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These pages document my time spent flying balloons in Kapadokya . . .
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Chapter 31
Now The Fun Begins
I kept the rental car for a week. I figured the first week Jo was there we could use the car to go some places that I had been wanting to see, but were too far away to walk and took too many different buses to get there. Places like Derinkuyu (an underground city) , Ilhara Valley (a 10 mile long valley with some 150 cave churches in it) and Ürgüp, although Ürgüp was really pretty easy to get to by bus, I just hadn't done it yet. The second week she was there, I would still be working, so we would have plenty of time to walk around the local area and I could show her all the cool places I had found.

We were fortunate in that Jo's first day in Kapadokya, the weather was as nice as it had been for about 3 weeks. Clear, sunny and warmer than it had been in a long time. We took advantage of it and the first thing we did was visit Uçhisar Castle. I know that it really helped me get an idea of what and where things are, especially if you can do it early during your visit.
Jo relaxing on the top of Uçhisar Castle
Jo and the flag on top of Uçhisar
Jo on top of Uçhisar, with Göreme in the background
After visiting the castle, since the weather was so nice, we drove down into Göreme and parked right downtown. I then took Joanne on the hike of Sword Valley. It was a really nice day and it was fun to see her be as amazed by the landscape and caves as I was the first time I saw it. Because I had already been in all the holes, we didn't have to waste time seeing what was in each one, although Joanne really did enjoy poking her head in every little opening. I have to admit, that is part of the fun. Besides the pics below, you can see more Sword Valley photos in our gallery here.
Joanne sitting in the pulpit
The view from where Jo was sitting
Joanne under some frescoes
After our exploration of Sword Valley (a hike of about 5 miles) , when we got back into Göreme, we looked for a place to sit and have a beer and enjoy what we had just done. We walked past this place that although I had been by it before (and noticed that it had the cheapest beer in town) , it had never been open (up to this point, it had been "off" season in Kapadokya) . Today it was, so we stopped and sat outside at a table. Even though the day had been very nice, it was now late afternoon and the air was cooling off and a small breeze was picking up. We moved inside and this is where we had our first "hookah". We met the owner of the place and since we were the only ones there, literally got waited on hand and foot. We really enjoyed it there and made it a point to go back whenever we could. The place is called the Panorama Cave Bar, and if you ever get to Kapadokya, Göreme in peticular, stop in. Cheapest beer in town, and it's cold! (some places it isn't!) Baris is a super nice guy and you'll probably sign his pottery.
Both of us enjoying our experience
Jo and I with Baris, the owner
The next couple of days, the weather wasn't so nice, so the next thing we did was visit Derinkuyu, a famous underground city. Derinkuyu is just over 20 miles from Uçhisar. Kaymakli (another famous underground city) is closer, but it is not as large and extensive as Derinkuyu is. Since we've got the car, 20 miles is nothing, especially now that I'm getting used to driving here (the key to driving here is just pretend you're the only car on the planet and drive where ever the heck you want to) . We picked a good day to visit Derinkuyu as the weather was snowy and windy and it was a good day to be underground. There are more pictures of our visit to Derinkuyu in our gallery, here.
Please note the poor quality of the following pictures. It was dark and I had a hard time getting any pictures.
Some of the passageways were very short
And they were right above another
Jo standing by a beam of light
8 stories underground
The source of the light
Another day, we drove around the local area. We went from Uçhisar to Çavuşin (visiting the church there) to Paşabağ, which is famous for it's fairy chimneys, but Joanne found a doorway way up inside a large hollowed out area. She just had to go up and see where it went. The following pictures are a sequence showing her at the door and making her way back down. I was very impressed. It looked easy at first, but watching her made me realize how difficult a climb (and descent) it really was.
Jo at the opening
A close up of Jo at the doorway
She has just started down
This is a tricky spot
Well on her way
Careful!
Almost down . . .
WHEW! She's safely down now
Looks easy from here doesn't it?
You can see a few more pics of Paşabağ in our gallery here.
From there, we went to Zelve, probably the most incredible complex of caves that I visited during my time there. Zelve is three different valleys all carved out. We spent most of the day there. See more of our visit to Zelve by visiting our gallery, here. We then travelled on to Ürgüp to eat and do some souvenier shopping.
A map showing the route we took (in blue)
The rest of the time we had in Kapadokya together was spent walking around Castle Uçhisar, through Pigeon Valley and the various other places I had seen something I thought was cool and wanted to show her. I don't think either of us ever got tired of poking around all the caves.

My first opportunity to fly while Joanne was there, came on the 17th of March. When I had found out I was scheduled to fly, I asked Banu if she thought it was okay that Joanne came along with me. I must admit, I wasn't sure what she would say, but by then, the company was doing everything they could to convince me to stay, so they were being overly and obtusely nice to me. As long as Jo got to fly with me, I didn't care.

I was really glad Jo got the opportunity to fly while she was there. You can't go to Kapadokya and not get a balloon ride! Unfortunately, the flight before I had lost my gps, so I don't have a Google Earth image to show the flight path, nor do I have a .kmz file that you can load. It wasn't one of the better flights anyway, as we did not get a chance to get into any of the valleys and fly next to the rocks. We spent most of the flight at a rather high altitude for here. You can see the pictures Jo took by visiting the Turkey ballooning gallery here. Those are all pictures she took from the day she flew with me. Wouldn't you know it was St. Patricks Day? How fitting, seeing that Joanne is Irish. The luck of the Irish was definitely with me that day, as I had no sooner left the ground and started heading north across the launch site when for some reason I looked down at the ground. Lo and behold! My gps! I start yelling at the crew and pointing to the ground. I think they thought something was wrong at first. None of them understand English very well. Somehow, I got one of them to go to the place I was pointing and just as I'm about to fall out of the balloon from looking over and trying to see if they found it, they did. So when I got back from the flight I have my gps back! How cool. And fortunate.

I flew twice more before leaving Kapadokya. The day after Joanne flew with me and I had found my gps, I flew again. Kind of a strange flight, as we just went straight north. Flew right over the top of Çavuşin though which was quite spectacular and something I hadn't done before. I also flew on the 20th. My last flight was a decent one, my last dip into Love Valley.
Below are the Google Earth images and links to the .kmz files. (Nice having my gps back) .
Google Earth image of flight on 3/18/2009
Google Earth image of flight on 3/20/2009
Click here for the 3/20 .kmz file
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