What a strange few months!

It’s been a long time since I posted on here – just as I was getting into the swing of blogging again and writing all about our trip to Istanbul at the beginning of the year, corona virus arrived, changed all our moods and took over our lives! It just didn’t feel right, writing on here about all the things we did in Istanbul and sharing my photos of the busy city streets from January because they made me sad, it felt like a million years ago, not two months!

Like everyone else in the country, we spent nearly 3 months in complete lockdown – instead of doing the commute for 2 hours a day, I began working from home and the longest commute I made was from the bedroom to my living room. Berkay was furloughed, and going a little more insane with each day that passed. Other than when he was in the army, this was the longest period he’d not been working since he was about 14 years old. I adapted easily to the ‘stay-at-home’ life, but Berkay really struggled. Knowing that Turkey had banned all flights from the UK really affected him, he felt trapped here and just wanted to get back there.

We had a trip planned in April. We were going to fly out the day before and then check into Jiva on my birthday for nearly two weeks. My family were going to fly out as a surprise, they had organised it all with Berkay and I had no idea. I’ve spent years conniving my dad to give Jiva a go, despite him not liking the idea of all-inclusive at all, and when he had finally decided to go, nobody was allowed to leave the country! It was a big disappointment. We also had our 4th wedding anniversary in April too.

In the middle of June, Berkay heard there was a repatriation flight to Izmir and he decided to book his seat. At the time there were still no normal flights, so it was a big risk and we weren’t sure when he’d be able to get back home to England – though I’m not sure he particularly cared! Luckily, the day he flew, somewhat-normal flights resumed from London to Istanbul, and with internal flights back in service in Turkey, he was able to book one back home for the beginning of July.  Whilst he was in Turkey he spent time with his family in Beyagac (whilst following all the corona and mask-wearing rules!), saw Boncuk dog, visited Calis & Fethiye, and he even bought an apartment in Denizli. He plans for it to just be an investment for us, and hopes to rent it out until he can sell it. Here are some photos he took on his travels:

When Berkay came back to London, he had to do the two weeks of quarantine, this time he wasn’t even allowed out of the house for a walk, so that was a struggle too! As soon as his two weeks were up, he was back at work, so now he’s back to his usual commute and daily routine – keeping him busy.  A couple of days after Berkay came back, our Turkish sister-in-law gave birth to a baby girl – our first niece! I can’t believe Berkay missed her by just a few days. I still have posts to write about their big-fat-village wedding almost two years ago, too!

As things start go back to normal-ish, we hope we are able to holiday in Turkey as planned in September, 8 days in our favourite place – Jiva, and then a chance to meet our baby niece, fingers crossed. I’m excited to go and meet up with some friends there but I know that it won’t be like ‘normal’ so I’m a bit nervous.

In the meantime, I’ll start searching through my photos and dedicating some time to writing on here again – keep your eyes peeled.

 

An afternoon in Denizli…

Berkay’s family are from Denizli, most live in a small village but his uncle, aunt & their kids live in the city centre, so we’ve visited a few times over the past few years. Three weeks ago we visited again, just for the day. Usually whenever we go to Turkey we have at least one BBQ, it used to be our favourite thing to do when we lived there, so it seemed only fitting that we spend the first day of our holiday doing exactly that!

We went to this park just outside of the city centre, and surprisingly had it pretty much all to ourselves! We had visited before on a Sunday and it was really busy, but this time it was a Saturday and during Ramadan, so I guess not many people were out having BBQ’s during the day! We didn’t have any trouble finding a nice spot to park in, or an empty bench.
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The thing about Turkish family BBQ picnics is they make a whole day of it, and they take EVERYTHING, including the kitchen sink! Berkay’s family came prepared with some simit, nuts, sunflower seeds, biscuits etc to tide us over while the food was cooking, and a few of us went for a little walk and came across a plum tree where we picked some fresh sour Eriks, eaten dipped in a bit of salt. The women prepared the salad and the men got to work on cooking the meat – both of which were delicious, we even shared some with a passing by stray dog!
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After lunch we went for a walk through the pine trees, where there were really nice views of the surrounding mountains. We wandered to a little playground area within the park, where they had a huge metal tunnel slide, swings etc…it was really funny to see all the adults embracing their inner-child and playing. When we got back from our walk, we sat with a cup of Turkish tea, which had been brewing for hours (literally..) on a special device on the hot coals.
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Mid afternoon, we packed up the cars and headed into the city centre, to a park next to the huge Pamukkale University campus. The park is called Çamlık Parkı and is a forest recreation area. Berkay’s uncle works for the forestry team as a firefighter so he knows the park well. It had picnic area’s, a small lake, ice cream stands, seating areas, water features, a cafe, playgrounds and the most beautiful flowers and trees – it was really stunning and clearly very well looked after. While we were there we saw a lot of graduation students taking photos in their caps and gowns, what a beautiful backdrop for their photos!
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The park also had a mini zoo with peacocks, ducks, rabbits, emus, camels, fluffy chickens, goats, donkeys etc!
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It was a nice day just being sat under the pine trees in the shade, Berkay enjoyed catching up with his uncle and we got to spend the day outside surrounded by beautiful nature…
I do like the city of Denizli, it is a good mix of modern and traditional Turkey.

