Caturday: Henri le chat noir in Turkey

Noms
Henri le chat noir's Turkish cousin
Henri le chat noir’s Turkish cousin

This Henri le Chat lookalike was spotted at a restaurant in Goreme, Turkey.

Unlike its dignified, ennui-filled French cousin, this cat was noisy and just wanted to eat that leg of lamb on your table.

Noms
Noms

Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia [YQrtw Day 51 May 28]

Flight of the hot air balloons

Location: Göreme, Turkey

Hot air balloon before sunrise

The rude morning call

Today was the day of our hot air ballon ride. For me, it’d probably be the highlight of the trip to Cappadocia because HOT AIR BALLOON needs no reason.

I set my alarm for 4:20 am since our itinerary said our balloon tour was from 5:00 am.

About 2 minutes after I woke up, there was rude, loud banging at our door. Someone yelled that we need to come out.

It was a little disorienting but I figured that it was the hot air balloon company person. I shouted to the closed door, “We’ll get ready and be out.”

“I’ll come back in 10 minutes. Be ready in 5 minutes,” the man shouted back.

The shuttle bus didn’t come until after about 15 minutes. Even when on the bus, the driver asked, “What time did your tour company tell you?”

“5:00 am,” I said.

“We told them 4. Next time, we’ll just leave without you,” he said and continued complaining about how we made the others wait.

What on earth was that for?

Thankfully, that was the only bad part to the morning. The rest of the trip was FANTASTIC.

Small meal before the voyage

The hot air balloon company that our travel agent signed us up for was Rainbow Balloons. (That’s Rainbow Balloons, by the way, in the color of the rainbow.)

Before the trip, we were brought to Rainbow’s HQ for a small meal. At 5:00am, there wasn’t much that I could eat but I did nibble on a cookie and drank some of the coffee.

Every one was divided into groups based on who their pilot was. Our was Arturo.

A very friendly Australian girl was at our table. Through her, I learned about the “Green Tour” in Cappadocia which brings people to an underground palace. (I later found out that mom and I will be going on a similar tour on Wednesday.)

After our meal, we were shuttled to the site where the hot air balloons. Along the way, we didn’t see much hot air balloons that were up in the air.

When we reached our spot, I was pleased to find that the balloons for Rainbow Balloons were the prettiest since they had a stripe with the colors of the rainbow spiralling up the white canvas.

Our balloon was hot and ready for us. Instead of having to wait for our pilot to get the balloon pumped up, the balloon was already in the air when we reached.

Everyone climbed into the basket which was divided into 5 sections. In the middle, there was a narrow section where the pilot and air traffic control person stood. On both sides of the narrow section, there were two baskets, each with a maximum of 5 passengers.

When everyone was in, we were ready for take off. The pilot switched on his gigantic bunsen burner and we lifted slowly.

Hot air balloon and gigantic bunsen burner
Hot air balloon and gigantic bunsen burner

It was still a little dark when we started flying. I peered at the ground and felt that it was pushing away from us.

Soon we were mid-air and it was amazing to see the place from the top. Cappadocia has many funny rock formations and cave houses. Our pilot gave us a guided tour while we floated along.

Even more amazing was the view of tens of hot air balloons floating around:

Flight of the hot air balloons

Flight of the hot air balloons-001

Flight of the hot air balloons-002

Flight of the hot air balloons-003

Flight of the hot air balloons-004

The best ending to a tour

Our flight was about an hour but I got restless halfway during the tour. We finally landed in a patch of grass far away from where we began.

The landing was a little difficult since mom and I had to share one rope for the Landing Position. We did manage to land safely so that was good enough, I suppose.

At the end of the tour, we celebrated our landing with a glass of champagne mixed with cherry juice. I depleted my champagne mix so fast that my refill was pure sparkling wine. Yummy!

Champagne after flight
Champagne after flight

Every tour should end with glasses of Champagne. Seriously.

PS We spent the rest of the day walking in the town for half an hour before retreating to our room for a lot of reading. This is life!

Have you been on a hot air balloon ride? Where do you think is the best place for a hot air balloon ride?

Living in the caves of Cappadocia [YQrtw Day 50 May 27]

Cave Hotel

Location: Göreme, Turkey

If it were up to me, I might not have planned a trip to Cappadocia. Instead, I would have spent many days in Istanbul.

However since my mom was visiting, my sister was very helpful and enthusiastic in looking for sights to see. She found out about cave hotels and balloon rides in Turkey and even helped us book 2 nights in a cave hotel in Göreme.

After a 12-hour bus ride from Istanbul, we arrived in the little town of Göreme. The tour company picked us up from the bus terminal but took a little while looking for our hotel.

When we got there, it was too early for check in but we were allowed to have breakfast. The spread was more generous than what we had in our Istanbul hotel.

Since we couldn’t check in so early, we decided to visit the Göreme Open-Air Museum (15 lira entrance, extra 8 lira for Dark Church).

It took us quite a lot of walking to reach the museum from our hotel. Along the way, we saw the many caves and mountains that are famous in this region. The rocks look quite funny.

One of the more famous rock formation is called “fairy chimney” but for my 15-year-old teenage boy mind, they look more like pen*ses (I looked up wikipedia for the plural of pen*s.) See for yourself.

One fairy chimney. Photo was not actually taken on this day.

After a gruelling walk up and down some hills, we finally reached Göreme Open-Air Museum. Thank fully the entrance fee wasn’t 25 as I previously thought it was.

Göreme Open-Air Museum, worth the visit

Before coming to the museum, I read a few conflicting reviews about Göreme Open-Air Museum on Tripadvisor.

The place was actually nice since I really like Christian Byzantine art for its “unrealness”. But the caves are really small and we needed to elbow a few other tourists to visit the tiny little chapels in the caves.

The best church among the caves was the Dark Church which requires an extra 8 lira entrance fee. Inside, the walls and ceilings are covered with art works but most of the saints have their faces chiselled off.

On our way back, I caved in so we got back on a taxi for 10 lira. It was well worth the money since the noon sun was even more cruel.

Six hour power nap

After a lunch in the little town, we head back to the hotel. Our room was ready and our bags were brought into our cave room.

The cave hotel room was cool even though it was blisteringly hot outside. With our double bed and light, the whole setting didn’t look very much like a cave. Instead, it was more like the walls having funky uneven patterns.

In a cave hotel room

Unfortunately, the room was rather humid and nothing would dry if we hung it inside. Thankfully we have a little porch with two sofas. We took the liberty of hanging a few of our laundry outside.

Since we took a night bus, our sleep quality the night before wasn’t very good. The room was so cool that we fell into a nap very soon.

Mom’s nap turned out to be 2 hours longer than mine. I admired the sunset and worked on May 26’s blog post during that time.

Goreme sunset

At night, we went to a restaurant suggested by Foursquare. The place was awesome as the tea and apple tea were served free and for as much as we want. Yum!

We walked back to the hotel in the cool night air and rested at 11:00pm to prepare for our early morning hot air balloon ride the next day.