Friday, 15 June 2012

Road to Pamukkale

It was already over 30 degrees when we left our Patara hotel at 8.30 am but it felt much cooler once we got rolling and the wind was blowing through our vented jackets. We could have travelled to our next destination, the calcite cliffs at Pamukkale, on highways but after about 60 km of a very scenic ride along the coastal highway we turned onto a small road that the map showed as a scenic route with plenty of twisties north through a mountain range. It was certainly that.

It started as a 3 lane road, 2 uphill and one down, with no other traffic, but it reduced to one each way and suddenly almost disappeared completely where there were roadworks or a landslide and we were sent on a 2 km diversion onto a single lane dirt track covered with crushed jagged rocks some of them as big as a brick. Much of it was up and down steep slopes with blind hairpins. On one of the steep downhill hairpins Gail had to get off the bike to see what the slope and surface were like round the corner as there was a sheer drop off the side and I wouldn't have been able to stop on the loose rocky surface once I committed to the bend. After the event it was great fun but it was a bit of a struggle at the time.

Back on the bitumen it continued as a one and a half car width, steep, winding road that had to be taken in 1st gear for several km. At one point a stoat took one look at us and decided we were going so slowly that it could skip across the road safely just in front of the bike. The first time I have seen a stoat in the wild.

On the descent we went through some small villages with the locals cutting fodder for their animals from the road verges and piling it on to tractor trailers or pack horses or donkeys or carrying it on bundles on their backs. We couldn't take photos because it would have been too intrusive. It felt like we were riding through their backyard.

Reached our destination in the early afternoon and after knocking back one hotel because it was too expensive we found a nice one for 60 lira. In fact we have now decided to stay two nights and to do a bus tour of the calcite cliffs and the ancient city of Hierapolis tomorrow. This the view of the calcite cliffs from the main street, but we'll know more about them tomorrow.

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