ultramarinus – beyond the sea

Posts tagged “bath

CLEOPATRA’S SPRING, Siwa Oasis, Egypt

2006.06.02.

With a constant temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, the Ain Juba or Cleopatra’s Spring is a popular tourist attraction near Siwa Oasis. While some say Cleopatra swam in the pool during her visit to the oasis, many other historians dispute about this legend and insist that the spring has nothing to do with the famous Queen of Egypt. The spring is nonetheless ancient and well known in times of antiquity. Referred as the Fountain of the Sun by Herodotus, legend has it that Alexander the Great followed a group of birds in the desert and reached the famous spring during his conquest of Persia. From history to the present, the spring remains as a reliable treat of a cool refreshing dip for tired travellers.

Many tourists reach the pool as part of a local tour going out to the Great Sand Sea, it can also be reached by cycling on the road to the Temple of the Oracle. For me, I have done both, first as part of a local tour on the way to stay a night in the desert, and second time by bicycle on my way to the ruined temple. On my first time, I spent most of my time chatting with the friendly pool caretaker in the pool hut. I didn’t notice any bather during my two visits. Given the fact that swimmers were advised to bath with a t-shirt on in respect to local customs, I didn’t get into the famous water myself given I didn’t have an extra t-shirt with me on both occasions.

I joined a Jeep tour out to the Great Sand Sea. Along the way, we passed by a salt flat and Cleopatra’s Spring.
Salt flats are common in deserts around the world where water from former lakes have been evaporated, leaving behind salt and minerals on the ground.
Known as Qattara Depression, the area west of Siwa is the second lowest point in Africa. Covered with salt flats, salt marshes and sand dunes, dangerous quagmires are not uncommon in the depression. During WWII, Qattara Depression was considered impassable for military vehicles and tanks due to the danger of quagmires.
There are a number of springs in the area of Siwa Oasis, including Cleopatra’s Spring, Ain Tamusi (Spring of the Bridge), Ain Arais, Fatnas Spring, Ain Qurayshat, Bir Wahed, etc.
Trapped in subterranean chambers, there is actually plenty of spring water below the Western Desert. At a level below the sea, subterranean spring water is much easier to access in the Qattara Depression.
Well maintained by caretakers, the Cleopatra’s Spring is frequented by locals and tourists.
The main pool at Cleopatra’s Spring is circumscribed by a retaining stone wall.
Resting huts and tea houses dot around the pool.
Spring water in Siwa is highly salinized. There is a significant amount of ulvacean green algae in the spring water.

HIERAPOLIS, Pamukkale, Turkey

2006.05.06

Communal baths and gymnasiums were essential components in the ancient Roman society.  Records show that 952 baths of different sizes could be found in Rome in 354 AD.  Apart from building up the body and engaging on social gossip, a bath and gymnasium complex might also house a library, a theatre, food shops and reading rooms. Erected right at the hot spring of Pamukkale, Hierapolis was a prominent Roman spa resort.  Other than the usual bathing rituals, bathing in Hierapolis was also a form of medical treatment.  Founded in the 2nd century BC as a thermal spa town, where doctors used the hot springs to treat patients.  In its heyday, Hierapolis had bath houses, gymnasiums, temples, fountains, theatre.  Thousands would come to visit the hot spring, including the Roman emperors.  The city of 100,000 became a wealthy city prominent for art, philosophy and trade.  Outside the city wall, the enormous necropolis suggests that many ancient Romans who came to Hierapolis for medical treatment actually died in the spa city.  The recently discovered Tomb of Philip the Apostle and a number of historical sites in Hierapolis suggest Christianity had taken a strong hold in the city from Late Antiquity to the Byzantine era.

06ME15-09Many tourists come to Hierapolis to take a dip in a pool among ruined marble columns.  The pool is, in fact, doing a disservice to the archaeological conservation.  We just spent time wandering around the ruins leisurely and aimlessly.

necropolis 1Red poppy and yellow wild flowers covered large parts of the ground among the ruins of Hierapolis.

06ME15-25Built in 2nd century AD under Emperor Hadrian, the theatre at Hierapolis has 45 rows of seats that could accommodate about 15,000 spectators.

necropolis 2Tombs and sarcophagus of different sizes could be found in the necropolis.  Some sarcophagus were elevated by a post and beam structure.

06ME15-15The extensive necropolis stretches kilometers and contains thousands of tombs from different era.

06ME15-29We once again passed by the travertine terraces of Pamukkale as we left Hierapolis.

narrow pathInstead of walking down the travertine terraces in barefoot once again, we opted for another winding path to descend.  The path is not for people who scares of height.

 


THE THIRD OTTOMAN CAPITAL, Edirne, Turkey

2006.05.02

Close to the border between Greece, Bulgaria and Turkey, about 240km northwest of Istanbul stands a small city with a big history.  Founded by Roman Emperor Hadrian upon an earlier Thracian settlement, Edirne was known as Hadrianopolis in the Antiquity era.  After conquered by the Ottomans, the city was renamed to Edirne, and served as the capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1369 to 1453, before the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople.  With Selimiye Mosque, the UNESCO World Heritage site that has been widely considered as the best work of architect Mimar Sinan, and several other impressive mosques and historical complexes, Edirne is one of the most popular excursion destinations for tourists in Istanbul.  Taking an early morning bus (2.5 hour) from Istanbul Bus Station, spending a full day at Edirne and returning to Istanbul by a late afternoon bus was exactly how we spent our day.