Two weeks in Turkey …

This time 3 weeks ago we had just landed in Dalaman, with our whole 14 days holiday still ahead of us! This time last week, we were waiting back at Dalaman for our flight back home.

I’ve definitely had post-holiday blues this week, because we had the best time! We visited a lot of different places, old and new, and of course I took lots of photos to share in future blog posts.

We spent our first night in Köyceğiz before driving to Denizli, where we spent the day having a BBQ with family, amongst the trees. Then we spent a night in the village of Beyagac, visiting more family and of course we were reunited with our beautiful doggy Boncuk. We drove to Akyaka and spent a night there, as well as taking a boat trip down the river Azmak, then onto Dalyan where we spent a day at the beach, a night in a hotel and then a visit to the Caretta turtle hospital. After what felt like the longest 3 days ever, we drove back towards Fethiye, via Yeşil Vadi in Yaniklar. Nothing quite beats the feeling of driving over the hill and seeing Babadağ mountain in the distance! We drove briefly to Oludeniz, Hisaronu and Kayakoy before spending the night in Calis and then checking into my favourite place, Jiva Beach Resort – we were supposed to stay there for 6 nights but I just couldn’t tear myself away and we managed to take advantage of someone’s last minute cancellation and stay for another 2 days!

We landed back in London last Saturday morning, and by Tuesday night, less than 84 hours after stepping off the plane, we booked our flights to go back in October! That’s the best way to beat the post-holiday blues, right?

Here’s a tiny selection of photos I took – I just love all the colours ❤

 

 

 

The Denizli Teleferik – Cable Car

The Denzli teleferik (cable car) was something I didn’t even know existed until last year. Whilst visiting Berkay’s family in the city last May, we took a slight detour with his younger cousin who came along for the adventure!

Built in 2015, the cable car was made to help more people appreciate and spend time in the beautiful nature surrounding the area. It’s not too far from the city centre, and takes you 1400m above ground.
  
Turkey isn’t really known for it’s health and safety, so I admit that I was a little nervous when we parked the car and I realised just how high up this thing was going to take me, that was, if the steps from the car park up to the lower cable car station didn’t kill me first! I’m So unfit.

It was nice inside, very modern with really nice toilets, something that always excites me. You have no idea how many petrol stations I’ve had to rely on for a semi-decent toilet while visiting places! We queued up and bought our tickets, which were very cheap, 6tl each for a return trip, or free for kids under 6 years old. Imagine how much you’d pay for a similar trip to this in the UK? It certainly wouldn’t be less than £1.20!

It was quite busy but we didn’t have to wait long, less than a minute and we were ushered into one of the little cars, and set off on our journey!

There are 24 of the cars, one comes along every 30 seconds, and up to 800 people an hour can travel on the teleferik.

The journey from bottom to top takes 7 minutes and provides you with lovely views, you can even spot Pamukkale in the very far distance. Unfortunately the day we went it was very misty and cloudy so my photos aren’t great, they really don’t do it justice!
  
When you reach the top there is a cafe/restaurant with a look out point where you can enjoy the view with a tea. Alternatively, a free shuttle bus service to a park area called Bağbaşı Yaylası further back in the mountain runs every few minutes (or you can walk to it instead). We joined the queue for the dolmus-type bus, it was only a 5 minute journey and then we arrived at the park.

The park has bungalow cabins to rent overnight, tents you can stay in, play areas, a cafe, little shop huts, a kebab restaurant and a newer activity park built in the forest trees with climbing and rope obstacles. It was nice to walk around and would be great for kids, but we only stayed about 20 minutes then walked back to the bus to head back to the cable car.
  
