31/5/90

PAMUKKALE We got up at 8:30 and sat around drinking tea until 9:30 when a Dolmus arrived to pick us up. The trip out to the village of Pamukkale only took 10 minutes and cost 1000TL. We were dropped off at the foot of the terraces and we walked up through the toll gates, bullshiting half price tickets with our YHA cards.

The terraces, although a wonderful example of geology, were pretty disappointing. Dry weather had left nearly all of the pools empty or half full of muddy water and the hazy overcast day didn’t enhance the effect. The terraces have been formed over thousands by calcium-rich mineral water running over an escarpment to form hundreds of terraced pools called “travines” made of pure white calcium. In Turkish, the name Pamukkale translates as “the cotton castle.” At the top of the terrace lies an extensive set of Roman ruins called Hierapolis, built over and around the spring from which the water flows. Known for the healing properties of its waters from earliest times, it was a large Roman spa. Most of the ruins date from around 100BC.

 After an hour or so of wandering around the terraces Linda, me and two Aussies walked up for a quick look at the museum built into the ruins and ate an overpriced kebab each with the local dogs sitting beside us. One of the large hotels had an open swimming pool which cost 1,000TL  per hour so we went up there and sneaked in amongst a large party of Germans.  We spent about 2 1/2 hours swimming in the warm and fizzy pool the floor of which was strewn with pieces of marble columns and baths from the old Roman bath house. The edges of the pool were covered with beautiful pink hibiscus trees and the water was very relaxing, although was strangely non buoyant.

The front and rear of a postcard Linda sent home from Pamukkale showing the terraces as they appear when they are full of water.

When the time came to leave we just casually strolled out on another entrance and escaped paying for the whole thing! We mucked around waiting for a Dolmus to take us back to Denizli and when we got there we went with the other Aussies to a pizza house for something to eat.  While we were there, the inexperienced young travellers sat and hung off every word a dickhead Kwi and his silly wife told them. They have been travelling overseas for a whole 8 weeks and thought they knew everything. 

After a bite to eat Linda and I went in search of a bank to give us a cash advance on my Visa card. We went to 5 banks and none of them knew what to do but the last bank, Gurasi Bank, just went straight ahead and did it for us and 5 minutes!

Carpet shopping at the Denizli Pension.

Back back at the pension we sat around having a few beers then after tea, Suleiman’s mother showed us how she makes carpets on a loom set up in the office. When Suleiman came back from catching tourists he and I began negotiating for a carpet of which I had no intention of buying but after protracted talks I bought it for £190, including postage and insurance. The carpet has a fountain design on it and it is made entirely of wool dyed with natural dyes.

Once the deal had been made, we sat on the floor amongst the other carpets and talked with Suleiman’s wife, mother and two German tourists. The carpet took 8 months to make including spinning and dyeing the wool and the actual weaving took two ladies 4 months.

30/5/90

KUSADASI TO DENIZLI The alarm went again at 6:30 and we showered then packed up our gear and departed. I managed to haggle the room rated down to 40,000TL with the bleary-eyed clerk and he hailed us a taxi. It cost 5,600TL to get out to the bus station and we paid 13,000TL each (£3) for our tickets to Denizli, the nearest town to Pamukkale. 

The bus, which left at 8:15am, was large and comfy and after we had got going a man came around with scented water for everyone to freshen up with. As soon as we left the coast the landscape changed to rugged, scrubby hills deeply scarred by gullies and cliffs. Much of the lower slopes were cultivated with crops of wheat and barley while further up, rows of olive trees followed the contours.

Once we had crossed The first range of hills we descended into a fertile and intensively farmed valley. Some of the paddocks were being tilled by large groups of people which probably indicated co-op farms. Some of the land was irrigated by elevated concrete channels but most of them were dry.  As we moved further inland the strip of fertile land on the valley floors grew narrower and by the time we reached Denizli at around 11:45am, the country was dry and windswept although we had still passed through large acreages of crops.

As soon as we got off the bus we were besieged with offers of trips to Pamukkale¹ several given in appalling Aussie accents!²  We ignored them all and walked out of the bus terminal but one guy persisted and gave us some good reasons not to stay in Pamukkale but to stay in Denizli instead. So we agreed on a price of 20,000TL and I checked at the tourist office where I was told that camping at Pamukkale would cost 15 to 20,000 as well.

Pension Denizli³ was in a quiet little backstreet right next to a mosque. The owner, Suleyman, was determined to get across to us that we shouldn’t worry about being ripped off in Turkey and went out of his way to make us welcome. After we had settled into our room we decided to walk into town for a look at the Bazaar. It was a 20-minute walk into town and we spent an hour or so going to a few banks trying to get money on my Visa card to buy a leather jacket at some stage. The only bank that would do it couldn’t get through to Istanbul to check so no luck there.

The bazaar was quite big but not very interesting so we trudged back to the pension, stopping on the way to the ripped off over some food and drink and tea but it was only £1 involved so no worries.

In the evening after tea, we sat and talked with a group of Australians who were also staying in the Pension.

¹The white mineral terraces of Pamukkale were the reason that we had come to Denizli. Our plan was to camp at Pamukkale but that turned out to not be an option.

²A common ruse employed by salesmen all over Turkey was to adopt the accent of the country that they assumed you came from based on hearing you speak. Most of them knew the name of at least one city in various countries and would claim to have friends/relatives in “Melabourne”, ”Auckaland”, ”Seedanee” or wherever.

³The word “pension” is pronounced “pen-see-onee” and refers to a small accommodation house.

