Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey – Magical Flight of Dreams

Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey – Magical Flight of Dreams

There is something magical about floating in a hot air balloon and looking at the world through the eyes of a bird. Everything looks tiny, calm and attainable. The world feels like an easier place to live from up above.

There are many amazing places all over the world where one can enjoy a hot air balloon ride, but the best one is in Cappadocia, Turkey. After all, this part of Turkey doesn’t look like it’s a part of Earth but looks like it belongs in the fantasy world or another planet.

Before you read further, I really want to show you a picture of Cappadocia in Turkey, so that you know what I’m talking about.

Sunrise view with hundreds of Hot Air Balloons in the sky - Cappadocia, Turkey

Sunrise view with hundreds of Hot Air Balloons in the sky – Cappadocia, Turkey

After having seen so many pictures of Cappadocia’s surreal landscape with fairy chimneys and caves, I knew I had to visit this place. On an impulse, I booked my ticket to Turkey and there was no looking back. Of course, Cappadocia was going to be an important part of my Turkey itinerary.

With Cappadocia on my mind, I researched for weeks to find the “right” balloon company to fly with. A month before my Turkey trip, after exchanging a few emails with Erdal Yaris, I finally decided to confirm my slot with Turkiye Balloons (Read reviews on TripAdvisor).

Why did I choose them? I will tell you at the bottom of my post, but first I want to share how it was to experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey.

Flying over Fairy Chimneys - Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

The View! Flying over Fairy Chimneys – Hot air balloon ride Cappadocia

Cappadocia Hot Air Balloon Price

The prices for the legendary hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia have really shot up thanks to Instagram. As of 2019, Turkiye Balloons charges 220 to 290 Euros for a 60-minute flight. The time when I visited (2016), the balloon flight costed around 150 Euros but now is usually around 250 Euros depending on the balloon company and the duration.

What it’s like to experience a Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia


A day before my flight, a staff member from Turkiye Balloons called up my Cave hotel to confirm if I was staying and to let them know that they will pick me up at 4:20 am. Normally it is me who double checks and confirms so it was good to see that they did it before I did. Phew, that’s one less thing for me to do on my first day in Cappadocia. By the way, you can read about my cave hotel experience in Cappadocia here.

The Pick Up

At 4:20 am I was picked up from right outside my hotel in a big car with “Turkiye Balloons” logo. I was given a name-tag with a code as I entered the car. The car drove us to Turkiye Balloons office where around 50-60 more people were enjoying their delicious Turkish breakfast.

The Open Buffet Breakfast

I was presently surprised when I entered the breakfast hall because it was as lavish as a star hotel. With a lot of variety of bread, cheese, olives, salami, eggs, cereal, juices, flavored tea, baklavas the breakfast spread here was expansive and had something for even the pickiest eaters. Even though I wasn’t so hungry at this time, I couldn’t help enjoying a big breakfast.

Pre-Briefing and Pre-Flight

Getting Ready to fly - Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

Getting Ready to fly – Hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia

After the breakfast, I finally understood the reason for the code on my name-tag. The code was an identifier because so that we could find out which group we were in. Our group was called out and soon we were driven from the breakfast hall to tan open field where several balloons were being inflated.

I saw a few massive balloons with the logo of Turkiye Balloons being inflated right in front of us as they gradually grew to their massive shape. Soon our balloon was ready and it was time to climb the basket. We also received a pre-briefing with safety instructions, but at this point, I was too excited to listen.

Rising Up & Starting our Hot Air Balloon Ride

Flying around in Goreme - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Flying around in Goreme – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Our pilot made our basket feel as light as a feather because we rose up into the air gently. The pilot held on to the burner for the balloon to gain more height and soon we saw many other balloons flying under us. Soon it was time to enjoy Cappadocia’s epic sunrise.

Epic Sunrise, and the view from our Hot Air Balloon

Cappadocia is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and to make things better, the sunrises here are phenomenal. It’s because the sky gets flooded by more than 100 hot air balloons in what looks like a celebration of a brand new day.

So many balloons - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

So many balloons – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

As we rose higher, I felt like one of the luckiest people on earth to be enjoying a stunning view both below and above me. The sunlight illuminated Cappadocia’s unique landscape under us. Wherever my eyes went in the sky, I could see hundreds of other flying balloons in the sky!

