Here Comes The Planet 38 – Iceland 03

Heading east along the south coast of Iceland, we drive past some of the amazing scenery the island has on offer. We also stop off at the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and the glacial river lagoon, Jökulsárlón.

Also, the cliffs of insanity in Iceland? Inconceivable!

Music: Sigur Rós – Stormur

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Turkey: Pamukkale

We headed from Antalya to Pamukkale, a bit of a one-horse town half way to the coast. The Romans built a very large city there, Hierapolis, at the top of the travertines. What are the travertines, you might ask? Well, it’s a bit of a complex answer and I didn’t really know until we got there. Even when we got there it wasn’t quite obvious what the place was about.

The travertines are white cliffs of calcium carbonate that is constantly being deposited by the hot springs along the top of the cliffs. The town of Pamukkale is at the bottom of the springs and you walk up the travertines to get to the Roman ruins.

Everyone takes their shoes off to walk up the hill because it is mostly white and almost entirely covered with running water. From a millimetre deep to ankle deep. There are pools built into the slope which you can sit in (the bottom is quite like clay sludge but white) or walk past. Although it sounds as though it might be slippery, the surface is very easy to grip and the deposits of calcium make beautiful patterns.

One of the less-white bits. The water is occasionally diverted to let the sun bleach different areas.

I visited twice. First Luke, Lucas and I walked up the first afternoon and looked around (it’s 20 TLR/$10 to get in) , enjoying the novelty of the place and the views at sunset where the white cliffs turn a gorgeous pink.

Pink – but not this pink. Since I got Photoshop re-installed on my laptop I’ve been going a bit crazy with colour. It was very beautiful in real life though!

Then Lucas and I walked up the following morning but he kept going to the ruins and I sat in one of the pools with my kindle observing the other tourists and, surprisingly, being asked to be in a photo with a couple of young fellows from Istanbul.

Obviously not a photo of me, but it gives you a bit of an idea what the pools are like. I don’t know if you can tell but there’s water running down the cliff-face. Sunglasses are NOT optional.

I have done some calculations based on my observations of the people there and determined the following:

10% of people were there to swim/bathe.

10% were there purely to walk the length and take photos of the view.

80% were there to take pictures of their girlfriends/be photographed by their boyfriends in the smallest bikinis available, perched in precisely the same back-arched, one-knee-drawn-up, reclining position that seems incredibly popular everywhere in Turkey. I like to think of it as the ‘men’s magazine’ angle.

In fact everywhere we’ve been the numbers are pretty much the same. Go somewhere scenic, get your girlfriend into as small an amount of clothing as is socially acceptable in the situation and then snap away – preferably at an angle where she’s on one side of a busy thoroughfare and you’re on the other so traffic grinds to a halt and everyone has to pause and admire the impending melanomas.

Nevermind, I’m just jealous because tanning in Australia is a life-threatening hobby whereas everyone here seems oblivious to the existence of hats and old age.

The beginning of the walk, where you take off your shoes. There’s a channel for the water to run into where it goes down to a duck pond in a park. It’s maybe hard to see here that the whole slope is covered in water. Made for a cool feet on a hot day!

Behind Luke you can see a bit of Pamukkale and the aforementioned duck pond, in which you can paddle about in those swan-shaped boats that work like pedalling a bicycle.

Pamukkale wasn’t a terribly endearing place. People start shouting at you the second you get off the bus (to eat, buy, stay) and it’s obvious that most people here survive off tourism, which must contribute to the general sense of desperation. However I was really charmed by the travertines and I would say they’re definitely good for at least a day’s visit and it’s really worth being there for sunset. There’s only about 5 minutes of magical light but it’s worth it, and despite the signs saying it’s only open til 8pm people were up there under floodlights quite late. Although because it’s all white hardly any heat is absorbed and the pools cool swiftly at sundown leading to very cold feet by the time you climb down.

I’m glad we went and it was nice to have two opportunities to walk up the hill. With my growing issues with chlorine in pools (massively itchy skin afterwards) but my deep love of water and swimming, I take my chances where I can get them and the travertines were certainly unique!

 

 

 

Here Comes The Planet 35 – England 09

We meet up with our friend Justin in Saltburn-By-The-Sea, in my personal favourite episode of Here Comes The Planet thus far!

Justin was the first Couchsurfer Amanda hosted, and whilst in Melbourne he also came along to our Samsara 2012 party (although I have no footage of that, here’s some footage from Samsara 2011). He was keen to return the hospitality, and did so in spades! We had a fantastic time with him and his mates, as you’ll no doubt be able to tell from the video. Apart from a great tour of Saltburn, he took us out to an excellent club night being run by a mate of his, as well as a joint birthday party where there were tasty noms, numerous games (some of which no one knew how to win, especially not the person making the game up as they went) and a lot of padded wrestling. We’re already looking forward to the time we can all catch up again. 🙂

Also, if you’ve never considered taking up dinghying as a hobby, Burno makes a compelling case.

