Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Up in the air ballooning, under the ground in the underground city, hiking in the Rose Valley, lunch in an old Greek mansion, a carpet factory. All in one day

Phew, another action packed day, celebrating Michael's birthday.  You want balloons?  We've got balloons.  Another 4.45 am start and this time the balloons were taking us with them.  We have liftoff!  It is such an incredible experience.  Candles?  The great jets of flame shooting up into the balloons did well as candles.  It was an amazing experience to see the sun rise over this magical landscape with over a hundred balloons floating majestically in the sky.   We spent an hour and a half aloft. So thrilling. 

We landed in our wicker gondola straight onto a trailer.  The coordination required between our pilot and the ground crew was something to behold.  At the end of our trip there was champagne and sour cherry, the gondola and trailer were decorated with flowers, and there was a card with our names on it.  So Michael got cake and a card as well. We had already sung him happy birthday in the hotel restaurant before we departed.  

As though that wasn't enough, we then went to the underground city at Kaymakli.  This has some eight levels underground, and some people dropped out quite early.  Interesting how claustrophobia is more powerful than fear of heights, although some balloonists were very glad to get back onto solid ground.  Anyway, Michael was one of those who ought to have turned back early.  Not so much because of claustrophobia, but because of the very low, very narrow tunnels.  We were assured that they were no worse than some of those we encountered yesterday, but one tunnel proved too much for his knees, legs, head, everything.  He'd seen Sirhat go through, and as he is a tall man, Michael reasoned that if Sirhat could do it, so could he.  Wrong. He pretty much got stuck for a while, like a cork in a bottle, finally managed to manoeuvre himself out, and after a period to recover, we went back to the surface.  Quite an experience.  We have seen an awful lot of holes dug out of this soft rock.  Perhaps we have seen enough.  I left him recovering while I went and bought a purple cotton top from one of the market shops.  

After that adventure/misadventure we went to meet Mehmet the Walker, who says that Turks are so lazy they would drive to the toilet.  Most Turks think he is crazy because he likes to walk.  He and his yellow Labrador dog Saki led us through the Rose Valley, a magnificent place.  

It was hot and very dusty.  Look at those shoes!

By this time we were pretty hungry, so lunch was welcome.  This was in a village called Ürgüp, a Greek village populated by Turks who had been sent back from their homes in Greece in a population exchange.  A beautiful house, and lunch was delicious.  There was even a birthday cake for Michael and Sirhat, our lovely thoughtful guide, had arranged for some Michael Jackson music to be played along with the  birthday song.  

We then went to see the Fairy Chimneys, and I lingered long taking photos.  They are so interesting and beautiful. 

We were ready to go home for afternoon napping, but oh no.  There was the obligatory visit to a carpet factory,  it was such a great display, as the showman owner called his men to roll out all the different kind of carpets at our feet.  It was very theatrical as well as informative.  I was sorry, but I was not in the mood to buy carpet.  We don't have anywhere to put one, and I would want to think long and hard about what to buy and where to put it.  This kind of thing is fun, but no sale from Michael and I this time.  Our friends are all amazed, as they all seem to have bought carpets.  The plate was enough though. 

On the way back, Judy our tour leader asked if anyone needed a chemist.  All kinds of hands went up, including Michael's.  He is coming down with a cold, along with several other members of our group.  I needed a pair of tweezers as I'd forgotten mine.  We surged in, and Jim and John the doctor and pharmacist members of our group on the bus advised and reviewed our purchases.  Pseudoephedrine mixed with ibuprofen, pseudoephedrine mixed with codeine.  Michael will feel no pain.   So his birthday ended with the full mix of balloons, candles, card, cake, birthday singing, and drugs. What more could he ask. 

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