I remember being rather upbeat for a 4 am pick up having barely slept the night before. I could hardly contain my excitement and kept grinning to myself like an idiotic person as I walked through a rather deserted hotel lobby since no person in their right mind would want to be up at this unearthly hour. What can I say ? To experience something magical, you need to really go the distance so if I had to forfeit my supremely comfortable bed to hop into a van full of strangers and drive out into the unknown for my very first hot air balloon ride – so be it 🙂
A lot of people I know have been gushing over their exquisite and romantic time in the hot air balloon and I must admit I was very curious to see what all the hype was about. While I was excited I have to confess I felt a mild wave of apprehension because I’m terrified of heights and to be up in the air without he safety of a metal confined space, seatbelts, a cockpit and an entire staff, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
More pickups, quick loo breaks and instructional videos later, I find we’re still driving and now it’s the crack of dawn! This entire process starts to lose its lustre as sleep decides to creep in when suddenly I find we’ve stop in a field in the middle of nowhere and there are three massive balloons fired up and all ready to take off.
All traces of sleep and dopey faces vanish with the entire bus buzzing with new found energy. I try to take as many pictures and instagram videos possible before I’m helped into the balloon basket along with the others. I wasn’t expecting it to hold so many people but nearly 20 of us including the balloon pilot fit comfortably and before I knew it, I was waving goodbye and squealing as our balloon took off.
I really want to tell you the exact spots over which we flew and where but truth be told I couldn’t care less. All I know is I was treated to the most glorious view possible. We hovered between 5000-7000 feet and beneath me, was Queensland in all her majestic glory as the sun shone brightly treating us to such a beautiful morning. I know it must have been special because the pilot just couldn’t believe what a clear day it was and insisted that the weather isn’t always this favourable which means a lot of times, balloons take off but need to land within the first 20 minutes. We had a luxurious drama free, breathtakingly beautiful 60 minutes cruising over hills and farms between the Gold Coast and Brisbane in the distance.
It’s really hard to pick a highlight during this entire hot air balloon experience but to see kangaroos running in the wild was quite special. Strangely for someone highly phobic about heights I didn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable or scared, just really cold because it was a crisp windy morning. It’s also surprisingly quiet up there. I guess with airplanes I’m use to a certain rattle or hum even when the plane is silent and everyone’s asleep but here it’s just peaceful. Quiet except for the chatter in the balloon and oddly enough, quite a calming experience.
Landing the balloon is a bit tricky but fun and the pilot ends up landing again in a farm but there’s a good chance that the balloon bobs while it lands and could topple so they ask you to brace yourself and at this point I’ve over dramatised this landing in my head but thankfully our bus driver Tony and another colleague come racing down the field, jump out of the van and in what I think is superbly timed jump onto our balloon to hold it down as it hits the ground to try and ensure that it doesn’t bob and bounce. At this point we’re all squealing and laughing but I have to say these guys are pros and we ended up helping them deflate and re pack the balloon before we’re whisked off to a beautiful champagne breakfast at the O Reilly’s estate and winery. It really is ridiculous how beautiful the Gold Coast is and the truth is no matter how many different people offer this hot air balloon experience, the location makes all the difference. So for my very first Balloon ride, I’d give this an A+
If you are curious and would like to experience a hot air balloon ride when you’re in Queensland I’d highly recommend Hot Air Gold Coast and if Tony’s your driver you can be assured a fab experience! They also do a complimentary pick up and drop and you have different packages to choose from. The one I did was for an hour and included the breakfast.
All my travel plans are made possible thanks to this incredible agency I work with. My entire trip to Queensland Australia was made possible thanks to the suggestions and booking by Quantum Travels who are Australia specialists. Should you need help planning your trip this is their information email – firstname.lastname@example.org website : Quantum Travels
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Despite having a fear of heights
With her phobia she valiantly fights
She’s amply rewarded
It’s all here recorded
The bonus being Mr. Tony’s insights!