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Safety for overnight busride & safety/pricing for balloon Ride

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Dwelling between two options for my trip between Pamukkale and Capadoccia:
1) After Pamukkale tour, go back to Ephesus (3 hrs drive each way on the tourbus), next day fly from Izmir to Capa and check in a hotel

2) After Pamukkale tour, wonder around for few hours, then get on the overnight bus to Capa for early mornng arrival. Hotel may not let us check in that early. Need to wait (dont know where). Still need to take the day tour in Capa after the whole night bus trip since time is short. Is the overnight bus ride safe? what are the things to watch out for?

Hot air Balloon ride: this is so expensive! Have to stretch our budget if we do it at all!!
Any words on a reliable company and good deal?
Some offers breakfast. Is it worth the money?

Some of the companies will give a 10% discount for cash Euro. Do you think they will take cash $$ and still give me the discount?

Plese share your insight.

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    I'll comment on the hot air balloon. Is it worth it? YES!! You will likely never again do it in your life, so spring for doing it in Cappadocia. I did the 90 minute tour with Royal Balloon which was wonderful not only for the tour and the time in the air but also, because there were only 12 passengers in the balloon. But if cost is a huge issue for you, do the 60 minute tour for the experience. Royal offers a hot breakfast before hand and will pick you up at your hotel. My other suggestion is to do some touring of Cappadocia in your first day before doing the balloon the next day. You'll better appreciate what you're seeing in the balloon if you have already done some ground touring the previous day. Again is it worth it? Do some research on this site. I'll bet you won't find ONE person who says that it was not worth it. Just do it!

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    I'm not sure that I fully understand the options you are considering, but here are some initial thoughts:

    > After Pamukkale tour, wonder around for few hours, then get on the overnight bus to Capa for early mornng arrival.

    Are you aware that most balloon rides in Cappadocia take off very, very early? Will the bus get you to Cappadocia in time for a balloon ride, or would you be staying overnight to take a balloon ride the next day?

    > Hot air Balloon ride: ... Any words on a reliable company?

    Part of the reason some companies are able to charge higher prices is that they are more reliable - you'll have to make your own call on that! From my research before a trip last May, it seemed that Kapadokya was considered the most reliable; it was also among the most expensive. The other big differences in cost are for the time in the air (1 hour will be less expensive than 1.5 or 2 hours) and size of the basket (with lower costs the more people the basket holds).

    > Some offers breakfast. Is it worth the money?

    My understanding is that most of the balloon companies in the area share a buffet breakfast that is provided at no extra cost -- the breakfast I was given was arrayed in the central facility in which safety information is provided; travelers were brought from their various pick-up locations and then re-sorted into their take-off groups. My sense was that the buffet held a wide variety of basic breakfast options, nothing special. I personally would not have paid extra for it (unless that was the only way to get coffee!), but I'm not much of a breakfast person and even if I had been, I had barely made it through the lines and begun eating when they sounded the call to stop eating and gather around. So if it's free, take advantage; if its only available for an extra fee, make your own call. And if all you want is coffee, consider bringing caffeine tablets with you! :-)

    > Any words on a ... good deal?

    I think some accommodations have agreements with certain balloon companies to offer lower rates to their guests. If you are staying overnight, check with your hotel or B&B or whatever. And if you are going in season, be sure to check in advance, or be prepared to find that all the "better" options (however defined) have been fully booked in advance.

    > Some of the companies will give a 10% discount for cash Euro. Do you think they will take cash $$ and still give me the discount?

    The company with which I booked -- Kapadokya -- accepted dollars or euros (and I think Turkish lira) with a discount, as long as payment was, in fact, in cash (and in advance). I can't speak to other companies or to whether things have changed since I was there in May.

    > Hot air Balloon ride: this is so expensive! Have to stretch our budget if we do it at all!!

    Yes, it will be expensive, and only you can decide whether it will be worth it. Like MinnBeef, I thought it an amazing experience and am very glad that I was able to take advantage of the opportunity. But I have certainly made many choices in my life to give up something that I'm sure I would enjoy because had to choose between various wonderful options, and ended up concluding that I would rather use the money for other things that I would also enjoy. So give some thought to what you will have to give up because of cost if you take the balloon ride, and what you will have to give up because of the time of the balloon ride if you decide to take it, and how much time you will have on the ground to see (and hike) the area if you do or don't take the balloon.

    The good news is that you will see some amazing things no matter what you choose!

    Hope that helps.

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    Another poster on Fodor's said if you were ever going to do one balloon ride in your life time, do it in Cappadocia. Based on his advice, we splurged and did it there. It was a highlight of years of travel for us. We went with Butterfly Balloons, a small comapny owned by Mike, an English pilot. It was a perfect experience, landing so soft,I didn't even know we had landed, followed by lovely cake and wine. We were back in the hotel in time for a late breakfast that was included at the hotel.

    We did it the second day in Cappadocia, so were rested and had seen a bit of the area already and hiked a little. That did make it nicer.

    Kja's info on the breakfast is correct.

    Personally, I would fly rather than do that overnight bus.

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    << Some of the companies will give a 10% discount for cash Euro. Do you think they will take cash $$ and still give me the discount? >>

    Are you sure they want Euros and not Turkish Lira?

    Whenever you pay in USD rather than local currency the merchant can give you any exchange rate he wants. You will never get the same rate you get from ATM machines which is at or near the rate shown on currency exchange sites. It won't matter if he tells you that he is discounting the price since he can always make up the difference (and more) in the exhange rate. Use local currency, especially for big ticket items such as balloon rides.

    I find bus travel very uncomfortable since there is no place to stretch my legs. I would avoid an overnight bus as you're probably going to arrive very tired.

    I'm not sure where the balloon ride fits into your schedule. You arrive in Cappadoccia either in the evening or the morning and then have a day tour. Are you staying another night and doing the balloon ride the morning of the second day?

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