Cappadocia's stunning landscape - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Cappadocia’s stunning landscape – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

I’m not joking when I say that I felt I was a part of Star Wars and was flying over Planet Tatooine with Anakin Skywalker. After all, George Lucas did want to shoot Planet Tattooine’s scenes in Cappadocia but did not get the permit and he cloned the landscape in Tunisia where the shooting eventually happened.

View from the top - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

View from the top – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Luckily, the morning was windy and we flew over some of Cappadocia’s most famous spots. Over the next hour, we gradually floated above the famous rose valley, love valley and around strangely shaped fairy chimneys. I wouldn’t have recognized these valleys but our pilot was nice enough to point them out to us. Btw, if you like seeing pictures of strange landscapes, check out this post about unreal landscaped too.

Landing and Celebration Champagne

It’s funny how we normally don’t realize how fast the time is going when we are having fun. Even though the sun was shining brighter than before, I was surprised when the pilot told us it was time to land.

From up above, we could see a few cars that were lining up below us. These cars had trailers attached and it seemed we were going to land on one of them. How are we going to that? The trailers did not appear to be very big from up above.

This is how the balloons land on top of cars! - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

This is how the balloons land on top of cars! – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

To our surprise, our pilot gently guided our balloon and we floated above the trailer. We couldn’t help but clap at the pilot’s precision as we landed on top of one of those cars. It was time to celebrate!

Champagne ceremony - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

Champagne ceremony – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

With my flight completion certificate in one hand and a champagne glass in the other, I couldn’t stop smiling as I gazed skywards at the birds that flew above us. Yes, I was one of them a few minutes back. If you’re heading to Turkey (or near Turkey), please do yourself a favor and get on one of these flights. There is a reason why many famous travel magazines call this an “experience of a lifetime.”

Tips to make the most of your Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia

01 | Research and Pick the right balloon company

Do your research in advance and pick the right balloon company. I highly recommend Turkiye Balloons. A typical flight length is 60 minutes but some operators also provide 90 minute long flights for an additional cost. 

02 | Watch out for scammers.

There are many fake websites online which will charge your credit card without a flight. If you’re visiting Istanbul before Cappadocia, be careful of tour operators because some of them may try to sell you fake balloon flight tickets.

03 | Reserve your slot

Once you have picked the right balloon company, be sure to reserve your slot in advance because they usually fill out months in advance.

04 | Be Flexible with your schedule

Balloon flight depends on the weather conditions so do stay for a couple of extra days to avoid weather to mess up with your plans.

05 | Carry a jacket and stay warm

Yes, Cappadocia is usually warm during the day but it’s surprisingly cold at 4:30 am. Please do yourself a favor and carry a jacket if you don’t want to be uncomfortable during your flight.

That one time I flew over Mars - Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

That one time I flew over Mars – Hot Air Balloon Ride in Cappadocia, Turkey

06 | Planning your Cappadocia itinerary

Be flexible with your itinerary for Cappadocia, else you will be disappointed. The usual pick-up time a balloon ride is 4:30 am in the morning, so if you’re reaching Cappadocia early morning, don’t expect to go for a ride on the same day.

07 | Don’t forget to fully charge your camera

Make sure you fully charge all your gadgets because you’re going to want to click 100s of photos and videos! Carry extra battery if you can.

Why Did I Choose Turkiye Balloons?

If you search online, you will find at least 50+ tour operators and companies that offer hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. Which one to pick and how? Simply reading TripAdvisor reviews was not enough for me, so I wrote to a few hot air balloon companies and decided to pick Turkiye Balloons because of the below reasons:

01 | Experienced Pilots and Company Reputation

Even though Turkiye Balloons is one of the newest hot air balloon ride companies in Cappadocia, they have some of the best pilots of Cappadocia and every pilot has minimum 2500 hours of flight experience.

This is an important point for me and should be for you as well because you obviously don’t want to put your life in danger by picking a wrong balloon tour operator. Oh, and by the way, the pilots speak very good English!

02 | Smaller Groups = Better Photos

Here’s the thing – I’m a loner and I don’t like group activities or tours. However, if I ever decide to go on a tour, I always pick up the smallest groups.

