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These pages document my time spent flying balloons in Kapadokya . . .
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Chapter 35
My first impression of the Kayseri airport was how small it was. I guess I should have known, but I'm just not used to the fact that so many people here travel by bus instead of air. An American thing I guess. Kayseri is the main airport for Kapadokya. But it still only services flights about 3 times a week, depending on where you're going. We were headed to Izmir, on the southern west coast. In order to get there, our flight first flew east. To Sivas. We didn't get off the plane and didn't have to wait too long for the passengers from there to board. I have to tell you right now that all of our flights on this trip will be on Turkish Airlines. We had a choice between Turkish Air and another airline that I wasn't familiar with, so we went with TA. Having never flown with them (if my flight from Chicago hadn't of been cancelled when I came over here, I would have taken a Turkish Air flight from Istanbul) I didn't know what to expect. I got my first inclination when we took off from Sivas. Now understand, I'm only a balloon pilot and don't fly airplanes, but enough of my close family (Dad, Uncle and Sister) have, that I know you are supposed to take off INTO the wind. When we left Sivas, we took off WITH the wind. I also know that jets have the capability to get enough speed to overcome that (as long as the wind isn't real strong) but still.... it's bad practice and made me a bit nervous. Takeoffs and landings are always the scariest part of any flight anyway, and here I know we are going with the wind. I think most passengers don't know you're supposed to go into the wind and even if they did, wouldn't be able to tell whether we were or not from inside the cabin any way. I just happen to see a wind sock from my window seat. Well, we get off the ground okay and settle into the flight. It should be somewhere between three to three and a half hours. About 45 minutes into the flight and the attendants start serving food. Once I see this, I realize I haven't eaten all day and now, knowing I'll soon have food in front of me, I'm very hungry. We had some sort of choice between two meals and what ever choice I made was the wrong one (more on that later) , not that it tasted bad or anything. On the contrary, the sub-like sandwich I ended up with was better than I expected. I even commented to Jo, how, for airline food, it was good. Flying Turkish Air made me remember back to, I won't say "Golden Age" of commercial air travel in the States, but back to when TWA and Pan-Am were still around. Excellent service that made you feel like they wanted you to fly on their airline (because back then they did) by hosts or hostesses that were attentive and courteous. Pretty uneventful the rest of the way as I'm trying to not get nervous about being in a strange airport in a strange country and trying to find the rental car area. I calm myself down by realizing that there is really no timetable and if we are late arriving in Selçuk then we are late. No big deal, we have a whole week to relax and enjoy and that's what the focus is going to be.
We arrive in Izmir (on time, I might add) and this airport is more like what I'm used to. It's not large (not by American standards anyway) but looks and feels more like a commercial airport. Surprisingly, I find the rental car area pretty easily and now comes the first test of how our travel agent did. Do they have our reservation? Yes, everything is in order. The guy brings the car right up to the door, we get in and we're off. To where? Yeah, yeah, I know the name of the town we're going to, but how the heck do I get out of the airport? And then what? Woohoo! This is going to be an adventure alright.
Somehow, I manage to find the way out of the airport and on the right highway, headed the right direction. (Again, no the car did not have gps!) We settle in for what should be maybe an hour drive. Unfortunately, it is dark and we don't get to see much. I do know that there is water off to my right somewhere. We'll get to see more of this drive in about 3 days, when we bring the car back and board our flight for Istanbul, because that is an afternoon flight.
We arrive in Selçuk in just about an hour. Not a big town at all, I'm not worried about getting lost or turned around, but I'll be damned if I can find the hotel. We stop and ask someone at a gas station. He points and says 3 blocks, which gets us to the turn we want. We turn off the main road and head up the hill. Still no luck. Again we ask someone, and this guy says, "yes, it's hard to find" and then gives specific directions that get us to the hotel. Another test of our travel agent: "Yes, we've been expecting you" was the response I get from the guy. This place is more like a bed and breakfast. They only have 11 rooms, decorated very traditionally. Once again, everything that the travel agent has said and done, has been spot on. Very nice little place right across from St Johns Basilica. The Nilya. If you're planning on visiting ancient Ephesus, this place is a great start. The owners were wonderful folks, and I put them to the test. Not on purpose and certainly not at my pleasure, but they could not have been more hospitable. They went out of their way to help me feel comfortable.
By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was getting late and it was time to eat. I wasn't sure if I was hungry or on the way to being sick. It had been quite some time since we had eaten, I knew it was time to eat, so I gave it a shot. We decided to walk to somewhere close (pretty much everything is close) and on the way down the hill, we meet a man who asks us where we are going. Believe me, by now, with all the hard sell Turks we've come across (one of the tactics they use is to befriend you, help you out and then say to you "visit my shop" to try and make you feel obligated, since they've already helped you) , we're a bit wary. The shops are closed and this guy seems genuine enough, but just the same, we just say "We are on our way to dinner". "Oh, let me show you a great spot" was his response. We say no thanks, we just going down the hill, and he is pretty insistant... no, determined... not quite sure what the right word is, but he was not going to leave us alone. He says this place is his favorite, it's right on the way to where he is going and is only a couple blocks farther than where we've said we are going. I don't like to be a snobby American tourist and am willing to try a local favorite, so we say okay. Sure enough, it's not much further and he leads us to this kebab place. He says goodnight and we thank him for being so kind. We order dinner, but this time I'm really starting to not feel so good. I thought it might be because I was so hungry, but once the food arrives, I'm not very hungry and not feeling good. I eat what I can, Joanne, by the way is feeling fine. It might not have been, no I KNOW it wasn't the best place we have eaten in Turkey, but I'm sure it was better than I remember. I have a bit of a hard time climbing up the hill to the hotel and by the time we get there, I'm sick. No doubt about it, I'm sick. Well, it's late and time for bed anyway, hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow.
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