Two Judith’s stayed behind and didn’t have the 3.45 am wake up call for the second morning in a row to go Ballooning (0ne being me). I would loved to have gone again – but, it was better Hannah got to enjoy the thrill of a balloon ride and best of all to see the Cappadocia landscape from a balloon basket. At this height you can see what must have been a gigantic earthquake that ripped up this landscape followed by a huge volcanic eruption that covered the entire region in volcanic ash and how the wind , rain and extreme weather patterns over millions of years have eroded the valleys and created the surreal fairy chimney and mushroom shaped landscape. My group all came back fizzing – not only did they get a terrific ride amongst 100 other balloons but they popped through lovely fluffy mist to see the sun rise and be gobsmacked with the view. The expert pilot even landed the basket on the trailer!
Some in my group felt uncomfortable about the balloon ride and their fear of heights proved not so bad looking out and standing in the huge balloon basket . This morning’s excursion took us to one on the many underground cities in Cappadocca . I have a fear of cramped spaces and the thought of descending 7-8 stories underground through a tight tunnel was pretty scary . Its amazing and by the time we reached the bottom the space was quite large .
Built around 600 BC these cities could house over 5000 people providing safe refuge and a storage facility with s stable temperature to live in – most of the towns in Cappadocia have another city underground
Ali told us a really sad story about mothers who would hide their sons in the underground tunnels, at a time when Turkey would force young boys into the army during the first world war, virtually by their height and if they could carry a gun. The authorities would block up the entrances but these tunnels would go for miles linking one town with another – hopefully many of the boys escaped.
Our last day took us to one of my favourite valleys in Cappadocia and the old town of Soganli. An amazing landscape where the hill tops looked like they had been chiseled to produce perfect straight sides at the top and the bottom slopes were covered in deserted houses – once the home of thriving communities. We stopped at what was a deserted village last year (still the local ladies were selling their fabric dolls and knitted socks) to walk up through the empty village and along a track past a stunning ancient church carved out of the rock – but, this year it was evident a lot of work was going on and we were delighted to see we had walked in on a movie set. There were guys slapping mud on the sides of a building creating an authentic looking rough surface and the houses had been transformed into all sorts of things from a market place , basket seller to tool maker. It was so interesting and we were sworn to secrecy !!!!
After walking in the hot sun over the dry rocky hillside we emerged by a stream and a little oasis garden filled with tables .We came here last year and sitting surrounded by rowdy geese (thanks to Alison feeding them). We had another delightful lunch with all our favourites such as delicious bread with feta cheese and honey, gozleme, lentil soup, barbecued chicken and lamb, salad and finishing with fresh water melon. Hannah and Laura found a very cute puppy and he was very happy with all the attention and love.
The Turkish hospitality is incredibly warm and friendly – language is a barrier but, a smile goes a long way and every eating experience for us has been so enjoyable, even if we have eaten too much.
Every tour has to have a “Last Night” Alison , Hasan and I feel privileged and very happy to have spent another highly successful tour with yet another amazing group of fun, interesting and vibrant people. This time women from all over New Zealand and who now have another set of friends to call on and meet when they are traveling around New Zealand.
On the sunny deck of Alison and Hasan’s house over looking Urqup and back at our Cave Hotel we had a pre dinner drink for the last time before dinner at the famous ‘Ziggys’ restaurant . It was a chance to reflect, talk and laugh about our highlights , of which there were too many.
From Cappadocia we flew to Istanbul and my group dispersed to Croatia, UK, Boston, Milan and only 3 headed home. I can’t thank everyone enough – I can organise tours, provide guides, plan and choose an itinerary – but a tour success is with a group of like minded people who want company, friendship and fun. They make my job very special!