We joined a full day tour from our villa on an all day excursion to Aphrodesias and Pumakale. We thought about renting a car or taking a train but when we found a tour we were glad, and now that we have done it we are even more glad, as driving in Turkey is pretty crazy. It happened that there was only one other couple with us, a guide Mahmed, who was great and our driver. We had a whole van to ourselves.
The first stop was the ancient ruins of Aphroditie built in the first a second century AD. They are incredible and less travelled by the mobs of cruisers as it is about two hours inland. Our guide took us on a walk over grass, by wildflowers to witness the magnificent gladiator stadium in its original state. Wow! It was amazing. There is a different feeling here. We walked thru the marketplace and baths, the theatres and the palace. Ornate carvings of Aphrodite were everywhere. The faces carved out of marble displayed expressions of joy, fear, surprise and wonder. It was very civilized.
After a traditional Turkish lunch of kebap, bread, yogurt dip, salad and fish, complete with traditional music, we ventured on to see Pumakale. Another hour and a half drive, and we arrived in the afternoon sun with flocks of tourists. But this natural wonder was so worth it. Deposits of calcium carbonate over centuries have created this incredible white cliff with travertines (pools) that are terraced. A natural hot spring feeds it with hot glorious water. The region is known for hot springs. We kicked off our sandals and slipped in to the warm water up to our ankles. The white cliffs and the blue water make for a stunning backdrop. Puma means cotton and kale means castle in Turkish. Cotton Castle it was. The two of us went for a dip at the hot spring pool nearby which has ancient columns on the floor of the pool. We swam under waterfalls and sat on ancient ruins in the healing warm water which was welcome after a long day.
This country is revealing more of itself as we get to know more locals. The kindness of the people has been incredible and it has been a real experience travelling here. Tomorrow we will take a boat to Greece for the day on the island of Samos.