Friday, August 29, 2014

Hot Air Balloon Ride

June 17th, 2014 – early AM

Our morning in Cappadocia started early ……..VERY early….. with a scheduled pick-up at the Cappadocia Estates Hotel at 4 am! No time for even a cup of coffee at the cute little table on our patio. We were off for a hot air balloon ride!

When we were researching the Cappadocia area, every source said that a balloon ride was a ‘must’. We had been on one other balloon ride before and loved it….so I thought, “Why not?”

Balloon flights are generally scheduled around dawn to take advantage of the wind currents. We arrived at the Butterfly Balloons location at around 4:45am and had a quick bite of sweet roll and juice. Then, all the gathered customers loaded into vans and drove to our take off point.


The crew was already on the ground getting the balloons ready and inflated.


And, with a quick climb over the side of the basket, we were ready to go! This was a large basket that held 16 passengers and the pilot.



We were not the only balloon flying. Butterfly Balloons had at least 4 balloons, and there were other companies taking off.


We later learned that there was a total of 70 balloons in the air that morning!


The sunrise really highlighted this unique landscape.


I keep trying to figure out the art of the ‘selfie’.  I think that the problem is that my arms are too short! Probably ought to let Fred hold the camera.   ; )


These formations, caused by the erosion of different volcanic rock layers, are called Fairy Chimneys,


Flying over gave us a unique view of the homes that had been carved in the rock.


And how towns just built up around these rock houses……..

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Our balloon would dip down into these valleys and just drift along the length of the valley, getting so close to the sides as we ‘popped out’ that we could almost touch the rocks.


Our balloon ride lasted over an hour, and, when we landed, the pilot put us down right onto the back of the trailer! The crew was waiting for us on the ground (they followed our balloon with the help of radio directions from the pilot). Then, the traditional champagne toast to a safe ride!


The balloon is quickly collapsed and all the ‘big strong men’ got to help fold it up.


And a ‘tradition’ that I had never heard of…..these really strong crew members picked each of us (by couples) and carried us over their shoulder, and then dumped us down onto the folded balloon to get our picture taken!

The whole balloon ride experience was one that I would not have missed! And though I have written these blogs a little out of order….I wanted to end with this awesome experience!

After this early morning excitement, we were shuttled back to our hotel where we met Sinem, our guide, for our second day of sightseeing in Cappadocia. Then, we were dropped off at the airport and flew back to Istanbul (it is just a short flight). We spent that night at the airport hotel, and caught our plane home in the morning.

This was quite a trip! And a perfect one to check off of our ‘bucket list’.