Day 4 – Cappadocia ~ Flying Without Wings
Two bowel motions in the morning are mandatory for me, no more no less, so I had to wake up @ 5am, then the bus arrived at 5.45.
– “Anuba Gosh, room 105?” Asked the driver.
– Palo (follow) me.
The bus took us to the balloon flyer’s office, had a light breakfast there, then we were transferred to the field from where balloons would fly.
Around 50 balloons were lying over there, slowly inflating and getting ready for flight. Sadik was our pilot, he called himself “Captain”. After about 15 minutes, ours took off, and then one of the ground assistants yelled, “See you tomorrow!!” Bad joke indeed!
My basket had one Korean lady with me, who kept on shaking through the whole flight, and must have cursed me when I said, “What if this floor beneath us breaks down?” Within the few minutes of the flight, the stunning view of the whole valley was revealed before us. You will have a feeling as if you are in a different planet and not on earth, the terrain is so alien.
With colourful balloons all around me, kept on showering my senses. At one point, the balloon kept ascending, it went so much higher that I could only see white fluffy clouds beneath me. Tried to capture as many moments as I can. We were in air for almost an hour. Then the balloon landed smoothly. I heard Sadik muttering the name of Allah under his breath. Faith gives us strength, no matter in whatever way we seek it.
We celebrated our journey with champagne, received a certificate too! Returned home @ 8.30, found the mother and child yawning.
The Family went for sightseeing then. We travelled in a small Mercedes bus, with our guide Effe and 8 other tourists. Effe was in his mid twenties, had good knowledge of the place, unmarried and still looking for his princess. Betu was with Effe all the time, who was calling her “Jim-Jima”, means Pretty lady. Betu has a knack of getting along with handsome men, hope she will be as lucky as her mom one day!
We saw four Byzantine churches, the very first few of Christianity, with amazing frescos on the wall. While returning from the churches, Effe told me he had been a big fan of Salman khan, and recently watched his movie “Bashrange Baizan” and cried like a baby, without understanding a single word of Hindi.
Then we were taken to the Love valley, this place is named such because the rock formation looks like penises, that was gross!
Had a satisfying lunch in a restaurant. In the same table, we were sitting with a Japanese, one German, two from Iraq, two Turkish and two from Paraguay. It was intriguing to see such diversity in food choices and ways of having food.
I am from Paraguay. I don’t like kuskus.
I am Japanese. I don’t drink coffee.
I am from Iraq. I hate semolina.
You are Indian. You don’t eat beef just for religion!
After the lunch, we attended a live pottery making workshop. Betu tried her best to break a few but became grumpy when we stopped her. Returned to our hotel @ 4 in the afternoon.
The entire evening was devoted to sleeping. Then I took a stroll at the market for a few clicks, behaving like a pro DSLR guy, but underexposing almost every shot I took.
Ended our day with a couple of pides and iced tea, enough for today. Its Kusadasi tomorrow, Seaside resorts, Roman relics and coastal food, see you on the other side of the night fellas!
Day 5 – Kusadasi ~ Jab Koi Baat Bigad Jaye
Betu had her own deja-vu last night, so she took the hotel room as her UK’s bedroom, woke up @ 1.30 at night and started jumping on the bed. None of us had the energy to join her, but she didn’t listen. After lots of red eyes and bad mouths we managed to put her back to sleep at 3, but she woke up again @5 and started kicking me mercilessly. I can’t wait to see her grow up, get married and have her own babies. Finally she gave up and went to her 3rd round of sleep, we all woke up @ 10.15. Finally!
Keeping the mom and child hibernating in the hotel room, I left for a quick stroll around the area before we bid adieu to Cappadocia finally. The weather was fantastic, with a clear blue sky, without a single speck of cloud anywhere. Took a few more snaps, then returned.
Our airport shuttle bus came @ 2.30. While checking out, I said to Brit, “It’s a shame that we have to leave now”. She said, “If you don’t leave, then how can you come back again?” Gems are scattered everywhere, and we search Robin Sharma and Rumi for quotes.