We made a brief stop at the look-out point for more photos, then back on the cable car for the journey down which was just as pleasant as the journey up!

It’s a shame it wasn’t a sunnier day as it would make the photos look better, although I’ve recently seen photos of the area in the snow and how amazing the view was then – I guess the cable car runs in all seasons, other than strong winds.

Apparently 1.5 million people had visited the Denizli Teleferik in the 2 years since it opened, quite an impressive number. I hope it continues to be successful as I loved it and really want to go on it again. It’s location is also handy for those visiting Pamukkale to take a slight detour to it.
  
For those of us who are regulars to Fethiye, you have probably heard about the plans to install a similar cable car going up to Babadağ mountain, and after going on this one I am so excited to have a go on that when it opens! I believe work has already started to build it. From what I could see of the one in Denizli, it hadn’t affected the nature around the area too much, something that is always a worry when it comes to major work on the forest areas. I only hope that the price of the Fethiye one will be similar, and not significantly more expensive to take advantage of the high tourism in the area. I can see it being very popular with both tourists and locals in Fethiye and it will definitely be something to add to my bucket list!

Visiting a Tobacco farm in Kale, Denizli

Since meeting Berkay, I’ve had opportunity to experience a lot of different things in Turkey, things a normal tourist probably wouldn’t. Whilst this can sometimes be frustrating, when I just want to sit on a lounger by the pool and relax, these opportunities have allowed me to see more of the ‘real Turkey’.

One such opportunity presented itself back in September. On the way back from the village in Beyagac, Denilzi, we went through a rural area called Kale, near Tavas. Kale is
famous for growing tobacco, and the people we went to visit have their own tobacco farm.

The people who own the farm land are related to Berkay’s step mum. The family spend a few weeks planting the crops in spring and then around 3 months later they begin the mammoth task of harvesting, drying and curing the tobacco leaves. To do this, the whole family leaves their house in the city behind, and moves onto the farm land for ease, they stay living there for around 5 months of the year.
 
On the day we visited, it was absolutely boiling, around 36oc, so getting out of the car air conditioning and sitting in the middle of a hot, dusty field was the last thing I wanted to do, but, that’s exactly what we did!

I was pleasantly surprised just how cool it was inside their little makeshift home, and it was so clever and resourceful. They had old tree branches and pieces of wood as beams, keeping the roof up. The roof had layers of cardboard boxes and plastic sheets and plastic ‘walls’. The floor was covered in different rugs, there were even seats and cushions which were sturdy enough to hold a lot of weight! It had a separate area as a ‘kitchen’ with basic supplies of staple foods and oil etc, and they had made a little ‘oven’ from bricks and coals. They grow some of their own vegetables as well as the tobacco, and there were beautiful flowers growing around the tent area too. It really was impressive and so clever. They also had a small outside cubicle curtained area further along the farm which is used as a ‘toilet’, and another as a ‘shower’ – I wasn’t brave enough to investigate these further!
  
The family consists of two parents and 6 children, but the older two sons have jobs outside the farm, so only the parents, their two teenage daughters and their two youngest children stay here for the full 5 months. I assume they all sleep on the floor together, which isn’t unusual in Turkey anyway. Their youngest daughter is 3 years old and all I could think is how boring it must be for her to be there for months on end with little or no toys, it’s certainly a different life than we’re used to, but when that’s all she’s known I guess she is used to it.

They harvest the tobacco leaves and impale them on metal sticks and then leave them to dry under the sun, of which there is plenty of! They also grow peppers and string these together and dry them too – they double up as good decorations around the ‘house’!
 
Despite being in the middle of nowhere, they were still prepared for guests. As soon as we arrived one of the daughters went to prepare Turkish coffee, and the other brought out a table cloth for the floor, along with a tray and bowls full of nuts and biscuits, followed by some homegrown melon! If there’s one thing you can say about Turkish people, it’s that they are very hospitable!

The family make a lot of money from their tobacco crop, a few hundred thousand lira each year, but it is undeniably a lot of hard work and I certainly couldn’t live like they do, but it’s so interesting to visit and see a bit more of ‘real rural Turkey’ and appreciate just how resourceful they are, a simple life with the bare necessities, but always ready with a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit for visitors!
 

