Tuesday, April 4, 2017

2017 Grand World Voyage, Day 190, Cappadocia, Turkey (Part 1 of 3)

Today, we (Ann, Cathy, Jane, Bill and I) rose well before dawn for a predawn pickup by Butterfly Hot Air Balloons. Cappadocia is known around the world as one of the best places to fly with hot air balloons.  We booked the "Beyond" flight which was 50% longer and a private flight with just our party.  What a day...the sun coming up over the majestic Erciyes Mountain along with spectacular surrealistic landscapes.  Excellent flying conditions allowed the balloon to gently drift over and between fairy chimneys, pigeon houses hewn into the unique rock formations, orchards and vineyards – through impressive valleys, each with distinctive rock formations, colors and features – and then float up over rippled ravines for breathtaking views over the region.  We had a fantastic balloon ride this morning with near perfect weather conditions offering us a unique perspective on the hypnotic landscape.  Our pilot Mustafa Gunal was nice guy and extremely competent, even landing our basket on the balloon's flatbed trailer...that was a first for me!!  Hats off to Butterfly Balloons for one hour and forty minutes and 8 kilometers of spectacular scenery.  Our driver, Uncle John and guide Deniz of Turkish Heritage Travel picked us up at 10 am for our land tour of the Goreme/Cappadocia Region...we made a brief stop at their office to finalize things with Jodie who we had used to arrange our trip.  Our first stop was the Red and Rose Valley for a hike through the fairy chimneys, orchards and vineyards to Cavusin.  We made our way to;  Urgup's family fairy chimneys, Devrent's animal shaped rock formation, and to Monk's Valley for the mushroom shaped chimneys.  As if plucked from a whimsical fairytale, this area is a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of incredible beauty...such fantastic topography!!!!  People have long utilized the region's soft stone, seeking shelter underground and leaving the countryside scattered with fascinating cavern architecture.  Diniz took us to a great restaurant in Goreme for lunch, our Turkish lunch was absolutely delicious.  Our next stop was the Goreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO world heritage site to see the fresco-adorned rock-cut churches.  We did some shopping on our way back to our hotel and made one final stop at Esentepe, for a panoramic viewport overlooking Goreme.  Our day was beyond great, it's the lunar type panoramas that you'll always remember...the region's accordion-ridged valleys, are an epiphany of a landscape – like something from a Disney creation.  Bedding down for the night in the Kelebek Hotel, one of Cappadocia's cave hotels is an experience in 21st-century cave living.  Tomorrow, we will tour the underground city, unfortunately, due to the weather forecast of high winds, all hot air balloon rides have been cancelled so our second ride is no more...so happy we had our majestic ride today.  I am just thrilled, beyond words that we decided to take this trip...loving Turkey!  This is part 1 of a 3 part blog.

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