My mind shall never erase what my eyes have now seen. I've never seen so much dental floss and cottage cheese together in one location. One failing to curtail and hold the other in place. And the stark whiteness of crystallised landscape illuminated in the midday sun highlights the spectacle even further.
What makes the scene even more disconcerting is that many of these forms are trying to immerse themselves in less than five inches of water, in just two small ponds, whilst there is an ongoing furious burst of shrilled whistle blowing, stopping, reprimanding and directing the forms to remove themselves from other ponds and areas that are out of bounds on the terraces and are being swamped upon by thousands of feet, hands and scantily clad bodies.
I'm kicking myself. For not getting up earlier and hobbling up here at first light. For missing out on seeing the changing dawn colours of the cascading limestone pools, formed over thousands of years as the calcium-carbonated spring waters gently flowed over the edges of the stalactites, and for missing out on soaking up the tranquillity of an ancient landscape.
Instead, M and I have joined the hoards of thousands that have emerged upon the Cotton Fortress and we now all jostle for viewing space, shady seating and peace and quite to contemplate the uniqueness of it all.
I'm also cursing my crutches and the boot for not allowing me to step on the travertines, to feel the contradictory hardness of what looks so intensely soft, and nor am I able to make my way around the incredible ruins of the 'sacred city' - Hierapolis - that butts right up to the travertines.
The ruins of Hierapolis spread out across the top of the hill, and by the appearance of the map depicting what the sacred city once looked like, it would seem that Hierapolis was once a large thriving metropolis. It's also where the Apostle, Philip spent his last years of life,(along with his daughter and son), and was buried after being martyred and crucified by the Romans — he was hung in a tree upside down with irons in his heels and ankles. The tomb of St. Philip was re-discovered in 2011 (although not his grave) when Italian archaeologists were excavating an area called Martyrs’ Hill.
M wanders off to explore the magnificent ruins and the travertines, whilst I fight for space at the top of the terraces and have my eyes and ears accosted by swarms of tourists with blatant disregard for the nature and history that surrounds them. As I sit here and watch the scenes around me unfold, my mind keeps screaming "Please People! Put some clothes on." I totally understand the reason why everyone must take off their shoes before walking on the travertines, but I just can't comprehend why there are so many people in next to nothing, splashing in puddles...and some of the 'bathers' aren't even wearing bathers! I watch one woman (and in her 60's at least!) pull off her top and skirt and wander about in the water wearing just her bra and (thankfully) proper size knickers - the water doesn't even come up close to her knees, nor does she even lower herself into the water, so why in the world she even needed to undress. bemuses me to no-end!
M isn't away for too long and tells me he's found an even more bizarre sight.
We head towards the antique pool - also known as Cleopatra's Pool - and just in front of it is indeed a sight to behold - an enormous 2meter, marble and metal, Rooster. Yes, that's right a large cockerel. And next to it, is long line of people waiting patiently to stand beside and have their photo taken with it. To my astonishment, M joins it.
"It's not every day you have your photo taken with a whopping great cock" he says laughing.
As we return to the village of Pamukkale, I notice that there shops are full of trinkets, statues, and printed images of the rooster and am at a loss as to its significance.
I can find nothing about it in the LP Guide, nor in the Pamukkale/Hieropolis book I buy.
Later, when I look up the importance of this rooster to Pamukkale I find a news article, dated only a few days earlier to our visit to the spot, announcing that the Aydın Preservation Board of Cultural and Natural Heritage has ordered the Rooster (which is only 6months old) to be removed as they deem it illegal because it is in a protected area.
It also turns out this is not the only enormous rooster in the area, and there is another 2.6mt glass Rooster that sits proudly in the centre of a road in Denizli and was unveiled with much fan-fare and ceremony in 2013, in which the whole city turned out for, and carries the proud title of "Turkey's largest glass sculpture exhibited in the open air."
All thoughts of 'big chickens' leave our mind when we drive into the town of Selcuk and find ourselves surrounded by another leggy bird - the beautiful Selcuk Storks and their fluffy chicks.
(Forgive me peeps, Although this blog was written back in May 2014, it and the final blog ramblings for Turkey weren't 'posted' until December 2014.... lots of reasons, lots of excuses, all of which are puffy and irrelevant.) Date of stay: 21st May 2014