One Year on The Road : Onwards ( and Upwards! )
Goreme Travel Blog› entry 203 of 268 › view all entries
August 23rd, 2009 – by: Stevie_Wes
I don’t like to do such things. It’s against my Little Prince principles (Little Prince-iples?) to break magic down into tired and desiccated quantifications. But a few quick numbers won’t hurt I guess. So 12 months, 28 countries (ridiculous!), 6,800 blog photos (?!!!), 330,000 blog words (you poor thıngs!) and 114 postcards so far sent to appease my Nanny. According to the TB/ Google map thingamy approximately 72,500 kilometres on the clock so far. That's approaching two times the length of the Equator at 40,075kms.
But ‘Enough!’ I say of such mundane; such grounded terrestrial considerations. It’s time for a little celebration I feel! Time for a treat of sorts.
I hemmed and hawed about this little ‘treat’ for quite some time. But after many conversations with enthusiastic and informative fellow travellers I decided to bite the budget bullet and splash out on a dawn hot air balloon ride above the Cappadocian landscape that I have so fallen for. It’s a ‘carpe diem’ kinda day and It’s something I’ve never done before. So why not! ‘You only live once’ (depending on your religious convictions) and as the old maxim goes ‘You never know, you could be run over by a bus on your way to work tomorrow’ … except I don’t have work to go to tomorrow! Ha ha! … a ballooning accident instead maybe? I shouldn’t jest.
[ I won’t tire you here with details/ tips on booking your ballooning excursion but will provide this info at the conclusion of this entry ]
So here I am. 5.20am on day Three Hundred and Sixty Five. Stood chilly outside Kose Pension. My ’birthday t-shirt’ stretched a little too taught over my clearly-not-as-malnutritioned-as-I-thought traveller’s torso. A single bright star (or is it a geostationary satellite?… you never know in these unromantic times) sparkles in the deep navy blue pre-dawn vault. The mini bus sweeps round the corner gathers me up and drops us all to clutch coffees and biscuits at the Ez-Air take off site.
From the excellent vantage point of the dorm balcony at Kose Pension I had awoken a couple of days ago early enough to take in the spectacle of 30 or more hot air balloons lifting one by one into the morning sky. A strange scene. At first just the distant, repetitive sounds of the flames licking them into life. The sound of gentle dragons’ awakening in the valleys. Eventually, bobbling above the rock line, a sudden growth spurt of curiously coloured mushroom heads sprouting one after the other before eventually, almost shyly taking off like a procession of silhouetted little baby ghosts. Well, not so little. I had returned to my bed. The sound of dragons sporadically growling now far over head.
Our own bloated beastie of the skies lies recumbent and limpid as we arrive.
But of course, lift off is a peaceful and graceful affair in a balloon as some of you may know.
The scene. The scenery of course is incredible as we rise, dip, sweep and rise again above and amidst the zany stone topography that I have enjoyed so much these last three days from ground level. The higher we go the more this heavily crenulated landscape flattens out but beautifully patterns out too.
Hasan seems highly skilled at manipulating the currents of air to his chosen route. These guys - if skilled enough - can drop the balloon to within literally an inch or two of an intended tree top or rock bringing gasps (and out stretched arms) from the crowd.
After about an hour of this peculiarly calming and enchanting activity (sometimes you hardly feel you’re flying!) it’s back down to the ground. Hasan, a true professional dropping us square onto the tiny trailer on the back of the Ez Air truck. We’re rightly impressed and applaud. Then it’s champagne all round to celebrate our great feat of tourist consumerism. Seriously though. A wonderful, wonderful experience. I lift my glass in quiet private toast to a job; a journey well done so far. And to many happy adventures I hope to come. On my sort-of travel birthday I do my inspirational best too by helping to convince Lori (a forty-somethin’ Brit) to give up her job as a lawyer, put everything in storage and travel the world for a year or more.
‘But don’t you miss home after a year Steve?’ ‘And aren’t you getting a little tired of it all?’ ‘Isn’t it time for a break?’ ( ’Won’t your Nan cut your balls off if you carry on too much longer?’ ) I hear you ask. Yes. No. No. Yes! For sure on the first one I miss home in many ways. Family first. Friends there after. And a myriad of the little details; those little material comforts that construct home familiarity.
But I am so happy right now. Happier than in a long while I think. Since the crazy jumping in Mostar? Or no! Not since beholding my first ever 6 hour old human being.
Thank you my family for supporting this ride. Thank you my TravBuddies for so patiently following its course. Onwards people! Onwards and upwards!
[ Ballooning in Cappadocia : There are a whole number of firms and many agents in Göreme. The average asking price for the standard 1 hour dawn ride is 160 - 170 Euros. Yep ’!!!’ But fear not. Competition is strong so negotiate. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it negotiating. Armed with knowledge from some helpful travellers who’d done it already I just went in and stated I’d heard that I could get a ride for 120 Euros. This was immediately agreed to by the guys at Hiro Tours (who sit in the main agency/ tour operator strip where the buses pull in and depart from Göreme).
Who knows I may have been able to get in the basket for less still, but as with all such things you don’t want to push your price and your luck too low. Whilst I did hear of 110 even 100 Euro deals being clinched this could land you with one of the many relatively inexperienced pilots in the trade who - I’m told by those who experienced it - can barely do more than lift the balloon up and let the winds blow them where they will. This may be a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience so don’t cheap out too much! (Longer trips can be had for more money).
On any of these gigs you’ll be up at 5.00am (ish), in the air for sun rise or a little after, back down with a glass of Champers in hand and dropped back at your guest house in time for a proper breakfast… biscuits, coffee and tea being the only fare offered before take off. ’Chocks away!’ ]
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