Taking to the skies in Cappadocia

Since having been convinced to take the balloon flight, I booked in the long flight for 210 euros, and a 5.25am pick-up. Twisted arm, that’s me all round.I wandered out to the front of Flintstones around 5.20 in the morning, an ungodly hour where it was still dark and the stars still owned the sky. A short trip to the Kapadokya Balloons office, to pay up – and I was rewarded with some much needed coffee and biscuits. There were a huge number of people in the “staging area”, maybe 60-70 all looking rather bleary-eyed and half awake. I overhead two people talking about “we’re on the last pick-up. They say that’s the best one”. I sauntered over “either I’m with you guys then, or they say that to everyone”.

Another short bus ride for maybe 15 minutes and we were on top of the valley overlooking Göreme, where the balloons would probably be flying from, and I had already been indoctrinated into a tour group of 9 who had been travelling around Turkey together for some weeks.Four balloons were leaving from this spot at the same time, but fortunately I’d managed to single out the same group that would be accompanying me on the flight (not the other way round, of course). Being the only non-tour group member there I found myself as a bit of a celebrity. They were clearly all relieved to have company from outside the usual bus excursion, and nobody had any trouble remembering my name!

First the safety advice, no leaving the basket, how to hold onto the basket in the event of landing in a tree, falling over, or upside down etc. Second the cold air to inflate the balloons a little bit. Then finally the warm air to get them heading upwards, and a quick scramble into the basket before the balloon had a chance to disappear into the distance without us.Like everything in the flight, the take-off was extremely smooth. Our pilot – Mike from Cornwall – did a fantastic job, as far as I know about these sort of things. Before you knew it, we were drifting over valleys, seeing our hotels and watching the sunrise over Cappadocia all the way to the peaks of the distant volcanoes.

It was so breathtakingly beautiful, words just can’t describe. Kappadokya Balloons seemed to be a lot more active than the other seven companies in the area. Taking every opportunity to dip down into canyons and to skim the tree tops. At one point, as we were floating through Love Valley (I think it was that one), I tried to reach out and pick some pears from a growing tree. Not being quite close enough, Mike gently landed the balloon just a short slope down from the tree, leaped out of the basket and returned with an armful of pears for everyone. These extra moments made the flight even more memorable and special and I was very glad I’d paid the extra to fly with the best and longest flying company in Cappadocia. That’s my plug for the post. They deserve it 🙂

There were another maybe 20-30 balloons in the air which made for an impressive show for the entire trip, on this beautifully clear day. Because of the other three balloons leaving from the same spot, there was plenty of opportunity to “play”. Balloon kisses, where the two balloons touch each other, as well as chatter over the radio about getting into the valleys where other balloons were below, and shutting out those “other” rival companies 🙂

The flight itself took us through Love Valley, past Göreme, White Valley, Ã-rencikkbaçi Valley and right over the town of Uçhisar, past the castle and the minurets of the mosques below. And every moment was stunning. I’ve taken maybe thirty-four thousand pictures during the two hours. I’ll try and cut these down to a select few ;)After landing one field over from the other three balloons (again, really smooth and only a slight bump), we all got together for a champagne breakfast and slice of cake, certificates, postcards and “celebrating the fact that we’re all still alive”. Kappadokya Balloons’ words, not mine.

A really, really brilliant experience. I’m so glad I had the opportunity and don’t regret a single minute of it. I’ve been telling that to everyone I’ve met ever since and the two people who turned up to stay in the same room as me today are just now working out their bank balance vs. Balloon flight cost plans.


One Comment

    • Ali
    • September 28, 2007
    • Reply

    So we all made the right decision for you 🙂 Jealous just isn’t the right word. Can’t wait to see the pics! You’re on MSN now, so I don’t know why I’m writing on here…

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