One of the highlights of this trip was to have been a balloon flight over the hoodoos and other rock formations in the Cappadocia valley. Fahti very wisely hedged his bets, making reservations for us both mornings we were here. But sadly the weather did not cooperate. While we can be glad that the drizzle stopped and the cold temperatures do not matter, the overcast and winds made flying around hanging from a basket a bad choice. We are SO disappointed. But what can you do? The weather is not on our schedule. We'll just have to come back again.
So on our final day in Cappadocia Fahti took us from one scenic spot to another and we took photos like there was no tomorrow. This is one of those spots where words are inadequate. The rock formations are amazing and the way people have burrowed into them over the years adds another dimension. At the overlooks vendors hung their wares at the edge of the cliff, adding to the scenic views and adding to our temptation to buy once again.
We took a hike through a less developed area and it was no less scenic. At time it felt like a moonscape and at others the vivid colors of the minerals in the rock reminded us of rainbows. Some of the hoodoos have been carved into too much and pieces have fallen off, reminding me of a tooth in need of a filling.
We went inside one of the homes that were carved inside a hoodoo. The previous owner was there; he was the fourth generation of his family to be born in that home, but it was seized as part of the UNESCO agreement. Now he rents it back from the government and tries to make a living selling souvenirs and giving little tours inside what used to be his house. Rather sad. The home was amazingly habitable. Where we might have a book shelf or display case, he had niches carved into the wall. Rock benches were covered with Turkish rugs and the glass in the carved windows let in plenty of light. A wood stove gave off very welcome heat and a cat dozed nearby. Cats have pretty much taken over this country.
In the evening we had a farewell dinner complete with free wine and a Wiseman production slide show which reminded us how much fun we had and made us wish we could do it all again. At this stage of our travel lives we are getting harder to impress, but every day here was a treat and a joy. The OAT itinerary was varied and well paced and the whole trip ran like clock work.
Most of all we enjoyed our guide Fahti. He was so knowledgable about history and customs in Turkey. And as an experienced guide he could anticipate many of our questions and things that might confuse us. He had a great sense of humor and took well to our jokes and teased us right back. Although the itinerary specified certain things we were to see and do every day, there was lots of time that was up to him. He listened to our interests and always included our requests. Some of our fellow travelers would have preferred to have the day laid out for them first thing in the morning, but it seemed like his flexible approach worked best as we dealt with weather, traffic and the flow of other tourists. Even when he set us free to order meals on our own or wander around, he was always in the background ready to step in if he saw us floundering. While we usually don't like bus tours, OAT's small group approach has us sold and we are ready to sign up again whenever we visit a country for the first time where the language could be a challenge - China or India, for example.
Now on to the next adventure.