Up, Up and Away…
Cappadocia, Turkey Oct 2020
We caved in early, in anticipation for our sunrise balloon trip the next morning. For once we were awake before the first “ezan” from the nearby minaret. These chants seemed to be different each time and made us wonder if they were actually “live” or if muezzin had a compilation tape that he stuck on at the required hour (a kind of “That’s What I Call…to Prayer”).
I wasn’t surprised to learn that they now have apps which fulfil this function – and even a mosque-shaped alarm clock.
I digress… We soon reached the valley where we would begin our ascent and the sight of hundreds of hot air balloons in various stages of inflation was one I’ll never forget. Our excitement swelled along with the bright nylon as hot gas was pumped into it by huge fans, lighting the balloon up like a magic lantern. Finally, like Andy Pandy, Teddy and Looby Lou, it was time for us to jump into the basket.
As we rose above the valley (maybe that’s why they called it Rose Valley??), we were treated to the unforgettable sight of dozens of balloons accompanying us as the sun climbed slowly over the pink sandstone cliffs. We sailed tranquilly through the air soaking in the extraordinary views – the distant mountains, the hoodoos or fairy chimneys rising from the salmon tinted valley floor and even spotted our hotel rooftop as we floated closer to the town. I had to laugh at the number of wedding photo shoots that were taking place below. Had they never heard of “Photoshop” – and the happy couple posing in front of a rock formation resembling a giant dick, was surely asking for trouble??
The precision in which the pilots manage to land and then manoeuvre the basket onto the back of the awaiting lorry was incredible. I would have raised my glass to the crew if we had been allowed the promised celebratory “champagne”… Sadly, Covid restrictions ruled this out.
Later that day, a crowd of two cheered West Ham to a stunning victory over Leicester City from the sports bar in town. I’m not sure what the welcoming owners made of Ian’s rather expressive support, but we learnt a few Turkish platitudes and they learnt a few English swear words that afternoon! What better way to finish the day than a few beers and a curry in the nearby, surprisingly good Indian rooftop restaurant.