Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Ballooning in Cappadocia

On the advice of Ben & Gina and to mark three years since I left NZ, I shelled out a few more lira for what I was sure was going to be a very memorable experience & upgraded to a longer flight on a smaller balloon. This turned out to be very good advice as there were only three of us trying to see the views - not twenty in a giant basket.

After a great buffet Turkish breakfast - I tried to do it justice considering it was five o'clock in the morning - we bundled in to a small Kangoo & drove the short distance to the landing site. Our pilot was an experienced Aussie, David, from the Gold Coast & he'd chosen a place to take off (influenced by wind conditions) from well away from most of the other balloons - this was good as we could see all the others easily, instead of being in the middle of it all.

As we arrived, the ground crew had the balloon & basket laying on their sides, and were using a fan & burners to help inflate the balloon. Naturally, as the balloon rose the basket was eventually righted & we clambered in. The take off was ever so gradual & smooth & all of a sudden we were floating over & into various valleys with David's expert control - a few times we all but landed on top of the various rock formations.

I'll try not to say too much more & just leave the photos to speak - it was a most pleasant hundred minutes & with spectacular scenery & definitely one of the activities on my travels that will stay with me for a long time.

David (Gold Coast), Sheldon (Vancouver Is), me (NZ of course), Christopher (LA)

Floating past some of the formations we pretty much landed on

Honeymoon Valley

Some of the seventy-odd balloons up

Goreme is the biggest commercial ballooning venue in the world - in the middle of summer there will be over a hundred balloons up each morning.

Valley of Imagination

Another balloon inspecting vines & fruit trees - in summer, with a good pilot, you can pick apricots off the tree tops

A gentle landing, after extending our flight to miss the reminder of man's ability to generate electricity, we had the traditional celebratory champagne before heading back to various hotels.  An unexpected bonus was part of our drive back home was on the Silk Road - past one of the camel staging areas.  What a morning & it was only eight o'clock - just enough time for second breakfast and a nap before a day tour.

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