I think I am a little obsessed with Couchsurfing. Of course, people travel for different sights and views and the search for ‘one’s true self’ blah blah. I have those moments too. I love seeing things and going places. But after a while, I realized that what drives me forward the most, is meeting new people. The excitement when meeting someone unknown, when embracing their culture and lifestyle without hesitation, when having hour long conversations about life and dreams.
Not everyone likes to spend nights in a stranger’s house, and I completely get that. But I love how these relationships always forgo the awkwardness of small talk and long pauses. There’s always an experience about bad hosts or surfers that can be shared. Always a common love for traveling that is pre-established.
That is why I was extremely excited when offered to be hosted by a biker in Denizli, Turkey.
Denizli is a province in southwest Turkey. The city (same name) doesn’t have a lot to offer when compared to other historical sites of Turkey. However, it is the base to Pamukkale, a famous tourist spot with mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white terraces on a hill. The hot springs sit beside Hierapolis, a Roman ‘spa city’ with a well-preserved theater and other architectural wonders.
My host was a teaching assistant in the Engineer department in the nearby Pamukkale University.
I had a no idea what I was getting into but honestly, he turned out to be an average Turkish Joe.
During my days with him and his friend, they wouldn’t let me pay a cent. They’d look at me like I was outta my mind when I took out my wallet and utter “When you are under my care, you don’t have to worry about a thing.” Not sure if this is a biker or a Turkish thing, but I dug it.
Pamukkale is a natural site in Denizli. The city had beautiful hot springs surrounded by white walls as formed by carbonate minerals, often known as the “cotton castle”. Usually, the pools are filled with warm, baby blue water. However, when I visited, only a few pools had been filled. Unlike decades earlier, the pools are said to fill depending on the season and apparently, people are stealing the thermal water due to the amount of minerals it contains. Wearing shoes in the water is prohibited to protect the site.
Nonetheless, with the little water, the hot spring is absolutely beautiful during the sunset. It is naturally warm, which provides a great spot to just sit and relax. Though it was considerably crowded during an August day, the other sites surrounding the hot springs are at peace.
Hierapolis, an ancient Greco-Roman city, was built atop the hot springs. The theater was absolutely phenomenal. Despite it being a few thousand years old, it stood tall against the city of Denizli (with the help of a few years of restorations.) Both Turkey and Greece are known for their grand, ancient theaters and magnificent architecture. Can’t imagine what these places held under the reign of the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empire.
The next night, my host and his friend bought me to a Turkish Bikers’ Club. This was probably one of my favorite moments throughout my trip across Turkey. Being the only girl /foreigner at this weekly meet, I actually felt really comfortable among these guys. They drank Turkish tea and beer, and we just chatted. A few even took out guitars and had a jam session.
Honestly, I think I’ve found my calling. Waiting for the days when I can retire and ride around the highways of Canada :J
On the third day of living at Denizli, I made up my mind to continue my journey and head towards the province of Muğla. Though it was beautiful, for me, Denizli just didn’t have too much to offer.
Hearing my decision, my host and his friend took a few days off work to take me on a spontaneous bike trip to Akyaka.
Muğla is a popular province for tourists. It houses some of the most beautiful beaches and sights in Turkey. Akyaka, being a smaller city, is less tourist-prone. it is quiet and mesmerizing, a camping hot-spot for locals and bikers. A 2-hour motorbike ride away from Denizli, we (or, my hosts) met and spoke with other bikers along the highway.
Since it took us a while to get there, it took us a while to find a viable camping spot. Note! Do try getting here earlier or make reservations since camping spots fill up fast.
However, the night sky was absolutely breathtaking and once again, we swam in the night sea.
The next day, I took a bus towards Fethiye, the most popular city in Muğla, while my host turned friends returned home to Denizli.
Like I said, my host wouldn’t let me pay for a dime. The only cost I incurred was the bus from Cappadocia to Denizli, which was another 10-hour bus for about 60 lire (US $16). These buses vary between companies despite similar prices. For more information, visit a local bus terminal. They usually have people there to answer questions. Or, read up on my Turkish travel tips.
If you have other questions, feel free to shoot me a message!
Happy Travels xx
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