Saturday, 2 November 2013 – The couple that was on their honeymoon had left us, so now our small group was only seven people and for about half of them, Cappadocia was the reason they chose the Turkey Unplugged tour. The other-worldly landscape is seen in the early morning light from a huge basket dangling beneath an equally huge, brightly coloured, hot air balloon. The baskets are jam-packed with tourists from all over the world. The large group sharing with us was from Malaysia. Kapadokya Kaya Balloons (our video)
Having had a breathtaking overview of Cappadocia from the air, we spent the rest of the day visiting the ‘crown jewel’ of Turkey at subterranean and ground level. I am not a coward but narrow staircases without handrails, leading down into tiny, rock chambers, was more than I could handle. So I sat in the sun with a cup of coffee and waited for the rest of the group to come back up. I wrote in my journal, “This city was started by the Hittites hiding from the Barbarians. Later, it was expanded by the early Christians hiding from the Romans, and later still, the Byzantines hiding from the Arabs.”
The so-called ‘fairy chimneys’, a natural phenomenon that is similar to the Hoodoos in the Badlands of southern Alberta, Canada, are approximately 20 metres tall. Into these towers, fashioned by Mother Nature, human beings have carved churches and chapels which are among the oldest in the world.
Claudia is a teacher and she had to be back at school on Monday morning and Telli had opted to fly back to Istanbul rather than endure the long drive back, so Saturday evening was our last night together as a group, so of course, we had to party! The On the Go brochure mildly describes this awesome evening at the Yasar Baba Restaurant as “a traditional folklore show”, but it is the most fun, dancing, drinking, and laughing, that you can pack into one evening. One of the things that I found surprising was the number of Turks in attendance. This party isn’t just for tourists!
Our guide, Huseyin, warned us in advance that we were not to take photographs, applaud, or catcall and whistle during the ‘Whirling Dervish’ performance which was the first act of the evening. This is partly because it is a religious ceremony, even if it is being performed by professional dancers rather than Sufi priests, but also because it is a solemn event being conducted in dim lighting; flashes and loud noises would distract the performers. The rest of the evening we were free to hoot and holler, take photos and videos, and even participate.
We continued the party in the lobby bar of our hotel, The Peri Towers. To their credit, they did not try to subdue our exuberant farewell fun, and our bartender worked overtime to make sure that everyone had the best possible end of the tour event.