Izmir and Pamukkale

This is the second time now that I have woken up in the wee hours of the morning on Friday to catch a morning flight. It left at 8:2o from the Ankara airport. My roommate arranged for a taxi to be outside of my dorm for me at 5:15 am. I told the driver “AŞTI gitmek istiyorum” and he then took me to the central bus station in Ankara where I easily walked onto the Belko Air Bus which took me to the airport. A trip that costs about 35 Lira (25 Lira for the taxi and 10 Lira for the Belko Air).

This weekend I flew to Izmir where I met my dad and his girlfriend. We explored the city together for Friday afternoon! It was a bit of a hassle to get into the city from the airport but once we got there we ended up eating at this restaurant across for the train station that would take us to Denizli. This restaurant blew my eyes. They didn’t have menus but we decided to get there anyways. They had salad, rice, and rotisserie chicken.  I actually saw the waiter accidentally drop one of the chickens onto the cement outside in front of us and then put it on a plate and serve it to us. I have not seen anything like this in Turkey or ever. It made me feel very disgusted. Thankfully we did use some hand actions to get them to change the chickens for us. Unfortunately some other person will end up eating that chicken that dropped onto the dirty concrete sidewalk…

We then bought our tickets for the train and had three options we could take (2:30, 4:30 and 6:30 pm); we would aim for the 6:30 pm. My dad and his girlfriend then locked their suitcases in the lockers they conveniently had there. The problem was we could only figure out how to lock them for four hours. Which meant we had to be back at the train station now by 5:30 pm. Okay, so we would aim for that instead. Maybe we could even catch the earlier train and get to Denizli earlier rather than later.

So we set out towards the Saat TowerIMG_3084
(Saat is Turkish for time or for Clock). We walked out towards the coast and then we walked along it. It was so beautiful how the city was sprawled out. I couldn’t stop looking at the beauty.

We got to the square and there was a small mosque. The Saat Tower was also there and is something to see, for sure, it was a neat structure. It was in middle of the square just off the coast where ferries were coming and leaving from.

Next we walked ourselves up towards the Agora, which was written in a Turkish sight seeing book, that my dad’s girlfriend had, as a sight to see. But when we got to there it was in construction and I practiced my Turkish with a truck driver and found out that we could only enter in the night if we sneak in (at least that’s what I gathered from the Turkish conversing).

So we continued on to the castle and this was quite the hike. I could really feel my thighs burning after climbing all the elevation through the narrow streets. I kept confirming “Kale nerede? (Where is the Castle?) as we were heading up just to make sure that we were still heading the right direction. When we got there it was bigger than I expected but the view was what I imagined to be like. It was “çok güzel” – very, very beautiful!

We then took a taxi from the top of the castle area back to the train station. We got there in time before the luggage locker just opened. We then had time for dinner and this dinner was a much better representation of Turkish food in all its beauty. My dad’s girlfriend and I had İskender here. It was my second time having this meal and it was very good here 🙂

Then we took the train, and the four hours did feel very long. The train moved rather slowly and it just got darker and darker outside. There were many people on the train at first but then the numbers declined enough about half way there that everyone on the train did have a seat. My dad and his girlfriend did some sleeping and resting. I did some studying because I am a university student, and that is why I even get the opportunity to be in Turkey for so long. It is hard to do both studying and traveling but trains are a great way to do this, I realized.

IMG_3225When we got to Denizli we took a 20 minute taxi ride to our hotel called Venus. This is a very nice hotel with a deluxe included breakfast. We all fell asleep pretty quickly.

The next day we enjoyed the breakfast, firstly. Then the hotel offered us a free shuttle service to Pamukkale. We got there and I believe it was 35 Lira to get in. For me, I have a Turkey Student Museum card which cost me 20 Lira through my university here and now I get into all museums free. This was a huge open air museum. I am lucky for sure, but it would definitely have been worth the 35 Lira if I did have to pay. We were in this museum until dusk. There were ruins from the ancient civilizations; we saw what used to be a gym, tombs, baths to enter the city, a theatre, and an agora here too.

There was a museum within this museum, which was similar, in my opinion, to many other anthropology and ethnography type museums I have visited in Ankara and Istanbul thus far. Near to the museum within the large open-air museum there was also a ruins-filledIMG_3193 geothermal pool you could pay to swim in. We did pay to swim in it and it was quite the experience!

Then we got to walk out of the space by walking through the white travertine terrace pools. Pamukkale literally translated into English is Cotton Castle. I loved the feeling of the bottom on my bare feet. Some of the pools were warm and others were cold. Some of the pools barely covered my feet and the other pools might have come up to hip level at their deepest points. There was one man swimming in one of the pools when we were walking down taking many selfies of himself with his arm extended up out of the pool.

We also took the time to take lots of pictures before the sunlight hide the incredible beauty from the camera’s eye.

Tekrar iyi gün.

The next day on the train back to Izmir the three of us ended up playing cards with this older lady named Ülker. She had so much life in here. We ended up playing this card game with her called Pişti. It took us a long time to understand the rules. My dad’s girlfriend learned how to count “bir, iki, üç, dört” because we always had a maximum of four cards in our hand, and we IMG_3227would play the cards out until we all had no cards and then we would deal out four cards again to each person. The objective of the game was to get the most cards and you could keep the pile in the middle when you had a matching card to the one put on top by the person before you or a Jack. In this game Jacks are very powerful and you can take the pile whenever you want to with a Jack.

My dad and his girlfriend got off at the Selçuk stop and I continued onto the Izmir airport. This lady spent quite a bit of time scrolling her Facebook feed, she showed me many pictures of her and her family on her phone, and showed me little cooking or craft making videos that were on her feed. Eventually it was my turn to get off and we said our goodbyes. She hugged me and kissed me on the forehead in a loving way.

I checked into the airport a solid three hours before my flight, because of the time schedule for the trains; either it was like this or I would arrive only an hour before my flight left at 8:20 pm. My intention was to study more. I went to the washroom quickly and as I got out I ventured into the book store there to buy another English book to read. But before I could make my purchase I heard “Laura Gammack please report to gate 238”. I was stunned at first and, hoping that I hadn’t lost my mind, put the book down and made my way to the gate.

I was met with a surprise. They asked me if I wanted on an earlier flight. One was about to leave. There was a long line up, but apparently space for me. “Sure!” I said, “Çok teşekkur ederim.” They gave me the window seat in the second row of the plane and I was the first one on the plane. I felt like first class. It was a great way to end my weekend. I got back to campus before I was even supposed to leave Izmir. 😀

 

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