Today was our last official day and it started very early for some members of the group who elected to experience the sensational hot air balloon ride over the valleys of Cappadocia. The balloon trips starts just before sunrise and the views from the basket are spectacular. The balloon pilot expertly navigates the balloon over the fairy chimney towers, down into valleys where you can see the villagers waking up and starting the day, and high up into the sky for panoramic views of the landscape with vistas of the large snow covered Argues volcano.
At times the balloon is just a few feet from the top of a fairy chimney and one marvels at the skill of the pilot to use the micro currents at different levels to steer the balloon. It is certainly a one in a lifetime experience and a unique place to fly in a balloon.
After a wonderful breakfast we went to the famous underground city of Kaymakli where early Christians carved a city under the earth 8 stories deep. The level of sophistication is stunning...they had kitchens, wine and olive presses, air shafts, secret chambers, sleeping quarters and several churches in this amazing complex. The city was built underground to avoid persecution from the pagans who would attack the Christians. Talk about living history - wow!
For lunch we had wonderful kebabs, Turkish pizza (pide), lamb, and chicken at a nice restaurant by the river in Avanos. The dessert was a local specialty of shredded wheat with a layer of salty cheese baked in an oven then drizzled with honey water - delicious. We are back at the hotel now resting up and getting ready for our final cocktail hour where we plan to taste more local wines and celebrate the great journey that we have all shared in this wonderful and welcoming land...