We were told that the pilots were able to take us up and down through the valleys, and we soon find out just how skillfully they are able to so this. The balloons glide through the middle of the valley, and as I look over to my right I can see the shadow of our balloon cast upon one of the rock-cut houses and behind that, the other balloon of our pair slightly higher and just emerging from behind another rocky structure - it's as if we're playing hide-and-seek.

Balloon casting a love-heart shaped shadow on the rocky hills
Our balloon casting a love-heart shaped shadow on the rocky hillside.

"Does anyone want an apple?" says Lars? Without waiting for an answer, he instructs the honeymooning couple at the front (can a balloon have a 'front'?) to lean over and grab a handful from the tree that we are about crash into. Correction, we are about to 'give it a shave on top' - I should have more faith by now. As the basket drags over some of the lower branches, the couple manage to scoop half a dozen apples from the higher branches. Something tells me Lars has done this before. I only hope that the farmers who own the trees get some compensation for this display of piloting skills! It's an exciting feeling though - to be cutting a swathe through these rocky structures, picking fruit as we go - it's so easy to forget that there's an absolutely HUGE bag full of air directly above us that needs to be carefully steered around obstacles.

Having taken an apple each to munch on, we find ourselves once more on the up - we're leaving Love Valley and are rising, rising, rising. As I look down at the ever-receeding landscape it occurs to me that our balloon trip is over. I can't see any other similar valleys nearby and think that we're trying to find a suitable landing spot.

Still we rise. I ask Lars how high we are - a look at the altimeter shows that we're 7,000 feet above sea level, which actually means we're about 4,000 above the ground. It's a fair way down! At around 2,000 feet another person in our balloon - a mad Kiwi named Brent - jettisoned a half-eaten apple into the empty farmers fields below and we tried to watch its descent. It seemed to take a long time. I wonder how long it would take to hit the ground from this height. Actually, the strangest thing is that all I can truly think about is how easy it would be to clamber over the edge of the basket and go for one hell of a wild ride, albeit a short and not-to-be-repeated one.

Rising up high over the other balloon in our group of two
Several thousand feet up over the Capadoccia landscape.