Tag Archives: IMX Travel Altinkum

On This Day – Boat Ride to Bodrum

On 30th September 2014 I took an ill advised boat trip in Turkey.

After the debacle of the IMX excursion to Ephesus and Pamukkale and the road side break down we seriously considered cancelling our next IMX  trip to Bodrum because this was by boat and whilst breaking down in a car is bad enough, in a boat it could be catastrophic.

Read the full story Here…

On This Day – Truck Stop in Turkey

The visits to the Ancient sites of Turkey complete on 28th September 2014 we were making our painful return journey…

Hagi wasn’t in the AA roadside breakdown service or whatever the equivalent is in Turkey so there now followed a long winded debate as each of the passengers looked inside the engine compartment in turn as though they knew what they were talking about and offered alternative diagnoses and possible solutions.

There was a lot of head scratching, nodding and general agreement but the truth was however that there was no more engine technical knowledge between them than you could expect to find in an average reception class at a primary school and one by one the suggestions all inevitably failed.

Read The Full Story Here…

On This Day – Pamukkale and Heirapolis

Continuing the tour of Ancient Turkey on 27th September 2014 I was at the site of Heirapolis/Pamukkale  an ancient Hellenistic and then a Roman city because it benefits from a rejuvenating spa of constantly warm water that the ancients were rather fond of.

The source of the spring is carefully locked behind bars because as it emerges from the earth’s core it brings with it a lethal cocktail of poisonous toxic gasses that will overcome and kill in seconds.

Read The Full Story Here…

On This Day – Bus Ride from Ephesus to Pamukkale

On 26th September 2014 I was continuing the visit to Ancient historical sites in Turkey…

The young man that sold me the tour assured me that the journey from Ephesus to Pamukkale would take two hours so I was shocked when the driver now said that it would take three and a half.

I was dreading this part of the journey with the noisy Lithuanian family and the darts team chimps but then at a short stop we had a stroke of luck and were transferred to a smaller more comfortable vehicle with two young quiet couples.  This was much better and we were so pleased about that because as the car pulled away we could hear that the the other bus had broken out into a spontaneous medley of classic cockney knees-up songs!

Read The Full Story Here…

Entrance Tickets, Pamukkale and Hierapolis (Turkey)

Turkey Pamukkale

Heirapolis/Pamukkale  is the site of an ancient Hellenistic and then a Roman city because it benefits from a rejuvenating spa of constantly warm water that the ancients were rather fond of.

The source of the spring is carefully locked behind bars because as it emerges from the earth’s core it brings with it a lethal cocktail of poisonous toxic gasses that will overcome and kill in seconds but once separated from the noxious fumes the clear water flows down towards the edge of the mountain where it calcifies and forms startlingly white travertine pools of dazzling white calcium deposits like a fresh fall of snow that you mind find in Archangel, Alaska or Alberta.

Read the Full Story…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken

IMX Tours Alktinkum Turkey

Hagi wasn’t in the AA roadside breakdown service or whatever the equivalent is in Turkey so there now followed a long winded debate as each of the passengers looked inside the engine compartment in turn as though they knew what they were talking about and offered alternative diagnoses and possible solutions.

There was a lot of head scratching, nodding and general agreement but the truth was however that there was no more engine technical knowledge between them than you could expect to find in an average reception class at a primary school and one by one the suggestions all inevitably failed.

Read the full story…

Turkey, Boat Ride to Bodrum

Bodrum Turkey St Peter's Castle

After the debacle of the IMX excursion to Ephesus and Pamukkale and the road side break down we seriously considered cancelling our next IMX  trip to Bodrum because this was by boat and whilst breaking down in a car is bad enough, in a boat it could be catastrophic.

We didn’t cancel but we both had negative premonitions about the trip and sure enough it started badly when the shuttle bus didn’t arrive to collect us.  We concluded that the reason may well be that after the Pamukkale fiasco and taking into consideration that the company was two vehicles down then this was most likely the reason.  We waited twenty minutes and then thoroughly irritated by this hopped on a Dolmus (a bus transport system) and made our own way to the jetty and the Bodrum ferry boat.