Zanzibar, continued.

Another ‘copy and paste’ post from my notes, hopefully WordPress won’t helpfully spellcheck so many words this time. Also apologies for the photo quality. In order to upload more than one and hour I’ve made them very low resolution.

Messing around on the beach.

Zanzibar, Day 5.

I shall stop complaining about our accommodation because there are certainly good things about it. The deck has a great view and comfy chairs, our rooms open onto sand and it’s mostly very peaceful and quiet, despite the fact that there’s a big resort being built next door. No heavy machinery – one of the benefits of developing countries. You can feel the serenity! And no screams, as yet, from bare-headed, unharnessed workmen falling from un-scaffolded roofs.

I managed to take a photo of breakfast this morning as I was not so ravenously hungry. So here’s a photo of pretty much exactly what’s on the table each day.

I’m thoroughly sick of paw paw now >.<

In all fairness, it tastes better than it looks as the crepes are quite good, particularly with jam. Just a shame the whole thing is cold before it gets to us.

Kat, Lucas and Luke at breakfast.

I’d set aside Sunday as wiffy day (that’s how they pronounce ‘wifi’ here) so after breakfast Luke and I walked up the beach and tried a couple of hotels. Strangely the reception of the first hotel was better when we accessed it from the second hotel. I paid $1 for the first hotel’s access then we went to the second place and asked if we could use the wireless.

“Sure, it’s free”.

“Great!” we replied. “What’s the password?”

“Ten dollar,” said the manager.

“Ten dollars? That’s a lot for internet access,”

“Password is ten dollar,”

“You said wifi was free?”

“Password is ‘ten dollar'” he said, writing it down.

“Ahh, the password is ‘ten dollar’?”

“Yes!”

How delightfully obfuscatory and completely African.

We went back up to our cabins and told the gang we had found free wifi so everyone went down for lunch with their phones and devices. Lunch took the standard decade to appear and wasn’t quite what most people had ordered. Still, it was filling and quite tasty and the chips were awful. Pretty much what we’d come to expect. We sat around for a while reading and waiting for the tide to go down so we could get back down the beach.

Giant postcard!

Currently I’m in the middle of 3 books, none of which are very good. 2000 Leagues Under the Sea started off ok but the technical bits are dull, Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind (which I’ve been meaning to read for ages) is woeful and could’ve been written by a teenager, and another one about a witch… it’s so bad I can’t even recall the title. It’s the sad thing about fantasy and sic fi – there’s probably 10 dreadful books for every good one in the genre and trying new authors is fraught with disappointment. The day’s best reading, in fact, was an email from Luke mum, Lea. She always writes very lovely emails to us and says the nicest things. So thanks Lea!

We headed up to the other end of the beach for dinner that evening but couldn’t find Teddy’s Bar. We kept walking and walking and eventually found quite a lovely bar and restaurant and we sat at a table on the sand and had cocktails and pizzas. I fed some bits to a dog that sat next to us the whole time and it followed us back to the hotel. The moon was so bright we had noticeable moon shadows as we walked back.

Zanzibar, day 6.

Our last full day at Jaribu before we join the tour tomorrow. Breakfast was a more meagre affair than previously – a small chunk of banana, no jam, half a piece of untoasted bread. We theorised that either they’d slacked off (even further) because we’d paid the day before or they were trying to make us lose weight.

Luke has been complaining that his hair is getting too long so, after much hesitation, I had a go at cutting it after breakfast. I left the top but shortened the sides and, miraculously, he thought it was fine. I was bit afraid that no matter what I did he wouldn’t like it since he nearly always comes back from the hairdresser complaining about what they’ve done.

The rest of today will consist of using the internet, washing hair and having a swim at the fancy resort up the road then packing everything before we meet the tour tomorrow on the other side of the island. Kat said that last time she went on one of these tours they had interest about once a week so hopefully we’ll manage that again. I’m up to 90 posts on the blog now, so I’m keen to make 100 before we finish the tour.

Here’s some photos from day 4 when we went to the Rock and then watched the sunset.

Everyone on the beach before catching the boat over to The Rock.

Kat on the balcony.

Lobster!

Kat and the moon. The full moon has meant very high and low tides.

Despite what it looks like, this guy isn’t actually burning his boat.

Nikki makes a friend.

Leigh watches the sunset.