The morning after my adventure through Butterfly Valley, I took a dolmus from my hostel to the otogar where I caught a bus to Pamukkale. I believe it was 30 TL and took between 2-3 hours. This rate of 10 TL/Hr or so that you are on the bus seemed to be what I found throughout my trip, unless it was a dolmus. Those are always cheaper.
When I was waiting for the bus, I spoke briefly to a young man from Korea. A middle-aged Turkish man heard my English then started talking to me as well. He got very little information out of me. I live in Istanbul, I’m from America, I’m a teacher… That’s about it… And then he asked for my phone number…? At first he said something about his business in Istanbul… I don’t remember, but as I declined, he told me he liked my face. I told him that my number was still American and that I didn’t use things like Whatsapp and Facebook. In what universe did we need to exchange phone numbers?
The bus went directly to Pamukkale. Most buses go to Denizli and then you have to change to a local bus. The bus that I was on was very comfortable. It was a small coach bus of sorts and I was served refreshments! How nice for a bus! That happened again later, but hey, it was my first time, so I was excited. I was NOT excited when I thought what looked to be a 12-year-old would be driving the bus. He put on a tie and turned on the bus. I nearly exited the bus before an older man took the wheel and put me at peace.
When I arrived in Pamukkale, our bus was greeted by a young man who worked at the bus station with his family. We were informed that if we were staying in Pamukkale that night, that the hotel would pick us up from the station. If we were moving on to another city, we could leave our bags in the office. I thought that was a perfect arrangement since I didn’t know where I wanted to sleep that night yet.
When I got off the bus, I smiled at the young man and said hello. He started unloading everyone’s bags. When he reached for my red pack he said, “whose is this?” I replied that it was my bag and he said, “Okay, this one is mine,” and put it on his back. I thought, “here we go again…” Ladies, just don’t smile at the men. I know you’re foreign and it’s just your nature, but it’ll save you lots of unwanted attention.
I left my bag at the office and walked over to the park. MuzeKart accepted. Entrance would be about 20-25 TL otherwise. Again, card so worth it. There is an extra bath exhibit, but I didn’t go in so I don’t know if the MuzeKart is accepted there.
It was a hot day and it’s all direct sunlight. Wear sunscreen. You’re not permitted to wear your shoes on the travertine terraces, so get your summer feet ready. Some spots are rougher on the feet than others. Despite how hot it was outside, it was delightful to dig my feet into the clay and soak in the hot springs.
I was expecting it to be more white than it was because of all the books and professional pictures, but it was definitely more off-white. Some terraces were completely dried out. It was beautiful, though. After I lingered in the water, I took a long walk through the ruins of Hierapolis. Like Olympos, I enjoyed that I could wander freely.
I did not swim in the Ancient Baths (extra money), but I did watch people splash around while I sipped on a much needed lemonade.
When I got back to the station that evening, I decided to stay in Pamukkale that night. I didn’t want to arrive late in another town without a plan and this place seemed peaceful enough. The young man at the station told me that his family owned a hotel nearby. There’s always a family member in Turkey that can provide what you need. I asked if they had a dorm and he said yes, so I agreed to stay there. He walked me over and took my bag to the room. I thanked him and then he tried to kiss me! I was appalled. He looked so young! I said, “How old are you? Like, 18?” He told me he was 19 and that his age didn’t matter. I told him, “Yes it does. It definitely matters.” He left upset. Sorry, kid.
Next up? His cousin. His cousin was older, but how old cannot be determined as I encounter more men that lie about their age than men who own their age. As per typical Turkish hospitality, he offered me a tea before I went to dinner and then showed me the view from the roof of the hotel. When I mentioned his cousin, he told me that the young one was 16. I wanted to throw up. How could that kid POSSIBLY think it was okay to make a move on me? The older cousin started telling me how much he himself liked me and I just said, “Don’t.” Why can’t people just meet and enjoy conversation?
I went for a walk and found myself some dinner where I met a lovely Aussie couple that travels for a living. They had incredible stories. I also met another Turkish guy about my age who was well mannered, educated, and social in all the right ways. He was working at the restaurant for the summer while also taking a couple summer school courses. He would return to full-time school in the fall. After he was done with work and I was done with my dinner, we walked around town for a bit and gossiped about life before he took the bus home and I returned to my dorm. THAT’S the kind of Turkish guy I like to meet.
I had trouble getting comfortable in bed that night. It was warm and my bed was less than desirable. No one else was in the dorm so I bed hopped till I found one to my liking. When I finally settled in, the Ramadan drums started banging outside to wake everyone to eat before the fast began. This may have upset other people but I was thrilled because I hadn’t heard the drums yet and we were two full weeks into Ramadan! I loved it. Absolutely loved it.
The next morning, I packed up early and left for Izmir.