We are so excited to be in a hot air balloon!!
When I first received my itinerary from JayWay Travel for my trip through the Baltics I skimmed it quickly, city tour here, nice hotel there, cooking class here, bog walking tour there…. bog walking tour? What the heck is that I thought? I would soon learn on my trip and love it…. but as I kept going down the list the thing that got me the MOST excited out of everything on the list was taking a HOT AIR BALLOON RIDE!! I would be going hot air ballooning for the first time in Lithuania!
What is looks like hot air ballooning over Cappadocia – by Liz of YoungAdventuress.com
Previously I was meant to of gone on a hot air balloon safari in South Africa, but due to poor weather conditions that was canceled. Hot. Air. Balloon. Safari. I was soooo upset that that got cancelled. Hot air ballooning is something that has ALWAYS been at the top of my bucket list and seeing a zillion of my travel blogging friends doing it in places like Costa Brava and over Capadoccia in Turkey has left me yearning to finally do it. So I was BEYOND thrilled that I would get to do it for the first time in Lithuania.
I also learned that hot air ballooning in Lithuania is actually quite an affordable experience compared to doing it in other places around the world. In Capadoccia a flight might cost you €325 but in Lithuania on average it costs €90 – €100. That is an AMAZING deal.
Floating above the Trakai Castle Island in Lithuania
Our flight was with Orobalionai, an awesome hot air ballooning company in Lithuania that does flights over the Trakai Castle where we went and also over the city of Vilnius and a few other places. When we took off we luckily had another balloon going at the same time so we were able to take pretty pictures of another balloon flying next to us as well.
Watching the crew lay out the balloon and getting it blown up was really cool to watch. We soon learned however that our pilot did not speak much english, however he knew enough to tell us when to get in and when to get out and I think thats about all you really need to know in this instance. Honestly everything else can be figured out through hand gestures.
The night before our flight I didn’t sleep much as I was a bit anxious for some reason. Even though I have taken a million flights and a few helicopter rides in my life, for some reason I still had my apprehensions. However as soon as we took off that all went away. It was so calm and smooth, it was as if we were hardly moving. Aside from the off and on loud roar of the propane cylinders firing to keep us in the air and the beep of the altimeter it was a very peaceful experience. That was until I remembered that we still had to land the darn thing… however this also turned out to be quite smooth and easy.
The other balloon floats over Lithuania’s Lake Galvé
There were six of us plus our pilot in our balloon, squished in snuggly with just enough room. Our flight took off from a random field up-wind from the Trakai Castle Island located in the beautiful Trakai Historical National Park. It was early morning with a heavy fog just lifting which gave us some spectacularly epic scenes to capture and Lake Galvė was as still as could be. It was almost fairy tale like.
We also floated over vast forests and small neighbourhoods. Fact: dogs do not like hot air balloons, one even seemed to be chasing us through is yard as we soared above.
After about an hour or so of soaring and up and down over the clouds and fog our pilot began searching for a nice place to land. This is when I then realized that since hot air balloons can’t really steer in any particular direction and they just float along with the air streams that they also don’t always have a designated landing spot. Or at all. Ever. They just find a piece of land that looks clear, hope for the best and hope the land owners don’t mind.
Not a look of terror I swear, trying to grab an image of us scrambling in the hot air balloon basket after it tipped over on it’s side.
Aside from the horse that we seemed to spook pretty good the owners watched us then went back inside and didn’t seem to care that we were in their yard. We braced for the landing that turned out to be quite soft however we then had to wait for the rest of the crew to arrive and find us before we could get out. Without the balloon being properly deflated the weight of our bodies and the basket was what was keeping us on the ground. Eventually we were found and the balloon tipped the basket over in slow-mo with all of us still in it screaming and giggling as we scrambled out.
Charles from JayWay Travel gets his hair burnt in a post-hot air balloon flight tradition
Our hot air ballooning experience in Lithuania wasn’t over yet though. We were then told about a hot air ballooning tradition after ones first flight. Apparently over 200 years ago in France the first hot air balloon was successfully piloted and upon landing one of the men fell out and got dirt on his face and the other accidentally singed his hair on the ignition in the balloon and to celebrate their successful flight they toasted with champagne. Because of this there is a tradition that is almost like a knighting ceremony in a way. Each of us were asked to get down on one knee and the pilots then proceed to singe some of our hair, put some dirt on our faces and then pour champagne on our heads! This was definitely a new tradition for me.
The contents of a hot air balloon’s “black box”. Very important.
Other people that were with me who had hot air ballooned in other parts of the world had never experienced this before either so perhaps it was part of a Lithuanian tradition, who knows. However it was all in good fun and we all got to celebrate afterwards with a nice glass of champagne.
To learn more about my experience in the air and to see this baptism by earth, fire and champagne watch the video from my trip!
Now I can’t wait to do it again somewhere else in the world! Have you ever flown in a hot air balloon? Where did you do it?
I was hosted by JayWay Travel on my trip through the Baltics, however like always all opinions and views expressed are my own.