We awoke on Thursday and headed across the bridge to Asia for our flight to Cappadocia. We arrived with not much fanfare to Nevishar airport and headed out to our Avis rental car. There at the counter was a European gentleman trying to convince the car company to give him a car for free because of his airline miles even though he had no credit card. The car company was willing to give him a car for a handwritten note and 100 euros (seemed like a good deal to me but they were still arguing when we left). As we headed to the car park the Avis attendant reminded me that the Ford fiesta was a manual shift and a diesel vehicle (I though he said his name was Manuel, but I figured it out). We loaded up and took off without much fanfare to Uchisar where our cave hotel was. The landscape was insane, it looked like massive droplets of lava from the sky were there with gnomes living everywhere. It was like Utah on acid. We drove our car to the Uchisar castle, there we continued to go up and down the windy cobblestone streets looking for our accommodations but no luck. An otopark guy (parking lot attendant) told us our hotel was up around the corner but it was just a similar name not our hotel. We gave up and abandoned our hotel next to a spice peddler at the foot of the cave castle. There were sat down to a panoramic view and a doner kebob hoping things would become easier after we ate. The proprietor of the lunch spot was a cowboy hat man wearing a t shirt with a picture of himself in the outfit he was currently wearing upon it. We fueled up and the cowboy took us around back of the castle and showed us our hotel which was just down the cliff. Not sure how we were going to get the car there we decided to drive back down and around the cliff to the other side. A half hour later we were on the other side of the castle where we saw a sign for our hotel on a cobblestone street pointing basically straight up. I put the car into first gear and gunned it up and around that curve and we slide into our beautiful mountain top cave resort! There we watched the sun set off of the sandstone with a lovely bottle of white wine served by Mustafa.
We woke up and was served an amazing breakfast on the lawn overlooking the lava pillars! Food just kept coming out; yogurt, honey, soft cooked eggs in bread, bread filled with feta, coffee and fresh squeezed juice. After an indulgent breakfast we headed out to the Goreme Open Air Museum. These lava pillars were inhabited by people in 3000 BC in 1200 AD priests fled to the Capadokia region and made churches complete with frescos in these caves. There were churches upon churches in these hills. After touring the underground churches we headed to a nearby town where they were having a Friday market. We walked around the market looking at the goods and then grabbed a Turkish ice cream by the river. We booked our balloon for the next morning, we were concerned about safety since there had been a crash that morning of a balloon. Our balloon company assured us that the crash was just a, “technical problem” and not their company. The “technical problem” involved the pilot catching on fire, but we were assured that it would not happen to us. After securing our balloon ride we headed off to explore the Rose Valley and the Fairy Chimneys. After getting out of the car and hiking around into various alcoves I heard my name being called. I turned and look and saw a girlfriend of mine that I knew when I was a nanny in 2001, who currently lives in Lithuania with her husband and three children. What a small world I haven’t seen her since 2003!!! After hiking up to a fantastic view point we headed back to our hotel for another great dinner.
At 3:30 AM with the call of the Mosque we awoke and headed out for our balloon ride. We hopped in the basket with our 10 closest friends and took off into the sky. Our pilot Mustafa (I know everyone right?) sent us soaring over the beautiful landscape. There were 100s of other balloons floating about. We watched the sun rise as we grazed across the world. It was epically beautiful. One and half hours later we landed and deflated the balloon and drank sparkling wine. After our amazing trip above we went back to our hotel for another amazing breakfast. We then headed into Goreme to do last minute souvenir shopping. Laden down by Turkish towels and lamps we headed back up the hill to eat another dinner.
Another breakfast and we headed out to the airport. We drove to the airport and continued to drive and look for the airport and circle around it through the Turkish countryside. We tried to return the rental car 40 min before the flight, which basically resulted in me ditching the car in the parking lot and running in. The check in attendant was not worried and we handed them our luggage. After a super bumpy flight we returned to Istanbul. We grabbed a cab and headed to the Hilton by the airport, our cabby was extremely lost, chain smoking and Goggling as he careened across the highway. We made it a little wind blown to our hotel and are settling in for dinner and our flight at 3 pm.