Saturday, May 13, 2006

Exploring Cappadocia, Ballooning, herding cats!

Mary Claire and Sherri were wisked off to their hot air balloon adventure by Kapadokya Balloons Goreme. ( They came back to the Elif Star at 9:30 still elated by their adventure which included a fairly rough but entirely safe landing. They said that the operators were extremely professional and that they felt perfectly safe and very amazed at the whole process. Although this is one of the more expensive companies it has a flawless safety record and it sounded like it was worth every lira, euro or dollar that was spent.

After hearing of the sublime and the overall perspective of the area, we decided to stick close to home and take a look around. Mary Claire chose to hang out in Goreme and spent her time shopping and visting the downtown area. The other 7 of us drove to Zelve, a nearby area. The drive was interesting just because of the scenery on the way, but once we parked, Zelve was overwhelmed by visitors and didn't seem any nicer at all than Goreme, so we decided to go on to Avanos. Our plan was to take a short drive, spend an hour or so drawing and then to return to Goreme for lunch and have time afterwards to nap, walk etc. Avanos seems to be the largest town in this area, not that big really, with lots of new multi family housing and several half done apartment buildings. We wandered around with the plan to all return to the cars at 1:15 p.m.

Mary Anne and Barbara walked up into the old town and were charmed by several young girls who eagerly posed for numerous pictures after seeing the resulting image in the back of the digital camera. It was rather difficult to take a picture of anything at all without girls running to pose in the foreground. It was really nice, unfortunately when Barbara indicated that she needed to return to the car in town several of the girls began to beg for money. An older man sitting on a corner seemed to speak sharply to them and they stopped and we waved goodbye. Without question most of the people in Turkey are quite poor and if I had thought of it I would could have initially offered them each a lira as an offer of friendship but the begging part was relentless and seemed wrong. Hard to handle some of these situations gracefully and without a grasp of Turkish its hard to know how to offer someone money as a friend and not as charity that might be offensive.

Several of the cats, 5 in all, arrived at the car, but no Paul or Mary Pat were found. (We agree that trying to get all 8 of us back into the cars at the same time is like hearding cats.) Paul came running up after a while and told us that he and Mary Pat were just getting done with some purchases from a pottery shop = Chez Hassan Berzan. Hearing that Paul had bought pottery is like smelling blood in the water for us shopping sharks. We all had to go and see the shop. It was down a few earthen steps into Chez Hassan, the walls were covered with colorful Kutahya pottery and shelves of Hassan's earthenware. His kick style pottery wheel was right there, where he is obviously busy. Paul was quite impressed with his pottery skills and formed a bond with Hassan. The selection of Kutahya pottery was terrific and the prices were excellent. Do I need to say it again? I didn't think so.

We eventually left and drove back to Goreme for our usual late lunch. Nancy and Sherri found a great restaurant with a terrace, nice seating and a terrific view of Goreme. The now routine great Turkish food was produced. Of note was the 4 foot long board with a flat, thin, bubbly bread on the top - lavash. Very good and warm from the oven.

Back to the Elif Star, and some preperatory packing was accomplished. Now most of us are out around the pension sketching and painting the fantastic view from right here "at home". Dinner by Jackie will be later this evening and she would like an art show of our work. We agreed that it would be nice to see everything from everyone from our trip so we will have a show after dinner.

Tomorrow Jane, Sherri, Nancy and Barbara will drive to Ankara and drop off the car and then take a flight to Istanbul. They will stay in Istanbul for two nights before an early morning departure from Istanbul on Tuesday. The others will stay here another day and then drive to Ankara and overnight before a flight from Ankara to Istanbul and points west.

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