|It was midday when I arrived at the small airport outside Nevsehir. I took a shuttle bus to my hotel in the village of Urgup. Right away I noticed something in common about the passengers in the van. When the driver read the names it proved me correct. Except for one couple and me, all were relatives of the firm Suzuki, Chong and Park. This time of year most of the tourists to Cappadocia are from Japan, China and South Korea.
It wasn't long before I got a feel for the specialness of the Cappadocia region. Everywhere there were unusual rock formations including many known as fairy chimneys. The cone shaped rock formations, many with doors and windows looked like they would be inhabited by a family of gnomes. En route to my hotel, the shuttle made several stops in the fashionable town of Goreme. Many of the hotels are tucked into the hillside. Here you pay extra to have a room in a cave.
I'm staying in Urgup at the Hotel Cave Konak, a small Bed and Breakfast. It's owned by Adnan and Coleen. He's a local, but she's originally from Bedford England, a town north of London. She's lived in Turkey for the past 20 years. My room at the hotel isn't in a cave, it's more like a room in a modern castle. It's nicely outfitted and comfortable. Upon arrival Colleen spent considerable time with me finding out what I wanted to see and do in Cappadocia. By that evening she confirmed that I was booked for a Balloon tour the next morning. A van was scheduled to pick me up at 4:50am.
I spend the late afternoon until sundown climbing the hill across from the hotel. Near the hilltop, a crew was erecting a barbed wire fence to secure a building with transmitting equipment. Initially, they motioned me away, but I continued my approach, said hello and pointed to my camera. They allowed me pass. The top of the hill was a long flat plateau. As I reached proximity to its point, a 'fear of heights' feeling hit me. There was nothing but a drop off on three sides of me. It was definitely an uncomfortable feeling, so I stopped, took a few photos and turned back. How will I feel tomorrow in a hot air balloon, I wondered?
I enjoyed dinner at a café in Urgup. I was looking for something authentic and I found it. Zeytin is a family restaurant with mom doing the cooking and her daughter the serving. Over in the corner sat mom's granddaughter doing her homework. Even the kitchen looked like home. I chose the vegetarian plate and it was hearty and delicious.