Today was a very busy day. It started at 5:45am when we were picked-up for a hot-air balloon ride. I didn’t fancy the balloon ride itself too much since I was riding hot-air balloons before. But doing a ride over the lunar landscape around Göreme seems to be the number one attraction of the area so I had to do it. Every morning more than one hundred hot-air balloons take-off at the same time which makes Göreme one of the most popular ballooning sites worldwide.
Almost everybody of our group went for the hot-air balloon ride. It lasted one hour and cost 120 EUR which was the cheapest available option. When we arrived at the take-off area the crew was in the process of inflating the giant balloons with hot air which was spectacular to watch. Some of the balloons including ours had a Turkish flag attached to the balloon since it was the national sovereignty day. After our balloon was fully inflated we jumped into it. Our group filled half a basket of one of the balloons so we could enjoy this experience together.
Our pilot was Turkish but he told me quite a number of his colleagues aren’t. Due to the high amount of balloons taking-off at the same time there is a shortage of Turkish pilots and many foreign ones are employed here. Before taking-off our pilot explained the landing position to us and we practiced it once. You basically lean with your back against the basket in the direction of travel and bend your knees.
Then we took-off. The flight over the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia was truly amazing. It gives you the feeling of beeing on the moon and the one hundred other balloons surrounding you add to this special atmosphere. During the ride I also asked the pilot lots of questions about the ballooning business in Göreme and the functionality of the different parts of the balloon which he happily explained to me. After one hour our pilot landed the balloon on a trailer which wasn’t much larger than the basket of the balloon basket itself so precise was he in flying the balloon. We all received a certificate for having survived the flight and a glass of strange tasking champagne.
After returning to the hotel we had breakfast and then Andrew, Emilie, Patricia and I went for a walking tour. Other people did different activities such as Chris and Jason who went quad-biking. Our walking tour started at the hotel and led us to a number of differently shaped and colored fairy chimneys. The first ones we saw were the ones of the so called “Love Valley”. I was wondering why this name was given to the valley and thought it might be because of the phallus shaped rocks. Our guide corrected me and explained the valley got its name from turtles coming here to make love. Unfortunately we didn’t see any here but later on in a different valley. The walk was amazing because we could have a closer look at the rock-hewn houses and churches where people were hiding from their enemies in past times. Also amazing was the color of some of the rocks shining in stripes of white, red and yellow. Our guide also left us plenty of time to chat with locals over a coffee or apple tea and to buy some dried fruit from them. This extended the tour from the originally planned three hours to five hours.
Back in Göreme the four of us went into a Hamam which is a Turkish style bath. It wasn’t mixed gender so we had to leave Andrew at the entrance and go to a special ladies section. There we changed into our bikini. Emilie and Patricia didn’t bring their own bikini and therefore got provided with a tiny blue plastic bikini which barely covered their body. In the Hamam a lady came and put a face mask on our skin with which we went into a hot dry sauna where we stayed for about 15 min. Then we went into a kind of steam bath were our body was soaped and scrubbed by another lady. After a short dip in the pool we ended the Hamam visit with a massage. The whole procedure was very relaxing and made us feel five years younger. Andrew didn’t enjoy his visit to the extent we did since he didn’t fancy a big Turkish man washing, scrubbing and massaging him. Before the Turkish man actually touched him, Andrew made very clear to him which parts of his body he isn’t allowed to put his hands on.
In the evening we went out for a Turkish night which was a mixture of Turkish dancing, eating and drinking. The performance of the belly dancers and the whirling dervishes was very entertaining. Even more entertaining was seeing our leader Jason receiving a belly dancing lesson and our fellow traveler Chris practicing a special dance to attract the female gender. Unfortunately he wasn’t successful in his dancing ending up the Turkish girl he was dancing for denying him. While watching the performance we sampled Turkish specialties and had lots of Raki, an anise-flavored spirit popular in Turkey, with it. I didn’t liked the flavor of the Raki and had the feeling it didn’t contain much alcohol since I usually get tipsy very quickly. But after maybe five of us emptied nearly two bottles of the stuff it kicked-in so I found it a bit hard to walk in a straight line. This night Jason also offered a bet to us which will make him paying for all alcoholic drinks until the end of our journey to the one managing to have sex with our local Iranian guide which we will meet in a couple of days. Probably he thought it will be impossible to achieve in a Muslim country but in the end all men around the world think with their dick and why should this be different in Iran. Back at the hotel we finished this excellent night with another drink before I went to bed to avoid me getting completely drunk.