27.02.2008 - 01.03.2008 -10 °C
Although the language may come across as flowery, it's the only way I can attempt to convey the unique setting of Goreme. It is no exaggeration to capare it to a lunar landscape covered in deep snow. The second day in Goreme required a ridiculously early start, but for a good reason - hot air ballooning. For a while it looked like we may not make it into the air as the take-off field was covered in 1 to 2 feet of powderey snow. The ballooning team used large fans to direct the hot air into the balloons, and even watching the balloon inflate put my camera through its paces. Once the balloons were assembled and inflated, we were all divided amongst 3 balloons. I was glad of the 4 layers of clothing I had put on; although another pair of socks wouldn't have gone amiss.
It didn't seem real. The smoothness of the whole time spent in the balloon only added to the sense of unreality. In Goreme everything looks like a film set, and this was the best cinematic view. We were able to get close to the wildlife and sights without disturbing anything too much. We travelled over Love Valley, with its phallic-shaped rock foramtions, also known as Fairy Chimneys. We also saw many of the abandoned rock-cut homes/caves outside of Goreme. It was fascinating to see how the pilot steered. He used internal ropes and different burners which ignited more or less than others to manipulate the direction and height of the balloon. The landng was soft thanks to the dept of the snow. We clambered out of the wicker baskets to lend a hand pulling down the balloon and then pushing the remaining air out of it by walking over it. Champagne and chocolate and fruit cakes were our reward thereafter.
Underground cities are another sight to see outside of Goreme. There are severl which have been excavated. In Goreme itself there is the Open Air Museum filled with chapels, again following the carved out of the rockfaces, dedicated to almost every saint I've ever heard of. The 'Dark Church' was the most impressive of the lot. Its wall-paintings were stunning. The blues were still all vivid; which is very unusual to see.
Time was spent luxuriating in the Hamami (Turkish Baths). The boys had to wait for over 4 hours as the girls took over the place. Our time was spent betwwen the suna and swimming pool. Then, in turn, we were each scrubbed very vigorously by a female attendent. It was bordering on sore, but when she poured water over me to wash awy the excess skin, it felt like silk running over my body. she then soaped up what looked like a pillow case, inflated it and squeezed out the air putting soap all over me. A soap massage was given, and then a rinse. afterwards I felt squeeky clean and refreshed.
Goreme is a wonderful place to have visited and the hospitality received ensures that I will return for a break there at some stage.