Ryan's Journal

"My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?" — David Mitchell

Lost in Translation

Posted from Pamukkale, Turkey at 10:46 pm, July 25th, 2014

Today ended up with two adventures, one planned and awesome, the other unplanned and not quite as awesome. The latter began after a late lunch when I attempted to save 30 minutes of uphill walking by catching the local shuttle to the upper gate of Hierapolis. The shuttle bus arrived, I hopped on, and my first sign of trouble was that there was not a white face on board. Thirty minutes later the bus finally stopped at the downtown terminal in a nearby large city. Once I found a bus that was supposedly returning to my starting point I made sure to repeat the name of the town I wanted multiple times just to be certain that I wasn’t accidentally getting on an express bus to Istanbul or any other surprise destination. These sorts of things are inevitable when traveling, but it will still be nice to be able to reliably use either English or French in the remaining countries on the trip, since with the aid of a limited vocabulary and excessive hand gestures I might have a decent chance of successfully doing simple things like riding a bus.

The day’s more enjoyable adventure was a visit to the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis. Having already spent an hour of fun in shuttles I gave up on trying to get a ride to the top gate, and made the very pleasant no-shoes-allowed walk up the white travertine terraces, with pools along the route and water from the springs running down the path. At the top, the ancient city sprawled across the landscape. Visits were made to many of the buildings, and one of the things that I’ve learned to love about Turkey is how accessible things are – I climbed to the top of a hill that literally had corners of sarcophagi sticking out of the ground, obviously waiting for archaeologists to find the time to excavate them. Similarly, I’m frequently blown away by the historical significance of what’s here – as if visiting Roman cities wasn’t enough, this one is home to the tomb of Philip. The apostle Philip. A guy who partied with Jesus. You don’t accidentally stumble upon the 2000 year old tomb of a biblical figure in too many parts of the world, but that was just one of several notable discoveries during the day today. The walk back down along the terraces at sunset was a final experience worth savoring for the day.

One last note, but a giant stork has built a nest on the roof of the local mosque and hangs out on patrol for large portions of the day; for reasons I do not understand, I like both that the stork chose the mosque, and that the locals don’t seem to mind having a huge pile of sticks and a large bird on the top of their religious edifice.

Travertine terraces at Pamukkale

Travertine terraces at Pamukkale. To get to Hierapolis you walk barefoot for about 30 minutes up a path through the terraces, with foot-deep pools along the way to soak in. Combine that with the view, and the ancient Roman city at the top is almost the second-best part of the day. The only downside is the number of large, hairy people making the journey in a speedo.

Travertine terraces at Pamukkale

I’ve gone back-and-forth a few times about whether or not I like this photo enough to include it in the journal. If you’re reading this, it means I included it. If you’re not…

2 responses to “Lost in Translation”

    1. Apparently the storks-on-a-mosque theme is not limited to Pamukkale, since I saw the same thing in another town while driving back to the coast. Alas no pictures to show how odd a giant bird keeping watch over an even more giant nest on the roof of a mosque looks.

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