It's been more than seven months since the beginning of self-isolation. To be honest, I started to miss the hustle and bustle of travel life. We just did a very cool trip, so I decided to bring back the travel part of my blog.
The destination was Turkey. We arrived in Istanbul at 7 PM for a short night layover, did a little sleep, and jumped on an early flight to Kayseri.
It was the primary target of the trip. I always wanted to see firsthand the famous balloons over Bagan. A few years back we almost did a trip to Myanmar, but at some point changed the plans. This time, due to the pandemic our options were very limited. Fortunately, Cappadocia was available.
We arrived at Kayseri around 8 AM. Our host arranged a shuttle bus for us (€10 per person) and in around 1 hour we were at the reception of our hotel in Goreme.
Even in October, it's pretty hot here under a midday sun. All humans and animals are mostly chilling out in shadows. Since we arrived in the morning, we didn't have a plan for this day, so we were simply wandering around exploring the surroundings.
If you're into a night shooting, you will get yourself busy here.
We had two main goals:
The former was planned on the next morning. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the amount of balloons in the sky is not that big as usual: around 50 versus 170. It was even less few weeks prior though: 20 something.
Pick up time is around 5 AM. A bus took us from a hotel and delivered to the valley from where balloons take off. It's pretty cold and windy in the early morning, so I didn't regret I took a windproof jacket with me. Flight duration is about 1 hour. At the moment of the visit, the price was €120 per person.
A balloon's basket is divided into 5 compartments: the largest one is in the middle—for the pilot and gas tanks. 4 slots on the sides are for passengers. Each side slot accommodates 3 people. It's very tight in there. If you plan e.g. to change lenses along the way, you better be prepared for it. I didn’t even try.
Also, if I'd be using my phone for taking pictures/videos, I'd put it on some kind of leash. Considering how tight it is inside, it's easy to be accidentally pushed by a neighbor and drop it.
In sum, it was an amazing experience. Totally worth it. Pictures!
Later this day, we took a trip to the Uchisar castle. We rented a scooter and, as it turned out, it was a good call. Uchisar is a little village just 10 minutes ride from Goreme. It's the highest point in Cappadocia crowned with a rock castle. The plan was to watch a sunset from the top of this tower, but the weather had other plans. When we reached the summit, the skies on the north didn't look good at all. There could be no question of any sunset. The only question was, will we make it to the hotel before the rain?
The ride back was fun. The hardest part was getting through sand swirl in the Goreme lanes. The moment we ran into the hotel, the storm reached the place.
On the next day, we were going to watch the balloons from our hotel's terrace. We woke up at 5:30 AM but the skies were empty. No balloons were happening on that day due to yesterday's storm. I made a note to myself, before setting up an early alarm, do check with the host if flights are actually scheduled.
It meant there was only one chance left to see the balloons since we were leaving Cappadocia the next day.
Luckily, the next day balloons took off. Watching it from the ground is no less exciting. Still in the dark, balloons wink with each other, while warming the air. Then take off, one after another.
We stayed at the Arinna Cappadocia Hotel. They arranged a cozy place on the terrace with traditional pillows and carpets. Every morning (when balloons are in the air) staff serves fruit platters, glasses with juice, and hookahs, so visitors can take pictures. It looks really really nice and we were lucky enough to take advantage of it.
The only a bit unfortunate moment was that when the most beautiful light kicked in, the majority of balloons were already on the way down. But, heck, it was fascinating either way!
Later that day, we took off from Cappadocia to Izmir. The main reason we headed there is to knock out the desert's dust and grab some sun & salty water before the winter with as minimum tourists around as possible. We stayed for a few days between Alacati and Cesme, it's a 1-hour drive from the Izmir.
Alacati—nice little town to pass. Cesme has a little castle with a view on the marina and Greece's island but I would not go there specifically for this.
After calm Cappadocia and lazy Cesme, Istanbul blows away, literally. The traffic is nuts (as well as taxi drivers). Crowds, crowds, crowds. If you're into big buzzing cities, that's probably your destination. I'm not that much though.
This place has a certain charm, for sure. The Blue Mosque, even it was in a partially disassembled state, is impressive. Small quiet lanes are nice. But most of the streets are noisy and overcrowded. There is a lot of trash on the sidewalks. I got tired of the city pretty fast, to be honest.
It was my very first trip to Turkey. Without a doubt, Cappadocia was its best part. Get there if you hadn't yet.