Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Denizli Trip

Three weeks ago I went to Denizli with the other exchange students in the 2440 district.  I traveled to Izmir on Friday, then Saturday morning we were all off to Denizli! It was a fairly long bus ride, filled with story telling of the night before, extremely inappropriate and offensive music being listened to and laughed at, and a discussion about who would be eaten first if we got stranded in the middle of Turkey with no help or food around.  Everyone picked me. (It isn't meant to be morbid or disgusting in any way, it's just one of those things that comes up in 2440 RYE students' conversation.)

After a few hours, we made it to our first stop.  We were all tired getting off the bus and none of us were prepared for the cold rain falling down on us.  We went to an ancient Greek city called Aphrodisias.  Over the past few years, I've seen some pretty breathtaking places, but this place was definitely up near the top of my list.  There were rows and rows of ancient Greek statues, and inscriptions were found all over the city.  We ran into a beautiful gateway, and two ancient stadiums; all surrounded by the mountains and bright green fields of grass.  It was so hard to take pictures, because photos could not do justice to what I saw there.  It was so amazing.

A really nicely sculpted sculpture

Monumental gateway

Over this hill was a giant stadium.  It's one of the most well preserved in the Mediterranean region.

A friend of mine singing in one of the theaters
After visiting this city, we continued our journey to have lunch, where we had yet another wonderful Turkish meal, then we advanced to another ancient city.  On the way to the second city, we ran into something a few of the other exchange students had never experienced before. Snow.  Our little bus was overflowing with excitement.  Everyone was either happy to be seeing snow again for the first time in a long time, or happy to be seeing it for the first time.  There were even tears.  It was quite emotional, I was just so glad that my Latino friends were able to see some snow!  It was such an incredible moment.  I made a video.  (I keep avidly taking videos.  It's almost annoying.)

Everyone in the snow!
We had to rush through the second ancient city, Laodicea, because we arrived just ten minutes before the park was going to close.  It took a bit of convincing the officers, but we eventually got ourselves into the park!  We took a few pictures, but didn't really have enough time to look around the city.  Apparently the city is really important because one of the most important seven churches of Christianity is found there.  I don't really have much to say about the city because we were only there for about ten minutes.

The important church

After this city, we headed to our hotel, where we spent the evening relaxing.  We pretty much just hung out in the pool and sauna, then we ate dinner, where the huge group of retired Dutch gave us weird looks for being ornery teenagers. We later talked about our exchanges, then our lives back home and how everything seems to quickly come to an end.  Also, the shower in my hotel room didn't close completely, so I accidentally flooded the bathroom a little bit... oops...

The next morning we were up bright and early to go to Pamukkale! I was looking forward to Pamukkale so much.  The pictures I'd seen on the internet were beautiful, and I was so excited to be seeing it for myself. A few of the boys were late getting to the bus, so we thought it'd be funny to drive off a bit without them, then laugh as they chased the bus with their shoes untied and bags still open. We're sometimes terrible to each other, but it was still really funny.  In our defense, a Rotarian came up with the idea.  We walked through another ancient city, which had a lot to do with death.  I don't remember the story completely (mainly because we were told in Turkish), but I remember that there we just about a gazillion tombs and graves in the city.  People would go there for their death I guess.  There was also a neighboring city for the not dying people.  
Everyone standing around some mausoleums and tombs with our flags
I like to share my freedom.  
After we walked through the city, we were able to go swimming!  I left my swimming things on the bus, as did half of the other students, so we had to walk fifteen minutes each way to and from the bus, then we were able to meet up with the others and swim in the pools lined with ancient ruins, and heated by the thermal plates that heat Pamukkale!  We did get some strange looks because it was 50F (10C) outside, and we were a bunch of kids speaking English going out for a swim. We're always getting strange looks...

Everyone in the pool
After swimming, we were able to go to walk through the thermal pools at Pamukkale!  It was really neat, but also a little slippery.  I didn't fall, but I had a few close calls.
Me and Pamukkale

Everyone standing in one of the pools
After going through the pools at Pamukkale, we headed back to Izmir.  We first had lunch and ice cream (because we're exchange students and always need ice cream), then the rest of our bus ride home was mostly dedicated to catching up on some sleep.  It was a really nice trip, and I was able to witness yet another thing that a year ago I had no idea existed on this planet, and share the time with some of my closest friends.

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