It took us 1 hour to reach the airport. Keyseri airport is small but clean. Situated in the stunning backdrop of the Ararat mountain. Check-in went smoothly. We were waiting in the lounge and then received a message from the airlines (Pegasus). That too in Turkish, so clever. I approached a Turkish gentleman and asked him, “Do you understand English?”
He replied, “No!”
Our flight got delayed by 3 hours! All the airlines did to comfort us was serving stale chicken wrap and fruit juice. Betu didn’t have any trouble though, she kept on making new friends throughout the lounge.
Boarded the flight, bad one, all of us were sweating. If it was not an hour long flight only, we could have turned into steamed momos by the time the flight landed at Izmir. Reached Izmir airport @ 10.50, couldn’t find our chauffeur anywhere, he was waiting for us at International terminal. Streaks of bad luck.
Going to Kusadasi now, 30 minutes more to reach. All I need now is a warm bed. Over and out for today.
P.S – A small trivia. “Hindisthan”. That’s what Turkish people call our Country. You are welcome!
Day 6 – Kusadasi ~ The Drama Queen
If yesterday was a bad day, today God gave us some add-ons to the happiness. Rolled out of bed @ 8.30 in the morning. Nice small hotel, located in a hilly area of Kusadasi, with stunning panoramic view of the harbour city from the terrace.
After finishing breakfast, I went for a walk at the harbour. That’s the job of worker bee, to know the streets before the queen bee emerges on her tryst!
Kusadasi is a major port city on the Aegean coast, almost all major European cruise ships dock here. So a major market has been sprawling around the harbour. And most of the shops around here have put their prices on Euro, not their own Lira.
The family embarked on their shopping spree after the baby bee had her lunch. Jayee bought her 500th (most probably) hand bag today. That too after thorough inspections among other hundreds of bags. I wonder the manufacturers must have appointed women as their quality controller. I bet, with this much of enthusiasm, I could have found an inch of a needle within a pile of hay.
Buying something pretty is not enough for woman, then she would walk past other shops bargaining the same thing just to be sure whatever she has bought is the prettiest and the cheapest one. If any of these two criterias is missing, then be prepared for a day long whimpering on your ears. I was lucky that it did not happen today. When it comes to handbags, she is a pro!
I had to book our trip to Ephesus (Google it, or wait). Found only one travel agency’s office open, had to reserve our seats for 100 Euros. Was going through the market when we found the other travel booking office.
Jayee said, “Let’s also ask them the price.“ (I told you that’s what women do).
Me – “What’s the point, I have already paid advance to the other one.“
Queen Bee – “So what, there is no harm in asking!”
So we entered the office. The guy over there gave us a price of 70 Euros. 30 Euros less. That’s 90 turkish Lira. 22 Pound. 2200 Rupees! (Whenever I am at a loss my mind works like this). I was feeling like banging my head on the wall when the queen bee announced, “Let’s go to the other shop and get our money back. Now!“
The rest of the story was like this – Vini, Vidi, Vici. We went to the other office. Jayee said that she was very angry that her husband has booked the trip without asking her and it’s impossible for her to get the baby ready that early in the morning, as if taking the clue, Betu started sucking her fingers, trying to reduce her age by a few more months. The guy on the other side had no chance but to refund the money! Long live bollywood!
We returned to the other office and booked our trip there. Then Betu bought a Meikei (Mickey) of her own size. The mom bought a hat for her darling daughter and insisted me on taking her photo wearing the hat on that very shop, as if it was made of naphthalene balls, would disappear over time.
This family’s any outing is incomplete without good food, food finds us, not the other way around. Being a harbour, plenty of fresh fishes were being sold there. You could buy the fish or prawns of your choice, take it to the restaurant upstairs, and have it cooked the way you want. We chomped on dozens of fried red mullets and king prawns dipped in chilli garlic sauce, with good help of salads. Before we stopped burping, stumbled upon an ice cream parlour, and had Turkish ice cream (Dondurma). The chap over the shop showed some cool moves, juggling with scoops of ice cream and the cones, made a video of that trick, will upload it on returning.