30 DAYS, 30 DISHES – DAY 12: SIMIT

Ok, so not really a ‘dish’ but a Turkish staple food regardless!
Simit is a round bread with a hole in the middle, covered in sesame seeds. It’s kind of a cross between an American pretzel and a bagel, a perfect mix of the two.

It’s perfect with breakfast, or as a quick snack while walking around the streets of Turkey. It’s sold in bakers, corner shops and from little carts on street corners and  markets. It’s even sold from trays piled high with the bread, expertly balanced on the seller’s head, while wandering the streets shouting ‘simit!’.

Perfect with a glass of Turkish tea, too!
Funny story – my maiden name is ‘Smith’ and Turkish people cant pronounce that – they always said ‘Simit’ instead!
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A Boncuk update …

It’s been a long time since I last did an update on Boncuk on my blog, and since it was 5 years ago last week that we found her, I thought now would be the perfect time!

As you know, Boncuk now lives with Berkay’s family on their farm in the village. We went to spend a few days with them in April, and again in September, so I’ve seen her twice this year. Although we don’t get to see her very often, she definitely has not forgotten us and still greets us with an excited waggy tail every time she sees us. The few days we spent with her in April she was very clingy to me and would sit outside the gate waiting for a glimpse of us when we were inside the house. She followed me everywhere when I was walking around the farm, it was so cute. She wouldn’t even let us drive off in the car without trying to jump in.. and one day we gave in and let her come for a little trip up one of the mountains – she laid on my lap, head on my arm, face looking out of the window, ears flapping in the wind. Then when we got out of the car and went for a walk it was just like old times, when we used to take her on lots of walks around Fethiye and Calis. Bless her. Leaving her in April broke my heart, I bawled my eyes out knowing she’d wonder where we’d gone again. I hope she doesn’t think we abandon her over and over again. Someone told me dogs have no sense of time and I hope that’s true, I hate to think of her waiting for us and wondering when we’ll be back.
 
 
In September we went to visit again for a couple of days and she was her usual, cute self. Greeting us with a waggy tail and big smiley face.  I was also really amazed that she still knows the ‘tricks’ we taught her –  ‘sit’, ‘lay’  & ‘paw’! One night I was searching for her for ages, calling her name, trying to find her around the farm, under the cars, in the hay shed, but she was nowhere to be seen. After a while, Berkay found her asleep, curled up in a ball under the sofa on the terrace. So sneaky!

She really is the sweetest dog I’ve ever known. I was worried when we first took her to the village that maybe she’d lose her loving, soft temperament since she’d have less human interaction. Turkish people don’t really look at pets the same way we do, no baby talk to the dogs, minimal fussing and stroking and definitely no cuddles on laps like she used to have with us… they have their own dog who is chained up all day and is very much a guard dog, who wouldn’t think twice about chewing your arm off! Boncuk has kept her loving personality though, she’s still timid and never growls at anyone, all she’d do is lick you to death! She’s a bit of a wimp to be honest! Although she’s not allowed indoors, apparently whenever it’s thunder and lightning she runs in and jumps on the sofa if she spots the front door open!
 
It’s so hard leaving her but I know she’s well looked after in the village. Berkay’s brother loves her and she likes her life there. She loves to roam free around the farm and plays with the lambs and lets the little chicks run all over her. She plays with their other dog and follows Berkay’s step-mum around on her farm duties! Sometimes I feel really bad for her, wondering if she misses the old days, when we’d take her for walks along Calis beach, playing fetch in fields and up on the hills overlooking the sea.. she used to love playing fetch with her ball and now she doesn’t even have any toys… but I hope she doesn’t miss it.
 
People often ask why we don’t bring her to England and I would love to, the money isn’t an issue I would happily pay it, but she wouldn’t like it here. We both work all day 5 days a week, so she’d be on her own in our flat (with no garden) for 9 hours a day and that’s just not nice for her. She’s never been an indoor dog, she only knows life outside, so she’d hate being cooped up indoors alone all day, it wouldn’t be fair on her.

We’re lucky she can stay with Berkay’s family and we can still go and visit her – it certainly makes visiting the village more bearable for me. When I get too stressed or overwhelmed with village life I just take myself off outside, call for Boncuk and sit having a little chat with her.

I can’t believe it was 5 years ago we found her as a teeny tiny puppy!

 

Turkish village baggy pants..

Every time we visit Turkey, I come back with at least one new pair of baggy pants! Last month was no exception.

