A visit to Turkey had been on my mind since long, especially every time I used to see a Bollywood movie song or scene being shot there (Yes I know that sounds totally filmy!!) So my excitement knew no bounds when finally the trip was planned and the journey began.
Our first destination was Cappadocia, which is known as a cave city or underground city of Turkey. Pronounced as "Kapadokya", the sights and the landscape of this city will awe you and make you stare with marvel. The entire city has been formed out of numerous volcanic eruptions over millions of years ago, which results in an artist like painted landscape. The resorts too are mostly built from the cave inspired structures and reflect a very raw aura. After 2 days of sightseeing and exploring underground caves, ancient cave mosque & cave churches and mushroom shaped hills, the day arrived for our hot air balloon ride.
Waking up and being ready at 4.20AM for the pickup was the most difficult part I guess! Still sleepy eyed, we began our super early morning ride of about 45 mins to the departure site. "Maccan Balloons" was the company that we were booked in for the ride. I was all bundled up from head to toe as I anticipated it to be very windy and chilly in the open air balloon. Turkish breakfast was served once we reached the site. Tons of cheese & cream & breads & jams & dry fruits called out to us.
We then had to get into a mini bus that took us another 10 mins away to the actual departure area. By now I was getting restless and my eyes were searching for the first sighting of the balloon. There it was, flat on the ground, being filled with air (gas) and ropes being checked for safety. The basket was a huge one with 4 partitions, which could hold 16 people and the pilot in the centre. The only way to get into the basket was to climb and jump into it, which we all did enthusiastically.
The take off was so smooth that we didn't even realise when we left the ground. Slowly and steadily the balloon started its climb up. The pilot gave us few safety instructions in case of a crash landing (which definitely scared a few people!) The first rays of the sun had just started peeping from behind the clouds, and the balloon had now climbed up quite an altitude. All of a sudden the sky was filled with more than a hundred balloons!! No Kidding!! This is what they call "sky traffic" in morning. The sight was just magical, as thou we were part of some fairy tale in a magical land. For some strange reason my mind kept thinking of Aladdin & the flying carpet. There were balloons on the left and on the right, some below us and some above us! We then learnt that a hot air balloon has no control on direction, it just flies with the wind. The pilot can only control the altitude that's it!
The selfie pics started with people trying to capture the maximum balloons flying over the beautiful Cappadocia cave landscape. Even thou the balloon is open, there is no breeze that you can feel. Its speed is so gentle that it feels like you're almost at a standstill thousands of feet above the ground. The 1 hour journey passed so quickly that it felt like 10 mins. It was now time to land, which was quite an interesting experience in itself.
A vehicle on ground with about 5 men kept following our balloon, as they had to judge where exactly our balloon would land. Remember since there is no steering wheel, it's all dependant on the wind direction. It was like a cat & mouse chase with the balloon gliding lower and lower and the car trying to keep up with us on the mountainous terrain. Finally we were only a few feet above the ground and the ropes were thrown down. The 5 men had to use all their might to try and control the movement of the basket, so that it landed exactly behind the trailer attached to the car. It was really a strenuous effort, which they went about smilingly coz it's a daily morning routine for them. Finally after a few twists and tugs, the balloon landed perfectly where they wanted it to. Applause!!!
I would say that watching the sunrise from a hot air balloon was definitely one of the most amazing experiences. Seeing hundreds of colourful balloons in the sky all at once was just so beautiful that you can't take your eyes off the sight.
Our Turkish holiday continued to Istanbul, which has to be one of the most vibrant & lively cities ever. It has an energy which is constant be it morning, noon or midnight. The Turkish food is a visual delight as much as a burst of flavours. Ohh and the Turkish sweets, Baklava & Turkish Delights.....I think deserves another blog!! Till then.....signing off.
This post was originally published on My First Blog.