So the early morning started with a trek to the main offices of the balloon company where we had a quick breakfast and gathered the groups to head to the launch point. I had a great conversation with two American ladies that were teaching in Istanbul. It is interesting how in demand American teachers are in other parts of the world.
The balloon ride itself was quite wonderful. First we were able to watch about 60-70 other balloons launch and also watch up close the launch of the four balloons from our company. I am not super good with heights, but this is such a gentle ascent and decline that it did not really bother me. Our pilot John was able to maneuver the ballon so that we could decent into some of the valleys and also drop by some of the rock formations. Other then that we were at the whim of the winds, and they were in a good mood. I will say that a balloon ride maybe a better Spring/Summer venture as it was COLD. Otherwise a great start to the morning.
Then it was time for a quick return to the hotel to grab some coffee and a snack/breakfast (as the one at the balloon office was not too great) and the I was picked up to go on the "Green" Tour. This was an all day tour that visited
Goreme panorama - this was a quick photo op. I had better pics from the balloon.
Selime Kathedral - this site was incredible. In the 9th century, monks carved a monetary into the hill side, obviously expanding existing caves. Even taking that into account, what they were able to do was amazing. The work that they had to do to carve these rooms and create a place to live is mind boggling. Over time this site was also a hotel of sorts and a palace.
Ihlara Valley Walk - The walk started with a Cathedral that was built into the cliffs. From there it was just a beautiful 4km walk in the valley.
Lunch in Belisirma - Decent lunch with some good hi point. Great fresh trout.
Derinkuyu Underground City - While the underground city was an architectural feat, parts were quite un-nerving. There was a section that I did not do because of the tight constraints. All I kept thinking is that there is no way that Jim or Dad would fit down there. LOL!
Pigeon Valley - Photo op and end of day.
Then back to the hotel. This was a great tour for someone that really did not know much about the Cappadocia region as it hit some major highlights. I enjoyed having a knowledgable guide to talk about the places the we visited.
Dinner was really fun as the restaurant sat me with a fun Canadian couple. It was nice to have someone to chat with over dinner.
I am currently on the plane back to Istanbul for two more days of wandering about before heading to Athens. I am thinking that I am going to have some majorly tired legs for the race, but totally worth it. :).