Our next city stop was Pamukkale, a tourist town if there ever was one. We could instantly feel a difference as we sat down. It was a night and day difference from Istanbul. Pamukkale is home to hot springs and travertines, which are terraces of carbonate minerals left by the flowing water. On the top of the hill is the ancient Greco-Roman City of Hierapolis.
After seeing the ruins located in the mountain tops of Pamukkale, we headed to the ancient Greek City of Ephesus. At its height, it was thought to have 33,0000- 56,000 people living within its walls. We walked the same outdoor market steps that Julius Cesar was thought to have walked. Many of the buildings and statues are still so well preserved it was fun to imagine what it looked like in its prime. As we made our way to the Church of Mary, it started down pouring on us. Which seemed to be a theme of our trip. But we were determined to get our $20 worth and trudged on through the storm!
Our hostel had 11 day old puppies. After getting soaked in a thunderstorm, soaking up some puppy love was the perfect end to a tiring day!
As a change of pace, we headed to the second largest port city of Izmir. There was a smaller version of the Grand Bazarr here and we spent the day touring the city and eating local sandwiches. As we tried to decide which boat ride to take, it started thunder storming again. Lucky for us, we stumbled upon a movie theater and were able to sit in amazing comfy seats and watch a movie. A luxury that most pcv’s have forgotten about!
To get from Izmir to our last destination, we decided to fly instead of take an overnight bus. As we left our hostel at 5:30 am, we followed our googlemap directions to try and find the metro system. We found the train station but couldn’t figure out where the metro was. As we tried to talk to numerous overnight guards and groundsmen, we were stuck in an extremely dificult language barrior. One of the younger guards took pity on us, brought us through a back gate and led us directly to our station. He waited with us and told us we didn’t have to buy tickets, “no problem, no problem.” We both started getting nervous we weren’t going to make our 7:15 am flight as our train didn’t pull up to the airport until 6:45. We ran across the airport to the check in counter, where they told us baggage was closed. At 6:55, the manager took pity on our exasperated state, printed off our boarding passes and brought us over to security. We were literally waved through security without a second glance. We ran to our gate and were driven out to our plane with a special bus and made it on board 15 minutes before take off. Nothing like a little excitement to wake you up in the morning!
Cappadocia, is known for it’s many rock formations. It is the perfect destination for some outdoor adventures, and that was the theme of our trip. One of the coolest things we did on our trip was a hot air balloon ride at sunrise.Getting up at 4:30 am can be a little rough but it definitely helps when you have something awesome to look forward to. Our pilot was from Egypt, had been on over 1,600 flights over a span of 9 years. He pointed out many of the important sights as we peacefully glided over the region.
We spent the rest of our time hiking, touring monasteries, underground cities and reveling in the beautiful landscape. When we weren’t getting rained on at least!
We were full blown tourists for a few days, walked until we dropped, learned a lot about history, food, architecture and everything in between. It was a wonderful vacation with an even better friend!