Monday, 9 June 2014

Paragliding!! Olendiuz Turkey

We went Paragliding!! From 6,000 feet!! In Turkey!! It was super awesome!!

I'll "fly" ya through my version..(this blog is going to be a little different... Story first, photos last)..

Olendiuz is among the top places in the WORLD to paraglide. We had known that when we arrived, however we didn't want to get too excited about paragliding until we had it booked and were in the air... Since paragliding is a sport very dependant on the weather we didn't want to get our hopes up...

And for good reason.In the four days we were there, it was unseasonably windy and grey for three days, which meant three days of cancellations. There were dozens of companies so we walked around and did our research, finally booking with a reputable company for an evening flight. However, when we showed up we were told our flight was cancelled due to the wind. Totally understandable and safe! So not a problem,, they gave us a full refund and we found a new company to book with for
8:30am the next morning. We were really really banking on good weather, as we had a small window of opportunity. We were to leave Olendiuz right after our flight!..

We had ourselves convinced that if it was meant to be, it would happen. If we woke up to a blue ski, no wind day, then it was meant to be. We would paraglide and then move on. If we woke up to a fourth day of grey and wind, then we would take our money and move on. (We were already looking up paragliding sites in Other places, as we were skeptical of the weather)..

We paid $90CAN each for a half hour drive up the mountain through a national park,a highly trained and experienced pilot, and the experience of a lifetime to fly for half hour over the beautiful coast line....priceless...

Alright, so now that I told you the logistics, let me tell you how I really felt..

   Scared.. Nervous.... Nauseous!...yep.. I actually had knots in my stomach for three days. ..During this time Ashton was All cool, calm and collected..
(Yes, I've ski dived, as well as bungee jumped before...But I was still super nervous... Believe it or not, I wasn't worried about jumping off a mountain, nor was I worried about the actual paraglide..(it's one of the safest sports)...Noooo, I was terrified of the drive up the mountain!!

Silly me went on trip advisor and read many reviews on how scary the drive is. I read "a gravel road only wide enough for one vehicle... Would hate to be the outer vehicles a pass...could see rocks sliding down the mountain.. The road was twisty turney...once at the top, your best choice is to jump rather than go back down that road"..lots of outrageous reviews. I was convinced that that the road was going to be super narrow and hugging the side of the mountain so that the passengers would be looking straight down Into the ocean.
However, since there are dozens of company's that each fly five times a day, I figured that the drivers
and pilots were all pretty experienced.

We woke up to a beautiful, calm, blue sky day..!!
The company picked us up in the van with a total of 8 pilots and 8 passengers. ..
I was prepared to close my eyes for the ride up, instead, we visited with a nice guy from New York, and one of the pilots. .. Half way through the conversation I figured I should peak out the window... It was a beautiful view!! The drive was actually super nice!! I had nothing to worry about!,!!! The road was paved, not even that windy, and it was defiantly not on the side of the mountain. I felt very safe and even stopped talking to enjoy the view. The moment I realized that the drive was easy peasy, I began to feel excited. By this point Ashton is already grinning ear to ear!

 The higher we climbed, the greater the view. I asked the tall, big pilot how long the flight would be ... He responded "it depends, could be about half hour, or it could be about 2 seconds."( implying that, if take off isn't successful, it would be a short flight)..oh wonderful,, we have a joker in the group. Nothing like some sick humour as were about to jump off a mountain at 6,000 feet. !
I was prepared for the playful scare tactic, as I still recall my sky diving pilot telling me "oh this is my first jump with a passenger" as we were about to jump... :s

Anyways the pilot told us there are three take off spots along the top of the mountain, each angling a different direction and depending on which way the wind was blowing, would determine which site we use. Even though the take off spots were at different heights, the difference would only add or eliminate one minute of flying time. We drove to the second take off platform.

