After a long bus ride to the city of Antalya, we walked around and explored after dropping off our bags at the bus terminal. We got the world’s slowest bus into the city center and walked around taking in some beautiful views that Anatlya had to offer. It’s right next to the water, and has huge mountains that make for a really incredible landscape. It was really hot, and walking around got tiring quickly. We found a nice place for lunch right on the water, and then continued walking around the various promenades, stopping for ice cream of course, and continuing on looking at all the shops. We then made our way back to the bus terminal to get our bags and headed for the airport.

Our flight was a little late and I was getting tired. It was  quick and easy flight however, so when we landed, we got put into our van to the hotel. The drive was long, because Cappadocia is quite out of the way.

The hotels here are all cave hotels, hotels made from the old caves that were living areas of civilizations passed. Our hotel was called Shoestring hotel, and was perched up on the hillside and luckily one of the first hotels to be let out.

We got into our room, and while we had to duck to get through the Flinstones style entry, the room was basic and comfortable for what we needed.

The next morning, we spent recouping from the long day yesterday and walked around the town. We found an excellent place for lunch, called my Mother’s cafe, and it was the best food I’d had in Turkey. I tried the clay pot of roasted lamb, and it was absolutely delicious. After our filling lunch, we walked around the area and saw shops selling everything souvenir like, as well as rugs. I liked one rug shop, and wanted to see if there was something good that I could find, but nothing spoke to me.

That night, we met up with a group from our Turkish trip which was great fun. It was one of their birtdays, and we celebrated it with a beautiful dinner in a great room. I had so much fun with everyone, it was a great time. We ended up staying there for hours.

We then turned in for the night as the next morning, we were going to be picked up at 5am for our hot air balloon journey over Cappadocia.

That next morning was EARLY. We got up around 4:45 awakened by knocking at the door. It was the driver telling us he was waiting. So much for the 5:15 pickup. What became very frustrating with our entire trip was anyone and everyone would tell us anything and everything of what we wanted to hear. Promises were made and just as quickly broken, prices not exactly as they say, and it was literally exhausting have to debate every last thing with everyone.

When we got into the van, everyone sitting there either was annoyed at having to had wait for us, or they were zombies from being awake so early. We were quickly driven out of the town into the fields just about 20 minutes away. Already, our balloon was being filled, but no one said anything to us. No introduction, no information about the balloon, nothing about safety etc.

As the balloon filled up, we were then told to get in the basket. I wanted to make sure I got a good spot and so I went ahead and got near the basket. They helped me in and I quickly found that the early bird does not get the worm. The basket is divided into quarters, and I was stuck in the middle–exactly the spot that I was told to avoid. You have a roof overhead, and you get only one vantage point. Luckily, as everyone filled the baskets, we were off and the couple in our basket was easy to maneuver around to take pictures from anywhere in that basket I wanted.

As we left Earth, I had no fear or anything. It was a really strange but secure feeling being lifted up to the skies. The wind swept us away and it was quiet and smooth with shots of flames firing to keep the hot air filled in the balloon. It really seems like such a rudimentary contraption being in a balloon filled with air. As we rose above the mars like landscape of colored wavy mountains, we got to our peak height of 6000 ft, and we were looking down at all the other balloons flying around. We saw the sun climb over the mountains behind and light up the land below inch by inch.

After about 45 minutes, we started to get lower and lower, and the precision of this guy driving was incredible. We came over this restaurant where workers for the company were sitting and we combed the tables by just inches. We then landed and had some fake champagne and got certificates for our flight. The landing was incredibly smooth and again, I was amazed at the precision and skill he had piloting the balloon.

We watched the balloon deflate and got back into the vans and were brought back to our hotel.  We then arranged for a driver for the rest of the day and went to the Underground City.

This was a little bit disappointing since we didn’t have a guide and everyone else was in groups of tours which made maneuvering throughout the caves a real struggle. Nothing was really labeled, so we wandered around crouching and tried to avoid claustrophobia from setting in. After going through the maze, we left and went to a pottery shop that offered me to try my hand quickly at making a pot. The work there was really beautiful, and we walked through looking at all the different designs of hand painted items. I even found the ‘hand made items’ that I’d seen all over Jordan, so who knows really where these are truly made, and who really paints them. It was sad to have another reminder that you cannot trust what anyone says especially in a gift shop.

After a long relaxing lunch near the water, we went by another stop on our way back to our hotel and hiked up to the top of this abandoned cave town to look out at the vistas above. It had been a long day, so we were ready to relax again at the hotel before our flight that night to Izmir.

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