Most of my adventures are the gentle sort. I won’t be climbing Mt. Everest, or even Mt. Rainier in my lifetime. I have zero interest in bungy jumping, roller coasters, or even in riding the London Eye. And I always said they’d have to pay me to get me into a hot air balloon.
So how did I find myself in Turkey, in the wee hours of the morning, on my way to my very first hot air balloon ride? My son Eli really wanted to go, and as I get older, I find myself experiencing more “What the heck!” moments. At 5:30AM, I got into a van with sixteen other people. The vehicle was lit by an eerie red light, as if we were about to be launched into some weird sci-fi adventure.
We arrived at dawn, with the balloons still being filled with hot air generated by propane gas.
It was hard not to imagine them as living creatures, struggling awkwardly to their feet like a camel.
I was privately terrified, but climbed into the basket along with Eli and the others.
Our captain’s name was Mustafa. Mustafa said he’d had to go to the US to get his training, and he’d been doing this for eight years. He had shiny gold epaulets on the shoulders of his white uniform, so I listened carefully when he told us there were only two rules. The first was to remain in the basket at all times.
The second was what we should do upon landing. We were to grab the rope handles on the inside of the basket, hold tight, and lean away from the ground when the basket went scudding across the landing spot. I’d always envisioned balloons at the mercy of the wind, floating above a flat landscape, coming down wherever the wind took them, retrieved by trucks that followed behind like tornado chasers. But we were in Cappodocia, a land of many valleys, and strange rock formations.
Where would we even find a flat place to land?
The beast roared, and I felt its hot breath upon my neck. The captain loosened the reins…
…and we were airborne.
The sky brightened, and we saw balloons rising everywhere, like at a party or a parade, where scores of balloons are released at once.
Slowly, gracefully, we glided on the air currents.
I wasn’t at all afraid. I sensed only calm and wonder. The landing might be rough, but I was living in the moment, taking in the colors…
… and the scenery.
I watched other balloons glide above us…
They were like gentle ghosts…I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better….
…the sun rose in a burst of color and light.
The valley was flooded with a golden warmth…
…and the windows in the village below glistened like diamonds.
When it was time to land, I watched as Mustafa used bursts of hot air to lift the balloon over each new ridge. Once he radioed another pilot for his visual take on our position in relation to a particular outcrop. The pilot assured him that we could clear it. At first I was disconcerted, but I do the same when I am parallel parking in a tight spot. “Eli, stick your head out the window and tell me if I can get past that car’s fender.”
The wind was not cooperating, and our hour in the air stretched out to an hour and a half as Mustafa maneuvered the stubborn creature, but he clearly knew what he was doing. We came to a plateau, where I recognized our crew of balloon chasers, and prepared for impact.
The captain lowered a long sturdy rope, and used what he called his “three horse power” landing gear, his three crewmen to haul the balloon while Mustafa kept us just high enough off the ground for them to maneuver the basket toward the truck.
It was skillfully and artfully done, a perfect landing, directly onto the trailer. After disembarkingwe found a surprise awaiting us. The breakfast of champions!
This experience was life-changing for me, as if a switch inside me turned on to the world’s possibilities and opportunities.
I probably won’t climb Mt. Everest in my lifetime, but I might yet take a ride on the London Eye.
Good for you! I’m not sure I’d have the nerve. I consider my cycling “extreme” enough. My daughter wants us (or at least her father) to go sky diving. I’ve begged off.
I surely do understand, but I hope you will go some day. As soon as we took off, my fear was replaced by wonder. There is nothing quite like it!
I have a friend who told me that when she turned 50 she would ever turn down an opportunity to do something great. Fine philosophy and words ot live by. I know there is a son in the mix which makes it all so much more fun!
Next time do yourself a favour and take the 4 day 3 night cruise (cheap) from Fetiye to Olympus 🙂
AWESOME! So jealous…
Thank you, Suzanne!
Wow! I’d never be able to go up a hot air balloon…
Hi Samir, Once you are off the ground, I think you are so distracted from the idea that you are hanging in the air that you forget to be afraid. Now that I’ve done it, I wonder why it took me so long! Thanks for the visit!
this is fabulous, thank you for sharing this it is adventure i would never have thought of but you have described it so wonderfully i really want to go not sure if i would be allowed though ahh well i can dream brilliant post thank you xx
Thank you, Kizzy!
Awesome photos! If I weren’t such a chicken, I would be tempted to try. The one over the edge of the basket would have turned me into a “basket case!”
