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Thoughts reverent and irreverent from the road in Turkey

PANIC AT PAMUKKALE

by in bloggingaboutturkey
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I suppose it was my own stupidity. I suppose only a fool would have believed a sign that said that shuttle buses ran to the exit every 15 minutes when she knew that it was winter. I suppose only an idiot would have paused for a coffee beside the drowned ruins in the Antik Pool at Pamukkale at 5pm just because the sign said that it closed at 5.30 pm. Sadly, I was that poor fool who put down her coffee cup and emerged from the cafe only to find the very last tourists scurrying for their buses just as the very last workers hopped into the bus that would run them home to Denizli.

My mistake was to have entered the ruins of Pamukkale via the North Entrance which now lay two kilometres away through the soaring tombs of the ancient necropolis. I’m not especially spooked by cemeteries. Still, that didn’t sound an especially great idea for a lonely walk back again after dark. But then I didn’t know exactly where the direct path back to Pamukkale village lay. Nor, since I hadn’t walked it, did I know whether it was a good, strong, well-lit path or one best used only in daylight.

Panic. What to do? Grudgingly, the staff bus driver agreed to drop me back at the North Entrance. Would he take me on to Denizli? No, he would not. And so I found myself abandoned on a country road with no street lights kilometres away from anywhere all on my own in the freezing cold. “You’ll have to flag down a bus,” the unhelpful man in the warm security booth said to me, and no he wouldn’t help me do so, even though it was almost impossibly hard to distinguish bus from car behind the headlights rushing towards me in the pitch dark.

This was the second time in one day that I’d found myself petrified while supposedly enjoying a visit to an archaeological site (see Fear of Flooring). Then just as I was cursing the authorities for failing to provide a street light at the exit I glimped a bus heading towards Karahayıt and was able to attract the driver’s attention. Karahayıt, for those who don’t know it, is a ramshackle thermal resort catering predominantly for Turkish families. Not somewhere I much wanted to hang out in after dark in the winter.

“Where can I get the bus to Denizli?” I asked the driver who gave me a funny look as well he might have done since it was in precisely the opposite dircetion.

“Well, I was afraid, alone and in the dark there,” I admited sheepishly.

And what of Pamukkale itself, a sight about which I usually harbour rather mixed feelings? Actually, it was a fine day to visit, not too crowded, nor yet drearily empty. Where once a string of crummy motels lined the ridge abover the travertines there’s now a boardwalk backed with gardens which looks great but would presumably be very slippery after rain (while I was there one woman managed to fall rather spectacularly over the side even when the wood was bone dry). And on this visit for the first time I noticed the medieval castle with travertines lapping rather romantically at its foundations, something I’d never picked up on before.

Work continues on restoring the backdrop to the stage in the theatre, but for me the biggest problem on this visit was the shortness of the winter dayt and the fact that I’d already frittered away too much of it at Laodicea. I enjoyed my stroll through the necropolis and down Frontinus Street but that left too little time to walk across to the Martyrium of St Philip. Another visit, then. This time preferably in daylight.

Tagged in: Pamukkale

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