I had seen too many photos and videos on the Internet of people who went with 20-ish other people on a single balloon ride. Imagine having to share a little standing spot with so many people and trying to fight for a good corner spot for a view! No, I did not want to do that.

In one of the emails, Erdal mentioned the group size and I knew I had found the right balloon company. From my experience, I found out that most of the balloon companies had different prices based on the number of people.

03 | Quick Response Time

If you’re wondering why response time matters in this case, I will try to explain in the best way possible. Have ever you decided to pick a brand based on their amazing customer service? Chances are, you have. If so, then why not in the case of your tour provider? More than the resolution, it’s usually the speed of response that makes any brand’s customer service awesome.

What if you need to cancel your balloon flight for some reason and you need your money to be refunded? Would you want to wait for weeks before someone acknowledges your email? I have burned my fingers in the past when I never got a refund canceling an expensive boat ride in Myanmar that was booked through a tour agent. I sent multiple emails, but never got a refund and eventually had to give up.

In this age of technology and automation, I really don’t understand why some companies take forever to respond to their prospective customers. While most of the balloon providers took a few days and some even weeks, my emails to Turkiye Balloons were usually answered within the same hour.

04 | Passenger and Flight Insurance

Let’s face it, accident CAN happen everywhere and it’s better to be insured before than to cry later. Luckily, Turkiye balloons also insures their passengers and flights to protect against unforeseeable circumstances.

How to Book:

If you want to have a similar hot air balloon ride experience as me, you can book yourself a slot with Turkiye Balloons. You can read other visitor’s reviews on Tripadvisor here or simply visit Turkiye Balloon’s website.

No visit to Turkey is complete without experiencing a hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia. After all, it’s one of the best places in the world for hot air balloon rides.

Disclaimer: A big thanks to Turkiye Balloons for the complimentary balloon ride. All opinions, as usual, are my own.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!


Have you ever experienced a hot air balloon flight? If so, I’d love to know where. Let me know in the comments.

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Sleeping in a cave in Goreme, Cappadocia

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Sleeping in a Cave Hotel in Cappadocia – Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme, Turkey

Sleeping in a Cave Hotel in Cappadocia – Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme, Turkey

Fancy a trip to Mars but can’t afford it? Cappadocia is your answer.

Cappadocia in Turkey is the land of unusual rock formations that have further been carved into underground cities, churches and cave houses. Some of these rock formations look like mushrooms (or penises lol) and are called “Fairy Chimneys”. Yes, and people actually live in these caves!

Many of the cave houses in Cappadocia have now turned into high-end boutique hotels. Hence, this is one of those few places on earth where you can actually sleep inside a cave. Staying in a cave hotel in Cappadocia is surely a must do if you’re visiting this surreal place.

Cappadocia's unique landscape caves carved in volcanic formations

Cappadocia’s unique landscape of caves carved in volcanic formations

So a few months back, I decided to visit Cappadocia and sleep in a cave. After weeks of research, I finally zeroed out on a hotel where I wanted to stay – Ottoman Cave Suites in Göreme (or Goreme). I came here to sleep in a cave but ended up having one of the most amazing hotel stays of my life. Here’s why:


Ottoman Cave Suites Location

While Cappadocia is the most famous tourist area of Turkey, Göreme (or Goreme) is the most popular town of Cappadocia. I usually avoid staying at touristy places but I couldn’t stop obsessing over Göreme after seeing its pictures. Moreover, I was traveling alone and I wanted to stay in a lively area and this is the only part of Cappadocia where you can experience the nightlife.

Ottoman Cave Suites is a minute walk away from Göreme’s main shopping / restaurant area. Also, this hotel is right next to Göreme’s bus stop that makes is easy to reach here by walking if you reach Cappadocia by bus.

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Reception and Courtyard

The entry area of Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

The entry area of Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

I couldn’t help being wide-eyed as I walked into the reception of this boutique hotel. On my right was the reception desk and on my left was a massive dining area that overlooked the courtyard. Everything was reddish-beige in color… like the rest of Cappadocia. On that beige, a massive wall mural splashed a little color to liven up the aesthetics. Across this courtyard were a few ornate doors, which opened up into luxurious cave suites. One of them was mine for a few days!

Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Reception

Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia

Cave Suite

My jaw fell as I entered my “cave” suite. It was massive and super luxurious! Was I in Queen Cersei’s chambers in King’s Landing?

My cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

My cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia, Turkey

A king size bed, many chairs, a desk, a teakettle, drawers – this room had more than everything that I needed. I quickly heated some water to brew some apple tea and sat on a plush chair at the corner of the room. I felt like a royalty.

My Cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia

My Cave room at Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme, Cappadocia

Massive Bathroom and Twin Showers for Couples

Twin Showers at Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

Twin Showers at Ottoman Cave Suites, Göreme

This has got to be the biggest bathroom that I have ever stepped in. There were two rain showers next to each other – one square and one round. The shower was perfect for couples that like showering together without fighting for water. Oh, and thank God they had a hair dryer. I never travel with one but I always need to use one after I wash my hair.

Spectacular View from the Terrace

Ever seen pictures of legendary sunrise shots of Cappadocia with many hot air balloons around? Well, you can witness one of those sunrises on the terrace here.

Sunrise View from Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme

Sunrise View from Ottoman Cave Suites, Goreme

Waking up early is not my favorite thing but I woke up at 4:30 am every morning just to see Cappadocia’s epic sunrises. Moreover, the terrace offers spectacular sights at sunset when a lot of caves and chimneys around start lighting up. The terrace also offers a view of the famous Uchisar castle and Kayseri’s Mount Erciyes.

Eat Breakfast Like a King

Do you like coffee, cheese, olives, and salami? You’re gonna love the breakfast here! To add the cherry on the icing, Ottoman Cave Suites offers delicious scrambled eggs, baklavas, juices, and apple tea along with Turkish coffee. I couldn’t help but take a second helping of everything because it was delicious.


Cappadocia is massive and I highly recommend you sign up for a tour while you’re here to learn more about history and geology of various sites. If you ask at the reception of Ottoman Cave Suites, they will help you pick the right tour for you with their own tour agency – New Göreme Tours. I did a tour with them to check out the underground city with a highly knowledgeable tour guide – Masud. The tour includes free pick-up and drops, water and a lavish lunch. Want more details about my tour? I will write a separate post about it soon.

Staff Always Went an Extra Mile

No matter how fancy a hotel is, the experience can turn sour if the service is not up to the mark. Clearly, the staff at Ottoman Cave Suites was well trained because they always provided more than what I asked for to ensure my comfort. Moreover, they also provided excellent recommendations for places to visit and one of the staff members also took me to a spectacular sunset spot. Being bad with directions, I would have never reached this spot on my own.

Who / What do I recommend this hotel for?

Destination Wedding – Cappadocia offers a perfect backdrop for wedding pictures. Ottoman Cave Suites is massive and can perhaps hold your entire wedding guest party.

Couples – with its charming rooms, views, and couple showers, this hotel is perfect for a honeymoon.

Families – the cave suites are big enough for an entire family. A bachelorette / bachelor party group – An entire group can stay in a single suite by requesting extra beds.

Solo Flashpackers – If you travel solo and love your space and comfort, you’re gonna love this hotel. Moreover, the proximity to the bars and the restaurant area will keep you entertained. I don’t recommend this hotel if you’re traveling on a shoestring budget.

How to book?

Read reviews on TripAdvisor or Compare prices on Price range: $60 – $80 Book Now (deals): or or Click here to view the Hotel’s website Disclosure: My stay at Ottoman Cave Suites was complimentary but the opinions are my own. Some of the above links are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I earn a commission if you make a booking.

PS: Drifter Planet contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we will earn a little commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us reduce the costs of keeping this site active. Thanks for reading!
Being Stranded in Istanbul During the Military Coup, Turkey

Being Stranded in Istanbul During the Military Coup, Turkey

They said it is unsafe and they said I should not visit it. “It” in this case is Istanbul and there was no way I was going to cancel my ticket.

Did I just prove them wrong?

I smiled to myself as I walked around Istanbul’s Sultanahmet Square. I was glad I was here! I felt safer here than I did in my hometown. At least, no one was staring at me and there was excessive security everywhere. I even saw a military chopper a few hours back while I was cruising the Bosphorus Sea. That’s how serious they are about security.

