Is it snowing over there? The temperature is hovering around 0, but it can’t be snowing in just one spot, can it?
As the bus pulled into Pamukkale, the white hillside couldn’t be missed. When I stepped off the bus and saw the sign marking the UNESCO World Heritage Site then I knew for sure that it wasn’t snow; it was the chalk white travertines of Pamukkale. The colour comes from the high concentration of calcium carbonate in the geothermal waters rising out of the ground.
After entering the site (entrance fee 20 liras / US$10), you must take off your shoes to walk on the travertines. Even though the December air was freezing, so long as stay we stayed near the channel with warm water flowing down from the top my feet felt OK on the warm ground. The water is warmest near its source at the top of the hill. Likewise, the pools are also warmest at the top; so warm that it was possible to strip down to my underwear and lay in the water without feeling cold.
Getting out was another story.
It was freezing! We got dressed very quickly and ran up onto the boardwalk to put our shoes and other layers on. After a quick jog and some pushups, we strolled into Hierapolis and explored the ruins. For me, the highlights were the main avenue and the amphitheatre. If the weather had been more clear, the view from the ruins further up on the hills would’ve been great too.
Practical Info The closest city is Denizli, which can be reached by train, bus, or plane. There are dolmus (shared taxis) departing regularly from the bus terminal to Pamukkale. It’s also possible to take a long distance bus directly to Pamukkale with any of the big bus companies in Turkey like Metro, Kamil Koc, or the aptly named Pamukkale. By law, all long distance buses must stop every 3 hours for a rest stop.