To arrive here, we flew from Milan to Istanbul via Turkish Airlines. We bought the required visa for American citizens and went through passport control. We picked up our bags and headed over to the domestic terminal and checked in for our flight to Kayseri. We flew Atlas Jet for this flight. It was easy to book both these flights in advance of our trip and we got both fairly cheap. (A traveler's tip for those traveling to Turkey in the coming months-- beginning in April of this year the visas will have to be purchased online prior to arriving in Turkey, as they will not be sold in the airports any longer.)
Once arriving in Kayseri our hotel had arranged transport from the airport for us and an hour later we arrived at Kelebek Special Cave Hotel. We booked Room 10 several months ago because when you can stay in a cave, why not?
|our cute little cave room|
This morning we crawled out of bed before the sunrise, literally, to take off on a hot air balloon adventure. We were nervous and excited for this trip. I had never ridden in a hot air balloon before and this seemed like an excellent time to experience it. We booked with Butterfly Balloons, a highly recommended and well respected company. The owner, Mike, was our pilot. He and his wife were such a nice couple and made our trip really enjoyable. We took off with three other balloons from the same company but headed out on our own in and out of valleys and all around the area. We could easily view snow capped mountains in the distance, tons of other balloons, and even our hotel. It was a little pricey, but it was off season so it is discounted and you can get an additional discount for paying in cash.
Later, we headed out to the Goreme Open Air Museum. We walked there and decided to experience it on our own instead of with a tour group. We paid a little extra to enter the Dark Church, and I think it was worth it. There were lots of frescoes that were rich in deep colors.
|the "evil eye"|
|cave dwellings and churches carved in soft volcanic rock|
On our way back to Goreme, we wandered down one of the marked trails into a valley of fairy chimneys. We climbed some steep hills and tried to nab some great picturesque shots. One our way back we stopped by a stand set up by an old Turkish couple who were selling orange and pomegranate juice, fresh dates and nuts, and several crafts. We bought a glass of fresh juice and enjoyed snapping pictures with them while they squeezed the juice. Angela received her best Turkish language lesson yet from the little woman, who seemed to know assorted words in every language. Her best English word, "Come." As we sat down the man asked, in really broken English, where we were from. As soon as we said America, he said, "Obama!" Funny the things the citizens of the world know about...
|te- shuk-er e-deer-um|
They fed us freshly dried fruits while we sat at their table, and picked up one piece and said, "Obama" and pointed to another and said, "Clinton". It wasn't until leaving, with another handful of fruit labeled with presidential names, that we figured out that the dark dried apricot was Obama and the lighter color was Clinton. Who knew that in middle of nowhere Turkey, racial references would be the prime topic of conversation.
|We decided that if we died from eating and drinking random fruit and juice in the middle of nowhere Turkey, |
we were okay with that.
You'd think by now our day would have been complete. But by this point, we hadn't even eaten lunch! (Just a pile of dried fruit!)
We wandered through Goreme and ended up picking a place to eat that was called Cappadocia Kebab Center. Since we wanted a kebab, we hoped it would be a good choice, and we enjoyed it. And, it was cheap. 15 Turkish lira (about 5 euro) for two kebabs, a huge water and a Coke. Not a bad deal.
After arriving back at the hotel, we booked appointments at the Hammam. Everyone reports such wonderful things about it, and we decided to go for the traditional Turkish peel and soap massage.
Hmmm...it was quite the experience...and Angela and I know each other a lot better now!
A young guy, who couldn't be older than 12, or 17, geez, I don't know, hands us each a small plaid wrap to put on after removing our clothes. We didn't know if swimwear was the way to go here because it is a mixed hammam, which is a bit odd for a Muslim country. Anyways, we just decided to go with it, and stripped down and covered up with the wrap. Then we were off to the sauna for 10 minutes or so. Next, the young guy returned, this time in a wrap around his waist, along with a woman in her own wrap, and they led us to this huge marble slab. Angela was not at all interested in having this boy of 12 do her massage and it worked out that I ended up with him anyways.
You lay down on the marble slab and they maneuver your towels all around to keep your covered. Then they begin pouring warm water over you. Next comes the scrub part, with some kind of exfoliating concoction that is rubbed in. More water...and then comes the bubbles! They cover you with bubbles using some kind of net to gather large mountains of them. Then they use the bubbles and soap during the massage.
At times I had to bite the inside of my lip to keep from giggling. It was too quiet in that room when the water wasn't running and I was really wishing for some nice background music. But, it was quite the experience and I'm glad that we did it. Angela says she could do it every day, me? Not so much!
As you may guess, they're aren't any pictures of this part of our day, but if you want to see the rest of my Turkey album, I've got them all posted on Flickr for you to see.