We left Ankara early in the morning to cycle on the southern motorway to Eskişehir – and from there somehow get ourselves to the main event; Pamukkale.
Without much fuss we cycled the 76km towards the city of Polatlı, and headed towards its Öğretmenevi – but it was bloody fully booked! Instead we stayed at what was probably the worst hotel I’ve ever laid my eyes on. There was hair everywhere (not my own), the towels looked like they’d been around for decades and I was convinced I was going to get at least one of the hepatitis strains.
We ended up in a coffee shop towards the end of the evening and a gaggle of local 19 year olds started talking to us. “I think you are in the wrong town”, was one of the first statements, and buddy – didn’t I know it!
The next day we got up bright and early, had a dribble of a shower and set off towards Eskişehir. It started off well enough but before long we encountered quite big, and unrelenting hills.
One nice part of the day was the friendly lads at a truck-stop resturant, who offered to wash our bikes!
We cycled on, and after only 50km I was ready to give up, which is when we passed a small sign for a camp ground. And what was more – it was a free one! God bless Turkey.
Dinner that night was a packet of Aldi brand pasta and sauce I’d brought from Dubai (which in turn was brought from the UK), two chocolate bars and two hot chocolates. Winning!
The next day we got up bright and early again, with the vague plan to cycle all the way to Eskişehir, which was 106km away. It seemed doable, with only one corker of a hill towards the end of the journey. It was in fact the road to hell, with countless small – but meaningful – hills. And what’s more, there was absolutely no places to stop and have a drink or some food, which we completely hadn’t gambled upon with our 1lt bottle of water between us!
I was starting to get seriously worried about water – when lo and behold a Turkish man rolled down his window and gave both Sean and I a bottle from the back of his car. These people. Honestly!
Eventually after 50km of mirages and fretting we came upon a restaurant and nailed two servings of meatballs with bread and bought water and supplies. We then cracked on, and to my surprise we actually got to the city. Which means I’m now a Centurion! Ie I’ve cycled over 100km in a day. 106km to be exact. *Insert my mum’s favourite smiley here.*
We’d managed to get a corker of a hotel deal on hotels.com, so had a nice night’s stay as a perfect reward for all that cycling! If you see a deal for The Corner Inn Hotel Suit – get involved!
Eskişehir itself is lovely. On the recommendation from a friend of a friend, we ate Çiğbörek, a local pastry delicacy, at Papağan Çiğ Börek. It was very traditional – they only had one version on the menu – and I think it could be best described as a Turkish Cornish pasty. It was lush!The next day we had a great breakfast then had a wander around town. Partly to see the sites, and partly to work out if we should get a bus to Pamukkale or hire a car.
We wandered towards the Ottoman district, Odunpanzari, on the recommendation of the hotel staff. It was fantastically preserved, and on the way we managed to get a kilo of cherries for about 60p. So another cracking experience.
Also, after asking around a bit we settled on renting a car. And what a beast it was! A Fiat Dolbo. Sean was like a pig in shit!
We then started the four and a half hour drive. Which wasn’t too shabby as I’d downloaded a 00s Alternative playlist from Spotify and we had a points game for who identified the song first. I won, 11 – 5 bebbe. Let’s pretend I’ve bothered to insert the smiley again.
We got to the campsite Sean had found online and it was an absolute winner! It’s called Tepe Camping and is located right at the top of Pamukkale, and it has a bloody swimming pool! We were the only patrons again as it’s off season so got to choose a pretty sweet spot for the night.
We also had dinner there – which didn’t knock our socks off. Gotta be honest about these things!
We’d been told Pamukkale opens at 7am, and got there about 7.40am. It actually opens at 8am, so bear that in mind!
For once, we’d actually beaten the crowds, and headed from the south entrance towards the famous travertine terraces. The area is a mixed UNESCO World Heritage Site – and was gifted the award for the natural beauty and importance of the terraces, and the historical significance of the ‘curing centre’ the Romans built up around them.
We wandered through a necropolis and past a bath house – apparently the Romas were a pretty fastidious bunch and wanted everyone to wash before entering the city to stop the spread of diseases.
We then wandered up to the terraces. They were formed due to unusual volcanic activity which created white plateaus of rock. The name actually means ‘cotton palace’ and it’s easy to see why!
The area was pretty chocker with tourists at the top, but as we wandered down it started thinning out significantly. They must have been feeling lazy. Clearly not Centurions!
It was pretty fab! We then wandered the wrong way for quite a while trying to get to the Ancient Pools which the Romans used to bathe in too. The entrance was in fact right across from the terraces… which calls for a different, more disappointed smiley, which I won’t insert here.
By this time it was 11am and the pools were HEAVING! I was quite interested to get in, even though you have to pay another 32 lira. But it was wall to wall with (mostly Russian) tourists so we just looked on from the sidelines, like weird perverts.
Incidentally the old Ruski’s thought nothing of wandering around the entire site in their swimming costumes, making seductive poses against centuries old pillars etc, which was quite odd! Especially as it’s the first day of Ramadan.
We then went to the amphitheatre created by the Romans, which was pretty mega and apparently could seat 12,000 people back in the day. Though I don’t know if you’d want to if everyone had leprosy and shit!
There’s loads more to see in the Roman ruins realm, but it was getting absolutely ‘scorcio’ as pops would say. So we wandered back to the mighty Doblo, and drove back to the campsite for an afternoon of sitting by the pool whilst desperately trying to even out our bicycle tans. And that’s all for today. Night! X