One to tick off the Bucket List.
30.04.2013 - 30.04.2013 32 °C
Today can only be described as an epic day - one which we will remember always.
Our day commenced at 4am. We met our travel mates and guide in the foyer of the hotel at 4.30am and travelled in the dark in a van to the area where our hot air balloon would be launched. We were given coffee to help wake us up (didn't touch the sides!), filled out the "Waiver" documentation etc, and then were driven a short distance to our balloon.
Dawn was breaking, it was cold - and I could almost taste the excitement and anticipation in the air. There were 12 of us in our balloon. We watched the guys fill the balloon and very quickly we were assisted in to the basket. We took off smoothly and for the next hour we "sailed" quietly over the Goreme Valley and the Fairy Chimneys. We came down quite low in places, actually brushing past trees. The weather could not have been more perfect, we were very lucky. There were between 70 and 80 balloons in the air - filled with people from all around the globe sharing the same wonderful experience.
The Fairy Chimneys are made from Tuff, with a slightly harder material on the top. They were named by the early Cappadocian inhabitants who believed that they belonged to fairies who lived underground.
After our safe and slightly bumpy landing we had a champagne and orange together and were then taken back to our hotel for breakfast. We sent messages Ben and Carly to advise them that they hadn't been orphaned!
At 9.30am we took off in the bus once again to continue on this eventful day. We made a couple of stops to look at the spectacular terrain and then to bring us back to earth - we visited a Turkish Carpet Shop. Here we saw how carpets and rugs are made - this is very similar to those in Egypt. We also saw how silk is spun - right from the silkworm. Then came the hard sell by a charming gent called Solomon. A great presentation - complete with complimentary drinks. At the end of the "show" about 10 salesmen appeared from out of nowhere. As we'd bought an egyptian rug in Cairo, we weren't in the market - so made a hasty retreat outside to wait for the others.
Recep then took us on a walking tour through a valley where we were able to get up really close to these amazing rock formations. We are taking so many photos we are charging batteries on a daily basis. I bought some lovely hand made (crochet and embroidery) jewellery from a lady in a stall on a little dirt track - seemingly in the middle of nowhere. This lady makes the jewellery herself, and has been there for 10 years!
Then to lunch in the town of Avanos - in a converted Caravanserai - Turkish, cheap and tasty.
We then went to a Ceramic and Pottery Shop in the town, a family business for over 200 years. We watched a demonstration of pottery making on a wheel - the wheel spins by a particular way of kicking the feet. We saw a family member make a special wine urn - a traditional piece of pottery made nowhere else in Turkey. This was a really enjoyable time here - we saw craftspeople painstakingly hand painting different pieces. We were then led in to the shop - an explosion of lights and colour - just gorgeous. To assist the Turkish economy - we bought a wine urn - in the family's traditional colours - called the Silk design. It is exquisite - it will be kept out of harm's way at home - and will be a reminder of this wonderful Turkish journey that we are currently on.
At this point, our day was far from over! We stopped at a lookout for our final view of this oustanding little pocket of the world. Words defy me, I really am going to get out the Thesaurus! We bought an icecream at a little stall here. It is made from goats milk and has a thick, gummy texture - yum!
Back to our hotel for a 30 minute break and shower etc.At 5.30pm we met Recep and 12 other tour members for an optional tour to witness the traditional ceremony of the Mevlani Order - the Whirling Dervishes. This ritual is over 800 years old - and can be seen nowhere else in the world. To put it simply, the ceremony commences with music, then singing/chanting - followed by the entrance of the dervishes and the whirling process. Love is the theme of the mystical cycle - truly mesmerising - and quite fascinating. I am humbled to have been a witness.
After the 45 minute ceremony and dinner back at the hotel - this momentous day concluded.