Sunday, April 13, 2008

St. John's Basilica and Pamukkale

After our night in Selcuk (where I bought some beautiful Uzbek Suzani and vowed to come back for carpets once I'm grown up and on a freer budget), we spent the morning wandering around inside St. John's Basilica, which was directly across the street from our hotel (The Bella).
I have to make a special note about our breakfast: we met a fellow hotel guest named Mary who was pretty much completely awesome. On her 60th birthday, she began hiking the Appalachian trail, alone. The Appalachian trail stretches from Georgia to Maine--2,175 miles. She only stopped once because she got bitten by a rabid raccoon. I would like to imagine myself to be the kind of person who would be able to do a 2,000+ mile hike, but after reading the FAQs and realizing that you have to carry around a trowel so that you can dig a hole and then poop in it and then re-cover the hole, I decided that I'm more of a short-term hiker than a lifestyle hiker. And I think I'm okay with that.
Anyways, We spent about an hour looking at St. John's Basilica, which is the burial site of John the Apostle.
It was remarkably well-preserved and had beautiful view over the fields surrounding Selcuk.
The tomb of St. John

We had to leave a little sooner than we would have liked to catch the bus to Pamukkale. After getting off the bus and having a quick lunch, we walked up the hill to see the calcium deposits.
At this time of year there is not much water flowing down, so it looked like frosting or like snow covering the hill, but it wasn't cold. It reminded me a bit creepily of ice-nine from Cat's Cradle. Before you're allowed to walk on it, you have to take off your shoes so that the rocks aren't made dingy by tourists' feet.
a view from the top:
once at the top, we saw the ruins of the ancient city of Hieropolis.
The site is an archeological work in progress, so you can see the places where they have grouped all of the column pieces that they've found that belong to one building, or all the squarish pieces, or the arches which have been put together in one area but not yet assembled.
Another amazing thing about Hieropolis: when they began to dig at the site, they found a spring which was naturally carbonated and naturally warm. They decided it would be too much trouble to stop it up, so they made it into a swimming pool for tourists, complete with sunken Roman columns and ruins inside. After swimming for about an hour, we got out and walked up the hill to explore the arena and more of the ruins.

one of the best things about Turkey is that there aren't too many people yelling at you to stay off of the old stuff like there would be in America (as if we even had anything that old worth staying off of!) Here is a picture of me and Aaron climbing on old stuff:

The arena with the town of Ephesus in the background
A close-up of the statues in the arena
We finished the day walking down the calcium cliffs as the sun set behind them. It looked as though we were on another planet, and that planet was good.
We ended the night on an overnight bus to Cappadocia

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