We arrived into the city of Istanbul fairly late no thanks to the two hour bus ride from the airport to the city. Make sure you allocate a fair amount of time if you are traveling from the further airport as the traffic is ridiculous, something that is not out of the ordinary in Istanbul. After a full day of transit we had made it off the bus with absolutely nothing booked or no plans. We were hungry and tired and got sweet talked by a gentleman to sit and eat at his restaurant which had wifi so it was OK. I was left in charge of the bookings and I was doing it all on my phone. Best thing about that was you could use location services which pretty much showed the closest hostels and the distance. I had found this one Bunk hostel with a very good rating at a very good price I thought there would be a catch but there actually wasn’t. After we munched out it was backpacks on and a good 10 minute walk til we reached our destination. The hostel was nice very modern located in Taksim I was surprised seeing as though the streets are very worn and dirty with some similarities to Morocco. We checked into our 8 bed dorm and there was an Aussie couple who shared the room with us. I was really impressed with the facilities there, really clean, nice beds, aircon, killer shower, rooftop bar it was all gold mine. We spent a moment at the top socializing with a few of the guests of the hostel and then made our way to bed.
The next day I had my work cut out for me, I had to try organize getting to Cappadocia to ride in the hot air balloons which was something I really wanted to tick off my bucketlist overseas with or without the boys. This would be the only chance I would get before we parted ways. I asked for some advice from the hostel and was limited to very few options. One of my wanderlust friend’s Daniel whom had previously been used a company to set up the transfers and accommodation. I gave them a call to see if this would all be possible with a flight I had looked up earlier. With the current situation a package would have been best since I was running out of time. We made our way down to his office the company was called Magic Valley Tours which was in the Sultanahmet district. After a bit of negotiating and explaining we had finally made the booking and we were to go in the hot air balloons in the morning and then catch separate buses and part ways with my boys. After it was confirmed we pretty much had to catch a taxi straight to the airport. Apost was reluctant to come but he knew this was the last chance we would be together so came along for the ride. With this particular airline it was a 15kg baggage limit and not the usual 20kg. This was fine for Dean and I but for Apost he was 20kg over and had to pay another $30, he wasn’t happy. As we killed a little bit more time at McDonalds it was time to board out flight. I don’t know what it is but the Maccas overseas doesn’t taste near as good as ours back home the only decent one was in Amsterdam but I’m guessing it was due to the fact we were probably stoned.
Another flight later we had made it to Cappadocia and by the time our transfer dropped off us at the hotel it was pretty late. We checked into our bedroom only to know we would be up in a few hours for our Hot air balloon during sunrise. A cheeky stop to a rooftop restaurant selected by Dean went down a treat and we could go to bed with a satisfied stomach. We barely got much sleep and we were all pretty tired but it needed to be done. Our transfer picked us up nice and early and we made our way to the valley where everyone was ready for take off. Now things to note if you are planning on going in the Hot Air Balloons. Try get the earlier session I think we got 6:30 instead of 6 now it doesn’t sound like much difference but for me someone who loves to shoot photography you want to be up in the air when the sunrise it breaking through. Since we had booked so last minute the company we used had no availability for the early session so book a little bit in advance if possible. The hot air balloons hold up to about twenty people or so believe it or not, I thought it was going to be just us but I was wrong. The government put a cap of something like 200 balloons to go up only each day due to it being overcrowded and potentially dangerous. We slowly started to rise up in the air and we could see more and more. I always thought hot air balloons were a bit dodgy but I felt somehow safe in the hands of our pilot. I’m a tad scared of heights, I always play this scenario in my head if I fell from the current situation this one would surely be fatal. It doesn’t help when there are rocks below in the formation of pointy spears. Whilst up there I sent a snapchat to Lee one of my closest friends back home a happy birthday while I shared the view to him. Lenny was also getting some attention with this Ukrainian girl wanting a photo, I think Apost got jealous so he held him off the edge. Lets just say if Lenny was dropped Apost would have been not far after him (joking not joking). I think we were in the air for approximately an hour before we started our decent back to land. Once we touched down there was applause and clapping for our pilot in getting us safely back followed by some celebratory champagne. After sipping on some our transfer took us to back home on a very tiring journey.
It was still very early in the morning and we were starving, a quick 5 minute walk to town and we were on the hunt for something to eat. Instead of going to a more tourist catering restaurant Dean and I decided to try this one place just setting up. The only thing on the menu was lentil soup and freshly squeezed orange juice and I was down as to try it. I think we payed like 2 dollars for it and it was delicious, you see you never know what you’re going to taste unless you try it. Apost went around the corner and got some fresh Gosleme. I had never tried it up until then and it was so good and he got so into that he asked for his photo to be taken whilst making some haha I love the kid when he does shit like that. After eating we made our way back to our room, we had to pack our shit and move it to our host hotel which had a pool. We pretty much chilled there all day and soaked in some sunshine while having a kick of the soccer ball with the owners son. It was nice to get some rest on one of the hammocks in the sun. As the day drew closer to an end we spend our last dinner together with my brothers. We had ordered a mixed BBQ from the hotel and sat in the courtyard til it was time to leave for the bus station. The boys were heading back to Istanbul and I was going to the Fethiye for my sail. As we waited at the bus stop a feeling of sadness ran through me, I was really going to miss the boys company, something I had gotten very use to the past two months. We gave our final farewell but I knew I would see them in a few months as Dean was making a quick stop in Melbourne and Apost was continuing his travels into to the unknown. I gave them both a massive hug and saw them leave on the bus. It was just me for the first time I was nervous and excited at the same time. I had never solo traveled and it’s something I was looking forward to experience. I went into the supermarket and stocked up for what was the most hectic 13 hour overnight bus ride. It was hell, stopping every couple of hours waking up in a sweat in those uncomfortable seats but I eventually made it to the Fethiye very fatigued.