Today started in the typical fashion; a swim in the sea, a hot shower (and shave today) and a big breakfast from the cafe. At 12 noon we gathered to catch some buses to the Tahtali Mountain. Tahtali is one of the many mountains once called Mount Olympus, home of the Greek pantheon of gods. Unfortunately I forgot my convention pass, which we had to show to take the cable car to the summit, so I ran back to my tent to pick it up. When I got back, the buses had gone, so I had to wait with the other late risers/late sleepers for a bus to return.
Waiting in the sun for the bus.
So we took the bus, then the cable car, and reached the top of the mountain. These photos will illustrate:
From the top of the mountain we could look down and see the convention campsite below:
However, the convention had relocated to the mountain top, so we set about entertaining ourselves in various ways.
While us conventioneers hung out at the top, a few of the locals took off with their paragliders, including the owner of the Sundance Nature Camp. Unfortunately the wind wasn’t very strong, and the takeoff runs looked really sketchy.
Lukas and Zanip imagine taking off with a hang-glider.
Here is Arif (might have the spelling wrong) getting his canopy ready. Arif was going to be my pilot; the plan was for him to take a flight, land again at the top of the mountain, then get out the tandem rig and fly me to the convention camp site below.
But the wind was too slow, and landing again at the peak of the mountain wasn’t possible. This meant Arif flew off by himself, and the rest of us took the cable car and bus back to the convention site. Boo! No flight today, maybe tomorrow if the weather was good… or so I thought…
I managed to get on the first bus, so didn’t have to wait around .When I got to the site I had some Turkish feta pastry thing, which could seem exotic, but I’ve eaten them many times in Berlin, bought from a stall at the Turkish market. As I sat at a picnic table, Arif, who had taken a long, meandering flight, landed in the field, right beside the big top. He gathered his canopy, walked over and said “Are you ready to go right now? We can catch the 5pm cable car and fly during the sunset.”
About two minutes later I’d changed back into my boots, grabbed my bag again, and was in a small van, racing back up the hill to the cable car station! We got to the top of the mountain again at about quarter past five, and spent about 20 minutes licking our fingers and holding them up in the air, trying to work out which way the wind was blowing. We also cleared a launch path of spiky rocks, so as not to catch the lines.
In the end Arif picked a “runway” that had us running diagonally across a very steep hillside. It turns out this was the first ever tandem launch from that side of the mountain, but Arif has done something like five million tandem flights, so knew exactly what he was doing. The key piece of advice, which I’ve heard from numerous people about paragliding is this: DON’T STOP RUNNING! KEEP RUNNING!
And I did! Good job too, as we half took off once, but came down for another short sprint, and bounced back up into the air.
The flight was amazing. Paragliding is something I’ve wanted to do for about ten years, and the past two summers I’ve investigated week-long courses to get started flying myself. This flight was probably the best first flight ever, and has just made me more certain that paragliding is something I want to do more of in the future. We got the timing just right too, so as we flew we passed in and out of the sunlight and the shadow cast from the mountain behind us.
I didn’t take my stills camera, just my video camera, which means the photos below aren’t great quality. But this way I could get some video too, and I’ll edit something out of that later.
The convention site from the air.
Not only did I take my video camera, but I switched on my GPS tracker too. This way I could see EXACTLY where we’d flown… and the results are quite spectacular. This first image shows the path from above:
Looks good. But wait… let’s check that from the side:
See that REALLY STEEP DESCENT at the end? That’s when I agreed Arif could show me some of his competition-winning paragliding acrobatics. We did some stomach churning swings and loops, plus a very tight corkscrew like dive. Here’s another view of our path:
We came in low over the beach, past some trees and landed very gently, right next to the big top. I felt ill, of course, but I expected that.
A short while later I sat down in the cafe, nominally to check my emails and/or write this blog. Instead I fell asleep, as I was super tired, and woke in time for dinner. After dinner I got my stuff together, as I’d offered to do a show this evening.
Not much to say except that I performed my show, and I rocked the house! It’s great to do exactly the same material as I do in my cruise ship shows, and it go down just as well, if not better, at a juggling convention. It makes me proud of my work, knowing I don’t sell out in either direction. Here are three photos:
After the show (mostly standing ovation) I packed my stuff and hung out with Lina in the other tent. Renegade was planned, and slowly came together:
The coolest thing was that Arif saw my show and really liked it. So much so that he wants to get his camera rig out tomorrow, take me on another flight, and video me juggling while flying down the mountain! I hope the weather holds out, because this will fit right in to my year-long video project.
Stay tuned for more adventures tomorrow!