On the advice of some friends, I went from Pamukkale to Datca, a peninsula that divides the Aegean Sea and the Mediterranean. It wasn’t too tricky to get to – there are buses about four times a day from Marmaris, a major coastal hub. I camped out at Ilica Camping which was home to a friendly bunch of cats and a helpful owner. I didn’t do too much sightseeing, as I was a bit worn out from the prior 5 days in Istanbul, Ephesus and Pamukkale. I simply wandered around the small town and enjoyed the views!
From Selçuk it took about 3.5 hours to get to Pamukkale, a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to travertine terraces and bathing pools. I camped out in the backyard of Özbay Hotel, whose owner Öner was very friendly, and enjoyed some of the traditional Turkish food in the small town. The travertine terraces are pretty incredible to view from afar and from up close. You can walk on them and bath in their pools provided you buy a $10 ticket and agree to take your shoes off.
Above the travertine terraces is the 4,000-year-old city of Hierapolis. Here you can visit the 12,000 seat theater, several tombs, and even an olive press.
From Istanbul I took an overnight bus to the town of Selçuk, near the city of Izmir on the Aegean coast. Located just a few kilometers away is the ancient Greek and Roman city of Ephesus (Efes in Turkish), which is by far the top attraction in the area and where I spent a lovely morning. I happened to meet Dennis and Lisa, a wonderful British couple, on the overnight bus, and I spent the day sightseeing and having lunch with them. It was nice to have a bit of company for a change!
I spent nearly a week in Istanbul in 2008. I was working in Moscow at the time and took advantage of a cheap flight for my spring break. I absolutely fell in love with the city and it was one of my first solo trips where I felt fully comfortable meeting people and coming out of my shell a bit. Istanbul has a bit of a sweet spot in my heart.
On this trip I knew I had to come back to Turkey, and while my priority has been to explore the coast and other more rural areas, I was excited to get back to one of my favorite cities. On my first visit I saw all the major sites: the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sofia, Galata Tower, a tour of the Bosphorus. During this weekend visit I got further east along the river to some of the ritzier areas, thanks to a friend of mine who lives in the city and acted as tour guide. I also went to the amazing spice market and Grand Bazaar and got my fill of Turkish delight!