|Since my last entry, we have managed to make our way back to the incredibly beautiful Mediterranean.
Antalya was the first day we did not have to get on the bus and off the bus. We spent two nights there and had one whole day to call our own. The day was relaxing and offered the opportunity for shopping and chatting with locals in the old town area. Our hotel was situated in front of miles of beach, pleasantly vacant, because this is still April. Very little sand at the beach however (seems like most of it blew at us in the windstorm the other day). The beach along this part of the coast is very much like gravel but still alluringly beautiful.
This part of the tour has really focused on Roman ruins with our guide doing an expert job of taking us to different sites and pointing out the best preserved or largest Necropolis, Roman Baths, Hellenistic or Roman Theatres, Byzantine Gates, temples, city defense walls, Coliseums, etc. By far the most amazing site was Hierapolis, Pamukkale! It is a huge hot spring (actually four different springs feed the area) and sight of a large roman city. From a distance it looks like a mountainside covered in ice, but in fact it is the calcium carbonate from the hot springs that causes the calcium to be deposited. The hillside is stepped in terraces with pools of blue green water. There are even stalagmites that link one terrace to another. From a distance you think you are looking at ice and icicles on the mountainside. Your first clue that it might be hot water is there is steam rising from the highest edges where the water first meets with the cooler air and land. This is the first hot springs I have been to in my life that smelled nice - no pungent sulphur smell in the area. This is a UNESCO Heritage Site and as such is well preserved. Sometimes it is staggering to me that I knew so little about Turkey.
Several days into the travel, I realize the part of Turkey I love is along the Mediterranean. From Istanbul to Antalya would be my chosen route. Cappadocia (in the interior), provided the fairy chimneys and was incredibly different, but the beauty of the sea along the shoreline and the lush green valleys of this area are delightful.