Sugoi Day in the balloon over Goreme

(written by Nancy)

Today was our big balloon adventure – an exciting day that started with the alarm going off at 4:30am so we could be ready for our pickup at 4:50am.  That is just a bit too early for me but we dragged ourselves out of bed, got dressed and shuffled outside to wait for our pickup, which arrived about 5:10.  Hmm, I would have rather been asleep for those 20 minutes rather than hanging around outside in the dark but oh well.

First stop on the balloon excursion was a large dining hall out near the balloon take-off site where a big buffet breakfast spread is laid out.  You can eat as much as you want, but given the hour and the impending flight neither Dave nor I ate or drank too much.  The funny thing was that sitting in this big dining room you would have sworn we were in Japan somewhere.  Other than maybe one or two other couples, everyone else was Japanese and all the chatter around us was in Japanese.  We knew there were a lot of Japanese folks here during their Golden Week holiday but I’m not sure we realized the extent of it until this morning.

We were gathered up by our designated driver and taken to the spot where our balloon was being prepared for flight.  The balloon was almost fully inflated by the time we got there, which was a bit unfortunate as we both wanted to see how it was done.  There were 8 people on our flight – all Japanese other than Dave and I.  The wicker basket is split into three compartments – one for the pilot at the end and the other two compartments held 4 people each.  The workers were holding the balloon as we arrived so we were quickly loaded into the basket to provide enough weight to keep the balloon on the ground.

Our pilot, a very young-looking Yaşar, gave us a very brief safety briefing – basically, don’t climb out of the basket (dang, was planning on hanging over the side a bit) and follow his instructions, and then we practiced the landing position.  And with that, he pumped the gas, flames shot up and we started to rise up into the air.  It was a pretty thrilling flight – I admit to being a bit nervous and hanging on to the sides  tightly, though of course that would do nothing to save me if we plummeted to the ground.  Dave happily snapped a million shots as we made our way around several valleys, looking at the amazing geography from above.

The views were pretty stunning from up so high and the balloon was so smooth it did not really feel like you were up in the air.  The pilot took us up and down so we could see the rock formations from many different views.  He was pretty skilled in moving the balloon around, pulling on strings that opened small windows in the balloon that caused the balloon to turn.  All very smoothly though so no hint of motion sickness – just a bit of ear-popping from the height!

I think the scariest part was being amongst all of the other balloons.  It seemed like the sky was full of them and it doesn’t take much to imagine them running into each other and crashing down.  I don’t think that’s happened here –even though the balloons are huge and the pilots can’t see around them they seem to be in constant radio contact with each other.  It was a bit disconcerting though to hear one particular fellow on the radio say several times “Can you see me?” in a somewhat plaintive tone.  I just kept hoping he was nowhere near us.

The young Japanese woman standing next to us diligently filmed the whole thing on her camcorder, continually exclaiming “Sugoi nee”, which translates approximately to “wow” or “amazing”.  It was funny as she said it over and over and over – so of course we had to use it in the title for today’s blog.

After our time was up we landed in a small clearing amongst the fairy chimneys and waited in the basket until the next load of passengers was brought in to weigh down the basket as we hopped out.  We celebrated with a glass of champagne and cake, happy to be on the ground but very glad we had taken the ride.

We were back at the hotel by 7:30, just in time to eat breakfast and head back to bed for a nap.  The rest of the day has been spent planning, eating and planning some more.  Unfortunately we have to leave tomorrow to continue our path toward Istanbul.  We have had a lot of fun in Goreme – it would be easy to stay here for several more days as we hardly even scratched the surface of all of the walks you can do around here.  But unless it is raining cats and dogs in the morning we will hit the road.  I never like the rain but gosh, another day here would be nice…

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10 thoughts on “Sugoi Day in the balloon over Goreme

  1. Wonderful photo of the two of you. Great photos of the landscape, especially the pointy canyon one… she who comments a lot.

  2. Hah, I knew your title sounded Japanese! 🙂 Did you converse with the Japanese tourists? Happy Anniversary!

    • Of course, I (Dave) start talking to them, get lost and force Nancy to jump in. She loves it when I tell them that she is fluent!


  3. Hi Dave and Nancy!

    So nice that we met you guys today 🙂 We arrived in Goreme and we love it immediately (even with the rain falling down now). Hope you had a nice ride today. Good luck on your way to Istanbul.

    Greetz Moniek and Arian

    If you like we can add your website on ours?

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