Once we left Cappadocia we started driving back towards Izmir, with a sightseeing stop planned in Pamukkale. As mentioned in the car section I got a speeding ticket in one of the straight and boring roads between Konya and Aksaray. Local people recommended us the route that goes via Akşehir, and then just after passing Cay turning left and drive straight to Pamukkale/Denizli. It was a great tip, roads were good and totaltime and mileage were lower.
Akşehir: after a long drive we decided to spend the night at Akşehir. We slept at the best hotel in town Grand Bal Otel (recommended in the LP guide). The hotel is clean and modern. Price was 100TL breakfast included. Breakfast was good, better than average, served in the hotel top floor, with views.
Even if it was just a needed overnight stop it was quite enjoyable and with a couple of anecdotes. When we arrived in town we could not find the hotel, so we stopped in a petrol station and asked for directions. Surprisingly, one of the employees there asked me to let him drive (he did not speak any English) and he drove us to the hotel!!. After thanking him he replied (in Turkish) something like: “if you have problems go back to Total Petrol station”.
After we checked in at the hotel we went to a barber shop in front of the hotel. The barber was a Kurdish young guy called Chain, and he had a friend there who (luckily) spoke some english. They were really friendly. I got a almost-bald sharp haircut, he trimmed my nose, tried to trimmed my very bushy eyebrows (did not let him) and he used some kind of cotton bud in flames to “trim” by 2 day beard. I have to admit that I panicked a little bit. The haircut was just 7.5TL and we had a great time.
Following local recommendations we had dinner in a fantastic place called Şehir Lokantasi ( I think Hidirlik Orta Gazino was the name of the street as it was in turkish, so not sure, very close to the hotel anyway), tel 8135217. It was a beautiful old house. We had the best Kofta in the whole trip. Really recommended if you are around Akşehir for dinner. Price for several beers and 4 dishes for 2 persons was 45TL.
Pamukkale: after checking some of the places recommended by people and LP, like Venüs Pension and Koray Hotel (both were good and clean, and very cheap, they reduced the price up to 40TL per 2 persons breakfast included), we were looking for a spa type place and stayed at
PAMUKSU BOUTIQUE HOTEL, PAMUKKALE, TEL +90 258 272 2818
Price was 80TL including breakfast for 2 persons and extra 10TL per person for buffet dinner.
It was a poor choice. The hotel looked ok and it had a thermal bath. Once we checked in we found that the hotel was in urgent need of a full renovation, with faulty taps, worn out carpets and stained painting, the “thermal bath area” (just a warm water indoors swimming pool) was literally falling apart and rusty…and the breakfast was just ok. My wife had a massage and she found it not very hygienic and not very professional. I’d recommend avoiding this hotel and choosing somewhere else.
Eating: we had dinner at Venüs pansiyon (www.venushotel.net)
Food was excellent and atmosphere really nice. Price was 53TL.
The visit to the archaeological site Pamukkale/Hierapolis was simply wonderful. Ticket price was 20TL per person. I found it very expensive and no single brochure explaining anything was given. Although it is well known that the famous travertines are running out water and dirty, I think they are getting back in shape, with more water than what we expected after reading the LP guide. The travertines close to the south entrance were crowded as they let you walk around inside some if them and even lay down in shallow water areas. Still, there was a ward checking that people were not going outside the allowed areas.
The nice surprise was Hierapolis , the Roman Spa town. They ruins were beautiful and fairly well preserved, specially the necropolis, my favourite part, with amazing tombs and sarcophagus. The impressive size should not be so surprising as so many people went there to try to heal and it simply didn’t happen. We started the visit in the northern gate and walked down all the way to the southern gate. I think is better like this as the crowded area was the southern gate and you can get a better view of the city ahead. Our visit lasted over 3 hours.