Saturday, June 28, 2014

27-28 June: Amsterdam - Kayseri - Avanos

As if I haven’t traveled enough already this month... Greetings from Turkey! Last evening my father and I took the night flight from Amsterdam to Kayseri. The plane was fully packed with Turkish people aged from 0.5 till 100. We were the only two tall blonde ‘cheeseheads’ on the entire flight. Interestingly, one of the passengers caused some trouble. Just before lift-off, when one’s surely not supposed to walk around, he tried to enter the toilet several times already. Furthermore, he kept on annoying the stewardesses with his obsession about the oxygen masks. It seemed all a bit threatening, and unfortunately this behavior didn’t stop during the flight. At a certain point the captain of the plane demanded the man, over the radio, to stop it, or else we would land on any airport on the route to Turkey where the police would be waiting for him. Luckily it didn’t get that far. What I noticed during this particular flight is that Turkish people seem very occupied with moving things and themselves during the flight. I’m normally used to Baltic people and Scandinavians, who manage to sit still for two hours without any problems. When we landed we obtained a visa, a small paper with a colorful sticker. The visa office looked like being exactly the same as it could have looked like thirty years ago. Dull colors, antique prints, old fashioned telecommunication and a portrait of Atatürk centrally observing the Dutch passport owners being charged 25 euro’s per person. All names were carefully written down in a big book. Once through the passport control we had to wait for our suitcase, along with many mothers trying to keep their tired and annoyed children calm. Buying a bottle of water failed, as the only shop being open during midnight solely sold cigarettes and alcoholic beverages. Two policemen kept all the people picking up their loved ones away from the arrival hall, which resulted in a seemingly honorary bow consisting of many small Turkish people who all stared at me with big eyes when making my first steps on Turkish soil. A memorable welcome! A crew member of Rainbow Balloons picked us up and in the middle of the night we drove through Kayseri towards Meskendir Valley. Incredible, how many mosques I saw. Remarkable also how bright green lights are used to highlight beautiful buildings during the night. The way of advertising reminded me a bit of Poland: colorful plaques praising goods through various fonts that had their popularity peak a decade ago. When being close to the final destination, the balloon heart of Turkey, we noticed that morning flight take-offs are scheduled a little earlier here. When it was still slightly dark, at 05.00 o’clock, the first balloons packed with fanatically waving sweet Japanese people found their way upwards. What a beautiful sight; the most magic rock formations and balloons appearing from every single valley. A fantastic way to start off this day, or to end it, as we didn’t manage to catch some sleep during the entire night. We were brought to our little attic apartment in Avanos, having two balconies with both a great view (from which we saw around 60 balloons this morning), a bathroom with soft pink elements attached with too less screws, a kitchen, two beds and an interestingly squared Styrofoam ceiling that most probably wouldn’t pass the esthetics-check at any local DIY company in the Netherlands. After a well deserved nap my father and I met some lovely people leading Rainbow Balloons. It was great to have a look at a Turkish balloon company once. It looked all so nicely organized. During the afternoon we hung around a bit with a Spanish pilot and a young Spanish couple. We walked through Göreme a bit, spotting many caves people used to live in, but which are now heavily affected by erosion. Some happy (possibly stray) dogs, looking nicely clean actually, accompanied us during a short walk. Because of the high temperature there was some thunder in the air, as well as some rain. But, that didn’t matter, because at a bar named Fat Boys we enjoyed a drink and a tasty portion of baklava. It must be hard for the guys working in the restaurants now, because apparently today was the first day of the Ramadan. They thus didn’t eat or drink during the day. We reside in a not so touristy neighborhood in Avanos, and when the loudspeakers just transmitted a prayer, I saw families all over town starting their well deserved huge meals. Yes, that’s another thing I noticed: the light. The light bulbs in Turkish living rooms shine out this very bright and rather uncozy light (even though the huge families having dinner together do look very cozy).  I observed that before with African people living in the Netherlands, but that is all not that interesting. Time to sleep. Arturo, the Spanish pilot, will pick us up tomorrow at 03.30!

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