Shortly after we arrived in the village to surprise Berkay’s family, his step mum suggested we go to the weekly market and go and buy some material. The market place in Beyağaç is actually where we had our village wedding last year so walking back through the undercover area bought back some memories!

A few stalls down, past the usual fruit, vegetable and shoe stalls, we came across a table full of rolls of material. All different colours and patterns, most flowery and quite obnoxious. “Choose one”, Berkay said, and I rummaged through the rolls, trying to find a pattern I didn’t already have! I eventually chose a black pair with white, pink and purple flowers on. The man selling the material asked how much we wanted but of course we didn’t really know, so he just looked at me, got his meter ruler out and guessed, cut it and gave it to us for 25tl. Usually, you’d take the material to a seamstress to turn it into a pair of baggy pants – luckily for us Berkay’s aunt is really good at making them so we left the material with her and picked it up a few hours later once she’d worked her magic!

Baggy village pants are my FAVOURITE thing. For years I never wore them, but then I bought one pair one winter while living in Calis and fell in love – so comfy! I never used to wear them outside of the house, apart from when in the village, but now I wear them all the time here in England. I use them as pajamas, something comfortable to put on when I get home from work, I even wear them to the shops (it’s just one step away from wearing pajamas to Tesco..right?)

They come in every different colour and design, I think each region must have slightly different styles because when we were in Dalaman airport once, one of the security men asked if we were from Denizli – ‘yea, how do you know?’ said Berkay, the man pointed to my baggy trousers and said he could tell by them! They are worn all over the country though, I think it might just have been a lucky guess!
 
 
If you want to get some baggy pants for yourself, they sell them in Fethiye market, or markets anywhere really, but also in little back street shops, or you can just get the material from fabric shops. If you want some a bit less in-your-face with not so many brightly coloured flowers on, you can usually find plain black harem pants on the internet somewhere, but I prefer the more traditional, crazy look! When everyone else is wearing them, you blend in strangely well. The women in Berkay’s village usually pair their multicoloured baggy pants with a long sleeved top of a completely different colour, and a knitted, sleeveless waistcoat, in yet another mismatching colour.

Berkay’s friends and family all think it really funny how much I love my baggy pants! I have around 25-30 pairs now, even my old ones with holes in that have shrunk in the wash I still love and wear.

They might be the least flattering thing ever, but they’re definitely the most comfortable!!

 

Pamukkale – a Natural wonder?

Pamukkale, meaning “cotton castle” in Turkish, is a place of natural beauty in Denizli province. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and tourist hot spot for many visitors to Turkey, who travel from all over the world to see it.

We have visited Pamukkale twice, once in 2011, and once in 2016. The site itself is in a purpose built touristy town, which now doesn’t really have any other purpose other than to provide basic accommodation for a night or two for visitors of the site. All around there are gift shops selling souvenirs like fridge magnets, postcards and posters showing Pamukkale during its glory days, bright white travertine terraces filled with turquoise blue waters. I think perhaps they need to reevaluate their advertising material though, as I will discuss later on.

When you approach Pamukkale from the main road, you see the huge white ‘cotton castle’ hills which look quite dramatic against the rest of the surroundings – it seems very out of place, but strikingly beautiful and different. There is a lake around the bottom, which has ducks, frogs, turtles, fish and other wildlife swimming around. When we visited back in 2011, the water appeared a different colour, and the bushes were growing around with beautiful pink flowers, but when we visited last year, the water was definitely more ‘green’ with less flowers, as you can see from the below two photos. The last time we were there, we had a go in one of the pedalo’s that were available to rent for 30 minutes – it was a spur of the moment thing and quite funny! It got us a closer look at the wildlife, and we spotted a few small turtles swimming around us. After the pedalo, we stopped for an icecream, real Turkish dondurma, the thick, almost stretchy kind, which was lovely. We sat on the grass eating it, admiring the view and were approached by two ducks and a cat, all wanting to share with us! 
 
  
There are two main entrances to the protected Pamukkale site itself, one at the bottom, one at the top – we have used both. The entrance fee is currently 35tl, and it is open from 8am-9pm in summer, 8.30am – 5pm in winter according to the website. 
The views from the top of Pamukkale are amazing, my photo doesn’t really do it justice. You can see for miles and miles, and you seem to be a lot higher up than it looks from below.

To walk on the white formations themselves, you have to remove your shoes, so make sure you bring a bag or rucksack to put them in. There are security guards armed with loud whistles who aren’t afraid to blow them straight at you if you don’t comply with the no shoes rule!

