Turkey 2: Beautiful western Turkey

We are happy to have left the crowded Bosporus region while we ride down south towards Denizli. The distance is too far for us in one day, so we have a stop in Kütahya and shop some groceries. The city itself is very unspectacular and it seems like tourists usually never get lost here. Miri is waiting with the motorcycles and I do shopping. As I return to the bikes, a local man comes out of the neighbour shop looking very happy. He starts talking to us in perfect german and told us, that he noticed our number plates. His shop is a confectionery and he brought a bag of chocolate nuts to hand it over to Miriam. “That’s a welcome gift – nice that you are visiting Turkey. Do you like it?”. We look quite surprised until he tells us, that he lived several years in Germany and knows our hometown Karlsruhe, too. After we enjoyed a great conversation for a while, we leave the urban region and find a nice spot to pitch our tent for the night. The next day we ride all the way to Pamukkale close to Denizli.

Pamukkale is a famous place due to its hot springs. You can find magical photos of the bright white sinter terraces in the internet. The weather has become warmer and we don’t have to freeze anymore. Since it is still low season, we decide to take a reasonable guesthouse appartment. To go camping and bying breakfast the next day, wouldn’t make much of a price difference anymore.

It is afternoon already, so we rather go to the nearby ruins of Laodikeia and visit the area around the sinter terraces the day after. Although there are more ancient leftovers than in greek Delphi, we are the only tourists beside a bridal couple taking photos. Nothing is fenced here either and it is a lot of fun to explore the area.

Our accommodation is situated in the neighbouring village Karahayit. It has a massive thermal water bath tub and they serve breakfast to the room. So we can have it on the balcony in the morning sun – very cool isn’t it? Karahayit is very small, but has a beautiful market area with many reasonable restaurants offering delicious food.

The next morning we start visiting the main attraction – the sinter terraces of Pamukkale. It is not very far, so we prefer to leave the motorcycles and rather hike to the sight. We enter the park at the north entrance. Therefore we pass the ancient holy city of Hierapolis first. This place is also without any tourists, although you can see even more than in Laodikeia the previous day. The whole area is covered with ancient sarcophagi and tombs. Ideal to take some creepy photos. The greatest leftover is the ancient theatre, where we finally meet some other tourists, too. It is already close to the sinter terraces and Cleopatra’s Ancient Pool, which is a very crowded thermal spring public swimming pool.

Unfortunately the sinter terraces don’t look as magically as on the internet photos at all. Most of them are dried out, since the mineral water gets artificially detoured to provide all the hotels and resorts. In the few terraces left with some water, you find dozens of bathing tourists. Some prohibitive signs ask people to not step onto the terraces in some other places, but most of the tourist don’t seem to care. You can easily see, how the area is slowly getting destroyed in the meanwhile. If it will continue like that, the future of this natural sight doesn’t look very bright. However we liked the nearby Hierapolis much more than the, more or less disappointing look, of the sinter terraces. The next morning we start riding to Olüdeniz close to Fethiye.

Olüdeniz is famous for its gorgeous coastline and beaches. No wonder this area is usually a very crowded tourist attraction. We were a little bit concerned in the beginning, if this is really an attraction we would enjoy. Surprisingly it was also still complete low season and just absolutely fantastic that time of the year. Due to the very reasonable prices, we end up in a great guesthouse once again. “Blue Lagoon”, the main beach and tourist attraction number one, is almost deserted. Miri and a few other tourist go for a swim. I checked the water temperature with my fingertip, too. However I generally don’t enter water below my body temperature and it was not even close to it.

In the afternoon we ride to the ghost town of Kayaköy. There is a hike leading to the coast and all the way to the Blue Lagoon. The scenery is fantastic and you see some breathtaking bays with crystal blue water. We also spot several tortoises wandering around. They seem to be very common in this part of Turkey.

After breakfast the next day we go for a detour to Saklikent National Park. It is a huge canyon, where you could wade upstream through ice cold water for many kilometers. Unfortunately it is below our body temperatures and Miriam already collapses at the first ankle-deep crossing. Therefore we rather continue to the nearby ancient ruins of Tlos. These ruins are actually quite nice, but we have slowly reached a level of “Ancient Tourist Attraction Ruins”-overflow.

On the last day we return to the hike at the ghost town and try to reach one of these fantastic bays, we have seen two days before. There are no tracks at all. So for the first attempt, we follow a dried out river bed that sadly ends at an impassable step of a former waterfall. We have almost given up on the way back, as we notice a wild animal trail, that looks promising. It is a complete mess. After we have crawled and scrabbled through heavy scrub for a whole hour, we finally reach the sea.

It was worth the effort. The bay looks fantastic the water couldn’t be nicer (except of the temperature) and there are no people for now. Half an hour later a shitty “disco-club-pseudo-pirate” sailing boat without sails turns up and starts making noise like on a fun fair. As soon as the first one has left, two more of the them appear to disturb the idyll. It was time to leave and scrabble back to the main path.

Öludeniz was really great. Although there must be massive crowds of tourists in high season, they have managed to keep this area very pretty, by not plastering the region with ugly high-rise hotel buildings. In low season we hardly could see any tourists at all. After some fantastic days we continue our trip towards Antalya.

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