Day 18 - Flying over Goreme

Goreme Travel Blog

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The twin of the balloon we flew in

Is there any good reason for getting out of bed at 5am? 


Well, Michelle’s willingness to get out of bed that early is a pretty good indication of how much we were looking forward to Hot Air Ballooning here in Cappadocia. 


Weather conditions were near perfect for ballooning.  Visibility was fantastic, there was barely a cloud in the sky and only a very, very light wind blowing.

The scarred landscape of Cappadocia
  Our balloon was one of two to launch from our take off site.  Preparing the balloons for take-off was surprisingly quick.  The crew unfolded the balloons and then partially inflated them using fans.  Then the burners were fired to drive hot air into them and lift them and stand the baskets.  The whole process took less than half an hour, barely long enough to receive our brief and take a few photos.

Then it was into the balloon, practice adopting the cash landing position (which was never going to be needed today, it was so still) and then with a squirt of gas we were away.  From the moment the basket left the earth, the whole ride was amazingly smooth.  Our pilot took us up at such a low gradient we brushed over the tree tops and then barely scraped past a fairy chimney.  The pilot was able to demonstrate the astounding control she had over the balloon, by regularly dipping into and out of valleys. 


Our ATV tour yesterday had given us a quick look at the surrounding valleys and landscapes but the ballooning gave us a birds eye view of Goreme and everything else within a 200km radius.

The pilot dropped us right into the Goreme Open Air Museum!
  I won’t try to describe the view, I’ll just post a load of pictures instead.


The flight lasted just under 2 hours.  We touched down gently (right onto the trailer onto which the basket needed to be loaded) and our flight was celebrated with a Cherry champagne cocktail and cake. 


We were returned from the balloon ride in time to join the day tour we had booked.  The first stop was a lookout providing a great view of a valley.  Our guide gave us a little run down on the local history and then we were bundled into the bus for a 50km drive to an underground village. 

The village we visited was one of the largest in the country.

In the undergound city
  The section open for the public to visit is 8 levels (about 90m) deep and consisted of loads of different rooms with a variety of functions.  Naturally, since they were created and used by Christians (as a place to hide from whichever empire was persecuting them at the time) it even included a chapel and wine making facility.


It was another long drive to Ilhara gorge.  We disembarked, entered the gorge and were guided into one of the chapels carved into the side of the gorge.  We then walked 3kms downstream to a small town and restaurant where we ate lunch alongside the river.  The food was nothing spectacular but it was Turkish and probably tasted loads better because all we’d had to eat up until that point (2pm – keep in mind we were up at 5am to go ballooning) was a few biscuits and a piece of cake.


Strengthened by our meal, we jumped back on the bus which took us to a location where a scene from the original star wars film was shot.

The view looking up from Ilhara Gorge
  No one (not even I) could think which scene it might have been used in but I took a few photos so I could figure it out later.

Just around a corner was a monastery, carved into the mountains.  This was the most impressive of the cave dwellings we visited, with a couple of great chapels and other large rooms.

The final stop was a lookout over ?? valley and across the road from that, an Onyx workshop and jeweller.  After a brief demonstration of onyx carving and polishing they swept us upstairs where they gave us the big sales push and left us to browse three big rooms full of jewellery, none of which had price tags.  I tried my hardest not to look too disinterested while Michelle browsed but despite asking to look at a couple of pieces, she didn’t buy anything. 

The tour finished at 6pm, giving us time to pack our bags and eat dinner at the pension before jumping on the overnight coach ride to Istanbul.
The location which was apparently used in a scene in the original Star Wars - A New Hope
  Unwilling to deal with another coach drama, we had booked our tickets in advance through the pension.  There was a little bit of confusion when we departed, when there wasn’t enough seats for everyone on the bus but it was quickly resolved when a number of locals jumped off a kilometre or two out of town.  Aside from needing to change buses when we got to the freeway (only 15 minutes into the journey) it was an uneventful drive to Istanbul.
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The twin of the balloon we flew in
The twin of the balloon we flew in
The scarred landscape of Cappadocia
The scarred landscape of Cappadocia
The pilot dropped us right into th…
The pilot dropped us right into t…
In the undergound city
In the undergound city
The view looking up from Ilhara Go…
The view looking up from Ilhara G…
The location which was apparently …
The location which was apparently…
More cool caves - this area had ch…
More cool caves - this area had c…
photo by: spocklogic