Travel Notes – Cappadocia Day 03

Friday, December 25th, 2015

I was already up at 4.30 as we were told that the pick up time for the balloon ride, should it happen that morning, would be slightly earlier than yesterday. We needed to be at reception by 5.30 to make it for the sunrise flight. The kids were still asleep so I stepped outside to see if there was any fog. It seemed okay but boy was it cold! I went back in to wash up and waited nervously for the 5 o’clock knock on the door saying the flight is cancelled again. 5 o’clock came but nobody knocked. When there was still no knock at 5.10, I immediately woke the kids up and told them to get ready. We ran to reception and met with a couple with their 2 young kids who were also waiting. We didn’t know each other but I think me and the mum were the ones who were the most excited. We started chatting and when the hotel staff confirmed we were going to fly, we just jumped up and down and hugged each other! Talk about acting like kids :-)

So we set off and when we jumped into the van, realised that we were the last ones to be picked up as guests from other hotels were already in the van. We were brought to the balloon company’s office to be registered and briefed. Each of us were given a safety card with our pilot’s name on it. We were then asked to move to the breakfast room to fill ourselves up before the flight. As we were nibbling on our simits, one of the staff announced that we haven’t actually been given the go-ahead to fly as the sky was still foggy and that we had to wait for another 15 minutes until further confirmation was received. Really???

I sank in my seat and exchanged looks with my new friend from the Kelebek. We shrugged our shoulders, rolled our eyes and waited. 20 minutes later the same staff walked back into the room, broke into a wide grin and congratulated us that we will be the first batch to fly after 8 days straight of all flights being cancelled! Woohoooo! Everyone was so excited we broke out into several cheers. Some people clapped, some just punched their fists in the air but one same thing can be seen from every group; everyone started to get their cameras ready.

We then got split up into groups depending on who our pilot was. We were then transported to the take-off site by car and each group was subsequently divided into four sub-groups, each consisting of about 4-5 people. When we arrived at the site, it was like magic. We saw balloons scattered everywhere! The whole thing was beginning to feel very real by now and despite the cold, everyone’s faces just lit up as if the cold air didn’t bother us at all.

Each balloon has 5 compartments; the middle one for the pilot and copilot and four others for the passengers. We all climbed in and waited patiently for what was to come next. Slowly but sure, our balloon lifted from the ground and we were off! Oh my god, I will never forget that feeling when we realised we were floating and all of a sudden everybody just started cheering. The only word I can think of to describe it is “magic”. To watch the horizon before us and see all the other balloons around us float gently into the sky while the sun slowly climbed higher and higher was just breathtaking. I often joke with the kids and said that if I were to be given a super power, I would’ve asked for the ability to fly and that particular morning, I think I came as close as I could to fulfilling that dream.

We took numerous pictures and videos and helped each other out to make sure everyone has a family/group picture with all the balloons flying in the background. One thing that surprised me was the temperature. I thought it was going to be much colder up there but it turned out to be pretty much the same as ground temperature. We flew for an hour before the pilot announced we would soon make our way down. Our landing pad was attached to the back of a small lorry and it moved a bit following the way our balloon was heading. When the pilot managed to land our basket right smack on the landing pad, everybody broke out into a clap! What an experience!

We jumped out and were served with hot drinks and cake and then presented with our flight certificates. The pilot offered for us to purchase the flight recording and after making payment, I wrote down my name and hotel address so the DVD can be dropped off at the hotel later in the day.

Everyone was so happy and we just started chatting and sharing how great we felt. I almost didn’t do the balloon flight because of how pricey it was but then I said to myself, how often are we going to come here? Will we be able to come back soon to do it? I’m grateful I made the decision to do this as I can now look back to this day and remember the lovely adventure we all shared that morning.

Back at the Kelebek we gathered in the breakfast room and met up with other guests who also flew that morning and started sharing pictures over our meal. It was a great bonding moment for all of us and we ended up sharing our travel stories and before we headed back to our rooms, each of us had taken down each other’s contact details and new friendships were created just like that.

I had not made any plans that day except to go visit Goreme Open Air Museum. The hotel had kindly offered to drop us off and when I told one of our new friends from breakfast that we were going, she asked if she could join us. So we promised to meet at reception at 11 and headed to our room to shower.

At 11, we set off with the hotel staff and spent about half an hour at the open air museum. Took some pictures, popped into the gift shop and then hailed a cab to head back to the town centre. The taxi driver offered if we’d like to see some rugs and when me and my friend said yes, he drove us to a carpet shop near the marketplace. My friend ended up buying 2 rugs and I was tasked with negotiating the price. After this we wandered around town and by this time it was already 1 and the kids were beginning to get hungry again. We stopped at Kale Terrasse and ordered lunch. We loved this place. The food was good, prices reasonable and the staff were so polite and friendly. We even took pictures and chatted with some of them. It was just such a good day.

We walked back to our hotel and said goodbye to our new friend but promised to meet up in Istanbul on new year’s eve. The other friend who shared the balloon ride with us had left earlier that day but was also going to be in Istanbul at the same time and we had created a Whatsapp group to make sure we can coordinate our meet-up once we all arrived in the city.

We went back to our room and started packing. We were still pretty full so decided not to have dinner that night and just made sure our bags were all packed up, ready for our departure to Istanbul the next day. It had been such a lovely day and even though we were all exhausted, we knew our experience that day will stay with us forever.

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