In the morning, we took the tram and then metro to the main otogar, the main bus terminal of Istanbul where one can catch a bus to any destination in Turkey, and even to neighboring countries.  We picked one company (worth the time and effort to check out the options) for Edirne.  Bus companies in Turkey come in various prices, comfort and service levels.  In general, the buses are clean and pleasant.  Our first impression of Edirne, the main gateway city between Europe and Turkey, was pretty laid-back and peaceful.  It felt like a completely different world from bustling Istanbul.

06ME05-37Built in 1447, the Üç Şerefeli Mosque is one of the most well known mosque in Central Edirne.  With a 24m diameter dome, the Üç Şerefeli Mosque had the largest dome in the Ottoman Empire before the conquest of Constantinople.

06ME05-36Üç Şerefeli Mosque literally means the “Mosque with Three Balconies”, referring to its unique minaret.

Across from Ucserefeli CamiOpposite to Üç Şerefeli Mosque, Sokollu Mehmet Pasha Bath was a public bath designed by Mimar Sinan and completed in 1569.  Part of the building was demolished to make way for road construction in the 1960’s.  The demolition was ultimately stopped but its damage remains visible today, epitomizing the careless urban planning back in the 20th century.

06ME06-05Completed in 1414, the Eski Camii (Old Mosque) is the oldest mosque in Central Edirne.

06ME06-07 Eski CamiThe most notable features in Eski Camii are the large calligraphy on the walls.

06ME06-02The calligraphy were created at various times by artists from all over the Ottoman Empire.

Eski Cami 1Most of the interior decorations dated back to the 19th century.

06ME06-03The Eski Camii is covered with nine small domes instead of one large one.

gerrardWe managed to walk around the city and explored different streets in the heart of Edirne.

robinho and ronaldinhoOn the streets of Edirne, we bumped into several groups of kids wearing football jerseys.


Day 7 – WATAZE ONSEN, Kumano Kodo (熊野古道) 4 of 4, Japan

It was only a short bus ride from Hongu to Wataze Onsen, the hot spring hotel facility where we stayed the night. Wataze Onsen is famous for its outdoor hot spring bathing facilities, some of the largest in the region. We had another relaxing evening at Watarase Onsen Hotel, a perfect getaway destination in the mountains. No foreign tourists could be seen at the outdoor onsen, however, the large hotel complex was decently filled with local visitors to stay the night and some day-trippers who came for the hot spring only.

1Bus ride to Wataze Onsen.

2The bus passed by Kawayu Onsen, a special thermal spring where visitors can enjoy outdoor onsen by the river.

3Bamboo screens were set up along the stream for public use.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter getting off at Wataze Onsen, we found our way down to the main lodging facilities called Watarase Onsen. After crossing a suspended bridge we finally reached the main door of the hot spring hotel.

5The main lobby of Watarase Onsen Hotel.

6A pilgrim monkey of Kumano Kodo at the hotel lobby.

7The rotenburo (outdoor hot spring bath) of Wataze Onsen is one of the largest in West Japan.

8The facility includes separate outdoor pools for male and female, as well as several family pools.

9After bathing in the hot spring, we enjoyed a decent kaiseki-royori (traditional multi-course Japanese dinner) at the Watarase hotel. This fresh assorted sashimi was served as appetizer.

10The Watarase Onsen complex include lodging and bathing facilities along both sides of the river, connected by a suspended bridge.

11After the kaiseki dinner, we took a stroll under the starry night.

12The cherry trees at Watarase Onsen Hotel were still in full bloom.

13It was a peaceful evening with cherry blossoms against the starry sky.

14The next morning, we put on our backpacks again and crossed the suspended bridge one last time towards the bus stop.

15At Watarase Onsen bus stop we waited for the early morning bus that would take us to Kii Katsuura. We would then store our bags in lockers and switch bus for a visit to Nachisan and the Nachi Taisha, one of the three main Kumano grand shrines after Kumano Hongu Taisha.

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Read other posts on 2015 Kansai…
Day 1.0 – Kansai Japan 2015
Day 1.1 – Hanami, Mount Yoshino 
Day 1.2 – Feast under the Shades of Sakura, Mount Yoshiko
Day 2 – A Day in Kobe
Day 3 – A Day in Central Osaka
Day 4 – Tanabe – Prelude of the Kumano Kodo
Day 5.1 – Takijiri to Takahara, Kumano Kodo
Day 5.2 – Takahara to Tsugizakura , Kumano Kodo
Day 5.3 – Minshuku Tsugizakura, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.1 – Tsugizakura to Mikoshi-Toge Pass, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.2 – Mikoshi-Toge Pass to Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 6.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha to Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.1 – Ryokan Adumaya, Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.2 – Yunomine Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.3 – Kumano Hongu Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 7.4 – Wataze Onsen, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.1 – Kumano Nachi Taisha, Kumano Kodo
Day 8.2 – Kii Katsuura, Kumano Kodo
Day 9 – Church of Light, Osaka