The village of Pamukkale is shaped entirely by tourism. This is historically accurate, since it is the successor to the Greek spa resort of Hierapolis, whose business continued into Byzantine times. When we checked into our hotel in the early afternoon, we were just the most recent of a stream of tourists dating from the the second century BCE. I don’t know how the early visitors traveled to this place, but we’d spent longer on the road than we’d imagined by trusting more to GoogleMaps than road signs. One wrong direction had cost us almost an hour of extra travel. So we had a late lunch of gözleme and lentil soup (the Turkish equivalent of alu paratha and dal).
The balcony of our room looked out on the white limestone cliff which gives its name to the village (pamuk means cotton, and kale means fort). We sat in the pleasant warmth of our balcony, lined with roses, and looked out at the cliffs. It was too warm to walk up there. In fact the warmth was making us feel a little dozy. “Do you want an afternoon nap?” I asked The Family. “No, I might oversleep. Why don’t we walk around the village?” That was a easy suggestion to fall in with. We needed to get some bottles of water too.
The village was clearly built on the tourist trade. On our drive we’d passed through a couple of other small villages, and the back roads of Pamukkale looked exactly like them. A mosque stood among little shops and small clumps of houses, with washing hung out in the sun to dry. It was early in Ramazan, so the warm afternoon was very quiet. I suppose you tend to rest, if you can, while on a fast. Closer to the main road, all the restaurants and shops were open for tourists, although there were very few. We found our bottles of water and made our way back to the hotel.
The pool at the front of the hotel had warm water from the spa. A little garden at the back separated the hotel from the house where the owner lived. I’d noticed earlier that the kitchen was in the house, and our waiter had gone through a single door in the separating wall, with the painting that you see above, to convey our order to the cook, and to bring our food back. It was time to have a çay (pronounced chai) before leaving for the springs.