We stayed in a cave hotel that was recommended by our friend Kelly. The proprietor, Hanife, was super friendly and helpful - she gave us restaurant recommendations, hiking options, and vouchers to the Turkish bath (more on that later :) ). We headed out for a walk to the Goreme Open Air Museum. This area is really hilly, so it was actually a pretty good workout walking up to this place. These dwellings housed Christians who were being persecuted in the 800-1100AD timeframe. Paintings are still vivid on the stone walls and the kitchen room walls are stilled stained black with smoke residue.
After the open air museum, we headed to the Turkish bath. We had both done some research and talked with some fellow travelers to make sure we had the etiquette down for the baths and decided we wanted to experience this thing called the hamaam, or Turkish bath. We opted for the standard bath and added on an oil massage.
We headed down the marble steps, rolling our eyes good-naturedly at the Turkish man who tried to convince us to go down the other set of stairs to the men's section. Two women greeted us, gave us a wrap, and ushered us to the changing rooms. Wrap securely in place and our locker keys fastened on our wrists with a rubber bracelet, we were directed to some cushiony chairs, our faces slathered with a seaweed/mud facial and given a glass of tea. We then were taken to the sauna and baked in there for 15 minutes before heading to the showers and rinsing off. The next stop, and the whole point of this, was the bath room. A white and gray marble domed room with a raised circular platform in the center. Three Turkish women stood smiling, ready for their next
We woke up super early the next morning to catch our van to...our hot air balloon ride! This is the must-do activity in Cappadocia - what better way to see the eerie rock formations than from the air...at sunrise!
We pulled up to the launch site and watched as the balloons were filled. I remembered going to the hot air ballon festivals as a kid and seeing this happen, but this time, I got to go up in one! After some brief safety instructions and a practice run at taking our landing positions, we all climbed into the basket (there are no doors, so it's up and over into your little cubby that holds 4 people, 20 people total in the basket). I had been nervous about this ride because I am not a fan of heights, but as soon as the basket lifted off of the ground, I thought "oh, this is going to be so amazing." Balloon flight is so smooth because you are part of the air. The flight was about an hour and was just awesome. It was so peaceful, just drinking in the beauty of the impossible landscape below. So glad I was able to do this!