In case you haven’t figured it out these posts are many months old. It has been impossible to keep up daily with my travels. And most of the time the internet is terrible. I am playing catch up with stuff back home or trying to sort through and save travel photos. What I write is from what I remember of my travels and if I am lucky, excerpts from notes I took.
For this post I am back in Istanbul. I planned this return as a “catch all I missed before” plus get some chill time before I head to Egypt. I am heading to Egypt and Jordan for a couple weeks on a fast paced group tour. I purposely planned this downtime prior.
The time was spent pretty well; besides the poor internet I was able to catch up on some things, I bought a couple articles of clothing that would be more Middle East appropriate, and I made one more shipment home (boy is it expensive!).
The following pictures are some of the attractions I stopped at.
My new hotel is off Istiklal Street. It is a busy area but less mentally demanding then staying in the Sulthanhmet area. I mean in the Sultanhmet area I always had to be on guard. In my new location it was more chill: I got way less male attention and shop owners were not aggressive. If I go back to Istanbul I will stay in this area or on the Asian side (as my new Turkish friend recommended).
My hotel is close to the top of the hill in Goreme. A short walk uphill (and a small “admission” charge) is the place to be for sunsets and to watch the balloons fly in the morning.
Today I wake up before sunrise and walk up the hill to catch the balloons. I think I am too early because I have to wait a while for the balloons to rise. I do get a picture of the sun starting to rise through.
Off in the instance I can see some balloons inflating. A short while later they are in the air.
It is beautiful to see.
Some get very close to the observation hill. At times it looks like they can be touched.
A couple days after my not so great green tour I take the Cappadocia Red Tour. I thought I may have overreacted a couple days ago but after taking the red tour with a different vendor I know I am correct in my opinion. The red tour is well organized and the guide is very personable. His name is Sonny and he made our day sunny.
First stop is a view of Uchisar Castle.
Next is Goreme Open Air Museum
A favorite of mine in the Open Air Museum is the Dark Church. It is a separate ticketed option but well worth it in my opinion. The artwork inside is very nice (no photos allowed).
I have no idea why they call it that. <sarcasm>
Avanos pottery demonstration
The pottery is nice but it is way too early to start weighing my backpack down so I forgo any purchases.
Then we stopped at lunch. I don’t remember what I ate but I had to try all the desserts on the buffet.
Before we went back out sightseeing we stopped for a silk demonstration. It is interesting to learn how silk items are made.
Aaaannd the demonstration of the rugs. Some are nice enough to tempt me but they are so expensive. I just can’t purchase one….especially with no job and no permanent place to stay.
After the tough sell we stopped at Devrent Valley where there are a bunch of rocks that look like things.
Finally we finish out the day at Paşabağ
Great day, great tour guide. All the magic of Cappadocia in one day.
A thing one does while in Cappadocia is take a hot air balloon ride. In fact so many people do this that up to 150 balloons float every morning in the Cappadocia sky (weather permitting). For this I did my research and learned it was best to book ahead of time since the rides are so popular. A highly rated one is Butterfly Balloons.
They picked me up very early in the morning and took me to their office to settle up my balance and eat breakfast; well me and about 100 other people. They have a good amount of balloons in their fleet.
All balloons need a permit and they are limited to 150 a day. 150 is still many balloons and you can see all of them in the amazing skyline when they fly.
We are signed up for a sunrise ride but I think you can choose a later ride in the morning. I am in a van with around 19 other people who will be riding in the balloon with me (not counting the operator). There are balloons with smaller capacity and larger capacity and the price and experience will vary with your choice.
I think the price to experience ration was just about right with 20. I would have loved to have less people but it was already pretty expensive so it is ok to be a little uncomfortable to not break the bank too much.
When we get to the lift off site it is still dark and balloons everywhere are being inflated.
Once our balloon is upright we climb in and are given safety instructions.
Soon we are up up and away.
After some time going up and down we start our descent.
After we disembark we have a champagne toast to celebrate. We are presented with a medal and a certificate for participating.