The overnight Pamukkale Express Train leaves Istanbul daily at 5:35 p.m. with a scheduled arrival in Denizli the next morning at 8:35 a.m. The group cozied up in the couchette compartments that hold six couchettes with pillow and blanket. It’s not private but who cares since everyone sleeps in their clothes. I squished in my ear plugs, took a dramamine and went to sleep (except when the train jolted to one of the six other stops throughout the night).

This train left from Istanbul’s Haydarpasa Station on the Asian side of the Bosphorus. Ferries stop at the station’s own dock and all trains to and from Asian Turkey use Haydarpasa Station. Sirkeci Station is Istanbul’s other train station and famous as the terminus of the Orient Express, immortalized in Agatha Christie’s famous Murder On The Orient Express and still one of my favorite mysteries.

Not a bad night’s sleep and driver, Mustapha (isn’t everybody named “Mustapha” in Turkey), was waiting at the Denizli Station to begin the road trip with the ride to the spa town of Pamukkale. Note: Mustapha turned out to be one of Steve’s and my favorite parts of the trip. What a sweet guy! Pamukkale is only a 20 km/12 mile distance from Denizli. This “frozen waterfall” is one of Turkey’s amazing natural wonders. It is situated on a high escarpment and has been a tourist attraction since Roman times (a health spa, no kidding, in Hierapolis, 2nd Century BC).

The layers of limestone and travertine form a petrified waterfall cascade from basin to basin and look like cotton candy. The travertine terraces have a shallow layer of water, and form a step-like arrangement down the upper one-third of the slope, The other form consists of stalactites that prop up and connect these terraces. Who could resist taking shoes off to wade in the warm water? Not us.

From Pamukkale, the drive continued south to Fethiye, a typically Turkish town with good harbor. Explore based us here for two nights with daytime explorations planned.

Originally written for Travels With Sheila

posts by Sheila