Uçhisar, Turkey

Photo: Museum Hotel Cappadocia
Photo: Museum Hotel Cappadocia

You arrived in Cappadocia with a laundry list of things to do. You planned to tour the canyons, the Derinkuyu Underground City, the Ihlara Gorge, Pigeon Valley, and the village of Selime. You wanted to visit the Göreme Open-Air Museum, Uçhisar Castle, and the Devrent Valley. You’d see an ancient Roman city and the Keslik Monastery. Plus you’d go horseback riding around the fairy chimneys, explore a local street market, make manti (ravioli with yogurt and garlic sauce) during a cooking class, and taste Narince and Boğazkere at a small winery. That was the plan, at least.

Then you arrived at your hotel. The Museum Hotel in Uçhisar looks good on paper. The hillside hotel promised cave rooms and valley views, like many of the hotels in the region. But it immediately felt different—special—here. The caves and stone houses have been meticulously restored. They’re full of handmade carpets, priceless antiques, and fragile ceramics, but not in a stuffy way. The bathrooms are marble with deep jacuzzis. With different layouts and nooks, no two rooms are alike. The Safir Cave, for example, is unique for its in-wall tap that pours both white and red wine.

The relaxed atmosphere continues outside of your room. The open-air terrace has stone archways, comfy sofas and lounge chairs, and overflowing flower pots. The pool overlooks Avanos and the Love Valley; Mount Erciyes is in the distance. Herbs and vegetables grow in the garden. Grape vines climb the trellises. While peacocks roam the grounds. With a cup of black tea in a tulip-shaped glass, you could enjoy this view for hours.

Photo: Benh LIEU SONG (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Benh LIEU SONG (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
You woke up this morning ready to tackle your list. Just a quick breakfast, and you’ll be all set to explore. You eat warm bread, cheese, olives, tomatoes, and eggs on the terrace. You sip more tea, adding just a little bit of honey. You watch the mountains change colors as the sun rises behind them. The lunar-like landscape looks magical.

But suddenly, something is blocking your amazing view. You can barely see the mountains, the pillars, or the valleys anymore. Yellow, red, and blue stripes are rising in the air directly in front of you. A whooshing sound gets louder and louder. Breakfast is forgotten as a basket and then people appear. A hot air balloon.

As the balloon climbs higher and higher, your view reappears. But this time, it’s dotted with hot air balloons. They come in every color imaginable and are decorated with stripes, zig zags, and other crazy patterns. Despite there being dozens, if not hundreds, of them, it’s quiet and serene. You watch the balloons until the last one floats out of sight. Then you start rethinking your list. Your Cappadocia plans just changed.

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