Thursday, 5 February 2015

Turkey

Took a bus from Greece to Istanbul. It's cold in here! Istanbul has a lot of character, but you can see the whole city in a day. The mosques are beautiful, but are all identical, so I developed the same philosophy as with churches "you've seen one, you've seen them all".
I don't have much time in Turkey, but I've heard about a wonderful place called Cappadocia. I googled it, and booked flight tickets right away.
Cappadocia is a geological wonder. There is a harder material on the top of a softer material, and during millions of years of erosion, all the soft material has been blown away, leaving only a cone under a hard rock, creating a conical shapes called fairy chimneys. Now there are a lot of hotels inside these chimneys, and whole towns build with and around them, creating a very fairy-tale like setting. I can't believe I've never heard of this place before!
I checked into one of the best hostels I've ever stayed in. The beds are super comfy, and the communal area is huge, with a fireplace, 2 stories high, made out of stones, with soft couches and friendly stuff. They also have a big garden where they grow veggies, a swimming pool and a ping pong table, but it was too cold for a swim :)
This is one the best places in the world to go on a hot air balloon. One day I woke up at 6am to go and watch them, and they are beautiful! About 100 balloons, all colorful, hovering above this magical setting, just to watch them is an experience on its own, but I don't know, it's expensive, and they seem just to float in the air and not do much else, so I didn't really see the point of doing it. Back in the hostel I see all these people coming back from the balloon ride, so happy and excited... hm ... maybe it's something worth doing? Next day, same thing. I checked prices on the internet, and they're about half as much as say in Australia, and off I went to an agency and signed myself up for a balloon trip :)
5am wake up, we drive somewhere in the dark, given a tea/coffee mixture and saw our balloon inflating with huge fans. Then it started to lift from the ground and all of us looked up, wow, it's so huge! Fire's whooshing, the balloon slowly gets off the ground. Most of the balloons are still on the ground or hovering somewhere near it, and our pilot keep holding the gas lever. Up up up we go, and soon enough we're higher than all the other balloons. Man that's scary looking down and seeing the ground getting further and further away especially that you're not secured inside the box, what if the box flips over?? Everyone can't stop taking pictures and saying how amazing it is. I took 20 pictures of Istanbul in a week, and over 100 here in an hour. I run out of space on my card and my battery almost died. Yes, it was that good! :) Then we went close to the ground, we were probably 20 cms above it, touching the grass, going pretty fast. We moved between the trees, and between the valleys and fairy chimneys. Other balloons were already landing, and we go up again. The sun came up, we finally put our cameras down and quietly enjoyed the views. Landing time! It seems like our pilot wants to land on a tiny piece of land that comes out into a valley. I don't like it. We kinda miss it, then the helpers didn't catch the rope, then we landed on the edge and the balloon slowly slowly slid off the cliff into the valley. There is nowhere to land nearby where it's flat enough and where a car can drive to. We take off again, go right between a mountain and a huge tree. The helpers run across the valley up and down looking at the direction of the balloon. We land somewhere in prickly trees, the helpers break the trees, the car somehow makes its way through with a trailer, they put the balloon on the trailer, and the car takes us to a place where they can actually disassemble it and where we can get back into the van. The car was driving on the edge of the land and we were almost flipping (or at least it felt that way) so that was also a part of the experience :) Then we celebrated our flight with champagne and certificates! :)
I was smiling for an hour later. It's so great! If you have any chance to go on a hot air balloon, definitely do it! And it will be better if you'll do it in Cappadocia with a surreal landscape and 100s of colorful balloons around you.
There are many hikes in this area, and they cover different canyons. There is a white canyon, pink canyon, pigeon valley, penises valley :) I went on different hikes every day, but one day I went on a hike on my own. It was so so good. I actually went to different place as was initially planned, and I found myself exactly where I wanted to be :) I came across a small valley that was full of cones with a stone per cone. So cute. I just sat there, relaxed and breathed happiness in. It's never a feeling that I can get with anyone else. Only on my own. With other people, even one person, you have to engage in a conversation, or they want to leave, or pick another spot, or even if they just sit there quietly, my attention is still divided between the views and the person. Maybe there is something wrong with me?
Back in Istanbul I slept till 3 since I wasn't too excited about going out anyway. I took a boat ride which was ok, and then went to a Hamam (Turkish bath) which was also ok. No people there at all, would've been better if it was full. First you steam, and throw hot water on yourself. Then an attendant comes and scrubs you. You would never imagine how much dirt you have (and I took a shower in the morning). I'm actually not sure if it's dirt or just skin peeling off of you, but it's all rolled and black color! I was prepared for it though, everyone says it on reviews :) Then she puts so much soap on you that you become a huge soap bubble :)
Night plane to Nepal ... finally! :)

https://plus.google.com/photos/100036016632387453128/albums/6112543879801743089

1 comment:

  1. That balloon ride sounds incredible, never heard you sound so childlike with wonder!

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