Ha ha! Good one! I didn’t even realize how far out of the basket I was leaning to get that shot, but the basket rim was nice and high and we were packed liked sardines, so I couldn’t have fallen out.
Loved your trip! I have had them over my skylight in bedroom trying to get lift quickly to having them lad in field alongside the stream the best part for me besides getting photos was the treat they share 🙂 Mimosas and scones here in NH 🙂
Yum! Mimosa and scones! (I haven’t had breakfast yet!) Thanks for sharing your story!
🙂 thanks for listening to me ramble on and on lol
Wonderful! One of my work colleagues just did that last week. I wonder if she was in one of the other balloons!
That is very cool, Elyse. One of the thoughts that occurred to me while I was up there, watching about eighty other balloons sharing the sky, was that each basket was filled with people, and all of them experiencing, if you will, heightened emotions of fear, excitement, wonder, and there is a kind of bonding that I felt for my fellow travelers. I hope she had a wonderful flight! Was she in Cappodocia?
I wish I could give you a double like! What a wonderful well told adventure. Thank you. I’m ready to go 🙂
Thank you, Carol! I hope you go! Don’t wait too long, because then you will wonder why you didn’t go sooner. Honestly, it is making me reconsider other places or activities that I previously felt were too difficult or too dangerous.
I celebrated my 65th birthday in a hot air balloon so really related to this one! Good for you, Naomi.
Wow! Happy Birthday! What a fun birthday present to give yourself! Did you go ballooning in Australia?
The London Eye will be a piece of cake after a hot air balloon ride!
Thank you for sharing your adventure and beautiful pictures.
I’m sure you’re right! Although the balloon gives the impression of being so far removed from the earth and its rules and laws of physics–there is a sense of detachment that I WISH I could feel on a ferris wheel. Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!
Gorgeous adventure! Thanks so much for sharing it!! Hugs and admiration!
Thank you for your visit! I always enjoy hearing from you.
So cool! Riding in a balloon is one of the most surreal things I’ve ever done. So many contrasts: movement and stillness, power and effortlessness, danger and safety (stay in the basket indeed). It’s also one of the most beautiful experiences ever. Thank you for capturing it so well! What an amazing day for you and Eli both.
You have just given a perfect description of a balloon ride. Thank YOU for capturing it so well! Where did you go for your flight? Was it local? I want to take my brother up–he has always wanted to go, but up until now I have been reluctant to take him.
We went many years ago to some place near Snohomish. The ride was terrific, even including – maybe especially because – we overshot our landing field and had to come down in a cul-de-sac right in a suburban neighborhood.
It was pretty funny…everybody came running out of their houses to take pictures & grab the ropes, and nobody got mad – even when we had to push off against the top of somebody’s minivan.
Afterwards one of the crew passed out business cards while the rest stuffed the balloon away fast so we could get out before the police arrived.
A memorable trip 🙂 I hope you can convince your brother to try it sometime!
Wonderful article. The commentary, together with the fine photographs, allowed us to get a taste of the experience.
I am so glad you stopped by. Thank you for taking the time to comment–I appreciate your kind words.
Are you awesome? (checking).
Yep. You are awesome.
And the photos are (whistling) amazing.
Thanks so much for sharing the adventure!
Thank YOU for sharing the adventure! It is always great to hear from you.
So cool! Especially that you did it because Eli really wanted to 🙂 I gave myself that same gift 8 years ago, right before leaving San Diego, my home of 23 years. I took my friend Nora along. It was something I’d always wanted to do- the balloons soared near our home and we saw them almost every evening at sunset. I thought by leaving SD I’d never have that opportunity again. I remember the stillness, the extreme quietude. It was a moment of peace and carefree freedom that I desperately needed after 7 months of unemployment stress and our impending cross-country upheaval. I’ll never forget it. Cross that off my Bucket List. Someday I’ll go see the big festival in NM! 🙂
From before the day they are born, our kids pull us out of our comfort zones, and I have the stretch marks to prove it! I am so glad that you treated yourself to this experience. Thus far, I have known nothing like this. I also really appreciate your sharing your story here–you did an excellent job explaining what it feels like. Thanks so much for your visit.
The sunrise and the glistening windows must have been a beautiful view from the balloon. I’m finding myself more inclined to try new things these days. We only get one chance.
