Cappadocia is one of the regions of Turkey that has suffered one of the biggest tourist explosions in recent years. It’s landscapes and historical heritage are unique. In 1985 UNESCO listed Cappadocia as a World Heritage Site. The presence of balloons is not, either, foreign to this explosion of tourists.
After a lot of indecision, we finally decided to give in to the temptation and do what hundreds of other people do daily there. We decided to embark in a basket and float several thousand feet above the beautiful region.
It must be said, a hot air balloon ride is a unique experience. It gives the effect of floating more than flying. The pilots of Cappadocia are probably among the best in the world and they make their way through the two hundred or so balloons that crisscross the sky each morning.
To go on a balloon ride, you have to get up early, very early! 3:30 in the morning in our case. The company bus picks you up at your place of residence and takes a journey through the surrounding villages to pick up other tourists.
Then comes a breakfast consisting of some croissants, fruits and tea. Always tea. Small digression: get ready to drink tea. Tea is the hallmark of Turkish hospitality. You will be offered it everywhere, sometimes even at the gas station. Little advice. Accept! Who knows what unusual encounters you will make. The casual conversations that you will have. For our part, we talked politics with Turks now living in Germany. We sat for fifteen minutes with the keeper of a small nut shop in Kurdistan without being able to exchange a word, but exchanging several smiles filled with real happiness to cross roads.
But, let’s continue. Cappadocia and hot air balloons. As I said, it’s a unique experience. No regrets. Except that … Except, it’s killing the region. Their beauty fills the sky. But, on the ground, the logistics necessary to lead to the departure and the arrival of hundreds of balloons and tourists, it literally moves mountains. Two hundred balloons and a dozen people (twelve maximum), leaves a mark.
To develop enough take-off and landing runways, several hills have been levelled. Farmer fields have been requisitioned. The idyllic, magical landscape has made way, given way to hordes of selfie takers at a thousand feet of altitude.
The contrast is strong with the signature architecture of the region: the cave houses built on the mountainside or in the valleys. It is because Cappadocia was a privileged place of the first Christians. Persecuted everywhere in the surrounding regions and empires, Christians have taken refuge in impressive houses dug out of the rock. There are chapels over a thousand years old. Underground cities that can shelter up to thirty thousand inhabitants. In short, we were far from the austerity and piety of the previous residents of the region … But damn it was beautiful anyway!
Cappadocia (/kæpəˈdoʊʃə/; also Capadocia; Greek: Καππαδοκία, Kappadokía, from Old Persian: Katpatuka, Turkish: Kapadokya) is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in the Nevşehir, Kayseri, Kırşehir, Aksaray, and Niğde Provinces in Turkey.
According to Herodotus, in the time of the Ionian Revolt (499 BC), the Cappadocians were reported as occupying a region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine (Black Sea). Cappadocia, in this sense, was bounded in the south by the chain of the Taurus Mountains that separate it from Cilicia, to the east by the upper Euphrates, to the north by Pontus, and to the west by Lycaonia and eastern Galatia.
The name, traditionally used in Christian sources throughout history, continues in use as an international tourism concept to define a region of exceptional natural wonders, in particular characterized by fairy chimneys and a unique historical and cultural heritage.
To learn more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cappadocia