(The following is a guest post by Naomi, from Probe Around The Globe blog)
I was travelling with my best friend through central Turkey when we reached the little village of Göreme in Cappadocia. We were travelling with a tour group and our tour leader explained the itinerary for the next days to us. As soon as he mentioned: sun set balloon ride in Cappadocia, our eyes locked. We didn’t need to consult each other. There was no need to think about the costs.
If ever you want to take a balloon ride somewhere, it has to be in Cappadocia, Turkey.
As I walked along the well worn trail through the valley, my eyes couldn’t help but look around in amazement at all the doorways cut into the rock. Abandoned homes and chapels that once was full of life. I’m hiking the Red and Rose Valley in Cappadocia.
I love exploring new places, climbing into empty spaces, not knowing what amazing things you will find inside. This hike is perfect for this. Exploring the caves and discovering amazing views out over the valley from small windows carved into the rock. Each home is a reminder of this ancient and mysterious time.
“Just don’t let go” and “pull yourself up” they shouted. I felt the pain in my fingertips, they were too tired. I felt myself falling down the cliff face, then snap, my climbing buddy caught me. I dangled on the rope like a worm on the end of a fishing line. I’ve never been so scared for my life as I was rock climbing in Turkey.
Now I am no expert at rock climbing and I hadn’t climbed since I was 16 years old but I felt like I was doing ok until we attempted a second climb here in Turkey, near Antalya. I am well known for not being scared easily and to me, rock climbing is all about trust and basically climbing from one hand and feet hole to the next. Well so I thought, but this was something else!
With each step I take, I sink further and further into the soft snow. Perhaps there is a cavity due to rocks below me but with each step I felt the snow give way a little. I needed to move a little to the left, or perhaps to the right! Either way, I am not going to get very far if I continue like this. I’m hiking up the snow flanked Bronze mountain also known as Mount Tunc, near Antalya, Turkey.
India is a massive country, so 7 years ago when I first visited Tirupati, I never imagined I would be back here but this time, not as a foreigner but as an honorary local. Rewinding a good few years, I completed a pilgrim walk of 3500 steps, in bare feet, to Tirumala where the Sri Venkateswara Temple is. This was a walk that thousands of pilgrims a week completed and one I had read about but hadn’t fully understood its importance.
Now visiting Tirupati for a second time as a guest of my Indian friend’s family after attending his wedding, I was going to view the Sri Venkateswara Temple not as a tourist but as a local. This is his family’s temple and we are here the day after his wedding with his family and new bride.
I’ve been to many weddings in my time. In fact I have already been invited to 5 this year. But at none of them have I been asked to rub oil and flour onto the groom’s dad’s face and body. I am honoured to have been invited to a close friend’s Hindu wedding in India as an honorary member of his family.