29/5/90

The alarm went off at 6:00am but we decided to stay for another day to let Linda recover from the stomach bug rather than travel to Pamukkale which was our original plan. So we just dozed the morning and most of the afternoon away. About 3pm I went out for a walk up the hill and around some of the narrow streets where the locals live. I had a wander through the bazaar and ate a kebab sitting on a wall outside a mosque.

Back at the hotel, I had a shower and we talked for a while then I went out to a little sidewalk café full of locals and sat drinking apple tea while writing up this story. By the time I had drunk 2 glasses of tea, it was after 9:00 and sunset was well underway so I walked down to the harbour and sat on the rocks amongst the locals who were there fishing. Out on the nearby wharf a ferry was setting sail for Rhodes, accompanied by a pilot boat. As the sun dipped into the haze I walked back to the hotel.

28/5/90

TÜRKIYE I woke up at 6:00 as the ferry docked at Samos Island, the closest Greek island to Turkey. Outside, the sun was blazing down and the architecture of the buildings nestled in the pine-clad hills had changed from the rounded, white-washed Greek style to sturdier, larger structures with red-tiled roofs.

An unexpected bonus onboard was free hot showers which we availed ourselves to while the ferry made the last 1½ hour journey to Kusadasi.  Once we had docked we had a 2-hour wait aboard the ferry to have our passports stamped then we disembarked and after spending some time in an information office we set off to find a hotel. We changed £20 at a rate of 4,372.59 TURKISH LIRA which gave us 87,000TL then after about 20 minutes of looking we found a cheap hotel for 25,000TL (about  £5).

After we had settled in we went out and had some lunch then wandered around the town which is an obvious tourist trap. We went into a leather shop and had a cup of apple tea with the salesmen while they tried their hardest to sell me a leather jacket then talked for a while with a carpet salesman. We ended up sitting out on the breakwater and it was such a hot day we decided to go to the beach. We walked back to the hotel and got our swimming gear and caught a Dolmus (shared taxi) out to “Ladies Beach” for a fare of 750TL or about 50p.

The beach was crammed with German tourists looking like beached whales washed up by the murky water. We found a spot on the sand and took turns swimming in the choppy water which was full of sand and weed but was beautifully warm. We spent an hour and a half there then caught a Dolmus back into town. We changed another £80 for 349,000TL then went back to the hotel for a shower. After relaxing for an hour or so we went across the road for a slap-up meal which cost us 50,000TL, about £12.

Later that night though, Linda came down with a bad attack of the shits and spewing so perhaps something in that meal wasn’t so good after all!  

27/5/90

GREECE TO TURKEY We spent about two hours after we got up repacking our gear and breaking camp then walked up to Marpissa where we sat in the howling wind for an hour while we waited for the bus.

Once we had made the trip over the hill to Parikia we dropped our packs off at a left luggage place then took our passports around to the ferry office and left them there¹. With the whole day to fill in, we went from bar to bar and from shady spot to shady spot. Several ferries came and went, depositing loads of fresh-faced tourists and taking away loads of frazzled ones.

We had tea at a beach-side restaurant and watched our last Greek sunset fade into the Aegean to be replaced by a shimmering first quarter moon. As darkness fell we collected our packs and walked down to the ferry terminal and sat on the dock waiting for our departure time to roll around.

The ferry Ariadne arrived at eleven o’clock and we boarded along with quite a crowd of others, mainly Aussies, a group of them very pissed and making complete fools of themselves. We went straight to the “O” Class lounge and stretched out on the floor to get some sleep. 

¹The passports needed to be held by Immigration until we went to board our ferry to Turkey.

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Part of a letter we wrote home from the ferry to Turkey. The line about the company “going under”  referred to the failed New Zealand company Ariadne, chaired by a smirking wide-boy called Bruce Judge. Having been one of the overvalued companies leading the mid-8os share boom, it had crashed spectacularly in 1987, taking with it the life’s savings of many people. 

 

 

26/5/90

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The Piso Livadi Cricket Club.

CRICKET AT PISO LIVADI We were up quite early and went down to the village for breakfast. After that, we sat on the beach and I had a swim in the wonderfully clear and warm water.

Around 12:30 we wandered over to the bar for a drink and by 1:30 enough people had arrived for 2 teams so the match began. We batted first and scored 93 before we were all out. I went for a duck! After drinks, the other team went in to bat and went down for 74. Not a bad First Innings lead for the ANZACs!

The game was played on the concrete car park beside the club with the sea on two sides. Two people fielded in the water and a direct hit into the sea was classed as a 6 while a bounce into the sea counted as a 4.

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Linda on strike facing a fast ball from The Rest of the World

I fared better in the second innings with a score of 8 before being bowled out and Linda managed a knock of 12. We were all out for 80 setting the other team a goal of 93 to win. Their opening batsmen were sent off in rapid succession but their middle order rallied and by the time their tail-enders were dismissed we had narrowly escaped defeat by one run. A draw was declared anyway and we retired to the “pavilion” for drinks and awards for catch of the match and man of the match.

The drinks flowed and a good time was had by all. Linda and I went for tea at around 7:30 then wandered back up to camp.

 

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After match drinks at the pavilion.  

25/5/90

We were both sunburnt after yesterday so we spent the day sitting in the shade of the camp’s empty bar balcony. In the evening we went down to the Flotilla Club and met some Aussies (3 guys from Queensland) who are touring Europe in a Kombi van, and a guy and girl travelling on their own. We had a few drinks and arranged a cricket match, the ANZACs vs the Rest of the World, for tomorrow.

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The back of my 1990 diary.