I slept well only till midnight, then sporadically till 4am. The call to prayer was there in case my alarm failed.
Left the hotel 4:30am. Free breakfast next to the Voyager Balloons office. Asians abounded. The balloon companies love Asians because they can fit 70-80 of them into a balloon basket that normally accommodates 28 humans.
Our balloon and several others.
Almost fully-inflated and the basket is upright!
Some other balloons rising. The rising and taking shape made me think of the Mick Foley song, to the tune of "Lola": "She said 'Hey boy won't you come inside,' and when I walked inside I felt my penis rise into a boner. Bo bo bo bo boner."
Airborne. And at 5:40am, so were we!
I'm skipping comments on most of the following photos, because they're just awesome pics of balloons over Cappadocia.
Çiner Hotel from the balloon.
Callback to the Mick Foley boner song. Have a nice day!
I wore a sweatshirt and a jacket because it was very early in the morning, but the balloon ride was warm on account of the occasional fire. It was like at a WWE event when Kane's pyros go off and you feel the heat in the seats.
I'm surprised that these balloons never bump into each other! (They do. Keep reading.)
Somewhere around here we reached our maximum altitude of 800 m. Other balloons were higher. Why no kilometer?
We flew so high in the balloon that I was able to take this photo of a crater on the moon! Just kidding...a flat-chested Turkish girl showed me her tits and one of her nipples was inverted. I know a comedienne with an inverted nipple. Found her on OkCupid too. We're a 91% match. She doesn't agree apparently.
Upon landing, the pilot opened the roof of the balloon to let the air out. This is how Olympic Stadium in Montreal was supposed to work.
After deballooning at 7am we all had champagne. This was later than the 7am beer I had at Angkor Wat, and I sort of remember an early beer in India but I can't document it. So this was my 2nd- or 3rd-earliest drink ever.
Back to hotel 7:45am. Internet. WHOA! Someone in the group rejected my Facebook friend request! Maybe I should have grabbed a boob before that decisive "go fuck yourself". You know, to give you an excuse, because a random rejection or defriending in the absence of a nasty incident kinda makes you seem mental.
At 8:30am we left for a hike in the Rose Valley.
Uh oh, it's the cops! They removed the roadblock at the lower right.
Rock church. These are all different rock churches.
Rock church. Same one.
Rock church. Same one again!
Next we visited the fairy chimneys. Somewhere in here was St. Simon's church, but I have no pics of it specifically.
I think someone in the group did something athletic here, but I wasn't around to see it.
Lunch stop at 12:15pm. Ibo recommended the gözleme (pancakes filled with good stuff like meat). I watched them being made, but I was craving a kebab, so I went across the road to another eatery, and ultimately half the group did the same. Pancake-eating losers!
Next stop was Imagination Valley.
Camel. The myth was that if a caravan didn't make it to the caravanserai (rest stop) by sundown, they'd be turned to stone.
Is that a foot-long? And then some!
At 1:45pm we stopped in Avanos, the biggest of 3 towns in the area with ~23,000 people (in my hotel room when I checked the weather on my iPhone it showed up as the nearest location).
Gosling. Aw! Goose Goslin deserved a Hall of Fame induction based solely on this photo.
I want a golden goose! Gooses...geeses...I want my geese to lay gold eggs for Easter! At least a hundred a day! And by the way...
We walked around the center of town so people could change money, but there were problems changing CAD and GBP. Dammit, just use an ATM. If your bank charges 3%, weigh that against convenience and holding up the rest of the group. Or just bring enough local currency with you. If you've run out of lira on day 5 of 15, you completely suck at life. And then we had to wait for SOMEONE who disappeared. Hey, albeit older in general, this is a good group, but a few people are less than awesome.
Next stop was a pottery demo/shop. Michelle made some wisecrack and ran afoul of Ibo, so he made her volunteer. She jerked off several large clay wangs. HOT.
After a busy day we all wanted to go home and nap, but we had to wait outside the pottery place forever so a couple people could buy some plates or whatever. Nice show of empathy there. Enjoy your souvenirs. This travelogue is a better souvenir than your fucking plates. I feel like this is the angry part of the travelogue. I guess I'm realizing as I transcribe my notes that we really weren't connected as a group. It happens.
Finally, back at the hotel, I got undressed quickly and got into bed at 4:07pm. Woke at 5:20pm. Slept deeper till 6:30pm. Snoozed even more deeply till 7:07pm. Are the Blue Jays still starting their games at 7:07pm? I could have slept way longer.
At 8:30pm (after I had 2 beers at the hotel) we left for the Turkish cultural night. THAT couple didn't come. Ibo said if we wanted to stay late we could have the place to ourselves after the Asians left. For 35 we got unlimited food and drink. The food included sujuk, that dense spicy Armenian sausage I've had in LA. Very good. Lamb too. Big vodka & orange. The cultural part depicted a traditional wedding in which the groom gets shaved. I was disappointed because I assumed it would be a full head-to-toe thing. Kate said it reminded her of the Moulin Rouge or whatever can-can show Contiki goes to...YES. The groom was the star of the show and had an awesome mustache. I told Kate I would marry him. "Would you turn gay for him?" "Yes I would."
First non-obese belly dancer I've seen.
Oh my god. Where's the guy from "Planes, Trains and Automobiles"? You're going in the wrong direction!
Oh my god. She's cute. I feel like I'm taking photos in a strip club.
Michelle got pulled into this as expected.
Our group. THAT couple wasn't with us and Andy was taking the photo. This is NOT a good pic of Mary. I shan't tag her on Facebook. Ibo at left rear.
Somewhat better pic. Aw, look at Lee and Michelle! I'm looking very Tom Hanks here. This is the typical vacation photo of me in that shirt and overly tan and sweaty with a ton of alcohol in me. Kate said this was a good pic though.
On the way out I tucked a mostly-full bottle of wine into my bag. I tried to get someone else to do the same, but no one helped out, so I tucked a 2nd bottle. As we left the seating area I sensed that an employee knew I was absconding, so I innocently asked him if stealing wine was permissible. He said no. So in a show of honesty I placed one bottle on a table, and still left with the other one.
One of the songs played at the event was YMCA. So on the bus back to the hotel, I passed my iPhone up to the front so Ibo could play it. And when it ended, I got all nervous and worried that the next random song might be a Johnny Rebel song, but it was Yeah by Usher (next in iPhone's version of alphabetical order) which was well-received. Coincidentally, the last time I had unlimited food and drink (Love Boat, 2004) I danced with an unidentifiable girl to that song.
Finished up at the hotel bar with Andy and Lee till 1:50am.