Thursday, 26 May 2016

Amazing Turkey: Side, Cappadocia and Pamukkale/Hierapolis

Last week I took a last minute deal to the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. Unlike other cheap island choices I could've had, I discovered that the resort area of Turkey can be a base to exploring a country that is full of interesting natural and historical areas, so although my cheap holiday was actually in a surprisingly lovely hotel (Melissa Gardens) I spent most of my time exploring!

The first trip I took kept me in the local area. This is the Kursunlu waterfall located in a protected area with lovely walks.

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Then we visited Aspendos, on the tentative UNESCO list this amphitheatre has one of the best preserved 2 level prosceniums. This theatre is still in use and can hold 15,000 people. And from above it, one of my all time favourite panoramic views (orange trees in the fields)

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On to Side, the area I was staying in has a town centre full of Roman ruins, you walk down the old Roman ruin high street before hitting today's touristy high street and harbour! This is the temple of Apollo right by the sea.

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My second trip was to an area called Cappadocia and Goreme National Park, a good 5 hours drive from Side. My tour set off at 5am! First stop was to see an example of an underground village where Christians hid from the Romans.

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Arriving in time for lunch we stopped at many panoramic view points where we could see the unusual rock formations that were historically carved into homes and weathered into the famous 'fairy chimney' shapes.

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The open air museum preserves those rocks that were made into churches:

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And another good example of fairy chimneys with the dormant volcano responsible for this area in the background.

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The following morning a 3:45am start but worth it...

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I have even more photos on my Flickr, this trip was amazing, if you ever go, don't miss the hot air balloon option it is worth every penny!

The final trip I took during my stay in Turkey was to an area called Pamukkale and Hierapolis, another 5am start but there and back in one day!

The trip starts with a stop at 'red rock' where you cover yourself in mineral rich mud and bathe in the heat of a natural geyser:

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Hierapolis refers to the Roman ruined town that was located next to the travertines of Pamukkale due to the high numbers of visitors to the area for their mineral rich waters. Here's the amphitheater and you can see the mountain views beyond:

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However at the edge of this ruined town are the calcium travertines of Pamukkale. Tourists flock to those still open for bathing and climbing, it is total chaos there, but walking along the edge I was blown away by the peace and the view and beautifully maintained gardens, as with the hot air balloon ride I took a lot of pictures here!

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The views were over 180 degrees surrounded by the Taurus mountains, quite spectacular and as I said before, peaceful if you find the right spot.

Turkey's tourism has been dramatically affected by the refugee news but Turkey is a massive place, 3 times the size of the entire UK and in all my travels the Syrian border at nearest was 500 miles away and the refugees have their own villages near the border, you're not going to encounter one walking down the tourist beaches! So go to Turkey, its a heck of a lot more interesting than island resorts!

If everything is going to plan I'm going back to work soon, I hope I'll have photos to share when I get back!

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