Straight away we were not absolutely sure about this, the boat was ancient, there were gaping holes in the rotting deck, the furniture was shabby old and worn out, we couldn’t see any lifeboats, the sun shades were ripped and ragged, parts of the vessel seemed to be held together with wire and string and the thoroughly unprofessional crew didn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

If this was Greece then the rust bucket would have been decommissioned years ago and this thing had as much chance of complying with EU marine safety legislation as I have of flying to the moon.  On the other hand the sea was calm, the sky was blue, we had paid for it so what could possibly go wrong we wondered?

Well, quite a lot as it happened…

The scheduled nine o’clock departure time came and went and my already half empty cup of optimism was rapidly draining away but half an hour or so behind schedule the ferry eventually left the jetty and began its journey to Bodrum and the skipper steered the boat into open water.

It was a perfect morning.  Everywhere was blue, the sky, the sea, even the distant hills and mountains had a misty blueness about them and we settled down on the very top deck to enjoy the two hour crossing across the bay.

St Peter's Castle Bodrum Turkey

After an hour or so it is clear that the ferry was taking a curious route and didn’t seem to be heading in the direction of Bodrum at all.  Bodrum is around the headland but the boat was going straight on.  The reason for this was that the Bodrum ferry doesn’t actually go to Bodrum but eventually dropped us off on the other side of the peninsula and we were all transferred to a bus for the final leg of the journey and they didn’t tell us that at the IMX travel shop when we booked the tour.  IMX was beginning to seriously annoy me, I can tell you!

The bus leg of the journey took fifteen minutes or so and dropped us at the bus station which was a disaster for me because the bus station was next to the market and today was market day.  Kim was minded to pay a quick visit so I was dragged into the heaving mass of trading recklessness and spent a very uncomfortable thirty minutes negotiating the route from one side to the other.

Emerging from the exit we followed the road down to the harbour and as it was lunch time we looked for somewhere to eat.  It didn’t take long to be invited and then convinced to sit at a pavement table and soon we were tucking in to a lunch of spiced beef kebab with roasted vegetables and playing Russian roulette with a jar of chillies because just one injudicious selection meant a fiery eruption on the tongue!  The food was average and the bill was a shock so sulking about that we left the restaurant and carried on towards the castle.

St Peter’s castle was built by the Knights of Saint John in the fifteenth century as a defensive stronghold in Asia Minor.  Old photographs from the 1960s reveal that there has been a lot of reconstruction but a good job has been done because there is a lot of castle to explore here with several towers, fortified walls and high rampart walks as well as gardens, historical interpretations and the museum of underwater archaeology.

A walk around the harbour in the blistering heat of the afternoon took us now to another of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum of Mausolus.  This was once a magnificent forty-five metre high marble tomb, decorated with statues and friezes and built in the third century BC as a burial chamber for King Mausolus of Caria.  All that remains now are a few toppled columns and splintered stones and a hole in the ground where the burial chamber once was because all of the usable stones had been previously carted away by the Knights of St John who needed a convenient supply of stone to build their nearby castle.

The Knights of St John have quite a lot of lost architectural heritage to answer for it would seem and if the World Heritage Organisation had existed in the fifteenth century I think they may have had a great deal of explaining to do to the Director-General of UNESCO!

The afternoon was slipping away now so we returned to the busy main shopping street and made the souvenir purchases that we had promised ourselves and then had a drink in a shady bar before returning to the bus station for the ride back to the ferry.

Bodrum Harbour Turkey

Turkey, Stuck in a Truck

Pamukkale Turkey

“Chance encounters with fellow travellers are one of the joys of any journey.” Michael Portillo

As we left Pamukkale shortly after one o’clock we rejoined the mini-bus and the car that had broken down this morning and we were relieved to hear it purring away like a contented kitten and then we drove down to the village for another lunch that was included in the cost of the excursion and which thankfully this time turned out to be moderately edible.

Hagi was clearly worried about the car and was quite unable to settle to his lunch and when we had finished he gathered us up with some haste and began the next leg of the journey.

Another unnecessary visit to a factory outlet, this time an Onyx workshop. We suggested that in view of the mechanical problems that we (the passengers) really wouldn’t mind if he missed it out and just made a priority of getting back to Altinkum but he said that he couldn’t do that because he had a contract with the factory and if he didn’t turn up then they would break his legs and kidnap his children but personally I was sure that they would have understood.

