It takes a while to wrap your head around Pammukale.

Take this picture for example:

It's a camel! Yes, but that's not the point. The white stuff behind the camel is not snow. As much as it looks like a snow drift, it's actually stone - thousands of years of calcium deposits.

Pammukale is 4 hours inland of the western coast of Turkey, and rises out of the desert and dry hills like an impossibly placed glacier. You would swear that it's snow - until you touch it. The calcium deposits come from the volcanically heated thermal waters which spring up due to a giant fault line in the region. These "glaciers" of minerals and thermal waters have existed for thousands of years: one of the world's most ancient spa regions. Cleopatra bathed in Pammukale's "healing" waters.

The ancient city of Hierapolis is built on Pammukale which flourished as a spa city since at least the 3rd century B.C.  One of three ancient cities in the immediate area, Hierapolis exists alongside Laodicea and Colossai (of the Colossians), all within 15 km. of each other.

Is the history of this place starting you hit you now? Just wait until you see the pictures of the hot springs!

On Monday my Aunt Frances whisked Jacob and I off to an overnight stay in Pammukale. Fran had planned everything for us (a welcome relief - we have done so much planning in the past few months), so we knew from the start it was going to be a wonderful and relaxing trip.

We arrived at the hotel, a big place that had it's own spa and thermal pools available to the guests. We checked in and the bell hop took us up to our rooms. As we were opening the door, I noticed a few chamber maids and hotel employees looking on curiously, big smiles on their faces. I figured it was a slow day and they were bored (albeit happy) people. The door swung open and the first thing I noticed was that our room was covered in rose petals.

"My goodness," I thought, "They do this for everyone?". 

Nope. As it turns out, Fran had told the hotel that Jacob and I were on our honeymoon, so the smiling women outside our door were the people responsible for transforming our room into a rose petal wonderland. It was ridiculous, and amazing. I was giddily excited. Flowers covered our bed, our desk,  filled the bath tub and covered the sink.

Embracing the luxurious atmosphere, Jacob and I put on our hotel robes and slippers and headed down to the spa.

Why YES, those ARE swans made out of towels behind me!
We spent the afternoon relaxing in thermal waters and mud pools. Then we got the traditional Turkish Bath treatment, called a "Hammam". In the Hammam, a masseuse lays you on a heated marble slab, douses you in warm water, scrubs you until pink and shiny (it's gloriously disgusting all the dirty skin that comes off you), then covers you in giant mounds of bubbles.

Fran took pictures.

Jacob in a sea of bubbles, getting a foot massage. What a life! 
What an amazing, fantastic, wonderful day. I was in spa heaven. I wish I could teleport back to those thermal mud pools...

Anyways. The next day was awe-inspiring.

In the morning Fran dropped us off at the entrance of Hierapolis and Pammukale. It was a misty, cool morning, and we had the park to ourselves as we walked through a gigantic ancient Necropolis - a "city of the dead". I have to say that I love cemeteries, I can't exactly say why. I find them beautiful and sad and atmospheric and poetic.

We could have scrambled around the Necropolis for hours.

As we reached the end of the Necropolis we entered through the main gate into the city of Hierapolis.

The restoration of this city is phenomenal. Throughout history earthquakes have unearthed ruins, providing archeologists with thousands of puzzle pieces to reconstruct.

As you continue through the city, you start to come to the calcium and travertine cliffs, which hold the thermal waters. The calcium deposits are growing ever so slowly, so sometimes you stumble upon the surreal sight of ancient ruins stranded in seas of the white stone.

Finally we came to the pools themselves, which you can still climb and wade through to experience the volcanic waters.

You wouldn't believe how many pictures we took.

After leaving Pammukale, Fran took us over to see Laodicea. Laodicea is somewhat less jaw-dropping of a sight than Pammukale, but still boasts an incredible history. It also has another thing that really excites nerdy people like me - it's an active archeology site. As we wandered around we were able to watch the archeologists go about their work, and see the progress as the reconstruction was being made.  We also had Fran with us - who is an extremely knowledgable tour guide. As we walked around she told us everything she knew about the history of Laodicea, and gave context to Scripture's references to the city.

After a wonderfully memorable two days we drove home to Izmir.

I will leave you with that for now, but there is more coming soon... (sorry I couldn't think of a better ending).