My feet were tired but curiosity got better of me because everything around was too pretty. The spikey minarets, the domed mosques, the sweet sound of Turkish language, and the smell of Turkish coffee – it was breathtaking!

While common sense told me I should stay at the area around my hostel, my curiosity kept pulling me away to just “one more block” to see what it was like. It was my last night in Turkey after spending time in Cappadocia and Pamukkale – and tomorrow I was going to fly to Germany. I wanted to make the most of it. I looked at the time – it was 9:30 pm.

Should I go back to my room now?

They all said I shouldn’t walk around in Istanbul at night but I was hungry! I had not had any food all day and it felt completely safe. I was not going to let people’s paranoia get to me. With that thought, I found a corner table and decided to eat kebab.

Something was not right.

This is what I told myself as I hurriedly finished my food. I had a funny feeling in my stomach. Was it because I had heard too many people’s opinion about what I should not do in Istanbul? Anyway, it was time to pay the bill and go.

I unlocked my phone and saw there was a massage from my mentor blogger – Sab from Just One Way Ticket. “Where are you? Don’t go to Istanbul”. Hmm? I was already in Istanbul! Her reply – “Shit”.

Shit. Bad? Scary? Am I in danger?

She said go back to your hotel right now. The military has taken control and the bridges are shut. The tanks are on the road.

Why was she saying that? Everything was normal in Sultanahmet Square – the heart of Istanbul. Maybe because she has a Turkish boyfriend and she’s worried about his safety?

“The military has taken over”.

What the hell does that even mean? How and why would that happen?

It took me a moment to realize that I was walking so fast that it did not appear normal. People were looking at me curiously.

Turkey is generally a safe travel destination but I was at the wrong place at wrong time. Check out website for information for traveling to Turkey, an epic 10 day Turkey itinerary, hot air balloon ride in Cappadocia, blue and white thermal pools of Pamukkale, Cappadocia travel guide and more.

Wait – why am I the only one running back to my room? Why is everything normal here?

With that thought, I crossed the blue mosque. Just next to the mosque, I saw a jeep full of men in uniform and guns. These were not the usual black clothed Turkish policemen that I saw during the day. These men were wearing army green and had big guns. Oh and these were many in number – not the twos or threes that I saw earlier this evening. And then it stuck me that I had seen a chopper during the day, which I had assumed, was for security.

Maybe that was a military chopper.

Maybe Sab was right.


Without realizing, I broke into a jog, as I got closer to my hotel.

I should get to my room and check the Internet.

I met a few people on the road near my hostel that had helped me earlier that day with the directions. I panted and narrated what I heard. They shrugged and said – “don’t worry lady, the media overhypes everything. Nothing is happening!”

I hope they are right.

On my way to my hostel, I messaged San (my husband) to tell him what’s happening. To my horror, he checked the news and confirmed its true.

Still unsure of what it meant and the possible implications, I entered my hostel and see a little “party”. Apparently, my room mate from France – Gabrielle (name changed) didn’t have a key and she was waiting for me at the reception. Our receptionist had a few friends over and they were all devouring baklavas and drinking tea.

Did they not know about it yet?

To my surprise, their reaction was also the same – “don’t believe it, it’s the media that’s overhyping things.”

They were all laughing.

All of them except Gabrielle.

She was the only one apart from me who had heard about this military coup. I made them change to a news channel. The news was in Turkish but we could see images of many military people everywhere. Tanks on the street, choppers and uniformed men everywhere – apparently there was total chaos in Istanbul and Ankara.

We didn’t even need to understand the language to sense what was going on. The smiles gradually disappeared from everyone’s faces as the consequences hit in.

Thank God I’m flying out at 8 am!

Oh, am I going to be able to fly out tomorrow?

Just at that moment my suspicion was confirmed and the receptionist said – lady, no flight for you tomorrow.

This was not good.

I look at my phone again and see close to 30 unread messages. It seemed the whole world knew what was happening and they were messaging me to check if I was safe. Every single one of those messages had a sense of urgency. The last thing I wanted was to get people worried about me!

