May 19 Part 2
What a day! We had it all in front of us since we got up so early for the balloon. Now down to earth, we do a hike through the Rose Valley which is a challenge with its very steep and slippery (due to small stones) trails. Yasemin, our guide, is a naturalist and has written a book on the flowers of Turkey. She is in her element with the glorious blooms we encounter. But it is the rock formations that we enter that prove fascinating. One is a church with wonderful acoustics where we burst out in song which echoes through the cave walls.
It's about noon when Mustafa, our driver picks us up and whisks us to his home where his wife and daughters have prepared a real home-cooked lunch for us. Besides his driving, Mustafa has been working on building this house over the past few years and has just completed the third floor. He also has a plot of land where he grows crops to feed his family who also help with the farming. His twin daughters immediately bond with our young traveler, Amelia. Lunch is outstanding with a wonderful soup, a stew served with rice, and the best baklava we have had on the entire trip.
But the day is not over yet as we pack one more attraction in before goung back to the hotel and getting ready for the farewell dinner. The Goreme Open Air Museum is home to a multitude of churches carved out of the rock. We visit one of the most famous of these churches. Unfortunately, photography of the interiors is prohibited, so only exterior views are among our remembrances of this visit.
We head back to the hotel with just enough time to freshen up for dinner. But there is yet another attraction - a performance of the Whirling Dervish in a centuries old enclave, the Sarihan Caravanserai, that was once a stop for caravans on the silk road. Again, photographs are not allowed of the ceremony, but a postcard was provided. We were surprised by the grace of the dervish group, and possibly disappointed that they did not whirl so fast that they became a blur as legend holds. After a refreshing drink, we headed back to town and the "Ziggy" Restaurant for our farewell dinner. Besides a fine meal, we discover that there is a store where the shoppers in our group get one last chance to spend their Turkish Lira on handicrafts and jewelry. We toast a wonderful week, but there is still nearly an entire day left before we say final goodbye's and board the plane back to Istanbul.