Three dreamy destinations in 3 days: Pamukkale, Ephesus, Şirince
Internet, one filled form, some money and a luggage. This is what I needed to make my dream come true. Before coming to Turkey and before starting my Erasmus I had a list with the places that I wanted to visit and Pamukkale was one of them. So it happened that 10 days after my arrival to Istanbul I have seen an event on Facebook with a trip to this dreamy place, but the emotions increased in that moment because when I found out about the tour there was only 1 day left for joining and I got scared because I could lose this chance. But in the end the things got a good way and I reached my reverie. We left Istanbul in the night to arrive Pamukkale in the morning for being able to visit as many places as possible. After 8-9 hours spent in the bus, 0 hour sleep and whole hours of music we were finally at this UNESCO World Heritage destination, named Pamukkale. People call it definitely one of the most beautiful places in the world, but I wouldn’t call it beautiful, I would call it wonderful.
Day 1: Pamukkale
Pamukkale is located in in the Denizli region of Turkey, and it is the place to admire several natural thermal water pools. But things are not so simple. Actually this is a huge limestone rock in which the thermal waters formed pools, waterfalls and even stalactites. They are all so white that it seems to be ice. Everything is, in fact, a natural phenomenon. Pamukkale thermal water is very rich in calcium carbonate. As the thermal water comes to the surface, calcium carbonate becomes more solid and thus forms the famous white terraces. The water makes its way through the limestone and splits into several arms. Finally, a few main pools are formed. Once these pools are full, the water begins to flow out of them, forming other adjacent smaller pools. When the water comes out it is extremely hot. For this reason, tourists can swim in these natural pools approximately 6 months a year, regardless of the outside temperature.
The special beauty of the Pamukkale thermal springs consists of three indispensable elements: water, limestone and sunlight. As the limestone is white, the water and the limestone always take on the color of light, which means that this place is most beautiful at sunrise and sunset, when the sunlight plays with more shades of colors. Pamukkale is not very difficult to reach, as it is about 20 km from the city of Denizli. There is also an international airport. You can also get there by bus or by private car. The area has developed a lot from a tourist point of view. Pamukkale - The Cotton Fortress in Turkish - is a spectacular destination in Turkey and is a must if you go through this country. Indeed, the huge natural travertine waterfall looks like a large cotton castle. Also, you can swim in Cleopatra's Pool, it has hot water with bulbs. The mineral water is supposed to be beneficial to the eyes if you keep them open under the water.
When you see the flawless of this place you are not interested in anything else, you are fascinated by the glittering white of travertine (I was fascinated by putting my feet on travertine, under the pleasant warm water streams that flow from the ridge of the hill) and forget about everything around you. What also impressed me was that the locals claim that not the white color inspired the name of the place, but the fact that in the past people used to dry their cotton here. 3 hours spent in this lovely place, it made me feel like in another world, I was smiling all day long and I did feel neither the tiredness after this long road nor the hunger. Just imagine that you are into the middle of this natural pools with thermal water, kissed by the sunrises, dressed like in the summer season, and reaching your dream faster than you could imagine. We were pressed by time because as I said we wanted to visit as many places as possible and we couldn’t enjoy Pamukkale as long as we wanted. Time to leave this place came and we went to the hotel where the fun continued. A hotel placed to the sea side with a huge pool and spa resort, a lot of students and the joy counted during the day were the best ingredients for ending up perfectly the day.
Day 2: Ephesus
Day 2 is another joy, another stop. This time it was about Ephesus, one of the most important ancient cities of Anatolia which is located on the Aegean coast in the province of Izmir. The city invites you to travel to the ancient world and see how people lived hundreds of years ago. Ephesus was populated over 9000 years, starting from the first centuries of its existence, during the Hellenistic, Roman, Byzantine, the Beylik (principalities) era, and during the Ottoman period. Moreover, Ephesus was an important port city, a remarkable cultural and commercial center. By the way, if you want to visit this place you should go with a guide because if you don’t know the details about this you can’t see its beauty.
I don’t like history and after my last history exam at the end of high school, I threw all the stuff away that was about history, all books, papers and notes and I said I’ll never show interest in history. But even so, walking through this ancient city, it was a pleasure. I admired its ruins and I discovered how this ancient city together with Selçuk, attract thousands of tourists every year. The archaeological digs and reconstruction works have been carried out here for many years. Ephesus houses symbols that shed light on the remarkable urban culture, achievements in architecture and religion of different periods. The most important of these symbols is the temple of the goddess Artemis considered one of the seven wonders of the world. The city is of particular importance to Christians because it is considered that one of the apostles of Jesus, John wrote the Gospel here and the mother of Jesus Christ spent the last years of her life here. In the same day we visited the house of the Virgin Mary which is considered as a place of pilgrimage for Christians. For this reason, the old city attracts many Christian visitors.
Day 3: Şirince
In the last day of the trip we visited Şirince, it's perhaps the perfect synthesis of a traditional Turkish village and traditional Greek village. This cute little village has a funny history. In fact, the town, whose name actually means "cute" in Turkish, used to be called "Çirkince," meaning "ugly." This was an ironic take on the beauty of the village and also used to ward off others. As people wised up to how spectacular the village's location and architecture really was, they changed the name to Şirince around 90 years ago. The architecture is truly special and a few houses have been opened to the public to give to public the opportunity to admire it up close and to get a sense of the architectural history of the village. Any new building is required to align with the aesthetic of the village, which is under preservation. Its location on a hill and its fertile fields have made it a haven for vineyards, olive orchards (and the local olive oil is to die for!), and amazing peaches, figs, apples, walnuts and more. It was a nice time in this village because after all the tiredness counted during the last days it was like a fresh air, quietness, beautiful views, wonderful food, hospitality, and much more. Also, here it was the first time into my life when I tried pineapple wine. In plus, here I tried gozleme for the first time as well and to be honest when I don’t know what to eat while I’m in Istanbul, I’m looking for it.
This trip was one of the best experiences during my Erasmus. Over this tour I discovered Turkey and some wonderful places of it, my dreamy places. I met a lot of people with whom I became friend. I had a lot of fun. I improved my knowledge and also I discovered the Turkish culture. This experience was one reason to attend more trips organized by Erasmus student network.