Tuesday, July 1, 2014

29 + 30 June + 1 July: enjoying Cappadocia by foot and balloon

29 June:

What a short night. I was introduced to a special tradition tied to the Ramadan, being a guy playing a drum, walking down several living blocks a couple of times, for at least an hour around two o'clock in the night. Not that funny when the alarm clock is set at 03.00! The reason why some of these loud guys walk around in Turkish towns is to give a sign to all the inhabitants that it's their last opportunity to eat. After the drum session the abstention continues. It must be hard for Muslims to work all day, with 30 degrees or higher outside, but without eating and especially drinking for so many hours. At the office of Rainbow Balloons huge food packets (like Christmas packets in the Netherlands) were offered to all employees joining the one month abstention. Bennie and I made a nice flight together with Arturo, a pilot from Spain. Because of his yearly examination, carried out by a Turkish pilot from another balloon company, we took off a bit further away from the other balloons. We also flew relatively high, while flying low is certainly the most awesome thing to do here. During the afternoon, after a nice walk through Pigeon Valley, my father and I strolled around warm Avanos a bit. What I particularly noticed was that hardly any Turkish women can be seen on the streets. Young boys on motor bikes and old men just hanging around where, on the other hand, to be seen everywhere. At a newly established restaurant called Mado I enjoyed yet another portion of baklava; hmm! Later that evening, when the Netherlands eventually defeated Mexico  with 2-1 (yes!), I tried a Turkish pasta dish called Manti, which was exceptionally good! The pasta is covered with a layer of yoghurt in which a fair portion of fresh garlic is processed. I 'enjoyed' this taste for at least a day, because I didn't manage to get rid of that garlic flavor that easily.

30 June:

A long hot day started off with a beautiful balloon flight together with Arturo and a bunch of passengers from Spain and Australia. The latter had some typical 'Flying Doctors' faces actually! We flew nicely low through the valleys and close along Uchisar castle. The Turkish crew members were in a jolly mood. The let me open up the alcohol free champagne which was of course a bit shaken on forehand and they also made me fly a second time that day for a second, with a soft landing on the envelope. They somehow also wanted to take many selfies with me. After the flight we went with a small group consisting of Arturo, my dad and a friendly young Spanish couple to Ihlara valley. We walked around 10 kilometers in between two huge cliffs. A refreshing river, which we eventually had to cross bare feet, gave some refreshment. Lots of little churches were to be found hidden in the rocks, but thousands of years of rain and wind made it difficult to imagine how beautiful everything must have looked liked at the time being. Even the Spaniards considered it to be extremely hot today, so imagine my poor white skin desperately being protected by factor 50+. We eventually visited another rock formation where people once used to live, in Selime, and afterwards we paid a short visit to a caravanserai, which was used as a kind of hostel for travelers on the Silk Route. We got back around 17.00, after having been awake since 03.00, so at 19.00 I went to bed, only to wake up for the next flight of which the preparations would start eight hours later already again.

1 July:

The drum boy started half an hour before my alarm clock rang, so that was a good opportunity to slowly wake up already. This morning a flight was scheduled together with a Turkish pilot named Mehmet. He showed to be a good one, letting the balloon turn around nicely often (good for the pictures) and flying low through the valleys, close to the rocks, without hitting them. After a well deserved sleep it was time to visit Susan and her beautiful house, located partly in a rock. We enjoyed some food and the company of three rather fat dogs, but they were very sweet. Susan had to catch a flight to France so eventually my father and Arturo ended up firstly at Mado for some Turkish desserts and secondly at Fat Boys for a cold beer. Another lovely day in Cappadocia!

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