- You’re not allowed to wear footwear on the area with the springs so carry the right baggage to put your footwear into.
- Also, it’s very slippery so tread with care.
- Some areas are closed for access simply because they’re still recovering from idiot humans. Don’t be one more.
- The Museum itself closes early so do check the time.
Once off the travertine terraces, a short walk takes you to the Museum and further away to the evocatively named Cleopatra pool. While we were wondering if we wanted to take a dip, there was a small tap (for lack of a better word) where you could have a drink of the healing water from the hot-spring there too. We even thought it’d maybe be a good place to fill up our water bottles. However, for the sake of all that’s good and holy- do not drink that water!! It tastes terrible and the closest equivalent was when I’d unintentionally had a taste of a mix of diluted hydrochloric acid and sulphuric acid when pipetting it in Chemistry lab almost 20 years ago! Nevertheless, there were several tourists enjoying their time in the clear looking water so if that’s your jam go ahead. Just don’t drink the water.
Note: Entrance to the Cleopatra pool is paid over and above the entrance to the travertine terraces and you’ve to pay extra to take a dip.
A walk uphill later we reached the theatre in Hierapolis. We first reached the Theater which was admittedly impressive despite seeing theatres in Ephesus, since this had a seating capacity of 15000 and a 5ft high stage.
There are supposed to be more ruins between the theater and the travertine terraces but, despite trying, we couldn’t find anything other than a few crumbling remains though and wanted to be back in time to see the sunset. What a sight it was over the white expanse of the cotton castle (translation of the word Pamukkale). It will remain one of the most unique sunset views we had ever witnessed. We truly felt blessed and lucky to have been able to experience it in this lifetime.
An overpriced meal at a Korean restaurant later we went right to sleep since we’d to take an early morning flight to Istanbul the next day.