I replied to every single one of them and then there were more messages. These were coming in faster than I could reply. Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter – every damn notification on my phone was on. People were writing on my timeline!

Soon there was a WhatsApp group that was made by my ex colleagues (RateGain) and included the entire Turkish team. I was surprised to see this kind of support because I was not working with them anymore. They did not have to do this. But they did. They saw the news and thought of me.

I was too much in shock to fathom what was going on and they were doing thinking for me.

Go to the ATM and withdraw enough local currency to last you for a few days – one of them said. The ATMs may be out of cash by tomorrow and you may get stranded.

It sounded reasonable to me. Gabrielle and I went to the ATM that was 20 steps away from our hostel and withdrew the cash. It seemed people now knew what was happening.

A man came to us and said we should go back to our room. He offered to walk us to the ATM and back to the hostel to make sure we were ok. The street had fewer people but it felt everyone was watching out for each other.

Do my parents know what’s happening? I thought to myself as I walked back from the ATM. I looked at the time; it was around 1 am in India. No, they would be fast asleep in India and I did not want to wake them up and worry them.

Maybe my sister is still awake? No, she has a busy job and her son to take care of.

By now, we’re back in the hostel and the three of us sat silently. We spent several minutes sitting silently and replying to several messages on our phone before one of us talks.

You girls should sleep, he said to both of us – no flight for you so just go and sleep. And you don’t secretly go to the airport.

How was he able to read my mind? Yes, I was actually stupid enough to be considering it.

Too lost for words, Gabrielle and I walked to our dorm room. Shin (name changed), our roommate of China was sleeping soundly on her bunk bed. Maybe she did not know what was happening.

For a few minutes, Gabrielle and I discussed the consequences of what was happening. She had lived in Istanbul for a few years and said it’s the first time she was seeing something like this.

By now, my phone battery was very low because of the number of messages. College friends, ex colleagues, bloggers – everyone was messaging to check if I was ok.

How am I going to reply to everyone?

I did not want to do this but I realized the easiest way was to update my Facebook status to let everyone know I was ok. Within a few minutes I realized that move was like opening a can of worms! The frequency of messages increased where as I wanted the opposite.


What was that? A bomb?

Gabrielle and I looked at each other. Then we looked at Shin with a little envy because she was sleeping peacefully through everything.

Another bang!

This time it was followed by extremely loud airplane sound. Except, it must not be an airplane because it was a little too loud and was moving very fast.

Was that a fighter jet? Shit, what the fuck was happening? Were we going to be safe?

Gabrielle said her Facebook had stopped working. Thank God mine was working! What would I do if mine stopped too? I wanted to be connected to my husband through this app.

I’m going to sleep and so should you, she declared as she climbed on the top bunk bed. We both knew that no one was going to sleep.

Am I not flying to Germany? I looked at the watch. Soon it would be time for my shuttle. On the Internet it showed the flight was still going to depart. Maybe they had not updated the status but I really wanted to go! I called my hotel manager to check if it was all right to go and he pleaded me not to do so. I wanted to see my husband really bad. I had not seen him for two months and this had to happen just a day before my flight. Just my luck!

It was 4 am when my cousin from New York messaged on our family WhatsApp group to make sure I was safe. He even tried calling but I did not want to wake up Gabrielle even though I wasn’t sure if she was sleeping.

I could still hear loud bangs and jets from time to time. At 4 am, I heard the morning prayer from the nearby mosque. It sounded comforting in the backdrop of ominous sounds of that fateful dawn.

My ex colleagues from RateGain were still awake and that WhatsApp group was active. A few of them even offered me a place to sleep if I didn’t have one. People from all over the world were messaging me their friends’ or relatives’ contact details in Istanbul.

Someone instructed me to call the embassy. I called the general number and heard a recorded voice that said the business hours were 9 am to 6 pm. In my daze, it took me a few hours to realize that the embassy website also mentioned the emergency number. This realization came when a friend shared a screenshot of embassy’s phone number on my Facebook wall.

I finally called the emergency number of the Indian Embassy in Istanbul and was surprised when an actual person answered it. He sounded tired on the phone, he must have answered 100s of calls like mine. He listened to me patiently and told me to stay in. He said I should call him every few hours to check the situation. I should go to the airport only when he confirms it was ok to go. He also told me that I should expect the Internet to be down sporadically.

