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Our Magnificent Journey
Chapter 13
Greece, Turkey and Spain


At the Parthenon  
Day 14

Woke at 4 am in order to meet the van that picked us up to take us to the Butterfly Balloons office in Goreme. Had coffee and sweet rolls. Visited with Tracy and Marty from Canberra, Australia, then jumped into the van that took us to the remote spot northeast of Goreme where the tracking team was preparing our three balloons, each one holding 12 people plus the pilot. Our pilot, another Mustafa, was incredibly skillful as well as personable and humorous.

Click HERE to watch a fifteen-minute video of our hot-air balloon ride.
Getting ready to board our hot-air balloon on a cold morning in Cappadocia, Turkey
Ready for lift-off
We spent a thoroughly enjoyable hour, traveling southwest high above the magic fairyland of Cappadocia. But the most enjoyable part of the flight was the landing – it was windy, so we were able to cover 16 kilometers, but Mustafa had a difficult time finding a decent landing spot, and just as he located one, the winds REALLY kicked up. Mustafa got us into our special landing positions, and the basket hit the ground and bounced for 100 yards before hitting a tree that finally stopped us.
Butterfly Balloons
Butterfly Balloons
Balloons over Cappadocia
Mustafa, our pilot, celebrating our survival.

We all crawled out of the basket, laughed our butts off and walked to where the tracking team had been following us and finally parked when we bounce-landed. Mustafa opened a few bottles of champagne and we all toasted to our survival.

Mustafa and David

The Butterfly Balloons van took us back to the hotel, where we enjoyed a delicious breakfast of fresh fruit, dried mulberries, olives, bread and Turkish coffee.

Carol enjoys breakfast at the hotel after our hot-air balloon ride

At 10 am we met Cem (“Jem”,) Mustafa’s (the hotel’s owner) son, for a truly memorable day of a personal guided tour of Cappadocia. Cem is truly a “gem.” He took us to many of his own favorite spots, many off the beaten-by-tourist trails.

Carol, Cem and David
Cem and Carol

We spent an hour with Cem exploring one of the many ancient multi-level underground cities carved out of the rock by early Christians trying escape Roman persecution.

David in a chamber in an underground city
At one point during the afternoon, Cem took us to a carpet co-op where we were introduced to Saliha, a young local artisan whose carpets are works of art displayed in frames. We were shown the various techniques of rug-making and we got a chance to see how silk is extracted from silkworm cocoons. We were then shown rugs that cost from several hundred dollars up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, one of which was breathtakingly beautiful and was owned by a sultan in the 1600s. Unfortunately we had to say "no."
Saliha displays her art

We spent the next several hours driving through the Cappadocian wonderland of cave homes, churches and “fairy chimneys.”

Love Valley in Cappadocia

Stopped at phallic Love Valley for wood-fired tea, then drove and explored more. At 3 pm we were exhausted so the three of us found a restaurant where we sat on the patio and enjoyed a lunch of mezze and tea.


Arrived back at the hotel at 5 pm after an incredible day of adventure. Showered and rested, then walked up the steps to the hotel dining room where Cem’s mother had prepared a dinner of salad (fresh vegetables from their garden) lentil soup, eggplant and rice, tea, and a delicious dessert of baklava, raisins and small dried mulberries.

Dinner at the hotel

We thanked Cem for a fabulous, memorable day. He was an incredible guide and became a friend we will cherish forever.


Back downstairs in our cave room. we literally fell into bed and dreamt of all of the adventures we’ve crammed into this one special day.


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email david@davidandcarol.com