White on white at Pamukkale

My ideal eating experience: recommended by TripAdvisor, unassuming in itself, incredibly cheap and located just steps away from our accommodation. We wandered to Meshur for dinner, with our only knowledge being that the lamb kebabs were meant to be good. Biggest understatement of the year I reckon… and that itself is no exaggeration.

We were shown to a table and informed there was only one dish on the menu… okay, sure. We didn’t mind as that item was the lamb kebab and that’s what we were going to order anyway. The goods then started flowing, literally and figuratively. We didn’t have to order a thing; we just sat there and kept on consuming whatever they put in front of us.

First came the local fizz: lemonade that tasted like raspberry. Plates of tomato, onion, parsley and then the big beast: a tray of oven cooked lamb, sizzling and aromatic and absolutely swimming in freshly fried flatbreads. We proudly ate it ALL and were aghast when dessert then followed. It was the best meal we had in Turkey and it cost a measly 75 lira ($20)… for the both of us!

This left us well fed and after a good nights sleep we were up and at ‘em, crossing the road to the bus station, hunting down a dolmus to take us to Pamukkale. We located platform 76 and were merrily on our way. Forty minutes later we’d arrived, paid our entrance fee and were stripping off our shoes to begin our wade through the terraces.

Pamukkale is essentially a series of travertine terraces, coloured white from the dried calcium carbonate residue from the geothermic waters passing over. Again we’d beaten the crowds, which undeniably improved the experience, particularly for photos. However it’s clear that Pamukkale is no longer what it was.

Years of unregulated tourism and (greedy) hotels rerouting the natural water from the travertines to their pools means that the terraces are nowhere near the condition they should be in, and the only remaining charm comes from a series of manmade pools filled with water in their place. UNESCO eventually stepped in to preserve what remains, and although it was arguably too little too late, the terraces are still worth seeing.

Behind the terraces of Pamukkale lies Hierapolis, another ancient city with the highlight being the theatre. The ticket fee to Pamukkale includes Hierapolis so you may as well keep on walking. It was more sprawling and less preserved than Ephesus but being up on a hill meant it had very cool views. For an additional fee we could have swum in the Cleopatra pool but we didn’t think it looked like a must do, so on this occasion we gave it a miss.

Pamukkale took us a couple of hours at most, giving us plenty of time to catch a dolmus back to Denizli (from the same spot it dropped us off at) and catch a bus onwards for some rest and relaxation at Antalya for the next couple of days.

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