Maybe you’ve seen pictures of the Pamukkale travertines, the beautiful aqua blue water against the white mineral deposits that used to be something of the face of tourism in Turkey. I did, and being in Turkey, wanted to see them. It’s a bit of an illusion at first when you take off your shoes to walk up the sparkling white slope to the pool. You expect it to be slippery or cold even, but it’s neither. It’s rough (almost like walking on pumice stone and in some places it’s cool due to water or shade, yet in others it’s warm due to the sun sparkling over its surface or warmer spring water running over it. It’s breathtaking walking up and nothing like I’ve ever done before.
We were going to get up our first morning for the rising of the hot air balloons over Goreme, and then we didn’t. We tried our second morning, and again, it didn’t happen. Our last morning it finally happened. We had planned on being out of our guesthouse by five in the morning, made it out by five thirty and still had time to spare before many of the balloons were inflated and rising into the air. Surprisingly we were two of only a handful of people up and on top of the ridge overlooking the town that early. It was quiet and peaceful and a magical way to start the day.
There are a lot of independent walking trails around Goreme (and I’m sure in other parts of Cappadocia as well) to see as many fairy chimneys as you want. We set off early in the afternoon to be one with nature. Not many others seemed to be taking the trails less traveled and for the majority of the afternoon it was just me, Andrew, and the fairy chimneys.
The Göreme Open Air Museum is only a fifteen minute walk outside of the heart of Göreme, where we were staying. Göreme, is a small town in an area of Turkey known as Cappadocia. Göreme is located among the “fairy chimneys” as well as the Open Air Museum. Göreme Valley was designated as the center of tourism in Cappadocia and while the town doesn’t necessarily reflect that (in my opinion) the vast quantities of tour buses driving through do. The town continued to be on the sleepy side the entire three days we were there, but then as soon as we got to the Open Air Museum, we were faced with a parking lot full of tour buses and large groups lining up to see the ancient rock churches and houses.
Although we have a completely new perspective on what constitutes a bad bus ride, neither of us slept on the overnight bus from Antalya to a sleepy Goreme. We arrived exhausted, but completely surprised and delighted to see a sky full of hot air balloons rising up over the small town. It felt a bit like a fairy tale driving by big rock formations with balloons floating above us.
Hadrian’s Gate is one of the few ruins in Antalya to see. We happened to stumble upon it looking for bus companies to book our tickets to Goreme. I’m glad we did, because even though it’s not as spectacular as other ruins, it’s still pretty incredible to think that this was built in the year 130. Yea, you read that right. 130. It was built for the Roman Emperor Hadrian who visited that year.
We were going to go to the beach. Maybe go out on the Mediterranean… Get dropped off on a secluded beach and picked up later. I’m told it’s one of the things to do while you’re in Antalya. And then it rained. Not just rained. It. poured.
All. day. long.
Antalya is Turkey’s biggest international sea resort, although really, you wouldn’t guess it from walking around its quiet and charming old quarter. After breakfast, Andrew and I walked around, occasionally stopping to check out bags (mostly of the knock-off variety) and take pictures of the stunning Mediterranean. At the port, as we waited to get an ice-cream, a father and son approached. The father, more courageous than his son, in a few words asked if we would help with some homework. This is not new to me. It’s a fairly popular assignment in Korea, and I had already been interviewed in Istanbul. The poor guy nervously asked me questions while his brother recorded the interview and his mother supervised the whole thing. They were finished by the time Andrew came back from the snack stand with a bottle of water. This time, turned out to be entirely different. We were led to a cafe, we were ordered more ice-cream, and then a few days later, this is just one of the images that showed up in my inbox:
Bottom line: If anyone asks for help with their homework, especially if it’s an interview in English. Just. say. YES! You never know what is going to come from it. Maybe quick thank you and a big smile from the kid’s mother. Maybe a pencil case. Maybe a huge bowl of ice cream. Maybe some awesome pictures…
A lazy morning after a late night out in Istanbul followed by a quick flight to Antalya was our day. Arriving in a quiet Antalya was a breath of fresh air after spending a week and a half in busy Istanbul. The cobblestone streets were empty. Only the occasional call to prayer interrupted the quiet old quarter. It was lovely. It was also starting to rain by the time we checked into our room. We stayed in, hoping for better weather in the morning.