Several people in our hotel were scheduled to have their hot air balloon ride this morning but there was too much wind, so it was canceled. That was very disappointing for them, which we truly understood. That would have been devastating if it had happened to us.
After breakfast, we were picked up by our guide and started this day’s tour with 12 other tourists. We were not pleased to have such a large group, although it turned out to be okay. Two women were from the Washington, D.C. area, the Pakistani newlywed couple from yesterday, a man from Canada, five women from Indonesia, and the two brothers from Mexico (actually McAllen, TX) who were with us yesterday. They are actually on our return flight on Tuesday, the 14th to Houston.
We started our day at one of the open-air museums with its rock-cut churches from the second half of the ninth century A.D. This one was in Goreme, one of the valley towns in Cappadocia. All of the valley towns in Cappadocia were initially settled by Christians, not Muslims. That was surprising to me. Although there are few churches in the area now, Turkey is mainly Muslim. This is evident by the number of mosques throughout the country.
Imagination Valley (actually Devrent Valley) is an outcropping of rocks that allows you to look at them and imagine animals, the Virgin Mary holding Jesus Christ, and much more. It stirs your brain to see what these formations can represent.
Our next stop was Pasabagi, which means Pacha’s vineyard, also called Monk’s Valley. The hermitage of Simeon monks was here. A chapel dedicated to St. Simeon (Simon), and a hermit’s shelter is built into one of the fairy chimneys with three heads. You can climb into one of the chimneys and look out through one of the windows. Being a Saturday meant that there were many, many people visiting, crawling around the rocks. It was better to watch the chaos ensue.
Time for lunch… One thing you can be certain of, we will be stopping at a place for lunch, along with busloads of tourists. The entree buffet was loaded, as well as the salad buffet, and dessert/fruit buffet. It is so easy to load up your plates and just eat, mindlessly. The choices may look okay but they aren’t that good. When you are feeding hordes of people, it is not surprising that these places offer food, not cuisine.
The afternoon included a visit to a ceramic factory to witness the hand-painted examples. Some of the finished products sell for thousands and they ship to every country for free. We went to a leather factory, too. Again, the designs are beautiful but none in our group felt the need to buy, including us. This is part of every tour, it seems. We believe that the tour guide gets a commission for bringing people to their showrooms when they buy something. It is just a fact.
We were spent from going so many places and needed to get back to our hotel to get our bags for the drive to the airport and our short flight back to Istanbul. Our bags were packed that morning, allowing us to merely get washed up a bit and await our driver for our 8:40 PM flight. By the time we got to our hotel, it was after midnight. It was all we could do to get ready for bed and fall deeply asleep.