Back in 2014, Nicole and I had the opportunity to be part of a tour of Turkey and Greece. It was a fascinating experience and we loved exploring the history of these iconic places.

One of the highlights was a visit to Cappadocia in central Turkey. Cappadocia is an ancient name which means ‘land of beautiful horses’. Most people who live there are farmers or merchants. This area was once the homeland of the ancient Hittites (19-11th century BC). The biblical character, Abraham, bought a burial site here from Uriah the Hittite. There are also church buildings here in caves dating back to as early as the 2-3rd century AD, with frescoes from the 11-12th century AD. This World Heritage area is magnificent, with fairy chimneys and pillars, river valleys and cliffs, all shaped by volcanic eruptions and erosion over the centuries.

An optional extra on our tour was to get up at 4.00 am one morning to go hot air ballooning in the Goreme Valley. Confession time – I am afraid of heights! So I quickly put that option out of my mind. But then another tour member told me about their experience of hot air ballooning in the Yarra Valley and how amazing it was, so … [gulp] … I decided to go for it.

As it turned out, there were about 100 hot air balloons taking off that morning. Each hot air balloon was attached to a large basket for passengers which held up to 24 people. I stood right in the middle! After a gentle launch, we gradually ascended to our target of 500 metres high but ended up going 1,000 metres above sea level! The trip was incredibly smooth and peaceful, and the views were breathtaking as we saw the sunrise across the horizon (see the brief video below).

This turned out to be one of the most enjoyable and sensational experiences I have ever had in my entire life. The thrill, the exhilaration, the views. It was surreal. I am so glad I did it. Yet, to think that I almost missed out on it … because of my fears.

To me, this experience, and the pictures I have to mark the memories, speaks of adventure, freedom, risk, moving out of your comfort zone, letting go, and soaring to new horizons.

May this year be one of pushing through our fears and the barriers in our minds to experience things we have never dreamt of.

P.S. I took the photo above on my iPhone (using panorama mode) from the hot air balloon, as well as the one on the front page of this web site. For more information on hot air ballooning in Cappadocia, visit the Tour and Leisure web site.

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