Day 18 – Cappadocia
This morning was finally the morning! After our balloon had been canceled the morning previous, today dawned with clearing skies and excellent wind conditions. We were up and ready to go by 5:20 AM when we were picked up by the Cappadocia Voyager Balloon bus. We headed to the main office to pay and have a quick bite, including an awesome coffee.
We boarded our bus with our fellow balloon-mates, a family from Colombia including the 82 year old matriarch and a group of friends from Chicago. Driving out to the take-off point was incredible. All the balloons were in the process of inflating and taking off and it was so amazing, like watching butterflies unfurl from cocoons.
We boarded our balloon basket and soon realized that we were flying with a pretty big deal – Mr M Halis Aydogan himself. He established the first Turkish ballooning company and has been a major fixture in ballooning in Cappadocia.
He gave us pretty much the most awesome flight around, starting from quite far up the valley, bringing us down through one of the valleys so we could see the rock formations clearly, giving detailed explanations and the occasional scare as he brought us close to some rather big and solid rock formations.
He kept us away from the other balloons for the most part and then as they started to land, brought us up to a higher altitude for a panoramic view. We were able to see basically all of the first flight land and watch the second flight take off.
Our landing was also awesome: directly onto the trailer of the basket. Impressive, Halis! We then celebrated with champagne – yum! What better way to start a morning?
Our other major activity for the day was a hike through the Red and Rose Valleys. Emre was kind enough to drop us off at the start and then a couple of kind strangers pointed us in the right direction along the way. Seeing as how we didn’t have a German friend with us, of course we got lost! 😉
We did find our way back however and rewarded ourselves with coffee and a snack at Coffedocia, a very cute cafe in Göreme.
After that, it was mostly a matter of waiting till the shuttle came to bring us to the airport for the plane back to Istanbul. We passed the time by going for Korean food (yum!!) and stocking up on Turkish snacks for our onward journey and chatting with Emre. We were definitely sad to leave here!
Day 19 – In transit
The things most notable today on our journey from Istanbul to Amman via Beirut are as follows:
1. We will miss olives and cheeses at breakfast very much.
2. Beirut Airport is super boring to layover in and has A LOT of security check points so don’t wear anything other than lulu’s for ease of passage through here.
4. Middle Eastern Airlines has excellent economy class seat size and knee room. The food – meh.
5. Queen Alia Int’l Airport is gorgeous. Two thumbs up!
6. Leah’s bag did not make it here. However, we are told that “you can’t lose anything in Jordan” so are hoping it reappears promptly.
7. So far, Jordan is impressing us with hospitality and warmth. And we saw a wedding procession on the road on the way in to town from the airport. Yeah!
8. Hawa Guest House is super cute. Thanks Eefje and Muath!
9. Come visit Jordan!!!