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Published: October 21st 2008
Hot Air Ballooning over Cappadocia
Our balloon was the first one off the ground, giving us wonderful views of the other balloons yet to take off.
Early morning surprise
I begrudgingly woke up at 5:00am this morning to get ready for my sunrise hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia. I had originally not planned on doing this particular ride because of the cost, opting instead to do the ride over the Valley of the Kings in Egypt, but after much umming & aaahing (something not unsurprising of me) I eventually got swayed by the masses and joined in with everyone to do the ride. Me being me - it was in for a penny, in for a pound - so having made the decision to do it - I went all out and chose the deluxe version, complete with champagne & extended flight time….Yeay!!
Sadly as I sat with the rest of the group in the pitch black morning, waiting to be picked up by the balloon company - it became very evident that our sunrise flight was not going to eventuate. An hour later - after staring into space like a drugged up teenager due to lack of sleep - we were told to go back to our rooms to sleep because the flights had been cancelled as a result of bad weather.
At least my wallet was happy…. A tour of Cappadocia
We picked up our tour guide and went to the underground city of Derinkuyu translated as 'Dark Well'. From above ground - it looked like nothing more than a concrete shed in an enclosed gated area in the middle of nowhere. As we followed our guide deep into the heart of the caves we discovered that it actually comprised multiple levels, eight of which are currently open to the public for viewing (roughly 10%!o(MISSING)f the actual city's total area). Making our way through the various levels meant walking up & down some ridiculously narrow and in some instances very steep steps to get to the next level. These caves are certainly not for the claustrophobic as we spent a good amount of time hunched over in narrow passages and in darkened rooms to get a good idea of what it would have been like to live in such an environment.
Following on from our visit to the underground city we went above ground to see the giant stone statues dubbed ‘fairy chimneys’ by the locals which were originally formed as a result of lava produced by volcanoes
in the area over 10 million years ago. Of course - the resulting formations are the result of years of erosion of the softest parts of the rock, leaving the conical shape & cap that now remains. Hot air balloon ride
We eventually got the all clear to do the hot air balloon around 3pm which also meant a cancellation of our planned outing to the Turkish Bathhouse - but was well worth it.
We stood around as a group watching them unravel the balloon & setting up the basket that we would be riding in. Watching them inflate the balloon was an experience in itself. Using a combination of giant fans & flame jets of hot air to inflate the balloons it didn’t take long to watch them slowly rise up to the sky. As soon as they were fully inflated we all made a mad scramble to climb into the balloons to get the best vantage point. Once I was inside the balloon - I started to have a mild panic attack as I watched us slowly start to ascend upwards. I felt a bit light headed thinking about the fact that there was nothing between
me and the ground below except for a bundle of woven sticks. Flashes of me falling through the basket or falling off did cross my mind more than once as we slowly ascended upwards.
My slight panic attack didn’t last long - especially once we were high enough to get a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape. Once the flame jets were turned off and we were floating in the sky there was nothing but silence all around us. It was so peaceful to float around looking at the various rock formations that made up the landscape of Cappadocia. Every now and again we would descend back so close to the ground we could almost jump off. Then we would ascend again up over the hills, sometimes brushing into trees as we went along to give us multiple vantage points of the area.
The views were nothing like I had ever seen before and the hot air balloon ride over the landscape was breathtaking. It truly was an experience not to be missed - and has so far been one of the highlights of the trip for me this far. Turkish Night
No tour can be complete
without some sort of tacky activity to go with it. So later that evening we all ended up at some local establishment for their ‘Turkish Night’. We joined groups of other tourists as we sat in a cave like restaurant to watch various performances of all things Turkish - whilst eating a selection of meze and some sort of rice & lamb dish and drinking an assortment of local spirits, beer & wine.
The only thing noteworthy about the evening was the chance to see the Whirling Dervishes - something that I was unable to see previously in Istanbul. Hindsight would have been a wonderful thing - and the evening would have been better spent wandering around the lit up streets of Goreme looking at the trinket shops and eating in one of the local restaurants.
Nevertheless another late night was bound to be had as the group quickly made their way through the copious amounts of alcohol on offer and at some point in the evening we all ended up in one of the local bars named ‘Fat Boys’ for a continuation of the party atmosphere.
We all knew we would regret it in the morning.
A wonderful example of some of the pottery we saw in Cappadocia. Unfortunately a picture is all that I have as a memory of it.
(some more than others and No! not me) but we decided not to worry about that for the moment.
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