You’d expect it to be cool, it looks like it should be made of ice, so seeing such a thing in the middle of 30oc temperatures seems bizarre, but of course it isn’t ice at all, it’s made of travertine, a kind of limestone deposit from the calcium-rich natural hot mineral springs. Some parts are smooth and slippery under your feet, other parts are solidified and feel sharp and spikey, so the walk down/up isn’t really an easy one. In summer, particularly in the afternoons when the tour groups arrive, the place gets very busy, but we visited in April and October so avoided too many people both times, luckily. The white deposits do look beautiful, and its certainly a brilliant place with great photo opportunities and beauty, however, I do find it a bit disappointing, as the natural beauty seems to be threatened.
 
 
 
Apparently, back in the 60’s and 70’s hotels were built at the top of Pamukkale, which stole the vital water supply to fill their own thermal pools and spas and this had a huge detrimental effect on the site. There was also a road built through the site, with motorbikes allowed to drive up and down! The hotels and road were demolished when the site became protected and the damage became obvious, but I don’t think it’s ever recovered, and in an effort to restore the natual beauty, they have actually ‘faked’ a lot. If you google Pamukkale, or look at any souvenir fridge magnets, postcards or poster adverts as I mentioned earlier, you will find images of people in their swimming costumes laying out on the natural terraces, bathing in the travertines, basking in the sun. This is no longer possible, as it was found that the bathing, suncreams, oils, perfumes, shoes and general human interference, was affecting the natural beauty and discolouring the once pure white deposits.
  
Understandably, you are now only able to walk on very specific sections of the site, and the security guards I mentioned above are strict at enforcing this. There are pools you are allowed to walk and paddle in, all the way down the side of the walk way from top to bottom, but these pools are all man-made which is really disappointing to me. Even though I understand why they had to intervene and prevent further damage to the natural beauty of the site, I feel like they could have made more of an effort to make the man made pools mimic the natural, flowy, waterfall like terraces. Instead, they are were all made the same size, shape, height, and water diverted over them to encourage the deposits to form. Sure, it’s still fun to paddle in them and get some good photos, but the thing is, I’m not sure if people realise these pools were man made! The below photos were taken in 2011 but show the height and uniform shape of the man made pools.

 
The natural pools do still remain in tact, but are rarely, if ever, filled with water as the flow is diverted down through a man-made channel and dam to other section, it’s a shame the water isn’t left to flow naturally. The photo on the right isn’t one I took, just one I found on the internet, presumably taken a few decades ago. The photo on the left is one I took of the same pools as they looked in 2011, almost dry and no longer able to be bathed in like the adverts or tour operators all suggest.
 
Sadly, despite being a protected world heritage site, the efforts they have gone to to prevent further damage to the natural beauty of Pamukkale and its travertines do not seem to be working. The photo on the left below is one I took in 2011, the one on the right from almost exactly the same angle in 2016, showing even more discoluration and erosion occuring over the years, and the pools all dried out. 
 
I know I sound very negative but I do still think Pamukkale is well worth a visit, just go in with realistic expectations. While researching to write this post I looked on Tripadvisor and found many, many bad reviews complaining about the ‘dry pools’ and commenting how it doesn’t look like adverts they were shown when booking the trip. My advise is definitely go and visit, but just know that it no longer looks as it did 30-40 years ago when those pictures were taken, I don’t know why they don’t update them to be honest as it’s still impressive, just different.
 
The travertines aren’t the only things that have aged in the last 6 years – check out the two photos of us at Pamukkale taken 5.5 years apart.

Right at the top of the the white terraces of Pamukkale sit the ruins of the ancient Greek-Roman city Hierapolis.  During the Roman period, Hierapolis had very much a spa and health focus with lots of baths. People flocked to the baths as they thought they had healing properties, which is ironic as Hierapolis has the largest necropolis/cemetery! It is thought many people traveled to the city to spend their last days, hence the large cemetery. One of the thermal pools remains and is open to the public for a fee – according to the website its 32tl per person to swim, but we have never done this as we thought it was way too expensive, but there are seating areas and a cafe for people who don’t wish to swim, it’s a very pretty place surrounded by greenery and flowers. The pool is very warm from the hot springs, and is still thought to have health benefits. I’m not sure how much of the pool is actually natural – but it’s said that Cleopatra swam there, or close by, hence it’s advertised name ‘Cleopatra’s pool’. Ruins in the pool apparently fell during major earthquakes, some of the marble columns are even thought to have fallen from the Temple of Apollo, making the pool sacred.

