Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Touring Turkey in a hot air balloon

Last time as we were trying to finalize my travel plans to Spain the cheapest option suggested by The Gentleman would have included a change of planes (and a 10 hour wait in the middle of the night) in Istanbul.

I mean, Turkey is a great country and Istanbul is one of my favourite cities in the world but... it's not that great.

A couple of years back a friend of mine got the diagnosis we'd been dreading. It was cancer. And by then it was inoperable. It turned out to be the sort of lesson in fragility of life one should make sure to remember for the rest of one's life.

I decided to stop putting things off and make my dream of flying over Cappadocia in a hot air balloon come true. 

First I needed to Google Cappadocia just to find out where it was. In Turkey! So, for a few weeks I toured Turkey and said yes to everything my journey threw my way (within reason: white slave trade or drug smuggling might have required a bit more conviction)

After marvelling at the wonders of Istanbul, I journeyed to Cappadocia which, as a result of the vertigo I apparently developed right after my bungee jump, was exciting to say the least. Especially so after learning about an accident there had been just the week before...

After that I was off scuba-diving in Kusadasi (turned out I'm a bit uneasy 10 meters below water as well) and paragliding in Pamukkale. The trip was one of the best I've ever made and full of incredible moments. Cappadocia, however, will forever be a hard one to beat.

After Petra in Jordan Cappadocia was the second time in my life I could not believe my eyes or that places like that really existed on this planet. It was simply that surreal. I highly recommend you go there. I especially enjoyed the area around Göreme. Those who, like me, tend to return from their travels carrying rugs they a) either can't afford or b) don't have anywhere big enough to put them in, might want to check out kilims, which in Turkey are fantastic.

And though I normally avoid Christian pilgrimage sites like plague, the chapels carved in stone along with the caves that served as hiding places for persecuted Christians are quite simply stunning.

Some of the caves remained inhabited well into the last century. Since then many have been renovated into hotels that provide a unique experience.


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