The idea of flying with a hot air balloon was planted in my mind since my childhood while reading the book “Around the world in 80 days” of Jules Verne.

Back then I was dreaming of “flying” off to an adventure around the world like the heroes of the book, Phileas Fogg, and Passepartout.

My childhood dream became realized this year in Cappadocia.

Cappadocia initially means the land of beautiful horses, but it will always stay in my memory as the land of beautiful people.

The hospitality of the people, their generosity and kindness are what I took back with me along with the confirmation that we truly live in a magical world; even the difficult things that happen are part of this magic.

The Trip.

Our group consisted of people that had come from various places around Europe, and our meeting point was the busy airport of Istanbul.From there we flew to Nevsehir airport in Cappadocia, leaving behind us the western civilization with its trendy shops and stressful life rhythms, and opened ourselves up to receive the gifts of the East.

From there we flew to Nevsehir airport in Cappadocia, leaving behind us the western civilization with its trendy shops and stressful life rhythms, and opened ourselves up to receive the gifts of the East.

Even from the first moments there we sensed that we had landed in an entirely different world.

We took our rented cars, which is a perfect way to see most of the region in 4 days and hit the road to Göreme.

Driving towards Göreme in the middle of the night proved to be an easy task as you do not get the chance to see many cars on the road especially at the end of the touristic season.

Arriving late evening on the hill of Göreme and seeing it lighten up in the night with its beautiful landscape was the sign we were hoping for, showing us a promising stay.

We wanted, of course, the original experience as well as to feel like the first inhabitants of Cappadocia, so a stay in a cave hotel was in order. But what should one do once he/she realizes in the middle of the night that one of the caves is too humid for his/her western civilization taste? The story ends by moving furniture, carrying large double bed mattresses and rearranging everything with the help of our beloved, helpful and very diplomatic host, I would rather say, Mehmet. From that moment on, we felt like being in our home with our family.

The mission was to do 10 activities in 4 days; a good but tough deal don‘t you agree?

We all have seen photos of flying hot air balloons over the incredible landscape of Cappadocia, but what we saw our first day there cannot easily be put into words. The scenery in Pasabag and Imaginary valley is absolutely

The landscape in Pasabag and Imaginary Valley is captivating, as you entered in a fairy tale and went back in ancient times.The rock formations of

The rock formations of different shapes and sizes standing in the middle of the vast valleys and the desert-like landscape with its colors in combination with the light blue sky are something unique and breathtaking. One should

One should expect that in the East it is loud and noisy, but we were surprised to notice an underlying silence everywhere we went, even when you could hear sounds from the market or the people. There was always some silence and calmness enveloping us through our way to the East.

The days were so full of friendship, laughter, and aliveness that it felt as if we were at home and had never left it.

It is almost impossible to describe here all the amazing activities that we did, the talks in the sunshine or around an abundant table with Turkish delicacies, the jokes, the discussions about the meaning of life among us but also with the locals, the dances with them and the everyday jokes during breakfast with our hosts from Cave Land Hotel.

If I had to choose the top 3 things we enjoyed there, well it would be a tough task.

For sure the flight with the hot air balloon was an ecstatic experience.

Gathering very early in the morning before dawn after having a light breakfast, (believe me you do not want to have to think about the toilet up there), to admire the inflation of the balloons was quite an experience. All balloons are laid on a huge field, and as far as your eyes can see, balloons are popping up one by one with a big bright flame waiting gloriously for their crew! After all the passengers had been inside the balloon, usually from 12-16 people, we took off.

It is a wonder how the pilots are having as their only ally the wind managed to direct the balloon pulling only some strings, by inflating and deflating the balloon, thus regulating the air.

It is a different feeling seeing the world from up above, while at the same time feeling the wind on your face and smelling the cold morning air.

Facing the almost mythical landscape of Cappadocia, the caves and the different rock formations with the light of dawn, approaching and drawing further away from them according to the direction of the wind, going up in the sky and down low touching the grass is one of these top moments of happiness in life.

We were lucky to have a skillful pilot Ibrahim Dasdeler from SKYWAY Balloon, and we were amazed once the balloon landed at the end exactly on its vehicle.

My favorite highlights of this trip were the Whirling Dervish Ceremony and the carpet exhibition.

The Whirling Dervish ceremony lasts 1 hour and is performed as our host explained to us, from people who abide with Sufism, but they are not actual dervishes. The real dervishes, who are

The real dervishes, who are spiritual people dedicated to spiritual life, almost never perform in public apart from one-time per year in Konya every December). You can sense by attending the ceremony the sacredness and trust of the

You can sense by participating in the ceremony the sacredness and confidence of the dancers to the universal power and the ecstasy they are experiencing. With their right hand raised towards the infinite and the left hand pointing down to earth, whirling around themselves, they try to reach universal love.

This hour indeed was the most sacred, meditative, touching and revealing moment of the whole trip for me. After the ceremony, our small gang went silent, was more thankful and closer to the essence of the meaning of life.

If you want to have a taste of what it is like to be a sheik, then you need to arrange a visit to a traditional carpet factory.

Our host welcomed us, and after having a small tour in the exhibition rooms, where we could admire and touch all different kinds of handmade carpets of all colors, sizes, and materials, it was time for us to discover how the many women interns are producing the carpets.

In Turkey, men usually follow the pottery tradition, while women are directed to producing handmade carpets, or at least this was how it happened in the past.

Nowadays, especially the pottery tradition in some cases passes from father to daughters, as in the case of master Gallip in Avanos, who passed his knowledge to his daughters as he explained to us during our pottery class in his wonderful workshop.

But let us go back to the carpets! After we saw all the procedure of how from silk worms they end up getting the actual silk thread, an unusual method indeed, we had a carpet show time! We were

We were invited to a beautiful spacious room full of handmade carpets, some of them aged 100 years or more and we were treated with Turkish coffee, tea, and wine. Then the local team started unraveling carpets

Then the local team started unraveling carpets one by one in front of us, tossing them in the air, silk carpets, woolen carpets, small and very big, with modern patterns and 100 years old. We were able to walk on them, touch them, lie down on them, the whole room including us being covered in beautiful carpets, and almost being buried in carpets.

It felt as if we were sheiks!

There are so many things one can do and see in Cappadocia.

From horse-riding, hiking, pottery classes, carpet-producing workshops, to visiting traditional hammam and discovering the complex of underground cities.

Take that chance and visit Cappadocia, which undoubtedly will captivate your heart for ever. And remember

it is never too late to make a childhood dream come true.

The right moment is NOW!

Until the next hot air balloon ride! Be in Stillness!

Diana Arte