As well as the pool, many other beautiful ruins can be seen at Hierapolis. There are lots to explore, ancient streets, temples, statues, necropolis, gates, churches and the most impressive, a huge theatre which can seat thousands. You can walk right to the top of the theatre for amazing views but we have never done this. There is also a museum which you can enter for a small fee with even more to explore. Honestly there are so many impressive detailed ruins to see over quite a large area, you could spend a whole day just walking around slowly seeing it all. My photos don’t really do it justice, as by the time we’ve walked around Pamukkale and have been in the sun for an hour or two, we are too hot and bothered to walk around the ruins as well, as there isn’t much shade. We definitely need to go back and see a bit more, maybe in a cooler month, and definitely climb the stairs to the top of the theatre.

Back in October when we were there, they actually had moped’s to hire to help get around the ruins quicker as they cover such a distance, and although handy, I’m not so sure it’s a good idea!
 
 


All things considered I really do think Pamukkale is worth a visit, even though its a long way from the resorts in Fethiye etc. It’s the single most visited tourist spot in Turkey, apparently, and it’s easy to see why, but don’t go in expecting it to look as it did 40 years ago, or you will be disappointed. If possible, try and stick around the site for sunset because I’ve heard that is especially beautiful to witness there.

It’s lovely to see the beautiful natural creations, however, the inevitable interference from humans, for the purpose of tourism in particular, has threatened this natural beauty – with it being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I hope it will continue to be protected.

Denizli – The City Centre, the Cable Car & the Cool Cockerel.

Around 1.5-2 hours away from Berkay’s family village Beyagac, is the busy city of Denizli.

Both Beyagac and Denizli City are in the province of Denizli, but Denizli City Centre is the capital of the whole province. The city is very much a working, industrial centre with factories and a lot of textile production. In summer it’s hot, in winter it’s cold, even down to snow, so the climate varies a lot with the seasons!

It has a lot of tourists passing through, but mainly just on their way to Pammukale and Hieropolis, a short distance away from the city centre. The city seems to get more modern every time we visit, with new buildings, shopping centres, and even a cable car being built since our last visit 2.5 year ago.

We were in Denizli  visiting Berkay’s uncle, his wife and their two children. They rent an apartment right in the centre of the city. Berkay doesn’t know his way around, so we met his cousin e-route. While waiting for him, we had some beautiful views across the area, if a little foggy due to weather and pollution! The rest of the family were out, so me, Berkay and his cousin went straight towards the ‘Denizli Telferik’ – the cable car up the side of the mountain with absolutely amazing views. I plan to write about this more in a separate post, because I loved it so much, so I’ll save the further details for then!
  
After coming back down to ground level, we drove to the family home. I really like visiting their home, they’re so welcoming and friendly and after a few days in the village sitting on the floor for every meal, it was nice to see an actual dining room table and chairs again. Berkay’s uncle is a fireman in summer, and goes off to the mountains for days at a time, to wait at look out points and search for first sight of wild fires. In winter, he is a bus driver. His wife is a stay at home mum at the moment, but used to work in local factories making slippers – part of the cities big textile industry. They have a 15 year old son, and a 6 year old daughter, Berkay’s two cousins. It’s funny to me because that’s quite an age gap  and it’s identical to the age gap between my brother and sister, who are the exact same ages. A few years ago, my family came to visit us in Calis, and Berkay’s uncle came from Denizli to spend the day with us – with Berkay’s cousin and my sister the same age, only 1 at the time, we got a cute photo of them sat in a hammock together in Guvens restaurant. 4 years later, in April 2016, they were reunited again at Guven’s restaurant and danced together at our wedding – bless them!

Berkay’s little cousin, Eylul (which means September in Turkish.. guess when her birthday is…), was trying to communicate with me in Turkish, and although I do know some, not enough to hold a conversation. She had a little toy laptop which said the alphabet and words in Turkish and English, so she tried to teach me some using that bless her!
 
We had lunch which Berkay’s aunt had prepared, and just sat relaxing in their home for a few hours. It was nice to eat around a proper dining table whilst sitting on a chair – no pins and needles from sitting cross legged on the floor , although its not without sacrifice – they don’t have a ‘normal’ toilet, only a hole in the floor style, so I tried to limit my wee breaks. I still haven’t entirely mastered the art of the Turkish toilet and have to strip naked on the bottom half of my body to avoid splashes… awkward!

