Friday, May 1, 2015

Away, but not up, up

It was a conflicted sort of way to start the day. Leaping out of bed, having been woken by the unmistakeable guttural hiss of a hot air balloon's burners, I flung on some clothes and ran across the road and up the rocks opposite, to watch, both entranced and curdled with envy, at least 100 balloons (that's the good thing about balloons: you can count them) drift overhead in the first rays of sunshine. It was a marvellous sight, full of colour both from the rocks and the balloons, and the sheer number of them was astonishing. They were mostly pretty low, too, so I could clearly see the lucky sods in them, gazing around them in delight. It was a remarkable sight, really, and well worth getting the stitch.
Amazingly, they took about two hours to pass over (so there would have been time to put on underwear...) and as we were about to board our coach after breakfast, one of the last, very low, actually hit the powerlines right by the hotel and caused a flash - so maybe we weren't so unlucky after all.
Our first stop was one of my favourite things: watching pottery made. Especially when the potter is such an expert on the kick wheel, and can magic a complicated thing like a ring-shaped wine flask with spout, foot and handle in no time at all. Very impressive. So was all the work done in the Venessa Seramik factory, and I did get sucked into buying some decorated dishes, which I don't regret one bit. Beautiful stuff.
Then we left Cappadocia and had a long drive to Ankara, hearing more stories from Barcin about Turkish life and his own experiences of military service and marriage traditions. Interesting. We also learned more about Ataturk, in preparation for visiting his tomb at the Mausoleum, a deliberately huge and impressive building on a hill, where uniformed soldiers stood motionless and impassive as swarms of tourists posed for photos beside them.

Here too is the Museum of Anatolian Civilisations, which sounds a bit dry but is full of quite fascinating things, most of it unbelievably old. Bronze Age urns, 3,000 years old but so well made I'd put one in my living room, divorce documents inscribed on pottery inside pottery envelopes, beautiful gold jewellery, sweet carved geese and much more, all inside a soaring and neatly-built building of brick domes. So much more rewarding than the Ankara Hilton, that had most on the coach in a bit of a buzz of anticipation, but which didn't live up to it at all.

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