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Traveling with a friend to Turkey in early October prior to meeting friends in Jordan. We would like to spend 3 nights in Istanbul (possibly 4) and then leave early morning for Cappadocia. We would like to arrive about 10am and spend two nights. I have been to Cappadocia, my friend has not. We would like to do the hot air balloon on the second morning. Does anyone have a
recommendation for a company to use..experience is our prerequisite? Now, it seems we
will have to go back to IST to get to Ephesus and Pamukkale. Should we go to Cappadocia
first, then back to Istanbul for our 3 night and end with Ephesus? Then when we leave
Ephesus we could make the connection for our flight to Amman. Any help is appreciated.
On my first visit to Cappadocia I stayed at the Old Greek House but I think I want to try
the Isabelli Evi. It sounds like they can fulfull our tour needs as well as being a well
reviewed hotel. Does anyone have restaurant or hotel recommendations in Ephesus?
Almost forgot to mention we are two sixty-ish world travelers.

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    I used Kapadokya Balloons when I was there last year. The company is recommended in Lonely Planet and Rough Guide. I'd recommend that you book your balloon flight for the first morning in Cappadocia; If the balloon can't fly due to bad weather then you can try to rebook it for the 2nd morning.

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    > We would like to spend 3 nights in Istanbul (possibly 4)

    If you can make it 4 - or even more - do!

    > Does anyone have a recommendation for a company to use..experience is our prerequisite?

    Like Axel2DP, I was very pleased with Kapadokya. From my recent trip report:

    I chose a deluxe tour with Kapadokya Balloons and it not only met, but exceeded, my expections!

    I based my selection on 3 considerations. If what I learned in advance is correct, then:
    (1) Kapadokya is the best-established hot air balloon company in the area and the one with the best safety record.
    (2) Kapadokya has more take-off/landing sites than any company with the possible exception of its “daughter” company; more take-off and landing sites mean that the company has a better chance of being able to respond to unusual weather, so it is more likely to be able to take off and to take off on time and more likely to be able to stay aloft for a long time.
    (3) A hot air balloon ride of any length and with any company was a splurge by my standards, and as a splurge, I decided that I would rather pay the extra for the longer ride in a smaller basket – I didn’t want to land after spending a lot of money, only to wonder whether the extra cost would be worth it.

    I was VERY, VERY pleased with my choice. The time seemed to fly by! (No pun intended.) I couldn’t believe that it had been nearly 2 hours when we landed, and it seems I would have missed so much if the ride had been only 1 hour long. I had read one comment that people who take a 2-hour ride end up with sore feet from standing that long, and I had worried a bit about that because my feet no longer endure just any old treatment with grace. But I didn’t notice any discomfort and didn’t hear anyone else complain. Too, I managed a 6-hour hike later that day, and although my feet hurt a lot at the end of my hike, I don’t think it had anything to do with the balloon ride!

    Being in a small basket definitely contributed to my enjoyment: There were 12 of us in 2 rows; each of us had an unobstructed position at the outside of the basket and we could all easily see in other directions (which wasn’t really necessary because the balloon turned frequently). There was noise on occasion as our pilot heated air to adjust our altitude, but when he wasn’t doing that, we could easily hear him when he spoke about what we were seeing or when one of us asked him a question. And we had plenty of time sailing silently over some of the most amazing landscapes imaginable. And as an example of our pilot’s skill, he landed the basket squarely on the flatbed truck that the company sent.

    Bottom line: My hot air balloon ride was amagnificent experience and it was, IMHO, worth every penny.

    > Should we go to Cappadocia first, then back to Istanbul for our 3 night and end with Ephesus?

    Makes sense to me, but I would think it would depend on the kinds of connections you can make. I would think you would save time f you can avoid an extra trip to/from Istanbul to its airport.

    > Does anyone have restaurant ... recommendations in Ephesus?

    I ate two dinners in Selcuk (which is very close to Ephesus).

    The first dinner was at the Bella Hotel. My Greek salad with chick peas was very fresh. Hot mezes of stuffed mushrooms and potato with chicken were tasty. A main of lamb kabob with rice was nicely flavorful. I thought the bread just OK. The setting was pleasant and afforded a nice view (even though I couldn't see storks from my table) and the service was good. All-in-all a very nice meal, but I thought it overpriced.

    My second dinner was at Wallabies (or should I say Wallabies Chin Gu?) I started with a very nice cheese plate and then had an absolutely delicious entree of lamb with pistachios. I sat outside with a lovely view of storks (including babies) atop the Byzantine aqueduct and the sight and sound of a public fountain. Service was excellent. I was VERY pleased with this restaurant.

    Hope that helps!

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    Esbelli Evi suggests Butterfly Balloons to its guests. Both Butterfly and Kapadokya seem to have great reputation from my net search.
    Also there are some days when Pegasus air and Sunexpress fly direct from Kayseri to Izmir. But not all days.
    Check nisanyan hotel and caravanserai for Ephesus.

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    We loved Esbelli Evi. They arranged airport pickups and taxi and driver for our tours. It was perfect in every way. We did Butterfly Balloons and would absolutely use them again. Balloon rides are very early in the morning, so you could not do it your first day. You would not get there in time. If you can fly straight through to Cappadocia, would you get there the night before and have three nights? That is what we did. Don't know if I would do it that way again, but it did work.

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