Interesting, Patti! Maybe that is why I too am more willing to try new things. We can be cautious, but life is too short to live in fear. The kids are mostly grown, and their dad has both feet planted safely on the ground, so I am trying to go places I never thought to go.
As one of my teenage nieces would say I’m “well jel” – what an amazing experience
That is an expression I have never heard! Thanks for sharing.
Wonderful post Naomi. I personally can’t handle the noise of that hot air burner!
It is always a surprise, but I got used to it. And in between, it is as quiet and serene as floating in a warm ocean. Thank you for your visit, Footsy!
Bravo!!! Love the way you’ve captured it Naomi , great adventure & terrific photos 🙂
Thank you so much!
One of my favorite posts from you!
Love the whole story Naomi, I really enjoyed it, and the photos are exquisite!
I am sure it was a great experience!!
Thanks for sharing it with us!
Thank you, Pablo. I’m so glad you could stop by and comment. It is always nice to hear from you!
I am so glad you had a “what the heck” moment!! What a wonderful experience! Beautiful……now I wanna go!!!! (and I am a BIG chicken!) 🙂 paula
Oh, Paula, you would have so much fun with your hubby. It’s your kind of fun. Once you get going, you are so enthralled that you don’t think to be scared.
Bucket. List. Baby! 🙂 Thanks for sharing, Naomi! Your pics are fabulous! (I actually got that top of the roller coaster kinda feeling with the one view looking straight down!) 🙂
Wow! What a wonderful adventure – even better, I think, than Mr.Toad’s Wild Ride! Someday I will – in the meantime, I much enjoyed this trip into the skies to enjoy the sunrise with you.
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride! I love it! Thanks so much for giving me that visual image for my mind’s eye! I will think of it and smile. And thanks for stopping by and sharing a comment.
OMG, what beautiful pictures. breathless.
Thank you so much!
You were doing it for me, Naomi! I’ve always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon, though I expect I too would have knocky knees as we waited for take-off. It looks absolutely fabulous- thank you.
Thank you, Jo! I appreciate your stopping by, and your comment brought a smile!
You go girl. A woman after my own heart. Don’t you find we get braver as we get older? Or maybe, we are less inclined to be slave to our own fears. Brava to you.
That is true–I do get braver. Perhaps it is an awareness that our time is limited, and we need to make the most of what we have left.
Thanks for your lovely comment!
It was definitely a high point of the trip! Thanks for stopping by!
You do beautiful photo journal posts. I love this one too and I know what you’re talking about the ‘what the heck’ decisions. Good for YOU. Sure looks like it was a wonderful new experience. You’re one hot mama.
Thank you! You made me smile AND laugh!
What fabulous pics! We were discussing whether my MiL might enjoy a balloon ride for her 100th birthday present. 🙂
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she loved it! Thanks for your visit, as!
Wow. I’ve been offered a hot air balloon ride high in the dawn sky but so far that comfort boundary wall is many feet thick and made of impenetrable iron! Thank you for taking that trip for me…what courage and what beauty!
Thanks for coming along. I thought I was about the only one in the world who feared getting into the basket of a hot air balloon! We are many. But it was so liberating. I so appreciate your sharing your experience and feelings about this.
You are brave! I was okay with all of the pictures until I saw the one that had a view of the basket all the way down, down, down, down to land. My heart did a little lurch. Gulp.
Aside from that, they are lovely to look at when they’re floating in the sky. (And I’m safe on the ground.) 🙂
I had the camera strap safely fastened around my neck when I leaned over to snap that shot! The baskets were high enough, and we were packed so tightly I knew I couldn’t possibly fall out of the basket! Thanks so much for the visit!
Naomi, I always enjoy reading about your travels and seeing your gorgeous photos and this adventure is especially amazing to me. (I never knew anyone who was in a hot air balloon.) Very cool, though not for me. I like to keep my 2 feet on the ground.
You were in my part of the world — I wish you could have come to visit.
It is so good to hear from you. Thank you your sweet comments. I felt the same way until I actually got into the basket and up in the air.
One day I will try to come and visit you. I was traveling with a group, and time was very tight. I have been wanting to write to you for Amit’s address. I loved the movie–I had to play it over several times to be sure who was whom. She looks just like you, Nancy!
Those balloons are so beautiful. Their colours contrast as amazingly with the landscape, as sailing boat spinnakers do with the sea.
One of my friends took her dad up in a hot air balloon for his eightieth birthday. The treat included drinking champagne at high altitude. I swear the experience knocked twenty years off him.