  We hoped out of the van and realized we were on the top of the mountain! It was chilly, a little breezy and had a 360' beautiful view. I could see Greece!!
 This part was pretty fast.. Each pilot layed out their parachute and arranged their ropes. They assigned us according to weight/size... Ashton was paired with a small lady pilot! And I was assigned the tall, big joker pilot. ..
Ashton later admitted that being assigned a "girl" was his scariest moment... I was relieved to have the big guy. (Not that it mattered at

 As my pilot prepared his equipment and strapped me into my gear.. He said, "just so you know, this is the second flight with this parachute. The first flight went well, we glided smoothly, but the second flight I always test it's ability to turn, so we'll be looping around lots and going upside down!"...
Ha..why do I always get the jokers?.. Can't he tell that I'm shivering with nerves?..
I responded by laughing and saying "your quite the comedian. I hope you fly as well as you joke"..
He patted my arm.. And assured me he was kidding...kind of..... Later on he told me that it truly was the second flight for this parachute, he had picked it up from the factory a couple days ago. He thanked me for being his ginny pig!
                  (Don't be deceived by the slope... My pilot is much taller and bigger in real life !) lol
Now that Ashton is strapped in, and I'm ready to go, the only take off instructions we were given.. Were to "RUN! "... "Just run until I tell you to sit down"..I was also told not to touch my leg straps, or else I wouldn't have a good flight :s..?! (Another sic joke about falling out of my harness)...not to worry.. After he did a double check, another worker came along to tug and pull at my harness as a
triple safety check!

There was a paved take off spot that sloped slightly downward. We were to run down the slope as our parachute rose in the air, and then let the wind swoop us up.

I looked over to see Ashton and his lady pilot take a couple steps then were in the air just like that!!.. We were next.. "Run!"..
I'm pretty sure my feet just dangled as I don't recall running on the ground, mainly because my pilot was so gigantic, and also because we were in the air within a millisecond.

 The whole flight was enjoyable. Slightly windy and clear. Perfect conditions. So quiet that we could have Passengers could literally sit back in the harness, as the pilots expertly guided the gigantic parachute.

  Ashton's pilot answered her cell phone while in the air!,!. (She was a mother of three and it was probably one of her kids phoning her at work ;)! Ashton and her chit chatted about her kids and home life.

 My pilot welcomed me into his "office" after I told him he has the best job in the world! Then he told me a few stories about the area we were seeing.
"The lagoon below is termed Dead Sea because no matter how windy it is, the lagoon stays perfectly calm.."dead like". He pointed out a couple turtles that were obviously huge since I could see them from above.

He pointed out Greece, villages, beaches etc. and when I saw other para gliders land in the water!... He assured me that they were solo pilots in training, Olendiuz is the best place to learn paragliding since the body of water makes for an excellent safety net, and landing spot.

 Ashton carried our personal camera and took lots of great shots. My pilot pulled out a go pro and took excellent shots that we later purchased. (The lady pilot "didn't take very good pictures" is what Ashton says, but I think he didn't like his hair, which is why we didn't purchase his pics...) ;) lol

We switched up the relaxing flight by doing some tricks and turns. It was exhilarating. ... The control the pilots have over the parachute is amazing. He turned us to face different views. Each view was breathtaking, and both Ashton and his pilot, and me and mine, just enjoyed the silence and took in the beauty. Coast lines, ultra blue sea, green mountains, white sand.. Red rooftops, ants, Er people walking a round.. Boats making a white path in the water...lots of mental photos were taken.

   After approximately 30 minutes, we neared the ground, new instructions were given.. "Just stand up and take a few steps forward when your feet hit the ground.""It's going to feel like were coming in Hot, because I like to gain speed as we land, but then the speed will come off and we will literally plop our feet onto ground" easy..
And It was just as easy, I stood, then watched as the people below moved out of the way, we came in hot, but then stopped and felt my feet on the ground. Perfecto!,

after getting unhooked, I asked my pilot
"Do you think my husband landed already? I don't see him.."
He replied "oh not to worry, his lady pilot likes to spend extra time with good looking men. She might steal him for a couple hours"..
"Oh dang! He's got the wallet" lol..;)

Then we saw him still in the air, i watched as people scurried out of the way, and he landed nicely a few feet from me.

All smiles, we both had a wonderful experience!!!

 Up.. Up...And away...

 If you haven't already, you really need to add paragliding to your bucket list (if your not afraid of heights;)) says there are two spots in Saskatchewan that you can paraglide ;) !

Anyhoodles thanks for reading this blog. It's way more fun to share this story in person, so make sure to ask us about it when were home!,..:D..

Stay tuned for our last Turkey blog. Unique scenery coming up!...

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