We spent two weeks of summer 2011 in Turkey. The plan was to see as many places in Turkey during those two weeks, starting with Cappadocia, a UNESCO world heritage site. Upon our arrival to Istanbul’s Atatürk International Airport, we had to take a domestic flight to Kayseri’s Erkilet Airport, to reach Cappadocia. From Kayseri’s Erkilet Airport, it was another two hours travelling by land, to reach our destination. By the time we left Kayseri airport and started our journey by road, we’ve been on the go for more than twelve hours. My husband and daughter were dozing off while I tried to keep myself awake. I was anxious and worried about the dark roads we were travelling in and the sharp turns the driver was taking during the journey. There were no street lights for the most of our route, and the only source of light was from the approaching vehicles, from the opposite direction. The roads were bumpy and I had no idea where we’re going and how long it would take. It seems the journey took forever. We reached our hotel at 3 am in the morning. As soon as we checked-in and got our room, we fell on our bed and slept for about two hours.
After having an exhausting, long day, we were hoping to have a good few hours of sleep. But then, we were woken up a little past 5 am, with only two hours of sleep, to the sound of a screaming bird. We tried to ignore the noise and go back to sleep, but then, the noise was too loud, and the room as bright as outdoors to ignore and pretend sleep. The curtains in the room made of thin, white coloured fabric. The morning sun’s bright light filtered right into the room and to our eyes. Since it was summer in Turkey, nights were shorter, only eight hours and the days longer, hence sunrise a little past 4 am. It was me, who first got up from the bed and went to see the creature, that’s making the annoying noise. Then I saw the view outside. It was magical! We knew Cappadocia is one of the ‘the least earth like place, on the earth,’ but we didn’t somehow expect to see that view, right outside our hotel. We assumed “the least earth like place” is a part of Cappadocia that’s isolated, away from where people live, hotels exist. Since we arrived in the early hours of the morning when it was pitch dark, and there wasn’t enough artificial light to see the surroundings, I’d no idea what it looks like around there. Therefore, it was a pleasant surprise to see the view from our room, a magnificent natural landscape of rock formation of different colours, shapes and sizes stretched to the horizon, as far as we could see. There were churches and monasteries made of rock, which dates back to the Byzantine period. The rock formations vary in sizes and shapes. Depending on the angle of the sun on those rock formations, it portrays a colourful variation, shades of sandy yellow, dark brown and pink in colour. The Turkish currency features its most famous structures, the tall narrow towers of rock, their tapering bodies capped by large precarious-looking boulders on top of the stone. The local Turks named those formations “fairy chimneys”, “fantasy rocks” or “magic rocks” because of the sense of optical illusion that one perceives by looking at them.
While we were in Cappadocia, we went on the very popular hot air balloon tour at dawn. The tour gave us the opportunity to see an incredible panoramic view of rock formations and farmlands in the area. There were eighteen people on board our hot air balloon, including the balloon operating captain and his assistant. It was mostly families with adult children and couples but there were two kids, probably under ten years old who rode with us. The captain looked professional with his pilot uniform and we had no doubt that he’s trained and experienced to do his job. But that didn’t make me less anxious in the beginning, to see the flames, especially when they were trying to fill the balloon with hot air. When the balloon filled with hot air and it was time to lift us up in the air, I was already a little nervous. But once we were up in the air, I was relaxed and didn’t quite realised how we had passed an hour so quickly. Soon, the pilot and his assistance were manoeuvring to bring us safely to the ground, and the ground team in position to help with a smooth landing was in place and working to achieve their goal. When we landed, to our surprise, each of us got a certificate of participation and a glass champagne offered. The trip to Cappadocia is one of the most unforgettable experience of my life. Seeing that historical landscape, riding the hot air balloon and going underground to see a city, built hundreds of years ago was something remarkable and unforgettable.