Up & Away: I finally got to climb into a hot air balloon

I had a dream last night that I flew to Sweden in a hot air balloon with my cat, Weasley, and Morrison, my sister’s golden retriever. Sometimes I love my brain for its ability to bring back the exact feelings of a past memory. Of course I haven’t gone to Sweden in a hot air balloon with my cat, but I can finally say that I have been in a hot air balloon.

For as long as I can remember, climbing into a hot air balloon and experiencing what it feels like to drift among the clouds has been at the very top of my bucket list. In fact, I had this particular longing way before bucket lists were called bucket lists. I don’t know if the same sort of thing exists today, but back in the 90s I had these books of classics that had been re-written for children. I can’t remember exactly which ones I had. My cousins had them too so I read some of their as well. Little Women. Alice in Wonderland. And of course: Around the World in 80 Days. Granted, that sort of adventure seems just as terrifying to me as going around the world in a yacht (all those potential ways to die!) but a balloon ride could not sound more glorious. I want to do that one day said the child self. It seemed a safer plan than allowing a handful of helium balloons to take me.

I’ve twice considered taking a balloon ride in my own country. The price tag is a serious factor though, I must admit. Wow. And while I was in Chiang Mai I considered it again, but between breaking my knee and feeling like I didn’t want to have the experience without my husband, I gave it a skip. And then finally in Jaipur out hot air ballooning plans were cancelled due to the weather.

Finally, along the strange landscapes of Cappodoccia, I got to live my dream. I can tell you that it was, in fact, glorious, although to be most frank there’s a small bit of sadness that tinges the edges of a realised dream. This little nugget now lies firmly in my past and is not longer a wish to hold on to for the future. I can only hope that a certain dreaminess might return with each re-telling. I do feel it now.

There is, however, a small problem.  How do you even describe something so mesmerising?

It seems to me that possibly there is no point. Perhaps all I can tell you is that you don’t need to be afraid. That there is a godliness to be found in the skies that you cannot quite experience without leaving the earth. And that this godliness is so overwhelming that any predisposition for fear may very well melt away for you. It did for me.

I don’t know if any old balloon ride would be quite the same as our experience in Cappodoccia. My husband thinks it should be, though I have my doubts. There’s something about being in a balloon among other balloons that surely adds the most magical dimension to the whole experience. Folks don’t seem to quite believe me when I tell them that the hot air ballooning in Cappodoccia is what ultimately lead to me choosing to go to Turkey. It was the whole point of the trip.

And was it worth it? Was it worth spending all that money to trek across the world for one 45 minute balloon ride?

Yes. Yes it was.


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