Cappadocia is about as far removed from Turkey’s idyllic Mediterranean coast as you can imagine. It’s a crazy, rocky, dusty moonscape dotted with craggy rock formations called fairy chimneys. Many of these have been fashioned into houses by locals over the last couple thousand years or so. It’s all quite bizarre and strangely beautiful.
At some point, someone must have been inspired to check it all out from the lofty viewpoint of a hot air balloon. And so it began.
That’s a fraction of the 100 balloons going up every morning at about 6am for a spectacular sunrise ride across the rocky plateau. Catching this ride required a 4.30am start; which required Kate to explain to Mike there was such a thing as a 4.30am.
That’s part early-morning, part Xanax. You see, the balloon ride was to expose one of Kate’s favourite paradoxes about Mike; a mild fear of heights in a man who lives life at a reasonable height (6″5′, in shoes that is).
Things were already looking up by the time we climbed into our 18-man basket.
It was the first time in a hot air balloon for both of us, and what a way to break our cherry. Our pilot was a super laconic guy spouting well-practiced lines. “This balloon we’re in is named … Titanic” being one of the best/worst.
His walkie-talkie was constantly squawking; after a while another passenger piped up and asked him what the other pilots were saying. “They’re saying there is a particularly good looking Japanese girl in thier balloon,” was the response. Safety first.
All up we only floated about for an hour or so, but it was truly unforgettable.
What a ride. And that is but a taste of the pics we got. If you have something of a hot air balloon photo fetish, find a quiet place and click here. Then – go get yourself some professional help. Please.
To round out our time in Goreme we caught up with ex-shipmates Mel and Chris for a brilliant farewell dinner, and enjoyed a day hike through the surrounding valleys and hills. Meaning: more bloody pictures of rocks, rocks and more rocks.
That last one is from a place called ‘Love Valley’, supposedly because the rock formations look like… well.
Cappadocia rounded out a sensational few weeks in Turkey. Always surprising, always engaging; easily one of the highlights of this caper so far. Little did we know our next stop – the Balkans – would equally bowl us over. That’s next time on *cue theme music* Cool Runnings. Roll credits!