All the photos in this post are taken by Me; if you want to use them for desktop backgrounds or site images or to tell lies about having been to Turkey or whatever, send me an email and I'll probably be all "sweet, here is the high res version" unless you are going to make money from them, in which case you can give me some money also.
Every morning 300 hot air balloons go up over the town of Göreme, in 100-balloon shifts; it's the main tourist attraction in the area (the town has a population of 2500, and normally supports the same amount of tourists).
This was the view from our hotel balcony, as the first balloons of the morning go up:
|"Well, Jim, it looks like this morning's weather is mostly balloons."|
On the morning of our flight we were picked up at 6am and taken to The Field of Sleeping Balloons, which is probably not actually called that. This is the take-off site for the majority of Göreme's balloon tourism operators; a vast paddock with rows and rows of deflated hot air balloons, one by one firing up and gradually skewing upright.
We were dropped off next to our balloon of choice - we went with local company Royal Balloons and I would highly recommend them for next time you need to do some ballooning - and the pilot and technicians professionally, if somewhat unromantically, inflated the balloon by the bright light of a Hilux:
The balloon basket held 20, sectioned into four parts; I ended up in the middle, next to the pilot.
This had the added benefit that right before taking this photo, I got to turn on the gas and effectively drive the balloon for about three seconds.
Because we'd launched at the same time as 99 other balloons, there was an immense amount of balloon traffic. If you want to go and look at the scenery of Cappadocia I recommend you do not do this from a balloon, because all you will see is more balloon.
The vans you can see on the road are all tourist minibuses; the balloons create an immense amount of traffic in the morning. All 100 balloons land in more or less the same area; as a result you have 2 minibuses + 1 4WD per balloon, all frantically hooning around the landscape in an attempt to be ready and waiting when their balloon lands.
Halfway through our trip an older British tourist said loudly, "I heard that the really good pilots can land the balloon right on the back of the truck!" and our pilot visibly bristled and said something in Turkish into his radio -
- and then when we came into land, he set the balloon down neatly onto the bed of the Hilux.
Once we landed, bubbly appeared, the pilot came round and tucked a flower behind everyone's ear, we had a celebratory drink...
And then we went home for breakfast.