If you’ve never taken a flight in a hot-air balloon, Cappadocia is one of the best places in the world to try it. Flight conditions are especially favourable here, with balloons operating most mornings throughout the year. Seeing this area’s remarkable landscape from above is a truly magical experience and many travellers judge it to be the highlight of their trip.
Flights take place just after dawn. Unfortunately, due to demand, even most of the reputable companies now offer a second, later-morning flight as well. Winds can become unreliable and potentially dangerous later in the morning, so you should always book the dawn flight.
It’s important to note that the balloons travel with the wind, and that the companies can’t ensure a particular flight path on a particular day. All companies try to fly over the fairy chimneys, but sometimes – albeit rarely – the wind doesn’t allow this. Occasionally, unfavourable weather means that the pilot will cancel the flight for safety reasons; if this happens you’ll be offered a flight on the next day or will have your payment refunded. Although this may be an inconvenience, it is preferable to flying in dangerous conditions.
All passengers should take a warm jumper or jacket and should wear trousers and flat shoes. Children under six will not be taken up by reputable companies.
Turkish people are known for being friendly and hospitable. Don’t be surprised to be invited into shops or homes for a traditional Turkish Tea (Çay) or coffee (Kahve) that may be served with biscuits or traditional sweet pastries. If you are invited, and you have time to spend, those offering will appreciate your company; accept if you can but be polite if you have to refuse.
The reliable Dolmus buses (most often a white minibus) operate throughout Turkey. These are local service buses that connect villages and towns in the nearby area. They offer a dependable service for a very low price and they also give you a great opportunity to meet some local people.
Tipping is neither compulsory nor expected in Turkey but it is always very much appreciated. Workers, particularly in restaurants and cafes often work long hours for relatively low wages. Reviews on websites such as Trip Advisor are also appreciated if you can take the time to do this.
Turkish Bath (Hamam)
What better way to relax than by taking a traditional Turkish Bath? It is a spa-like treat and everyone should try it at least once. You can choose from a range of options but most will include relaxing in various hot steam rooms, being washed, with lots of suds and quite a hard scrubber by an attendant (tellak), followed by a massage and a period of rest afterwards. You can take a cheaper option and wash yourself but it is quite an experience to be scrubbed by an expert and they can reach those tricky parts of your back a lot easier than you can!
Food and Drink
Breakfast is offered by many hotels and will consist of at least some of the following: hard boiled egg, tomato, cucumber, olives, cheese, meat, green salad leaves and herbs, small pastries, bread with jam or honey. Some places offer a much wider range of food but these are typical of the items served in a traditional Turkish breakfast.
Turkish Ice Cream vendors are colourful and playful characters that seem to be on almost every corner in tourist areas. They entertain you as they serve; dressed in a traditional costume they often ring their bell to attract attention and use chatter and funny antics to put a smile on your face.
Kebab (kebap) covers a wide range of meats and vegetables usually cooked on direct heat. The origins come from Turkish soldiers who would skewer meat on their sword and cook it in the flames of an open fire; the term now covers a host of different cooking methods. There is a very special kebab called Testi Kebab, developed in Central Anatolia, it is cooked in a sealed pottery vessel and broken open at your table, using a small hammer, to reveal your meal. If you want to, you can break it open yourself!
Pide (pronounced pee-day) and Lamacum, often called Turkish Pizza, are popular dishes in Turkey – made with flatbread with various toppings or fillings depending on how it is cooked, Pide is thicker dough with an oval shape while Lamacum is round with a thinner base.
Turkish Delight (lokum) is a traditional sweet, made essentially from boiled sugar with added flavourings that has increased both in popularity and in variety over the years. You can now get so many flavours and types that it would be impossible to list them all. Many shops will offer samples to try and give demonstrations to explain how they are made.
Dried Fruits and Nuts are commonplace in Turkey and again the variety is wide – pop to any local market or store to find these delicacies where the vendors will be happy to tell you what everything is (its not always obvious) and offer you samples of everything, so be hungry!
Pastries and Desserts are famous in Turkey and are often very sweet and tempting. Traditionally made, beautifully decorated and with tastes that are out of this world, who can resist a baklava, trilice or kunefe.
Ayran is a salty yoghurt drink that is very popular throughout Turkey. It is healthy, thirst quenching and delicious – why not try it for yourself?
Turkish Tea is a staple that you will find in almost every home and business, you will see everyone from the shopkeepers and market stallholders, to taxi and bus drivers drinking tea (çay). It will often be offered ‘on the house’ at the end of your meal in a restaurant.
Turkish Water Pipes, Nargile in Turkish, also known as Hookah, Hubble Bubble or Shisha, are a smoking tradition that began over 500 years ago.
The pipes are attached to elaborate pieces of art that are filled with water and can be experienced in many bars, restaurants, or places dedicated specifically to this popular pastime. Hot coals are placed in the burner along with your choice of fruit-flavoured tobacco; the smoke is pulled through water to cool it as you draw gently on the pipe. It is usual to share a pipe and you will be given an individual mouthpiece or sipsi, to use. Although water pipes can be used for drugs you will not be offered any and there is nothing shady about smoking a Water Pipe, there is no danger of getting ‘high’ as you enjoy this relaxing experience.
Alcohol is not sold everywhere in Turkey. As there is a large Muslim influence here many cafes and restaurants do not serve alcohol. Please check this out if it is important to you.