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Cool Pools

Travertine pools Pumakkale

It was a long drive of just under 6 hours from Istanbul to Pumakkale. Around 2 million people visit here each year. It’s unique. Thermal springs from the hill above the town run down and such is the limestone content, walls and then pools are formed. In Roman times, the area became a major health spa. Also on the hill is Hierapolis, an ancient Roman settlement. It being a Friday, traffic was very light.

The town is, well a bit shabby really. It’s a bit like the 2nd streets back from the seafront on Corfu. Guys hustling for trade, lots of rather dusty neon lights and loads of cars and coaches ferrying people in and out.

Early morning balloons float by the hill

Our hotel was in the just-about-alright category. The room had a great view towards the huge blob of baking powder that is the springs. The bathroom didn’t really work so well. The shower filled to a paddling pool and there was so much silicone filler in the place it looked like the owner had bought an industrial size tube and spun around, in the hope some of it would reach a target, or three. I was thrown into OCD hell by the not straight aircon unit, sloping from left to right and

then the TV support panel, sloping scarily in the other direction. Argh! DIY hell.

Children were playing until about midnight, then dogs barking, then a cockerel, then a call to prayers at 5am from the local mosque. Up at six, bit grumpy. And the sight of the sloping fitments just made it worse! But the owners were lovely, arranged parking and a mini army of parking guiders when we arrived. They also took my laundry. My packing wasn't quite right and I’m a bit short of stuff, so until I buy some of that knock off branded clothing later on, I need laundry.

We didn’t take the ballooning option although I did see them all around at about 7am. We had our breakfast and set off up the hill. After about 50 yards, shoes have to be taken off. This is to minimise damage from millions of dirty great hiking boots each year. It’s slippery in parts and about 20 mins to reach the top. It is quite beautiful though. It’s OK to ‘take the waters’ and bathe in some, but not all of the pools on the way up.

Once at the top, there are more pristine natural pools to see and the ruins of Hieropolis, including an amphitheatre.

Once we’d walked back down the slope, we checked out from the hotel and into the car for our short trip today.

Once of the motorways, we've been on mainly A-Road dual carriageways. The open road speed is 110kph but the limits change very suddenly and with no obvious reason, often down to 50kph in a matter of feet. speed cameras are everywhere although locals seem oblivious to them. At almost every crossroad,

there is a police car with blue and red lights ablaze. We've not been chased yet but we were flagged into a check of sorts by a gun toting chap in a group. We slowed to a stop but then the policeman seemed to change his focus towards another car. He was waving other cars on. We took this, correctly or incorrectly, as a signal for us to move off, which we did, half expected flashing lights to appear behind us. Quite a neat way, perhaps of avoiding an on-the-spot fine!

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