The White Cliffs Of The Cotton Castle
Pamukkale Travel Blog› entry 72 of 83 › view all entries
As the first hours of 2009 waned on, Adnan and I drank a few beers and talked in his room. We were going to watch a movie but never got around to it. We did stay up rather late, though, and as a result it was a bit later getting up in the morning than I had planned. But by now this routine was not a surprise. Still, I had enough time to have breakfast with the fam before catching buses to the town of Pamukkale. In Turkish it means "cotton castle," and is so named for the gleaming white hillside overlooking the town. Covering the hills are thick deposits of calcium that have formed unique pools jutting out like miniature ledges. I had seen pictures of these things before and geologically they are called travertines. Apparently there is only one other place on earth that has such features. Historically these pools attracted pilgrims who sought a panacea in the curative waters, and consequently they were overtouristed and subsequently damaged.
By this time I had caught a full-blown cold and my energy levels were quite low. The bus to Pamukkale actually bypassed the town and park entrance, going all the way to the resort town of Karahayıt. The bus conductor then stopped a bus heading the other direction and ushered me and two Spanish tourists on it for free to go back to the village. I felt like it was enough to see the hillside and travertines from the village view, so I decided not to climb the hill or pay the entrance fee. As a consequence, I also missed out on seeing the ruins of Hierapolis, an ancient Phrygian city that also took advantage of the travertine thermal springs and built on the plateau directly above them.
Pamukkale town was definitely touristy, but because it was off-season and most people were up on the hill, I almost had the place to myself. I enjoyed some coffee at a little cafe and later had a snack of mercimek and lahmacun. I walked up a road leading to the southern entrance of the park, where I saw some good views of the calcium-encrusted hills and a nearby canyon as well as the village and distant mountains.
Back in Denizli I had a hard time finding the bus stop so good-natured Adnan came to pick me up. We went downtown and walked around the main square. I called another Couchsurfer in town named Abdo and we all met at a cafe near the center and had some warm drinks before making a plan to go back to Adnan's to watch a movie.