The pointless Onyx factory visit over we started off in the direction of home with Haji driving as though he was playing an arcade racing driver game and quite quickly it was quite obvious that there were problems – multiple electrical problems as it happened and the dashboard lit up like a Christmas tree and warning indicators kept pinging and beeping and then after only five miles or so the engine began to lose power altogether and Haji was lucky to make it to a service station where it broke down completely.  It now seemed that there was a price to pay for the ‘ice bucket challenge’ engine washing service on the day before.

Hagi wasn’t in the AA roadside breakdown service or whatever the equivalent is in Turkey so there now followed a long winded debate as each of the passengers looked inside the engine compartment in turn as though they knew what they were talking about and offered alternative diagnoses and possible solutions.

There was a lot of head scratching, nodding and general agreement but the truth was however that there was no more engine technical knowledge between them than you could expect to find in an average reception class at a primary school and one by one the suggestions all inevitably failed.

Except that is for one man, a Lithuanian, who on a scale of one to a hundred would possibly have reached maybe about four or five in a mechanical knowledge test.  To be fair however, it was his suggestion that got the thing going again – push it and bump start it and then with the engine ticking over again he let himself down by suggesting that we remove the battery and just be careful not to stall it.  When asked for an explanation he said “it is not a problem, you can drive without a battery, I once drove from Nottingham to Newcastle without a battery”.  This piece of information was so far off the bizarre scale that everyone just looked at him in amazement but no one had the courage or the time available to ask him to explain.

I am well aware that my mechanical knowledge is restricted to tyre kicking so I stood well back and tried to make myself anonymous when the car pushing duties began.

IMX Travel Altinkum

Anyway, the important thing was that by a minor automobile miracle the car was working again now so with some trepidation we got back into the vehicle and carried on the journey.  We had a different driver now who seemed to know how to treat the ailing motor and he coaxed it along for sixty miles until we reached Aydin and the service station café stop and, in our opinion, he rather foolishly pulled in for a twenty minute break that no one really needed.  Perhaps he was going to find the man who flooded the engine yesterday and punch him on the nose?

And it was foolish, because when it was time to carry on the car wouldn’t start again which involved more mechanical debate and more pushing and shoving until it reluctantly coughed and complained into some sort of spluttering life.

The really bad news was that Haji now resumed driving duties and there was a collective groan from the passengers as we set off and he started to fiddle constantly with the controls.  One by one the dashboard lights started to come on again and the warning sounds started to sound and not far out of Aydin and still an hour or so from home the vehicle came to a terminal halt at the side of the road close to a spot that had been thoughtfully provided by the motorway planners for people who want to discard large numbers of worn out tyres, old mattresses and the remnants of demolished bathrooms.

Things looked bad but never mind we thought, the mini-bus was just behind us so surely we could all fit inside that for the final part of the journey.  And then things got really bad because Haji received a phone call with the awful news that the mini-bus had broken down as well and having lost all of its engine oil wouldn’t be going any further at all today.

So we were stuck on the motorway hard shoulder with Paul and Laura and Joe and Katrina and without any breakdown assistance we worried about how we might get back home tonight.  We didn’t know these people with whom we shared our predicament and this made me think that meeting new people like this is rather like being on the sea shore like pebbles which are constantly rearranged by the waves – you just get temporarily acquainted and then you are moved on.

Luckily Kim and I were moved on quite quickly because an opportunist driver in a rescue bus had spotted the broken down vehicle behind us and negotiated an extortionately expensive deal with Haji to take as many people back as possible.  The bus was full but there was room for just two more so we were allocated the places and we were reacquainted with the noisy Lithuanians and the singing darts team.

We couldn’t wait to get back home but had to endure a final ninety minutes of travel with a level of comfort that you might reasonably expect if you were being transferred between high security prisons before finally getting back to the apartment.

The lesson learned from this disastrous journey is this – if you go to Altinkum and are tempted to take an excursion take my advice and steer well clear of IMX Travel – and I haven’t even told you about the IMX boat trip to Bodrum yet but that story is coming up soon and without giving anything away, that was another potential disaster!

The name of this tour I forgot to mention – It was called the Double Delight and nothing in my travel experience has ever been so misleadingly advertised!

Thumbs Down for IMX Travel Altinkum Turkey

Turkey, Pamukkale and Cleopatra’s Pool

Pamukkale Turkey

With the car now restored to temporary working order we now loaded our bags and pleased to be leaving the less than four star Grand Sevgi Hotel were relieved to see it for the last time in the rear view mirrors of the car as we made our way to Heirapolis.

