My adventures are getting even more exciting – as I am now traveling through Turkey, Syria and Jordan with a group of 15. Our tour began with a real introduction to ‘Turkey’. We were waiting for a minibus to deliver us from our meeting point to the main bus station. Jess, our leader, has just told us this particular tour has never happened before, we are the ‘guinea pigs’ and that anything can happen – ‘this is Turkey’. Time was ticking, and Jess began to get just a little frantic.

Suddenly on impulse, she had all 14 of us bundled (squeezed) into taxis for a little taste of crazy Istanbul driving. I have experienced Istanbul’s taxi service before. It is not for the feint-hearted! We screamed through Istanbul, taking the ‘scenic route’ at 90km/hr on tight-laned, winding roads in the dark. As we were flying along, one of the other taxis filled with our fellow precious group members pulls up close to our taxi and starts conversing with our taxi driver through the window – while still driving a casual 90km/hr. I have no idea what they were discussing – maybe the weather – or the football – but we were all just a little concerned about the van we were rapidly approaching ahead of us. Our driver finished his conversation, apathetically turns his head, regards the van as if it is only 50km ahead, and swings the wheel effortlessly to only just miss contacting it. Meanwhile, we all let out our breath simultaneously. We are making our way traveling together over the next 3 weeks through some amazing historical, scenic, culturally exciting countries. The group is great, 14 people – 5 Australians and 9 from the US, with a crazy chick NZ leader, Jess, who’s been living in Turkey over the past year or so. We are a great mix of ages and personalities – from mid 20′s to 50/60 yr olds, relaxed, easy-going, and adventurous. We boarded the bus which was taking us overnight to a town called Pamukkale. (for those geographically inclined, this is inland, south-east of Istanbul). Okay, I will never complain of Wagga bus trips again! 9 hours on a bus overnight is not much fun! The overnight train option sounded so much more romantic – however the Turkish government has decided (inconveniently) to do track work which is taking a bit longer than planned…

We arrived in Pamukkale to do a day’s worth of exploring. I had no idea what we were exploring – until we walked up the crest of the hill and in view was an immense, weird looking mountain that looked like it was covered in snow.

I’d never seen anything like it before. It was the ‘Travertines’ – which is a calcium deposit build up over centuries (and centuries!). Streams of thermal water flow over and down the cliffs, forming little thermal pools, iridescent blue against the sparkling white. We were allowed to walk over it – without shoes and ripples of built up calcium massaged my feet.

Above the Travertines, sits the ruins of an ancient Roman city – Hierapolis, with the remains of an amazing theatre. We spent quite a few hours wondering around the city at our own pace. The city would have been beautiful in its time – set in gorgeous scenic rolling hills.

It’s nice to be sharing the journey with a group of people. I really enjoyed my alone traveling time, however it is good to be able to share meals with people, get to know and form relationships with them and experience things together.

Originally written for Intriguing Abstractions and Curious Diversions