I sometimes got the feeling of floating in the air, the way I do when I am in the water.
What a great treat for your friend’s dad. Anyone can ride–it isn’t physically demanding, and it is such a unique experience!
Thanks so much for stopping by!
Such a beautiful land. You two look like you had a great time. What a lovely post, Naomi.
Thank you, Katie. It really was fun. That part of Turkey is one that I have read about several times, and it really caught my interest. I have always wanted to go there, but never dreamed I would be looking down at it from a hot air balloon. It has been a very special time to share with Eli.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your really sweet comment.
WOW, Naomi – what an amazing experience! I’m so glad you took all the wonderful pics! Fantastic 😀
Thank you, Dianne. I really appreciate your visit.
I remember the exhilaration as if it was yesterday Naomi! Well told as always and fab pictures 🙂
Thank you, Madhu. It has been a wild ride! Eli and I have really enjoyed our trip to Turkey. Now we just have to figure out how to get Dad and Bea here.
what an amazing adventure! I felt like I was right there with you – I especially enjoyed the champagne 😉
Cheers! I’m with you! Although, they probably should have started off the trip with the champagne.
Thanks so much for your visit.
Wow, what an adventure! Thank you for sharing your excitement riding the hot air balloon. 🙂 Beautiful shots from the ballon.
Thank you! It was definitely a highlight! I appreciate your stopping by, and taking the time to comment.
I enjoyed that – maybe I’ll do it again sometime 😉
I hope so, Lynne! I’m already thinking about who I can drag along the next time!
These pictures are just wonderful, as is your commentary. How much fun to read about a trip I shared with you. I, too, had been afraid of hot air balloon rides in the past, and I’m so so glad I conquered my fear to take this ride. (I had no idea you were conquering your fear at the same time) This is a forever memory. Kudos to us both
Thank you for stopping by, Ruth, and for telling your story! It was a wonderful trip, and it really made me think twice about all the other things I have avoided or denied myself out of fear or excessive caution. I have more photos to send you, and I look forward to seeing more of yours. Thank you for being a wonderful traveling companion, and sharing these forever memories with me.
Wow! My kids have promised me a balloon ride for a belated 50th birthday present. I can’t wait to collect!
You go, girl!
How wonderful and exciting and very, very brave of you. And thank you taking me along on the ride; it was marvelous! Nikki
Thank you so much for coming along for the ride!
The pictures were fabulous Naomi and I’m jealous because this is something I’ve always wanted to do….
I have however rode the London eye 🙂
You’ll get up in a balloon one day soon, I’m sure. Tell me, how was the London Eye? It looks scary to me!
I grew up on ferris wheels, but this was a big one! It went very slow. It took forever to go all the way around, or at least it felt that way. I wasn’t scared but I did feel a little claustrophobic and I was glad when it was over..
What a fantastic outing and your photos are amazing… I loved all your shots. Good for you to do this! 🙂
Thank you for stopping by, and sharing your comments! I appreciate your kind words.
a dream of mine! big balloons, being free in the skies, God’s work in your breath almost touching it. thanks for sharing those spectacular photos and experience!
Thank you so much for your visit, and your kind words. It was a happy day when I stumbled upon your blog!
What a wonderful adventure … and with Eli too! 🙂 You always make me smile. Yours are always the happy tours!
It was a treat to get to share an adventure with Eli. I have him for a few months before he heads off to Argentina, we had just dropped Bea off at college, and we decided we needed a distraction so that we wouldn’t miss her too much. Thanks so much for your visit.
Stunning photos. I’ve always been afraid of heights so hot air balloons are something I shy away from. But you made it look really fun!
I have always been uncomfortable with heights and speed–no roller coasters in my future. But this didn’t scare me at all, perhaps because it all happened so gently, so slowly, and I was so focused (so to speak) on my photography.
what a wonder-full adventure and how brave you were to just accept this as a gift-seed for future stories and good for eli for encouraging you! i’m afraid of heights…a definite disadvantage for so many exciting adventures, but your story is a definite encouragement for this “chicken”. i look forward to reading your blogs each week!
I am a chicken too, but I am so glad I went. I LOVE the idea of gift-seeds for future stories! And you’re absolutely right. I would never have dreamed of taking a Turkish cooking class, but Eli wanted to, and I thought “At least it will be a story to tell.” Thanks so much for stopping by the site. (It was wonderful to see you and Havens–we should have a regular Game Night!)