Jared in Turkey – Part Quatre

Greetings….this email will most likely contain many crazy characters instead of i. Oh well, it’s too frustrating to hit the other key when I am typing…so if you wanna get rid of them, paste the text into MS Word, do a search, and replace….

Here comes da news…

I spent my last day in Cappadokia just roaming around the town of Goreme. It’s a quaint little town, but there are almost no other backpackers there. It’s weird to walk around and see that I am the only foreigner. But it’s definitely a tourist town when the season is right.  I was the only one staying in my cave….kinda strange.

As I walked up and down the streets of Goreme, I couldn’t help but feel bad for all the shopkeepers who were just sitting around and doing nothing. Most of them looked at me pleadingly as I passed by, but what could I do? I think, because of the big earthquake last year, the tourist industry was badly hurt.

During the afternoon, as I was walking around, a man who owns a carpet shop called to me from across the street and invited me to come over to sit with him and have some tea. I knew this was a ploy to sell me a carpet, but I had nothing better to do at the time, so I joined him.

He served up some Chay (that’s what they call Tea here), and we chewed the fat for a while. In the course of conversation, I revealed that I was Jewish, and to my surprise, he claimed to be Jewish too. Immediately, I thought that was another ploy to try and shmooze me to buy a carpet. So, I started asking him questions about Israel and Judaism, and he didn’t know anything. Plus his name was Mohammed. That’s a nice name and all, but it’s definitely not one that Jewish parents would give their child…..so we drank tea and soaked up the sun, watching the dust of the town roll by.

Then he popped the question. “Why don’t you let me show you some of the carpets and Kilims I have available?” Boom. Well, I expected it….so I humored him for a bit as he made his pitch to me.  These guys are pros and make it very hard for you to leave without buying something, but I held my ground and made it back outside with no rugs. I spent the rest of the day finishing Exodus….a phenomenal book that I shall once again recommend.

Around 7:30am, I hopped on the bus to my next destination, a place called Pammukale.  This is a town that has many sights in and around for the tourist to gape at. I’ll get to it…but first, the bus ride. OY VEY. Another 10 hours on a bus….what the heck was I thinking when I signed up for this package?

First of all, a very drunk Turk who reeked of liquor had to sit in the seat across from me mumbling to himself half the time and snoring the rest of the time. To top it off, the entire stretch of road between Cappadokia and Pammukale was barely paved and full of bumps and pot holes the whole way. So, the bus was constantly hitting bumps, and it was quite uncomfortable and impossible to sleep. I felt like I was on a vibrating bed with wheels.  After 10 grueling hours of this, I arrived in Pammukale quite the agitated zombie. The shuttle took me to my hostel, and I immediately crashed.

I awoke at 9:45am to a knock at my door. A thick accented man was yelling at me that my tour bus was waiting outside for me. I bolted up and did a quick run through the necessaries and ran down to a van full of pissed off people, because I made them wait.  Oh well…that’s life.

Pammukale is actually very interesting, because there are sprawling ruins of an ancient Roman city called Hierapolis. As far as the eye can see, an entire mountainside is covered with broken columns, half standing pillars, evidence of once glorious structures, and Roman streets. There was also a well kept amphitheatre over looking the valley below the ancient city and beautiful snow capped mountains in the distance  We spent the morning roaming through these ruins and learning what they once were. Then the tour guide took us for lunch…which I was annoyed at because it turned out to be a rip off. They served salad, bread, rice, and potatoes. Almost entirely carbohydrates and zero protein. I felt like they were just too cheap when they tried to pass a bowl of potatoes off as a main course.

The afternoon was spent investigating the other main attraction here: Mountainsides entirely covered with beautiful white calcium deposits. Part of the attraction of the area to the Romans was the fact that natural hot springs bubble up amply in this region. The water is naturally carbonated with calcium-sulfate, and as the water poured down the mountain, over thousands of years, the calcium dried to form snow-like rivers of deposits.  Check of some pictures on the web. There are also many pools of hot springs, but most of them are not available for swimming, because they’ve been ruined by tourists over the years. Shame.

So now it’s late afternoon, and I am back at the hostel using their very slow and quite expensive Internet connection. Ironically, I have found the connections in Turkey to be painfully slow for a supposedly western country. They were much quicker in Bulgaria, a place that time left behind. Twist O’ Fate.