So I went for it. My first hot-air balloon flight! And because there are times when even pictures are not enough, I made a video so you could all come along for the ride.
Oh, and I think it’s so cool that the date of my 30th birthday is printed right on my flight certificate.
Some notes on the flight after the jump:
I have a fear of heights. Observation decks? With glass floors? Hate ‘em. So I was a bit worried about how I would respond to this flight. But hot air balloons are now my favorite way to reach the skies. The takeoff is unbelievably gentle. It helps that you always feel something solid—the basket—under your feet. I didn’t even feel the balloon leaving the ground.
Speaking of heights, I had the misfortune to be riding with the loudest, most annoying woman in the world. She just wouldn’t. Stop. Talking. Everything, and I mean everything she saw triggered a barrage of verbal diarrhea.
“Ohmygodlook, a Ford Everest. I want a Ford Everest, honey I really want one of those. Beth tells me they give great mileage. Ohmygod, a cat. So cute. There are so many cats here. It’s unbelievable. Do you know why there are so many cats here? Ohmygoodlook, the balloons! There are the balloons, honey! Do you see the balloons? They look so scary! Ohmygodwait. Is that fire? Are they on fire? ARE THEY ON FIRE?!?! I don’t want to be inside the one that looks like it’s on fire!” Lady, there is a reason they are called hot air balloons. What do you think creates the hot air?
It got so uncomfortably loud in the van (“Small space! Loud sounds!” is what we used to tell our playgroup toddlers) that even her boyfriend/husband tried to shut her up tactfully by saying, “Wow. I didn’t know you were so talkative in the morning.” She retorted: “I’m only like this when I’m scared.” It was like this all the way until we got into the air.
All 16 of us in the balloon were the most unfortunate recipients of a blow-by-blow commentary on how nervous she was at any given moment. To the pilot: “So, you do know what you’re doing right? Have you been doing this long? I just want to be sure.” Pilot’s semi-sarcastic reply, delivered with a smile: “Oh yes. About two whole weeks.
While up in the clouds: “Down! Let’s go down. Down is good. Down is a great idea.” Lady, I don’t know about you, but I didn’t pay €150 for “down.” We all paid for up.
Here’s the clincher. The pilot attempts to reassure her with a few facts about flying. Her response: “Oh no, I know all about flying. I fly Cessnas. Back home in Arizona I fly planes all the time.” WHUUUT? Then why the heck would you be nervous about—oh, never mind! I’m 30 now, I can’t afford to create any more wrinkles.
For a blissful, soaring hour and a half, this hot air balloon ride made me feel like I was in heaven. Too bad I had to share it with the traveler from hell!