Returned to our room in the evening, to give our stomach some rest, had alu-seddho vaat for dinner. Pure bliss!
Tomorrow we need to wake up at 6, or may be we will be awake till 6 anyway. Betu slept through the evening, now she is as fresh as a freshly plucked lemon.
Jaagte Raho !!!!
Day 7 – Kusadasi – Ephesus ~ This is It!
On Betu’s mercy, we all were able to have a good sleep last night. Started our day @8.30. Met our guide Ouz and left for Selchuk.
Ouz speaks good English and Spanish, but not very friendly, sometime I meet persons who keeps an invisible veil before them, Ouz was of that kind. Smiles, speaks enough, but it’s all very robotic.
Anyway, the first place we visited was the excavation site of the famous temple of Artemis, the roman goddess of fertility. Once upon a time it was one of the 7 wonders of the ancient world, now after 3 consecutive earthquakes only one pillar out of 140 is standing on the site.
The other broken part of the pillars were used to build a mosque during Ottoman empire. Overlapping of religion in Turkey is very common, being it the only secular Muslim country of the world.
I was taking some photos of the place when approached by a middle aged guy, he came to me, said he was involved in the excavation of the sites and by saying this took out a almost blackened coin from his pocket, “I can give this Greek coin to you at a good price my friend.“ I said, “No, I’m not interested, thanks!” But, what I really meant to say was, “Do you really think there is a big C or G written on my forehead?” If you have a greek coin dated back more than hundred years BC you don’t put it in your pocket.
Our next stop was a really interesting one, the House of virgin Mary. After death of the Master, St. John took Mother Mary to this place where she spent last 8 years of her life, but this is not folklore my friends, after much research this myth has been confirmed.
The house has now converted into a chapel. Was not able to take any photo inside, tried with the silent mode of the DSLR but that didn’t help much either.
Next we were transferred to the city of Ephesus. Roman wonders are scattered everywhere in this place. Ephesians saw 4 different eras, from the Bronze age of Hittites to the Greeks, Romans and Goths. Then the Turks came and demolished the place into dust. Later in 60’s excavation started in this place and now few of the structures have been reconstructed. We saw the Roman baths, temples, Agoras (marketplaces), huge theatre and the famous library of Celcus. Turks burned 12000 manuscripts stored here. The progress of astronomical science took a massive blow with the destruction of Celcus.
This place once saw souls like Socretes and Hyptia. And here I am, whose only passion is good food and movie, looking at the library with my unworthy eyes. Found people who were taking selfies with it as well. The City of Ephesus tour took nearly 2 hours to finish, we were all tired by then, had our lunch at a nearby village place.
After the lunch, we attended a Turkish carpet weaving workshop. Jayee tried her hand in the weaving and received a coin from the owner of the shop as a reward. Her first earning in abroad, now all I have to do is to buy a handloom for her.
Betu was least interested in all of these, she was busy in playing with ducks and cats and dogs around the ruins, waving and throwing flying kisses at random tourists, doing Bengali Namaskar to virgin Mary and hanging from her Mom’s shoulders in between.
Returned to the hotel @7, packed our bags for the last time. 7 days of insane happiness is coming to an end now. Need to catch the flight to home @ 4 pm tomorrow. Then I will again start saving some lives, and then flooding your walls with the pics I’ve taken.
Be ready guys!
P.S – A small thought. In last 1 week we have met so many people of different cultures, but Betu has made at least 4 times more friends than us. Wherever she was going, she was managing to get chocolates, toffees, lozenges, fruits and ice creams. Strangers would take her in their lap and play with her, completely ignoring us. Now I know why she can do that but we can’t. Children have a smile which is unadulterated, uncorrupted, selfless, and we seek those lost virtues among them. That’s why we smile back at them, we give them presents, we play with them. One day Betu will lose her Halo too, but till then I’m going to admire every second of her.
Author: Anirban Ghosh
Image Courtesy: Anirban Ghosh
Copyrights Of All Images: Anari Minds