Saturday, 2 June 2012

Walking on Frozen Calcium

The travertine pools

In the morning we set out to explore the travertines, stopping off on the way to buy our bus tickets to Göreme. The helpful ticket guy also offered us hot air balloon ride tickets over Göreme for only 90€ each.  We’d been thinking about doing the balloon ride and we knew from research that 90€ was a very good price, so after some deliberation we bought the tickets for our once in a lifetime experience, our only real fear being that we’d freeze up there!

Hiking up the frozen calcium
From the bus ticket shop we walked to the bottom of the travertines (which are essentially large calcium deposits that cover an entire mountain) and our first impression was that the mountain was covered in snow, not so hard to believe given the current temperatures.  At the point where the calcium cover begins, there is a guard station where a man gestured to us that we had to remove our shoes so that we didn’t damage or  track dirt over the pristine white calcium layers.

To put it simply.... It was damn cold in bare feet! It was only 10am so the sun hadn’t yet warmed the ground that had frozen overnight, so our feet were quickly numb as we stepped on the ice sheets in the freezing cold water flowing from the top of the hill.  Needless to say, we worked our way up the hill as quickly as possible but our progress slowed as our feet got colder because the rough calcium started to feel like razors underneath our feet.  Nevertheless, it was beautiful and such a rare phenomenon to see, so it was worth the pain to be amongst it.

Defrosting our feet!
Thankfully about a quarter of the way up the hill the flowing water still had enough heat to temporarily defrost our feet making the next section much easier.  We soaked our feet for a long time when we finally reached the top where the water is hottest, enjoying the warmth and the view back down over the pools that had near perfect water reflections of the surrounding hills, while at the same time Sarah explained the fascinating science behind the phenomenon… (feel free to ask her about it!).
A crypt in the Hieropolis ruins

After our feet were prunes we re-shoed and set off to explore the massive Hieropolis ruins that are on top of the mountain.  We spent a couples of hours hiking up to the remote sections of the ruins, which also resulted in us getting a bit lost when we literally followed the wrong goat trail…. We exited at the top of the ruins and walked the couple of km’s to the nearest town in the hunt for food.  We managed to find an excellent local place and had the best lentil soup we had in Turkey and where we also tried our first Gözleme (essentially an ultra-thin stuffed crepe).  We sat and watched the family's grandmother make the  Gözleme while she was sitting in the corner with a specially designed oven.  In fact she made such a fantastic Gözleme that we ordered a second one as soon as we’d tasted our first, although for our second we ordered a hummus and honey one which reminded us of a very tasty toasted peanut butter and honey sandwich  :)

We were too tired to walk the couple of km's back to Pammakule so we caught a collectivo back and waited in our warm hostel till it was time to board our overnight bus to Göreme, which was an overheated affair with multiple tea stops and not much sleep!

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