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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

My first hot air balloon ride!

Today I went in a hot air balloon for the first time!



We were collected at our hotel at 4.30am by voyager balloons for our sunrise trip.
After some hanging around and form-signing, we jumped in a mini bus to the take-off site. 
Already we were surrounded by inflating / inflated balloons…




We excitedly piled into our 24 person basket and had a quick briefing on emergency landings! (essentially grab a rope and sit on the floor!)

Then it was time to go…



...and it was stunning!





I’d heard about it and seen pictures but still wasn’t quite prepared for how impressive it is to see hundreds of balloons in the sky together, all above striking rock formations!



So in between gazing around, I got pretty snap-happy!























We flew over a number of the valleys, including Love, Red and Rose.





The unique rock style is due to a volcanic eruption about 2,000 years ago, covering the 
Cappadocia region in ash and lava, forming rocks. The softer parts of this rock were eroded away by wind and water, leaving some ‘hard caps’ on top of pillars, forming the “fairy chimneys”. Other soft rocks were also carved out into churches, monasteries and houses.






I can’t quite describe the sensation of flying along in a hot air balloon…it feels a little strange but not scary – until my motion sickness kicked in! 


Partly I think triggered by the heat of the flame keeping us afloat.



We flew for approx 90mins and because of the good wind we covered 15kms of Cappadocia. 



We also went up and down the rocks – reaching a maximum of 800m high at one point.
We were pretty impressed with the landing – our pilot managed to get us to land on a trailer!


Then we celebrated our flight with the worse excuse for champagne I have ever had – but it’s the thought that counts.





After breakfast and a quick splash in the hotel pool we headed onto Goreme Open Air museum.


It’s a big monastic complex with lots of churches built next to each other. Eat of the medieval rock-cut churches houses their own theme of wall paintings (colourful frescoes).






Unfortunately you can’t take pictures inside (to protect the remaining paint) but you can see them here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Churches_of_G%C3%B6reme



Next up was a trip to a carpet shop where we learnt about weaving (I even had a go!).


Adding colour to the wool




It can take 7 months to complete a carpet – especially the silk ones are particularly fine.



We also learnt about how to extract the silk threads from the silk worms!






Then the shop proceeded to show us hundreds of carpets…





Encouraging us to walk on them to feel the differences



As I wasn’t in the market for a carpet, I sipped apple tea as the bartering started!



Lunchtime and we headed on for Gözleme. It’s a savoury pastry dish which is brushed with butter and eggs, filled with whatever you want (I had spinach), sealed and then cooked over a griddle.


We ate them sitting on carpet-covered tables and chairs!



Then it was time to head out and see more of Cappadocia and it’s moon-like rocks.
We visited the fairy chimneys of Göreme






The camel!

And Ürgüp, Cappadocia’s biggest town



Where we found interesting snacks, magic lamps and specialty stores!






Yoghurt flavoured crisps!


That evening we went to a local family’s house where they served us a delicious dinner…surrounded again by carpets!



Burek (Börek) – baked cheese-filled filo pastry

Followed by bulgar wheat soup



‘Split stomach’ – an unappealing name for a yummy dish: aubergine stuffed with a mixture of ground beef, spices and tomatoes

Followed by some super-sweet baklava and tea

Day 5
03.09.2014

Cappadocia, Turkey

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