And so we finally reach the end. Yes, this is the last installment of my 5-part series on my trip to Turkey last April. Admittedly, this is my longest blog post so far, and I can’t seem to fathom how I will write about this now, as this is the last but also the most exciting leg of our journey. So here I go…
We are still in Cappadocia, in the central Anatolian region of Turkey, a land best known for its rich history, fairy chimneys, underground cities and cave churches. As you may have seen in my previous posts, this place has a mix of naturally formed rounded and jagged rocks, hills and valleys in colors ranging from clays to pinks. The entire city’s unique landscape was a result of volcanic eruptions that happened millions of years ago. People started to live here as early as the 4th century—making its history as rich and remarkable as its landscape. Indeed, Cappadocia looks like it can only exist in a fairy tale!
But there’s one more thing that this magical land is quite known for. Cappadocia is one of the world’s most popular destinations for hot air balloon riding.
Many come to this part of Turkey not just to see this seemingly unbelievable land with their own eyes but more so they can experience it in a more surreal way—yes, up in the air. More than a thousand feet in the air.
So that very morning, we woke up excitedly at 430am, took the car, and headed straight to the place where we were to take off. Obviously, the streets were still dark and the whole city seemed still fast asleep. But not us!
Every morning before sunrise, hundreds of hot air balloons are fired up across Cappadocia, each taking off with about a dozen or so passengers for about an hour or more, floating above and around the majestic rock formations.
Passengers have their choice of companies, but the companies that charge on the higher end tend to have the more experienced pilots, or pack fewer people into the basket. Kapadokya Balloons, (the balloon with the light blue and cream stripes on the foreground) is one of the most highly recommended companies and this is what we ended up choosing.
Look how big the balloons were compared to me!
It was just so beautiful to see the hot air balloons all lined up neatly in a row, standing against the majestic backdrop of Cappadocia’s amazing landscape.
And this was our group getting ready to take that flight. (You can already imagine that I was a nervous wreck at this point!)
And we were finally up in the air. In an open air basket at that!! (Yes, there was nothing between myself and the cold air!)
And as we went higher and higher, the thick and cold fog air also got thicker and whiter…
Riding a hot air balloon was a combination of many emotions. It was both exhilirating and terrifying. Our eyes were wide in wonder while our hands clutched onto the basket as tightly as we can. I can say that flying up in the air was both eerie and peaceful. We floated by pigeon houses and fairy chimneys. We saw a hundred other balloons in splashes of colours. It was a beautiful kaleidoscope as we saw the sun rise right before our very eyes.
There were a lot of oohs and aahs heard inside the balloon… and at one time, all of us went absolutely quiet, as we tried to absorb the incredulous beauty that just lay before us.
So that’s one hot air balloon I spotted from where we were, and was I glad that my trusty iPhone was still able to capture this despite it being so tiny and about to be enshrouded by the thick white clouds! (You can just imagine that we were also flying that high and probably, looked as tiny like a dot from their point of view!)[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/AFxrmLs59SU”]
We soared above the valleys and dramatic rock formations, we peeked into pigeon holes and caves, and we floated among a hundred multi-coloured hot air balloons!
And then while we were up there, snowflakes started to fall on our heads! The pilot said this is a rare occurrence as it does not snow in Cappadocia in April! It was nothing short of spectacular!
And then just like that, we slowly began our descent… and saw the magical, rugged landscape again, as if telling us that we were almost home.
But not without a few bumps! Because the winds started to become stronger towards the end of our flight, the pilot warned us about our landing. And as soon as our balloon touched the ground, our basket flipped over — leaving us all screaming and in shock! (Good thing no one was badly hurt!)
After experiencing that bad fall, I was just so glad that we all made it safe and sound— and yes, alive! Indeed, it was an experience I will never EVER forget for the rest of my life!!
This hot air balloon experience left me on a high – quite literally! As soon as we all got out of the basket, we were given a glass of bubbly and some chocolate pound cake to perhaps celebrate what was to be one of our most memorable flights ever. (This was our pilot who reassured me that everything will be okay.)
It is one thing to see the dramatic landscape of Cappadocia from the ground, but it was a totally new and even more dramatic experience to see it from way above!
Then we went back straight to our hotel, the Museum Hotel, as we craved for some warmth and comfort. But as soon as we stepped in our lobby, we saw a totally different new place. We were surprised to see our hotel all white and covered in snow.
When just three hours before that, we left our hotel in its basking summer glory. Now, this very same place looked like it was plucked out of a Christmas fairytale!
Snowflakes generously falling down on us!
Of course my kids loved this, as this was a rare thing for them. This was their very first time to actually play in snow!
Admittedly, it was not just the kids who were happy. I was very, very happy too. In fact I was crying tears of joy as I was silently whispering my prayer of thanks to Him up there for granting us such a wonderful and memorable experience in one day. We were all filled with so much wonder and delight how this strange phenomenon happened to us on the same day, just an hour after we got off that pretty unbelievable hot air balloon ride.[iframe id=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/M_FSu1sTO0A”]
I’ve seen snow a few times but this was my first time to actually experience a big snowfall!
Everything just looked postcard pretty!
And after a good 30 minute of so of us jumping up and down, laughing, crying and throwing snowballs at each other (with numb hands and ears, I tell you), the snowfall started to slow down a bit, until it was just a trickle… and until it stopped, and snowed no more.
And what was left was just the beautiful landscape of Cappadocia, still rugged but covered in snow.
More beautiful pictures of The Museum Hotel after the snowfall.
Everything seemed perfectly quiet and white. Even when covered with ice, one can tell that Cappadocia is indeed a magical land blessed with a beautiful, undescribable landscape.
That same day, towards the late afternoon, we had to leave. As if on cue, everything turned gray and dark once again. We sadly said our goodbyes to this place we called home.
We left with a heavy but a happy, fulfilled heart. This trip not only taught us a few things about the world, but it changed us, in more ways than we ever expected it to be.
Surely, you heard a lot about Turkey from me. I can’t help it as it made a huge impact and left a tremendous mark on me. This surreal place is definitely bucket list material. From Istanbul to Ephesus to Cappadocia, what we saw was a magical playground that both the young and old enjoyed. From their beautiful mosques to their ancient cities to their captivating landscapes, this is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. You can say that Turkey is shrouded in history, mystique and legend, and our last leg, Cappadocia — I must say, is its crowning glory.
Read about my entire Turkey trip:
Also, read about my Favorite Things from Turkey.