This only took a moment or two but at the entrance Hagi (the gadgi) turned the engine off and then it immediately wouldn’t start again and this didn’t look very promising at all especially in consideration of the three hour journey home later today.

It was early and the visitor numbers were proportionately low but there were still a great deal of coaches in the car park and there was some competition to get through the entrance barriers and into the site.  We needn’t have worried however because it was big, very big and soon the visitors were dispersing in all directions and there was plenty of personal space for everyone to enjoy.

Our guide rushed us through several centuries of ancient history with rather indifferent haste and the reason for this was that few people were really that interested in the history and wanted only to get to Cleopatra’s thermal pool with its anti-ageing secrets locked in the warm waters of the spa.

“This site is exceptional by virtue of its superlative natural phenomena – warm, heavily mineralized water flowing from springs creating pools and terraces which are visually stunning. It is on this outstanding natural site that Hierapolis, an exceptional example of a Greco-Roman thermal installation, was established. The Christian monuments of Hierapolis constitute an outstanding example of an early Christian architectural complex.” – UNESCO

Heirapolis/Pamukkale  is the site of an ancient Hellenistic and then a Roman city because it benefits from a rejuvenating spa of constantly warm water that the ancients were rather fond of.  The source of the spring is carefully locked behind bars because as it emerges from the earth’s core it brings with it a lethal cocktail of poisonous toxic gasses that will overcome and kill in seconds but once separated from the noxious fumes the clear water flows down towards the edge of the mountain where it calcifies and forms startlingly white travertine pools of dazzling white calcium deposits like a fresh fall of snow that you mind find in Archangel, Alaska or Alberta.

Pamukkale Post Card

On its journey it is diverted into Cleopatra’s pool and visitors pay an extortionate amount (just my skinflint opinion) of money to swim in the naturally heated thermal pools in the hope of discovering the secret of everlasting youth.

All around this part of the Eastern Mediterranean there are all sorts of places that claim to be Cleopatra swimming pools and I for one am becoming rather sceptical about the claims.  In the days before Ryanair, high speed rail or motorways she seemed to be able to get around much easily than I imagine it really was possible two thousand years ago!  Actually, I have done this sort of thing before on Santorini in 2003 and I am convinced that you only need to do it once to achieve everlasting good looks and a second attempt might reverse the process so I declined to do it again here.

Cleopatra

At this point we parted company with the Lithuanians and the Dagenham Ladies darts team and left the thermal pool and choose instead to go and visit the ruins of Heirapolis.  And how glad we were that we did.  It was quite a slog to the top of the old city but at the end of the climb was a restored ancient theatre that surely has to be amongst the best that we have ever seen and that includes Segesta in Sicily and Merida in Spain and also (again in my opinion) the ruins that we had visited yesterday at Ephesus .  To miss this treat in preference to swimming in a dubious Cleopatra themed swimming pool was a cultural crime!

With everyone else splashing about in the water we felt rather smug about this as we made our way back down and after stopping for a coffee made our way to the edge of the mountain side and the pure white frost of Pamukkale.  A few years ago visitors used to wander all over this site and at Cleopatra’s pool they built a hotel but too many people meant unacceptable damage so with the assistance of funding from UNESCO the hotel was closed down and demolished, the damage caused by diverting the natural spring was reversed and visitors are now restricted to only a small section of the geological wonder.  Pamukkale is now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Along with hundreds of other visitors we paddled through the dazzling turquoise pools and winced as we made our way through hidden and sharp travertine surfaces and then we were glad to put our shoes back on and walk awhile through the site.  It was good, I enjoyed it but to be honest I am not sure that it was really worth the agony of an eight hour return trip bus trip.  And it is only eight hours on a good day but I will tell you about that next time.

Hierapolis Pamukkale Turkey

Turkey, Bus Ride from Ephesus to Pamukkale

TURKEY - Ephesus - The Library of Celsus

We didn’t go directly to Pamukkula however because now we had to endure two totally pointless factory visits.  Pointless for everyone that is except for the tour organisers who clearly get paid a commission for delivering vulnerable and unsuspecting people to these places.

