Wicker Baskets, Balloons and Big Mountains

Cappadocia Part 3.

By: Ellie/Kelly

One of the things we promised ourselves we would do while in Cappadocia was go on a hot-air balloon ride. It is one of the most expensive excursions, but we made room in our budget for it.  Neither of us have been in a balloon basket and this region is said to be one of the best places in the world to try it.

The Balloon company rounds you up from your hotel rooms at around 5:30am and brings you to a field or, in our case, a parking lot. There, you get some little pastries and tea or coffee (in an effort to wake you up a little) while you watch your balloon get rolled out of a giant bag and then filled with hot air. Kelly took several minutes to make her hot tea just right, took a sip, and sat it down for a minute to take a few pictures. When she turned back to the table to take a sip, it was gone. She looked around and saw a small Asian man drinking from her tea. This was amusing because she had small pieces of cake that had dropped into her tea and when the man set the cup back down, sure enough there were her cake crumbs floating in HER tea that he had now claimed.

Anyway, as soon the balloon was blown up, they told us to hop in and the basket was split into four sections and four people were supposed to be in each section. We got in a section with two of three Danish girls staying at our hostel. Our captain and his helper were in the middle of the basket with the very hot flame that he shot off at what seemed sporadic timing.

Suddenly before we knew it, we were lifting up into the sky slowly. Kelly was very unsure the night before, because when she inquired about the safety records of the balloons, Emrah told her that someone had died for the first time ever, one week prior to our visit. We both laughed nervously and tried to explain to Emrah how that wasn’t exactly the reassurance we were looking for. However, his story was true. A British tourist died because two balloon captains were trying to get the balloons close enough together in the air so they could talk to each other, so basically their conversations were so important they couldn’t wait. One balloon ripped another and the ripped balloon came crashing down. Everyone else was just injured aside from the Brit. People are speculating that maybe he jumped to his death. Regardless, that is irrelevant because we were taking off in our very own thin wicker basket into the sky above jagged mountains.

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There were very few scary parts of the ride. A couple times, we would be floating in a valley and it would look like the captain wasn’t going to clear a mountain coming up and we would scrape the bottom of our basket on the tops of trees but overall, the ride was very calm and magical.

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It was so quiet and the best part was sharing the experience with other balloons in the air. I don’t think that ballooning is as exhilarating as I thought it would be but the calming effect was wonderful, floating above Rose and then Red Valley.

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The ride was a full hour and we landed in a clearing very softly.  Afterwards we got a champagne toast with the captain and he gave all the ladies flowers. A man with very unattractive teeth came, picked Kelly up into his arms and threw her on the folded up balloon, surrounded by other Turkish men, laughing.

Kelly and her knight

Kelly and her knight

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with the captain

with the captain

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Overall, I feel very pleased that we chose to dish out the lira on this because it was an event that was enhanced so much by the unreal scenery of the land.

*It’s Kelly now 🙂

By the time, our shuttle pulled back into our hotel, we were pretty tired and it was only 9 am so we did what any sane human being does and crawled back to our cave for a long nap. When we awoke, we were starving and went to the Vitamin Bar(so it is appropriately named) to get a juice that we had seen the man making the day before. We ordered two large watermelon and apple juice and veggie burgers. The veggie burgers were handmade and cost exactly 3 USD. The juices were so much work for the guy because half way through he ran out of watermelon. Instead of telling us this, like he would if it was in the states, he just jumped on his moped, leaving his restaurant unoccupied and went to a store to buy us one. He came back with a watermelon, riding precariously between his legs. He continued to use a whole fresh watermelon on each juice. (*Lauren Fales, you would have loved this place.) The whole thing set us back 7 dollars each and we were stuffed.

Our Juice!

Our Juice!

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Our last few days in Goreme were spent vegging with the people at our hostel, eating homemade carrot cake from a woman who runs a book exchange and bakes her own sweets and lounging at “Goreme Restaurant” where they had a live traditional signer every night sometimes accompanied by men with different sorts of instruments. This restaurant had the best vegetarian Turkish food I have ever had. Turkish ravioli (which is served in a yogurt and tomato sauce), baba ganoush, hummus, falafel(the only place in Turkey to have falafel that we have run into). We ate here 4 times in 4 days. We sat on Turkish couches (the floor) with our shoes off, drinking Cappadoccian wine and beer. I think this is my happiest memory of Turkey thus far.

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The musician at Goreme Restaurant

The last night we were in Capadoccia, we went to the Flintstone’s Bar. Everything in Goreme is named Flintstones. Example: Flintstones internet, Flintstones dessert, Flintstones hostel, Flintstones bar. The Flintstones bar is in…you guessed it, a cave. A lot of local Turkish men, including the ones from our hostel and actually some women too were there. We drank a couple beers, watched the Turkish men do their strange and flamboyant dances, sometimes joining in and soon they closed the cave door for noise ordinance. The smoke became a little unbearable without ventilation so we called it a night and slowly walked up our hill, knowing that we were leaving this magical landscape in the morning.

Kelly asks for you to please ignore the kahki hat she stole from the bar man, against her better judgement

Kelly asks for you to please ignore the khaki hat she stole from the bar man, against her better judgement

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Goreme is the one of the best places I have ever visited. Even though, there is not much to do all the time, the people are friendly with no one bothering us to look at their menu or buy anything and they got to know our names like we lived there and waved to us everytime we passed on the street. The food was the best and for the cheapest, we have found it. The nightlife is concentrated in a few bars with water pipes and draft beer, both of which we enjoyed while visiting. I feel like a visit to Turkey would be incomplete without a stop in this charming little town that captured my heart.

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1 Response to “Wicker Baskets, Balloons and Big Mountains”


  1. 1 Connie June 18, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    I am really enjoying your wonderful photos and commentary. You brought back my own remembrances of Istanbul where we purchased 2 rugs — they hang on the wall over my bed.
    Soon you will be in Shanghai, a fantastic huge city. Be careful crossing streets, they don’t stop for any one or anything. There are many bikes, cars and moving vehicles. I just got behind a native and crossed with him. In some places there are over the street cross walks. Try to visit the Shanghai Museum, the Bund area, the Yuyuan Garden with its picturesque tea house, and the former Jewish neighborhood and museum. You will probably find many more fun places. It was difficult for me because I was there alone, but I am happy that I did it.
    Keep up with your blog. It’s great.
    Love, Ellie’s Grandma


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