An Untraditional Thanksgiving: Hanson Style

Our Thanksgiving was not like any other we have ever experienced.  Most noticeable, Husband Jared was present.  Not just physically, but really with us.  Not worried about a 3am wake up call for Black Friday and not at the store Thanksgiving Eve preparing.  What a gift.  We also chose to travel.  Not wanting to spend the day focusing on all the differences in our lives this year or the absence of those family that we were missing we took a "3 hour tour" to Pamukkale.  We visited Lydocea, another one of the churches mentioned in the Book of Revalations.  Pamukkale, where there are white travertine, calcium deposits filled with thermal spring water and Heiropolis an ancient city with an incredibly preserved stadium and the martyrion of St. Phillip. 

The Citroen was loaded, snacks were packed and the Things were equipped with I-pods and sailing study guides for the drive.  Lydocea was the first stop.  After 3 hours of driving through Aydin, and several other Turkish cities we arrived.  We were able to practice our Turkish with the security guard in order to pay our entrance fee and then we were released to take in the grand scale of Lydocea.  There were two ampitheatres, the agora, the temple, and the baths that were still standing.  Some of the ruins dating back to BC times.  Traces of Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine control were all prevelant among the site.  Lizards scattered in between the giant marble stones taunted Thing 4.  He did catch one by the tail, an unsuccessful venture for the lizard.  The lizard wound up losing the tip of his tail in the struggle.
From there we followed the signs to Pammukale.  Unsure what to expect we found ourselves gazing in awe at the beauty before us.  White mountains that looked like mounds of cottony snow stood tall against the blue sky.  Aqua pools filled with warm spring water and running water cascading down the "white mountain" filled our ears with soothing music.  We took our shoes off and began our hike to Heiropolis.  At the bottom of the hill we encountered a fellow American who offered some friendly advice for the kiddos, words of caution.  And then we were off.  The sheer magnificence of the surroundings was breathtaking.  Things went from pool to pool feeling the water, shouting words of astonishment and excitement.  A true natural marvel.  Pammukale is an Unesco World Heritage site and from what I have been told there is only one other known place quite like it in the world.  And we were there.  Remarkable.

Upon reaching the top of the mountain the Antique Pools awaited us.  These are said to be ancient healing pools from Roman times.  Thermal pools filled with "healing waters" and remnants of grand columns and artifacts.  They are sunken and one can sit on the remains of architecture, over a thousand years old.  After perusing the pools and deciding unanimously that the six of us would like to go for a swim we found ourselves at the base of the ancient city of Heiropolis. 
Here stands one of the best preserved stadiums and the crypt of St. Phillip.  An ancient church whose symbols are obvious for all to see.  A Star of David, a cross, sacred soil so rich to our Christian history and the actual place where St. Phillip was stoned and crucified. 

We made the trek to this site all the while the menacing clouds crept closer and closer.  It was apparent we were going to be caught in the downpour.  Our time at this place was cut short and we hurriedly made our way down the travertine mountain.  Being careful not to lose our step, yet trying to keep pace we eventually succumbed to the rain.  Starting slowly with tiny drops and continuing with pellets of rain drenching us on our way to the car it was quite a sight to see I am sure.  The six of us running, ok sprinting down the mountain, Thing 4 on Thing 1's back.  What a visual, a memory not soon forgotten. 

And from there, soaked to the bone, we found our hotel.  Not just any hotel, a pansion, a house turned hotel.  They had a family room large enough for the six of us and with beds for everyone.  The Melrose was charming and authentically Turkish.  Enough said there.  We were greeted warmly by the owner, Mehmet and offered tea and shown to our room.  Thankfully we were able to change into dry clothes and then be on our way to dinner.  After driving through the town of Denizli and around we decided that we wanted to see the travertine at night time with the reflection of lights.  It was gorgeous.  And then we found Mustafa's.  A restaurant where the attendants stood outside waving us in while we drove by.  Deciding it was worth a try we parked and ventured in for our "Turkish - Thanksgiving" meal.  We dined on lamb, stuffed aubergine, fresh bread and chicken kebabs, and for dessert, why baklava of course and fresh yoghurt with honey.  Delicious to say the least. 

After a good night's sleep, and I use the adjective, "good" loosely, we enjoyed our kahvalti, thanked Mehmet and were on our way back to Urla. 

And that was the conclusion to our untraditional and very memorable Thanksgiving in Turkey.

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