Sure Travel Journey Vol 4.1 Summer 2018 - Page 50

UP IN THE AIR A TA L E O F U N R E Q U I T E D L O V E I N T H E H I L L S O F C A P PA D O C I A , B Y M E R U S H K A G O V E N D E R I fell in love on Instagram. The exotic curves of a landscape dotted with hot air balloons floating through a surrealist painting did it for me. Golden light reflecting off fantastical rock formations formed by volcanic eruption and erosion, cities carved out of ancient rock and tales of bygone civilisations. My traveller’s heart lusted over this mystical land. It’s winter in Cappadocia and icily cold in central Turkey. My breath condenses into the chilly air and I warm up with a strong Turkish coffee. The snow has just passed. I wake up before dawn each morning, anxious for a call from the tour operator 50 // MAKE MEMORIES FOR LIFE to confirm that weather conditions are good enough for ballooning. The tourists have departed and an eerie silence envelops the town. Remnants of slush adorn the roadsides and rocky outcrops. It’s probably not the best time to visit, but I’m determined to fulfill my hot air balloon dream. I pass the time studying the history of this place, where caves, myth, legend and culture entwine in a magical fairytale. The Göreme Open Air Museum is a Unesco World Heritage Site. I learn that during the Roman period persecuted Christians fled to Cappadocia and built a network of handmade cave houses, churches and even stables carved into the malleable rock. I visit the secret city of Kaymakli – an underground village made up of over 100 tunnels. Crouching through the cave tunnels I see blackened walls that suggest kitchens of long ago, tables carved into the stone and defaced Christian frescoes in secret cave chapels. There is history and heritage everywhere. Towering over the rocks the “fairy chimneys” of Love Valley – named for the phallic geological formations that stretch up to 40 metres into the sky – look like castle turrets built