Victor & Joanne - Italy &Turkey 2015 travel blog

We did a walking tour of Goreme Outdoor Museum ... caves used...

I took this picture inside one of the chapels before I was...

Caves carved into the hillsides.

Our hot air balloon being fired up ... and I'm excited beyond...

Almost ready to go up. They stagger the launches ... thank goodness.

We are one of about 100 balloons launched before sunrise.

Reminds me of balloons released by children at a fairground.

One of the fairy chimney formations that reminds me of a castle.

View down the valley ... truly spectacular.

Sunrise over a luxury hotel ... can cost 2000 Lira ($1000 CAD)...

Pilots descend to the fairy chimneys ... impressive skill.

Rows of square pigeon holes (right). Pigeons were used for messaging ......

The happy graduates with their champagne toast.


Cappadocia

There are not enough words to describe the magical land formations here. If you have only one place to visit in Turkey, this would be my pick. The "fairy chimneys" are hundreds of feet tall and were created millions of years ago as a result of volcanic ash which hardened into rock. Over the centuries, as erosion took its course (wind and rivers), these magical land formations were created. Millenia ago, people carved out houses, chapels, kitchens, dining rooms and sanctuaries. Our guide described the rock like a crusty roll, tough on the outside, but soft and relatively easy to carve once through outer layer.

We opted for a hot air balloon flight over the area at sunrise. It is absolutely, positively, the highlight of our trip. As our balloon was being fired up, it was fabulous to look out at others that were just taking off ... I was like a little kid ... yes, I did jump up and down! The flight took about an hour and every vista was truly spectacular.

One thing that made the hot air balloon ride a truly memorable experience, and a photographer's paradise, was the nearly one hundred balloons surrounding ours. They lit up the sky like Chinese lanterns as each balloon fired up flames shooting hot air into the centre of the balloon. We were warned to dress warmly for the early morning flight but were warmed nicely by the heat from the balloon. The other highlight was the phenomenal terrain that we travelled over; hundreds of surreal looking fairy chimneys, caves carved into the rocks, cliff sides with pigeon holes.

What was most impressive was how the pilots manoeuvred their crafts. They reduced altitude and brought us right into the valley with fairy chimneys, and then up again. However, what was the best example of their skill was that the pilot landed the balloon's basket right onto the trailer that was attached to the truck. We applauded vigorously, then awkwardly climbed out of the basket and celebrated with a glass of champagne. Although the trip was expensive at 145 Euro each, we are both so glad we decided to do it. Absolutely worth it!! On the drive back to the hotel, our group of 11 talked non-stop about the experience and how memorable it had been.



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