08 December 2015

Cappadocia Redux

In October when my brother came to visit me we took several side trips out of Istanbul: Ephesus (of course) and Cappadocia. I was happy to make a return to Cappadocia especially knowing how much my brother, creative genius behind the photography at Igknight, would (and did) love it.
Immediately when we arrived at Emily's Cave House, I knew we were going to have a good trip. The weather in Göreme is iffy in October and the weather reports were promising rain, rain, and more rain. And wind which was even worse because high winds means no balloon flights. We'd booked (through Emily's Cave) a flight for Saturday morning but they were concerned flights would be cancelled because of the weather. After sitting us down with tea they spent a half hour calling various balloon companies trying to find one that had spaces open for a Sunday flight. Which only goes to show that you need to book these things early regardless of tourism season or not.

Since we arrived too late on Friday to do a tour, my brother and I set off on our own to do some exploring. To get to some of the less frequented valleys you need a car but there are still more than enough places to go that are within walking distance. We started in Rose Valley which can be accessed from Museum Road. From the air it's one of the more boring valleys but from the ground there are some pretty interesting cave houses. Some of which are still lived in. There's perhaps nothing odder than seeing one of these ancient cave houses with a satellite attached to it.

During our explorations we spotted something off in the distance that at first seemed like another cave house. But a zoom lens proved that this was a cave house like no other we'd seen. Someone either tiled or carved the natural rock to look like tiles resulting in what could only be described ... as a Hobbit hole. New Zealand, meet your Turkish counterpart.

The next morning we were glad that, with our hotel's help, we'd cancelled our Saturday balloon flights and booked a flight for Sunday as the morning weather did indeed keep all flights grounded. After a marvelous breakfast at Emily's we headed off on a day tour with Bridge of the World travel agency. I'd done the Green tour on my last trip but was happy to do it again as our guide for this, Yucel, was amazing. I would definitely recommend this company if you want to do a tour (they offer a variety) and if you do try to get Yucel. I don't think he stopped talking for 80% of the tour giving us information about the sites, local history, culture, agriculture...I learned a lot.

Revisiting the Selime Monastery

The Cathedral at Selime Monastery

The following morning was a huge debacle. We were told our pick up for the balloon flight would be at 5:00 AM so I set my little Nokia phone alarm for 4:30. When it went off my brother somewhat grumpily complained that he thought I said 4:30. Yes I said 4:30 and showed him my phone and he then showed me his which said 3:30. After 10 minutes of Googling we learned that while the rest of Europe had implemented its Autumn time change during the evening, Turkey elected to push its back two weeks. So we got up and got ready and waited for a pick up. And waited, and waited. I had the number of the balloon company so I called and was all, what the hell dudes? Because everyone these days lives and dies by their smart phones, all of which automatically changed time, everything was an hour late.

While that I suppose is forgivable, the company's general lack of organization and customer service was not. After we finally got picked up we were taken to a Korean restaurant (not kidding) where everyone was checked in. That process took probably another hour. We were supposed to be in a balloon with I think maybe 20 people max? They shoved 26 in ours. I complained to several staff members but was just shrugged at, told that no we weren't late we were supposed to not see the sunrise (despite that being the point of a 5AM pickup), etc etc. Avoid Cihangiroglu Balloons. Avoid avoid avoid.

At least we got off the ground that morning so I'm thankful that my brother got to do this. And we still had the Red tour to do so the day wasn't over yet!

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