We arrived in Goreme by night so had no concept of what the town looked like or what to even expect. Based on small amount of prior research, we knew the landscape was spectacular and best viewed from the skies, but we really had no idea what we were in for!
Like many other visiting tourists, our aim was to get up in a hot air balloon, but with 25 hot balloon companies to choose from, it was rather daunting to pick the right one. Luckily I stumbled upon Royal Balloons, which had fantastic reviews and a beautiful selection of photos on their Instagram account. Checking off a bucket list adventure was getting that much closer!
On the morning of our balloon ride we were picked up by our shuttle at 5 am on the dot and whisked away for a delicious buffet breakfast. We were incredibly impressed with how organised Royal Balloon was. Each person was assigned to a table for breakfast and told which van to get in, which made for a very stress free start to what was soon to be an exhilarating ride!
After our breakfast we drove to our takeoff spot to the sound of whirring fans and gas blasters going off in the distance. “That is the sound of hot air balloons filling up!” our pilot-to-be claimed enthusiastically!
Taking off in the basket felt as if a cloud was lifting us from the ground, definitely a surreal feeling. One of the major benefits of flying with Royal Balloons was there were only 12 of us in the balloon. From what we learned from the others with us, most of the other companies stuff 24 people in each balloon, making it tough to freely move around, take pictures, and be comfortable.
Throughout the flight we grilled our captain, Gee, with as many questions as we could think up. No matter how obscure they were, Gee never missed a beat and answered everything we asked. With over 15 years of flying in Göreme, he has seen the industry grow in Cappadocia like no one else in the area!
After nearly 1.5 hours of being in the air, Gee navigated the winds to take us to our landing spot. With the ground crew in the trucks below, we watched as they tried to calculate where Gee was headed so they could meet us as we landed. With little to no trouble, we found ourselves safely on the ground and greeted by the Royal Balloon team who had champagne glasses and chocolate covered strawberries waiting for us!
If you ever find yourself in Turkey, I highly recommend making the short trip East for a balloon ride in Cappadocia. It was, hands down, one of the most unforgettable experiences I've ever had. The fact I was sick for nearly the entire time and I’m still saying that should say something about how remarkable this place is!