Göreme, Cappadocia & Hot Air BalloonsWednesday, 4 June 2014
The next stop on our Turkey circuit was Göreme, Maureen and I were there way back in 1972 and we’ve never been back.
▲ Göreme is the principal village in the fairytale district of Cappadocia, noted for its lunar landscape of ‘fairy chimneys.’ Over the centuries the locals have cut their homes, castles and, in pre-Islamic days, churches into these volcanic-ash pinnacles. We covered the standard Göreme ‘must dos,’ the Kaymaklı underground city, the Göreme Open Air Museum, a walk (the Rose Valley one), a carpet shop, a ceramics centre and then we took to the skies in what has become the really big Göreme attraction, hot air ballooning.
▲ Lots of things have changed in Göreme since our previous visit, 40+ years ago. Back then we camped behind a petrol station, there were only a handful of other visitors. Now there’s every type of accommodation possible, we stayed in the luxurious Doors of Cappadocia boutique hotel. But it’s the fleets of hot air balloons which take to the sky every morning which has become the district’s signature attraction. This was not a crowded view, sometimes there seem to be hundreds of balloons in the sky.
▲ Cappadocia is a perfect hot air ballooning region for two reasons: near perfect weather conditions and great views. I’ve done a bit of hot air ballooning and highlights have ranged from the skyscrapered city centre of Melbourne in Australia to the temple-studded plains of Bagan beside the Irrrawaddy River in Burma/Myamar. The Göreme experience matched them.
▲ Those fairy chimneys, some of them decided phallic shaped, look great from above. We flew with Voyager Balloons, the Lonely Planet Turkey guide commends their ‘multilingual pilots,’ they could have added ‘multilingual comedians,’ our pilot was so funny it was hard to keep an eye on the scenery.