The first was a ceramics factory and shop and after a ten minute demonstration on the potter’s wheel we were ushered into the show room.  I hate places like this, I don’t intend to buy anything and I always feel guilty about that and I am always concerned that Kim is going to let guilty feelings get the better of her and buy something expensive that we don’t really need.  I prefer to plan my purchases – usually about three months in advance!

Another annoying thing always happens in these shops and I can guarantee that within seconds a sales assistant will have attached themselves to me like a burr and I just cannot get away from them.  I have concluded that I either have the suspicious demeanour of a shoplifter or the face of a shopping mug and these people follow me round endlessly and I am like Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid who cannot shake off that posse that is chasing them across the whole of Wyoming.

After the ceramics factory there was a visit to a Turkish Delight shop where I was even less inclined to anything because I don’t like Turkish Delight.  On reflection I should not have signed up for the IMX Travel excursion and should just have hired a car instead.

The young man that sold me the tour assured me that the journey from Ephesus to Pamukkale would take two hours so I was shocked when the driver now said that it would take three and a half.  I was dreading this part of the journey with the noisy Lithuanian family and the darts team chimps but then at a short stop we had a stroke of luck and were transferred to a smaller more comfortable vehicle with two young quiet couples.  This was much better and we were so pleased about that because as the car pulled away we could hear that the the other bus had broken out into a spontaneous medley of classic cockney knees-up songs!

The bus now started to head east along a wide fertile valley on the way to the Provincial capital of Aydin along one of western Turkey’s most important travel and communication routes. To the north were the mountains of Aydin Dağs and to the south the mountains of Menteşe Dağs and in between in the valley were fields of olives, figs, cotton, grain and fruit but the progress was slow because of speed limits, frequent traffic lights and a very cautious driver.

At about mid distance he pulled into a service station and there was an unnecessary twenty minute break and during that time a team of men washed the car and the windscreen and then for some obscure reason opened the bonnet and poured water over the engine which sizzled with a fizz of surprise and which I thought was a rather strange thing to do – more about this later!

We left Aydin and carried on relentlessly east and soon we came across some thermal power energy generators similar to those that we had seen in Iceland.  Turkey, it turns out, is located on the Mediterranean volcanic belt and has one eighth of the world’s geothermal potential  – I didn’t know that!  We passed close by the Denizli-Kizildere geothermal field which has nine production wells and an integrated liquid carbon dioxide and dry ice production factory that can produce a combined total of forty thousand metric tons a year.

Soon after this Haji, the driver, pointed out a white scar running alongside the side of the hills in front of us as though someone had poured a tin of paint down the side of the mountain – this was Pamukkale, our destination.

It took another forty minutes or so to reach the village and when we left the car we were looking forward to checking in to our four star accommodation at the Grand Sevgi Hotel.

Four Star – No Way!  This turned out to be one of the worst hotels that I have ever stayed in ever (2 0ut of 5 on TripAdvisor and only 6.2 out of 10 on Booking.com, which is pretty bad). The room was like prison cell from Midnight Express, the public areas were worn out and shabby and the food at the all-inclusive buffet was just appalling.  We struggled through a plate of inedible, tasteless mush and then spent the rest of the night worrying about food poisoning.  On the up-side it did have free Wi-Fi!

After dinner we walked through the village, bought some wine from a nearby shop and went back to the room to drink it.  The next problem was that our room was next to that of the darts team and with zero soundproofing I was worried in case they had brought a dart board along with them and put it up on the adjoining wall and for an hour or so there would be a steady rhythmic thump, thump, thump of the arrows hitting the cork and the regular celebration of “One Hundred and Eighty!”   Fortunately we heard nothing, slept surprisingly well and woke early in the morning.

If evening meal had been bad then breakfast was several times worse.  The hot food was cold, the bread was stale and the tea and coffee machine was a whole six weeks uninterrupted work for  an environmental health officer and we were just glad to get the awful experience behind us, check out and rejoin the tour bus…

… which wouldn’t start!  Little wonder really given the surprise dousing down it had had with water at the service station stop over the day before and now there was clearly an electrical problem to be dealt with.  Haji assured us that it wasn’t a big problem, got it jump-started and we set off for Pamukkale and the ancient city of Heirapolis.

We were two hundred kilometres from our apartment in Altinkum and passengers in a dodgy vehicle but as I said before – more about this later!

IMX Tours Alktinkum Turkey