Monday, June 13, 2011

Touring Turkey - Up in the Air Over Cappadocia

I've finally saved the best experience we had in Cappadocia for last. Husband J and I took our first hot air balloon ride! I had never been on a hot air balloon before and knowing that I was going to be able to see Cappadocia's landscape in the process was too much to pass up.

There are lots of balloon operators in the Cappadocia area. After doing some research and at the suggestion of the hotel, we decided to book with Royal Balloon, and I definitely don't regret going with them since they were fun, informative and professional every step of the way. Whatever you do make sure to fly with a reputable and trustworthy company (Yes, I know I'm being Captain Obvious, but please do).

Let's start from the beginning...

Most hot air ballooning in Cappadocia starts EARLY in the morning. Be prepared for an early morning pick-up. I hope 5:00am is early enough for you! Royal Balloon dropped us off at their offices/dining room. Part of our experience included breakfast with many of the customary elements we'd come to expect at that point in Turkey: bread, olives, tomato and awesome cheese plus all of the cereal, fruit, eggs, etc. that you could want.

Royal Balloon Headquarters

We took another trip over to a field where we finally caught sight of the balloons preparing for our trip.

I think I enjoyed watching the balloons getting blown up almost as much as the balloon ride itself.

Fire, fire! (Beavis & Butthead reference, and yes, I am old).

Finally done!

Getting into the balloon was a lot harder than expected but the handlers from Royal Balloon were very helpful and accomodating. It was finally time to see Cappadocia from the sky.

Even though the sun had already risen, and it was both overcast and cold, it was still a spectacular sight to all of these rock formations from above. The early morning calm, the stillness of the countryside and the quirky but beautiful scenery was so magical that there were many moments of silence in our balloon.

Here's a little of what we saw:

We flew over the Goreme Open Air Museum. Remember my visit there?

We were having a great time getting to know the other visitors to Cappadocia in our balloon, who turned out to actually be from New York City, too. The older gentlemen in the group knew someone from my childhood. Six degrees, I tell you!

We were just geeked to be there and perfectly happy to show it.

I knew that our balloon wasn't the only one up in the air that morning. It seems that almost all of the companies find the best course for the balloons to follow at that time of day. It ended up being one big balloon caravan.

How many balloons can you count in this picture? At one point we saw 25.

As much as I'd like to think it's the case, I don't think pictures do this experience justice. Below is a quick video to give you a taste of what we saw, heard and talked about (I thought about editing out the background conversation, but conversing with our fellow ballooners was really a pleasant part of the trip.). I'm still learning video editing, so please bear with me if it's not all that great. :)

In the video, I mention the fact that I was a little worried about dropping money on this little excursion. It's the truth. I was. When our Egypt trip fell apart, I had the sole responsibility of planning this trip, and I wasn't sure if it would be worth it or if Husband J would like it. Pressure! Anyway, you'll see what I mean in the video....

Who was the mystery person I was referring to in the video? Ms. Martha Stewart herself. She was guided by Royal Balloon when she came to do a shoot in Cappadocia for her show.

If it's good enough for Martha..... :)

When we finally landed, the team from Royal Balloon treated us to a champagne toast. As much as I enjoy a little bubbly in the morning (I guess?), it was FREEZING, and it had started to lightly snow at our landing area.

I know we're smiling here, but we were COLD. Check out how my hand is gripping the glass.

I'm so glad that I didn't chicken out about going on our little hot air balloon adventure. It was by far one of the highlights of our trip to Turkey.


lavenderpug said...

that certainly does look like a might worthwhile once-in-a-lifetime trip! so no guilt (your video was so cute). that scenery is spectacular--the pics and video took my breath away.

Michelle said...

Ha, you're so adorable in your video! What an amazing thing to do. "Spectacular" is right!

Megan said...

Wow, those rock formations are amazing! So glad you went for it - I've always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon!

lobster said...

this looks so romantic and beautiful! I've always wanted to see Cappadocia.

Tiffany @ MakesMeBlush said...

Oh my gosh, I am so jealous! I've always wanted to go up in a hot air balloon. How fun!


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