A while after, we walked to their local weekly market, which was really busy, full of people buying their weekly fruit, veg and other goods. It was even bigger than Fethiye market and actually covered two levels, one underground! It had all the usual stuff, food, clothes, shoes, nuts, baggy pants! It was so noisy and a bit overwhelming – the photos I took make it look quiet, but they were taken in a more quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle of the fruit and veg section which was just chaos.  On the way back we saw a weird rainbow, a kind of upside down very faint small arc – I’d never seen one like that before! 
 

In the evening, Berkays uncle, aunt and youngest cousin, went to a friends ‘going to the army’ party – they asked if we wanted to go but I said no.. I still don’t really understand the mentality behind gatecrashing strangers parties! It’s a bit odd. Instead, Berkay’s older cousin showed us around a part of the the city centre called Çınar, just a short walk from their house.

This is a very modern part of the city, very popular with young people and families, even late at night. We were out around 9pm but it was busy and bustling! There are lot of bright lights, bars, cafes, restaurants, coffee shops, street food stalls, big name brand shops and some quirkier ones. “Googil cafe” and “Woops” just made me giggle. There are also several McDonalds, Burger King’s and even a Starbucks in the city. Whenever I read about such places coming to Fethiye or other areas, it seems to cause arguments as people assume these places are only popping up to appease tourists or expats – it’s just not true. Whilst a lot would prefer their little tea houses, the more modern, younger Turkish people appreciate a big Mac or a Frappucino as much as the rest of us, and you can find these places in most of the big cities in the country, even the least touristy ones possible.

 
Another thing that seems to be increasingly present all over the country is the multi-coloured umbrella. We all know and love photographing the famous ‘umbrella street’ in Fethiye, but I’m not sure which was actually the first in the country, there is now one in a lot of different places, some more impressive than others!

Wherever you go in Denizli, you will see the famous Denizli Rooster everywhere – statues, posters, humorous references etc. It has been the symbol for Denizli City and province for over 900 years. This special breed of chicken is unique to Denizli and is only bred in the area, it has very specific characteristics and is valued highly. I’m no chicken expert, but research has told me that they are unique in their long crowing abilty, colour and weight, and a great lot of effort goes into the conservation of the population of these special chickens.

 
After wandering around for an hour or two, and a quick trip to LC Waikiki, we went back to the families house. I do love how hospitable they are, without a second thought they gave up the children’s beds for us and made sure we had plenty of clean bedding and pillows. It does amaze me though, where exactly they keep their clothes as there’s never any wardrobes etc!  Although I’ve spent some time with Berkay’s other family members, it’s usually us who are the youngest in the room, so the one thing that I really noticed from being around Berkay’s younger cousin, is the respect he showed to me. He’s 15 years old, and has clearly been raised to respect his elders, which sounds weird as I’m only 25 myself! Around Berkay, he acts ‘normal’ as they are cousins and more like brothers, but as soon as I walked into the room he stopped slouching or laying and immediately sat up straight and ‘proper’. He also has a lot of respect for his own parents, there was one point where his mum smashed a tea glass in the kitchen and he jumped up off the sofa, asked her if she was okay and grabbed the hoover to help her clean up – he’s not a stereotypical moody teenager that’s for sure!

The morning after, we had planned to go back to Fethiye after breakfast, but as I’ve already tried to make clear, these particular family members are just so nice it’s hard to say no, so when they suggested we stay for lunch and go with them to a local picnic place, we couldn’t resist. We decided we didn’t have time for a BBQ, so instead took bags full of coke, nuts, sunflower seeds and of course blankets to sit on. The place we went to was called ‘Servergazi Piknik Alani’ and was really nice with big tall trees all over, BBQ facilities, benches and play areas for the kids. It was really pretty, and Berkay’s youngest cousin picked out a whole bucket full of daisies for me, bless her. Despite a lot of begging, we declined their offer of dinner and managed to ‘escape’ back to the car and get on the main road out of Denizli to make the 3.5 hour journey back to Fethiye.
 
 
I really like spending time in the city of Denizli and there’s so much to see that we haven’t even explored. It’s very ‘normal’, not touristy, not villagey, just ‘normal’ life, and I think it would be a nice place to live. Hopefully we’ll go back to visit and can go and see some different places, there’s always something interesting to photograph!