Waiting for a Cappadocian Sunrise

The very early morning light against the ridges of Cappadocia.

The very early morning light against the ridges of Cappadocia.

It was so warm under the duvet. I didn’t want to get out of bed.

But the prospect of seeing the hot air balloons in flight against the hues of sunrise on the ancient rock formations of Cappadocia had me up and getting dressed at 05:30 in the morning. December meant it was about -4C outside so getting dressed in reality meant layering up: 6 layers on top and 3 on the bottom. After a quick walk up to sunset point, we could already see the sky beginning to light up. But the sun still had a long way to go before rising above the distant hills.

Did I mention that it was freezing?

The wind was steady and felt like a knife that’s been pulled out of a glacier. My mate then told me that the balloons don’t go up till 7. I wish she had mentioned that earlier. It was so cold that everyone started jumping up and down to get the blood going. Despite all the layers I wore, I was so cold that I went for a quick run to the next hilltop and back in an attempt to warm up.

The best way to keep warm is to move!

The best way to keep warm is to move!

Not long after 07h the balloon staging area saw a flurry of activity. The hum of engines pierced what was before only the whistling of the wind. At last! 3 balloons were carefully being inflated; for their passengers the moment had finally arrived. On the hilltop, we were all anxious to see the spectacle then quickly retreat back to the warmth of our beds. One balloon was fully inflated and looked like it was ready to go… down? Suddenly all 3 balloons came crashing back to Earth, their baskets never losing contact with terra firma.

What just happened?

The flights were called off, presumably due to the wind. On the hilltop, it felt like there was a steady wind of about 5 knots blowing in from the east, with an occasional gust of about 15 knots. With my fingers and toes going numb and the chance of seeing any balloons in flight nil, we headed back to our dorm cave, disappointed by the lack of balloons but more than excited to get back under the covers. If not for the freezing cold, I would’ve been more than happy to wake up the next morning to try again. But I stayed in bed 🙂

It didn't get much warmer once the sun was up.

It didn’t get much warmer once the sun was up.

In case you’re wondering, here’s why I did not take a balloon flight:
1) You have to be up around 4:30 in the morning.
2) If it’s cold on the ground (-4C!!), it’s even colder in the air.
3) It costs over 90 euros. A high price to pay for something which I wasn’t excited about.
4) There’s the realistic scenario of waking up early, freezing while waiting, then having the flight cancelled at the last minute. Then you can either do it again the next day or get a partial (maybe full?) refund.

This post was inspired by my mate Lisa’s very different sunrise experience in Cappadocia: http://elleyess.com/cappadocia/

Uçhisar in the pre-dawn hours.

Uçhisar in the pre-dawn hours.

Have you been to Cappadocia? If not, would you be keen to go there for a hot air balloon flight?

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