Jamie and I woke early this morning and were picked up and taken on a hot air balloon ride over the area surrounding Goreme. We had taken a hot air balloon ride in China over Yangshou, so we thought this would also be a great experience. It didn't disappoint, but it was quite cold, there were 20 people in the basket, and it was partly cloudy. Overall, a great experience, the landscape was beautiful, but it was very pricey.
We then were picked up for a day long tour of the Cappadocia region. We made several stops and you can see all of them in the pictures.
Our first stop was a panoramic view of Goreme and the famous fairly chimneys. People do live in those coned shaped "chimneys" and when light shines through them, it apparently looks magical, thus the fairy name. Nonetheless, they are all over the place and have become quite the tourist attraction.
Our second stop was to an underground city called Derinkuyu.Dating back to the Hittites on 1500 bc, we visited one that could potentially hold up to 15,000 people. We only saw 10% of the "city" but it was complete with churches, schools, living quarters, a winery, meeting places, roll away stones that could block tunnels from invaders, and ventilation shafts. It goes down 55 meters and has 8 stories.
We then drove to the deepest and largest canyon in Cappadocia, Ihlara. We saw a small church that had been built during the iconographic era of Turkey (where it was illegal to paint Christian frescos, so they ran to the hills and caves and painted them there). We then hiked 3km along the bottom of the ravine where lunch was waiting on us at the end.
Our next stop was perhaps the coolest part of the day. We visited a cave monastery very similar to the monastery and nunnery that we visited yesterday. Only this time, the rooms were larger and we were able to climb all over the place. Some sections were closed off and we were asked to not go some places just because it was too dangerous. This monastery and nunnery was built during the 4th century and stayed active until the 11th century. Pics and videos of this place are cool, so check them out.
Our last stop was the obligatory jewel "factory" that every tour in Asia forces you to go on. Before that, however, we stopped briefly at Pigeon Valley to see the pigeon houses there. Again, the people have lived in the fairy chimneys for hundreds of years. They began building little holes and placing food for the pigeons. The pigeons would then leave their droppings, and the people would collect the droppings and sell them to the local farmers as fertilizer. Thus, "pigeon hole." You can see them all over the place here and the peoples still apparently use them, although I haven't seen any pigeons.
They dropped us back at our hostel, we had a short break, then headed to a very tasty local restaurant for Turkish food. I ordered the yogurt ravioli and Jamie had what was similar to Brunswick stew.
Long Long day tomorrow as we travel back to Istanbul for some souvenir shopping and then head back to Bahrain and home late late tomorrow night.