It was early at 5am when my alarm went off. It was cold and dark outside. If it wasn’t for the heater in my room, I would have shivered. I can’t really say that the heat was enough for me but it was better than nothing at all.
I stood up, washed, and prepared myself for the negative temperature outside my cave room. I wore two layers of clothes, a wool jacket, two socks, gloves, boots, and a long, fluffy scarf to keep myself warm. Even though I was covered this much, I still felt cold but it was tolerable.
It was five minutes to six when I left the room. I was literally outside when I stepped out and shut the door behind me. Since my cave room was two levels away from the lobby, I ran up the stone staircase to make it in time.
I was out of breath when I saw a van parked a few steps away from the hotel’s premises. I peaked at the reception and assessed whether the people in front of the counter were looking for me. Sure enough, I was right.
I was panting, I could see my breath as I puff, and I was thankful when the warm air enveloped me as soon as I stepped inside the van.
It was amazing to see the sleeping town illuminated by nothing but lampposts and several lights from the houses. Being on the passenger’s seat gave me the best view of the surroundings and munching on a simit while admiring the place was the best way to enjoy a car ride.
Not long after finding comfort in my seat, I spotted a huge, familiar object lying in an open space right next to the valley. Although it was dark, I could tell that it was colorful. Seeing it made me happy and, when the van went past it, I got excited!
It wasn’t ours but we were on our way to where we should be. I couldn’t wait!
I didn’t realize that I was grinning to myself.
It got a little brighter when we entered a rough, narrow pathway, leading to the launch site. As soon as I stepped out of the van, with the huge nylon being inflated right in front of me, I thought, “Wow. I’m going to ride this!“
The fire was too bright. I couldn’t help but watch and get attracted to it. I was surprised to find myself standing near it when I came to my senses. And, it was when our driver called me out to climb up the basket.
Contrary to what I had imagined, it wasn’t cramped at all. Luckily, I got a good place to stand on. I owned the whole corner which allowed me to have a better view of everything. Hooray for getting in the basket late!
But even though I said it this way, everyone in the basket got a good view. At least, the layout made it possible for everyone. I just felt like I would have hated it if I ended up in the middle between groups of people, under the poles.
The dawn was breaking when colorful balloons floated one after another; some were floating faster than the others. It was as if the valley breathe colorful bubbles out and presented us a wonderful display.
With my mouth slightly open, I looked down from the basket.
Everything below us looked small. We were getting farther and farther away from the ground, went past the height of the valleys, and we soon saw the beauty of the landscape in its entirety. It was amazing!
It was quiet up in midair. The whole region was still sleeping; unknowing that we were passing gently right above it.
The charming scenery made us stay still. Nobody made a sound as if we’re all taking our time to embed the view in our memory.
Following the trails I took the previous day with my eyes, a feeling of accomplishment took over me. I couldn’t help but think, “I was there yesterday!” I explored the land and conquered the air. I made it!
The cold air and gentle movement of the balloon made me at peace with myself. It felt like I was dreaming. I was waiting for the sun to peek and slowly greet the landscape with its warm light. It was one of the surreal moments I’ve ever had in my life!
And then, a few moments later, she was there.
The sun shined and a new day has begun. The once sleeping region started to show life in it. Cars can be seen driving on the roads, a number of people are watching the balloons passing by, and the lights which illuminated the town are temporarily gone.
It’s as if the landscape was painted with additional colors when the light touched it. It became bright and vibrant; it made me feel how great it is to be alive.
I was taken back to reality when I heard the pilot speak. Everyone went “oooh” and “aahh” when he showed us how the balloon worked. And, a few moments later, the balloon descended.
We were greeted and assisted on the ground. And, to wrap things up, a celebratory toast was shared among us.
Hesitatingly, I took the glass of champagne. I was worried whether or not I should drink but I finished the glass anyway. No regrets. It was delicious.
It was the end of the ride but the memory in that basket, up in the air, will last a lifetime.
It’s a moment I shared with strangers who probably had the same feelings as I did on that wonderful morning.
It’s a story which I would get to tell my children and my children’s children when the time for me to do so comes.
I was extremely happy that I was able to experience it all and that I was finally able to cross riding on a hot air balloon in my bucket list!