up, up and away

Göreme at 6am is still.

There's a slight chill, but no wind. The light filters through the sky, inky black softening around us as we stand on the roof of our hotel.

At first you can just make out a few of the little clusters, black rounded shadows, dotted around the the outskirts of the town. But then as your eyes adjust to the light, you see more groups surrounding the town and out into the distance. Now and then, you see a burst of colour, a glow in the darkness as one of them is filled with burning gas.

And then they start to rise.
One by one, they silently climb, until the skies are filled with hot air balloons, silhouetted against the dawn.

 

A few days later, and we're in the basket of the balloon. Our ride starts a bit later, as the pilots were concerned about the foggy weather that postponed the balloons the day before. But we're okay today, the skies are clear, and there are balloons in the sky all around us. We take off smoothly, with the rush of the fire above our heads creating butterflies in our bellies. The earth falls away, as we rise and rise.

150 balloons carry nearly 3,000 people every day in Cappadocia. It was one of the most magical things I've ever done. We went to 828 metres and the trip took just over an hour.

The balloon company we went with was Voyager Balloons. They were epic; from swing dancing with my sister and throwing her into the deflated balloon bag on her birthday, group macarena lessons in the transfer van, to a pilot who really experienced, but also took us up and down valleys, alarmingly close to rocks, and gave the whole thing an adrenaline injection.