It was now early morning in India and my family had woken up. My WhatsApp received a new message every single minute telling me what to do. It was just what I needed because my mind was not working. They urged me to call Turkish Airlines, the embassy and what not. They discussed various options of what all I should do.

By now, everyone was asking me the same questions on WhatsApp and I was literally copying and pasting the same messages to everyone. Surprisingly, the owner of Turkiey Balloons was also concerned and checking to see if I was ok. Without me asking, he took my flight number and airline PNR and called the customer service.

He somehow managed to speak with Turkish Airlines. He told me that I needed to rebook through since my ticket was booked through them. Hmm, I needed time to figure that out.

Hours went by as I continuously answered the messages. I somehow managed to sleep for one hour and woke up again to more messages. Some of them said that the situation was better and the military coup had failed.

Did that mean I could finally fly to Germany?

No it’s still now safe and I cannot let you go, my hostel manager said to me. He said he needed to go out for some work for one hour and I should not attempt to secretly take a taxi to the airport.

What do I do with my flight? What if there are too many people like me at the airport and they do not let me board? I had still not been able to rebook my flight through and my sister offered to call the customer service from India. Minutes felt like hours because I felt like I was wasting time if I was not at the airport if the situation had improved.

I decided to call myself and hold for a long time as they figureed out what they should do. Obviously it took them a while because they were not able to contact Turkish Airlines. I asked them if I really needed to book considering I had a ticket and the flight did not go? The rep suggests that I should just go to the airport and request the ground staff and in this case they should be able to put me on their 7 pm flight. Yes, I wanted to be on that flight.

Fully convinced, I knew I had to get to the airport. I called the hostel manager again and he finally confirmed the situation was better. He offers to book a shuttle for me so that I could arrive 5 hours before the 7 pm flight.

I hope I’m doing the right thing.

I hope the streets to the airport are actually safe now. Apparently there was an army tank on it last night.

I tell my husband and family and they sound relieved. This gives me a little more confidence that I was doing the right thing.

The streets looked normal because all the cafes and shops were open. The people on the street were a mix of locals and tourists. I saw one man with a massive flag of Turkey and several small ones. He was distributing the smaller flags. Were they celebrating the failed attempt of military coup attempt had failed? I speak to a few of them and realized that many of them thought the military rule was what Turkey needed..

Mentally crossing my fingers, I boarded my airport shuttle when it arrived an hour later. Some people looked nervous and unsure if they were going to be able to fly out.

As we reach closer to the airport, we saw an abandoned military tank on the road. Towards the entry of the airport, many civilians and policemen were standing. The civilians were waving Turkish flag and showing a victory sign to all the people that were entering the airport.

I entered the airport and witnessed total chaos. The queues were longer than the ones outside Indian passport application center. I saw some people yelling at overworked Turkish Airlines’ staff members.

At the check in counter, a woman with two daughters started yelling like a mad person and crying loudly. The airline staff tried to calm her down but she hurled some insults at them. I could not understand the language but it was obvious what was happening.

What if they ask me to rebook? Will I also lose my mind like this woman?

I could hear announcements that all Turkish Airline ticket holders needed to call the customer service or visit the city office to get their tickets rebooked. If this was the case, I was going to be in trouble because I had done neither.

Just at that instant, my husband called. He had magically rebooked me for the 7 pm flight while he was in Germany! I LOVE HIM. I’m so lucky to have him.

The check in queue took extremely long but after one hour, an exhausted looking airline staff member finally handed me my boarding pass. He tiredly smiled at me and wished me a safe flight.

I finally had my boarding pass.

I decided to celebrate by eating my first meal of the day.

I finally sighed with relief after three hours when my aircraft flew over Bosphorus. I couldn’t help shedding a tear as I gazed at Istanbul’s beautiful architecture, the distinctive curved mosques with their minarets, the European architecture and Rumelihisarı Castle.

Turkey, you are a beautiful country. I love your culture, language, food, hospitality and the people. Please stay the same. I’m lucky to have visited you. I pray for your peace.

Would I revisit Turkey if I got another chance?


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