hot air ballooning over lithuania!
as our time in the baltics came to a close, we were hitting a low point
with traveling. at about 5 weeks on the road nonstop, it was catching
up with us here. though these countries were beautiful, there were
fewer familiar conveniences and it was just getting to be a lot since
these cities are smaller + closer so we were packing up, getting on a
bus and traveling every single day. i live for this kind of stuff, but it
was really hitting chase which then made it hit me a little too…
funny how marriage works that way, am i right? ;)
we definitely know how lucky we are to get the chance to do this,
but don’t be fooled that it’s straight glam! in between the magic
european cities & endless plates of pasta in italy, we’ve been
living out of two small bags, wearing dirty clothes twice – or
three or four times – sitting on trains, planes, and buses pretty
much every other day, constantly figuring out logistics and
directions to new hotels, sweating our faces off in the european
heat wave summer, and definitely getting a little frustrated
with each other at times (think: the stressful fights people
get in on amazing race or something … haha!) the beautiful
reality of travel is that it tests patience, forces decisions, and
pushes us outside our comfort zones. these are some of the
reasons i actually love it, but when it’s full-time it’s magnified.
all that is to give a little dose of reality before showing something
that “lifted” our spirits, quite literally! (along with a good long
facetime session with my parents who always cheer us up ;)
vilnius is one of the only remaining capital cities in the world that
allows hot air balloons, because the airport is far away enough and
certain regulations make it possible. this is why you’ll see hot air
balloons coloring the skyline here morning and evening, and you’ll
want to get yourself on one! this will be an experience that i don’t think we will be forgetting anytime soon.
lithuania proudly calls itself a country of hot
air balloons, and balloons are often pictured as symbols of the country
and capital vilnius. after our windy tethered balloon experience in tallinn
and our friends telling us about this experience in vilnius, it was a
no-brainer to take a ride here. we’re glad our pals had just done it
a few weeks before because it made us even more excited!
we woke up at the crack of dawn and got picked up by the great guys at
oreivi? klubas padangi? g?l?s ballooning. if you can’t tell, i appreciate a
good family-run business and so we loved being able to chat with
adam about how his dad got into ballooning in 1988 and how it has
carried over to a successful business where they are able to enjoy
their passion and help others enjoy it, too! what is better than that?
i thought their story was so great that i have to share some of it!
adam’s father, romanas mikelevicius, started the company & has
racked up 2550 flight hours (!!) he is also the only balloonist in lithuania
who has taken part in every single ballooning championship since 1991
(23 years in a row). also, the fact that the ballooning championships are a
thing makes me happy :) on top of all that, romanas was twice elected president
of the lithuanian hot air balloons federation and now 3 of his sons are active
hot air balloon pilots. it’s safe to say that this is an experienced group to fly with!just some of the stages of the hot air balloons being filled up ^^
because we came early with the team, we got to see the entire process
from rolling the balloon out of the trailer to taking off in it! i still can’t
quite believe someone ever had this idea and made it work, but i love it!
casually shooting heat into the balloon
(i’m in the background crossing my fingers that
the flames don’t light the balloon on fire! )
^^ here’s chase “helping” … ha, just had to be part of the process!
balloons ready for lift off ^^
it’s so funny to just hop into a little basket and be taken away!
i’ve only ever done this before when i was young, so i
couldn’t remember and wasn’t sure what to expect.
up up and away over old town ^^
it’s one of the prettiest places to balloon, since you get views
of this charming european city at the beginning, and still
end with incredible scenery over a river + farmland.
the ride is so quiet and peaceful up there in the sky
(in between the blasts of heat..my hair was on fire!)
this river was glowing in the morning sun and
the scene looked straight out of a fairytale!
a fitting prince charming for the fairy tale scene ^^ (sorry, had to!)
the ride didn’t feel scary to me at all ( i kind of love heights )
but the time i did get freaked out is when our captain adam
showed us his tricks by going lower and touching the tip top
of huge pine trees in the forest … the balloon would catch on the
tree top and sway SO much like it was tipping! adam wasn’t
one bit worried as he did this multiple times, so i had to trust
that he knew what he was doing, tricky guy! he also told us his
other trick is touching the bottom of the basket in the river..ahh!
my favorite part is seeing the balloon’s shadow all along and knowing you’re in it :)
one more kiss before landing!
and, safely on the ground in a field in the middle of nowhere ^^
the ride was an hour of peaceful floating before landing here ,
packing up, having a toast in the field, and driving back together.
the boys got to help back the basket + balloon up ^^
and we earned our ballooning diplomas! very proud moment :)
thank you to oreivi? klubas padangi? g?l?s for this memorable
flight over lithuania that brought us back to the magic of this
experience and like i said, truly “lifted” our bodies and spirits!
bye baltics, see you from italia.