After a highly emotional few days of leaving my life behind and moving to London to be there only three days before traveling Turkey solo I was now on a whirlwind journey. A journey that I felt could take me anywhere.
First trip to anywhere was on an overnight bus. It was a long journey with no-one I could talk to; in hindsight I wish I had learnt a little Turkish before traveling. Luckily, I was able to sleep for most of it but when we stopped for fuel and bathrooms, I had a hard time figuring out what was going on. Thankfully at this point I was able to figure out WC was the bathroom. I carried this through most of Europe. I was not overly impressed that I had to pay to use the bathroom but this was a very common thing through all of Turkey. A lot of these things are a good indication that planning trips is a really good idea. But I would not trade this last-minute tour for anything.
First stop was Pamukkale after an 8-hour overnight bus ride. For someone who is a self-proclaimed introvert it was odd for me to want to talk to strangers while traveling Turkey solo. I guess it’s that whole you don’t really want something until you can’t have it. I managed to sleep uncomfortably for most of it. But the whole journey was worth it. The first part of the tour was through Necropolis which was my first-time seeing ruins and it was incredible.
While geographically it would have actually made more sense to see Ephesus before Necropolis, I am glad that I was booked in the other order to work my way up to the incredible ruins that were coming. The tour guide was entertaining and very informative.
I highly recommend having a tour guide so they can give you the information about the ruins and what used to happen in certain areas. Learning about the social hierarchy and how the toilets worked were completely mind blowing. As you make your way into the start of the ruins there is a large tomb with an inscription on the side. Our tour guide explained to us that the wording was an ancient curse that warned people not to rob the graves or they would be cursed. The trouble is the people that were robbing the graves were not the class of people that were able to read the curses.
Once you were through the ruins there was an option to swim in Cleopatras pool. This cost extra so I was unable to partake but it was beautiful, and many believe the pool has healing properties and people come from all over the world to swim in it. I wish I could have!
Then onto the main attraction of Pamukkale which was the picture that attracted me to want to go there in the first place. It wasn’t until I set foot on it that I knew what the ground was like. It looked like sand or even snow in tiered terraces down a mountainside. But it was like a soft white rock. They make you take your shoes off to preserve it. The thermal pools that dotted down the cliff side were so clear and felt so wonderful. There is no pictures or words that can ever describe how beautiful this place truly was. The further you walked down the incline the more beautiful it became; at one point the only ground you can see is the white you are walking on as far as you can see. The views are amazing and are certainly not to be rushed. Take your time to walk through the pools, sit down and dip your feet in. I’ve seen a lot of places and things in my life and that walk is one of the few things I would love to do again.
Then after all the beauty it was onto another crowded overnight bus which gave me the realization that the language barrier lost me a window seat on at least one journey. I couldn’t decipher the picture on the bus showing, which was a window seat and which wasn’t, and both journeys my partnered passenger convinced me theirs was the window ticket. I slept most of the journey anyway and arrived nice and refreshed for another big day of walking.
Whether or not you are interested in ruins, Ephesus is incredible. I had been overwhelmed and in awe of what I had seen the previous day in Pamukkale. The picture I had pointed at of Ephesus and said “And that place. Book that one in.” Did not do it justice. It was a city of ruins. I did not get to walk all the parts of it or even see all of it. Our guide was amazing and very funny and got a little annoyed at me because I was so easily distracted by wildlife. He told some amazing historical stories and walked us through all the areas.
The public bath, the different houses for different classes of people, the library, the stadium and the entry to the city. I could have booked many more days to walk around and still not have seen everything that this beautiful site had to offer.
Then it was back on a tour bus and off to another site. The Virgin Mary’s house. The story goes that after Jesus left earth his disciple John built a house for Mary to live out the rest of her life. This beautiful little stone home has been turned into a shrine that people actually flock to see.
It was like being at an amusement park you line up for over an hour for the brief few minutes thrill of the attraction. The lit candles and offerings were beautiful, and everyone seemed so at peace. Whether or not you are a believer I would not cross this off your list. The building itself was lovely and the overall feeling that the place gave, if you don’t feel it yourself you can certainly feel it coming off the other people. I lit my candle and placed it with all the others said a prayer and then raced back to the tour bus that was patiently waiting.
Then I was off on what was to be the highlight of the trip. One of the 7 ancient wonders of the world. I’d never seen any of the wonders none of the medieval, none of the natural and until that day I didn’t know there was more than one list of wonders of the world. But here I was on a bus on the way to see the Temple of Artemis one of the 7 ancient wonders. I had always wanted to tick some of them off. The bus pulled up among some trees near a large pond and my already tired legs groaned at the prospect of walking a long way to find this temple I could not see. Our guide pointed across the pond and exclaimed “The Temple of Artemis.” My excited little heart sank. In the pond there were the tops of a few columns poking out but there was nothing wondrous about this site.
Had I researched and had the knowledge prior I would have been happy with finishing the day like that. I got to tick a wonder I didn’t know about off a list I didn’t know that I wanted to complete. But I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. I saw some of the most incredible sights I have ever seen in my life while traveling Turkey solo. The next stop for me is Cappadocia.
Read Part One: My Solo Travel Adventure In Turkey – Istanbul to Gallipoli
Read Part Three: My Solo Trip To Turkey – Cappadocia – Troy – Istanbul
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