Marhaba Information Qatar was recently invited by Turkish Airlines to experience the relatively unknown wonders of the central region of Turkey.
Then, onwards into the heart of Cappadocia, which has the most amazing landscape and topography of perhaps anywhere in the world. And our hotel Kayakapi Premium Caves is integral, set into the hillside. So it is part-cave but it’s a five-star cave and utterly unique (kayakapi.com). The whole group loved it. In fact, we arrived at night and it was quite ghostly with strange light effect playing on the hillside, and the next morning we had to set out before dawn, so we didn’t quite know how the place was set up. Inside was immediately gorgeous, absolutely captivating, but later, when the sun was up after the balloon ride, we could understand its unique appeal and charisma.
The early start was to catch the Sunrise Balloon Ride, courtesy of Urgup Balloons (urgupballoons.com). It was intriguing as we arrived at the launch site and watched the crew members seemingly trying to bring to life some gigantic seal marooned on our field. Gradually the balloon filled as it ‘went vertical’ as the hot air was fired into its huge belly. Then we, intrepid aviators all, clambered into the basket, myself completely forgetting that I often suffer from vertigo, but we were giddy with unquenchable excitement, as the Montgolfier brothers must have felt nearly 250 years ago. Back from Paris to Cappadocia, and after a safety briefing, Captain Pilot Mehmet announced take-off.
Apart from the intermittent bursts from the propane-fuelled bonfire heating up the huge dome – and giving us some respite from the morning chilly air – what impresses most is the quiet. None of the furious roaring of turbine jet engines, along thousands of feet of tarmac runway, to gradually escape the globe’s gravity… no, it was gentle, peaceful, eerie in some way… and then…wow, what a sight! As we emerged from the valley, over the ridge there were dozens, scores, maybe more than a hundred baskets beneath warm balloons – perhaps a thousand humans suspended in quiet yet animated awe at their aerial experience. I hope all the other ships had a captain like our Mehmet. He was the embodiment of experience, calm and capable, witty yet professional.
Enjoying the ride may be enough for some, but what a landscape Cappadocia presents – a fairytale terrain filled with chimney-shaped rock towers and beehive homes – and the only way to see the full picture is probably the balloon. Stunning shapes and stupendous sculptures, remarkable ravines and astonishing outcrops – Cappadocia has it all. See it at urgupballoons.com
Talk about capable, Captain Mehmet brought us in for a pin-point landing, putting our basket right on the pickup’s trailer. Bulls Eye!
We stayed in excellent hotels, amazing hotels and, in the caves of Cappadocia, a superb, unique and iconic hotel. Everywhere Turkish hospitality was warm, friendly and informative. Everyone knew their subject inside-out, from the resort reps to the restaurant owners. In fact all the guides were brilliant, especially the one who sang us a song to say goodbye…
And a special thanks to Ahmed and Bugra for organising a wonderful trip – in every way.
Author: Terry Sutcliffe
Head to Aspire Park in Doha from 7 December 2019 for a ‘Cappadocia’ experience! The festival is on until 18 December, get details here.
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