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Monday, 4 September 2017

Ballooning in Transylvania



In the end, ‘bucket lists’ – do I support/believe (in) them or not?
Hmmm… tough call. If I were to say ‘yes’, then my short story – I won’t keep you long reading – should start as follows:
‘My friends and I have been dreaming about a hot-air balloon trip for ages…’
We couldn’t find the right provider and when we did (and even went to a music festival to ride the balloon), it was under inspection. As all’s well that ends well [and I pretty much work out my air-related thingies in autumn], we were supposed to go on that ride this past Saturday. We [Alexandra, Cătălin, Alina, Marcel, and I] left Braşov on a quite sunny note. By the time we arrived in Sibiu, we’d already witnessed cats and dogs dripping down our windshield. J Showers didn’t take long, but managed to drive us crazy as we’d eat on the terrace and leave, multiplied by 3. Not to mention our hearts in agony at the sight of drops and yet again in ecstasy as the sky started to clear.
-        Where are you?
-        Having an ice cream and trying to fend off the rain.
-        The crew has already left to the field. You should get there yourselves and see the conditions on site.
Yup. The hopeful voice of AIR Sensation.
The sun that would guide us somewhere between Ocna Sibiului and Şura Mică, some 15 km from downtown Sibiu.
The smiles on the faces of our guide and assistants, as we were told that we’d take off.
Frenzy followed. [By the way, that balloon packs up pretty well.]

It took some time to unwrap it, connect it to the basket, get the confirmation from the Control Tower, and wait for some naughty and drippy clouds to pass.

I was watching the guys at work, taking pictures, and then it was time to climb into the basket.

People were gathering around to take pictures, cars were stopping on the road. 

The take-off was so gentle, that I couldn’t believe how fast we climbed higher and higher and higher [I could notice the details in the corn fields diminishing by the second].

Yet, it seemed like we were not moving at all, there was a soothing silence I remembered from the minutes following my first and only skydiving freefall.

A silence that went well with the mellow hills and the mighty mountains in the background, always watching. You cannot go wrong with being amidst the great outdoors when in Transylvania.

There is something idyllic all around this land – the occasional hare running its heart out at the sight of our giant rounded shape, the scattered flocks of sheep and their shepherds, and the wild remoteness – even close to the cities.
We had flown up to 1200 meters and the winds had been more cooperating than we had hoped, having us at the probable end of our route much faster than expected. The road accessibility was more limited over the next hill, so… ‘should we stop or not?’ – that was the question. We did because we didn’t want to chance it; the Control Tower was thus informed of our landing. But boy, it was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life! Here was our chance to actually test our safety instruction knowledge from the beginning of our adventure. Of course, blonde as I am, I mixed everything up and I ended up all over Marcel at landing, when I was supposed to have my back at him. Mind you, I was still holding on to those rope handles!
-        What now? I said giggling. Are you giving us diplomas?
I nearly succeeded to ruin the surprise, but didn’t. We were baptised, like in the old times, had our hairs burnt and washed by champagne.

Our eyes sparkled. It was barely perceivable post-sunset, but they rejoiced, being especially amused when we received the titles of counts and countesses of Topârcea – the closest settlement – and claimed an honorary land title over the patch under the wicker basket. All the bliss felt by us that evening could be summed up in da Vinci‘s words, scribbled onto our diplomas-- ‘Once you have tasted flight, you will walk the earth with your eyes turned forever skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return’.

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