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We booked this balloon ride four months ahead of our vacation. We were a little nervous that it would be cancelled as the weather was not very cooperative (rain and high winds in the preceding days). But, on the scheduled date, partly cloudy skies and a light wind lured us to the skies. We met the van that would take us to the balloons right outside the Hard Rock Cafe, about a ten minute walk from our hotel. There were three other people joining us for the trip (all visiting from China). We drove about 30 km north of town. The first launch site was rejected as the trial balloon headed out over the Mediterranean. Seeing as we preferred to land on dry land, we headed further north to the second launch site. This time, the trial balloon apparently went in a favorable direction. Two balloons were prepped for launch. My husband and I would ride with our pilot and the other three guests would go in the second balloon. We "helped" with the inflation by holding the neck of the balloon open for the fan to inflate it while the balloon team worked on the actual balloon to get it spread out. Very quickly, we were asked to climb in and then we launched. The liftoff was so gentle and smooth it was hard to believe we had left the ground. I had wondered if I would be scared to go up, but the launch was so easy that my fear was left behind on the ground.
The views as we rose in the sky and started to head west were stunning. When the blower for the balloon was not running, it was so quiet. We could hear dogs barking from far below. We then rose up above the clouds and sat there in the same wind current. Although we could tell we were moving if we looked between clouds at the ground, it felt as if we were just bobbing at the top of the clouds in a single spot.
We had launched near Vic, an ancient Catalan community situated on the Plane del Vic. It is situated in valley is enclosed by a circle of mountainous systems. I actually have no idea which mountains we could see poking through the clouds but it was amazing to see them from that vantage point.
The whole experience of being aloft was simply magical. My husband and I both felt elated at our good fortune to be able to do this on our trip. It was the first time in a balloon for both of us but surely won't be the last. Seeing the world from the basket of a balloon is so different from gazing out the window of a plane. This experience is definitely serene and awe-inspiring. I cannot recommend it enough for your consideration.
Finally, our time in the clouds ended and we slowly came back down to earth. Our pilot communicated with the ground van as to where he intended to land. He skillfully lowered the balloon over farm land, pointed to a dirt road about 3 km away and indicated we would land there. He coached us on how to bend our knees to absorb the impact of our landing. We touched down on one side of the narrow dirt road and skidded to a stop on the other side. I was amazed at the precision of this landing.
After helping our pilot and the van driver get the packed balloon onto the trailer, we drove back to the launch site and rendezvoused with the other balloon. As a celebration, we each got a certificate, a class of champagne (well, actually Catalan's sparkling wine, cava) and a freshly toasted grilled cheese sandwich. The sandwiches were grilled in the flame of a balloon heater and were quite tasty. Then, regretfully, we headed back to Barcelona and bid our pilot and fellow travelers goodbye. All told, we were only gone from the city about five hours but the experience will last in our memories forever.
All in all, I strongly urge anyone reading this to schedule a balloon ride if you are planning to be in the Barcelona area. It is fantastic! My photos do not do this justice but hopefully will whet your appetite to go aloft.
We were a bit apprehensive about doing this trip but it was fantastic. The guys, Thomas our pilot made it fun and very enjoyable. I would highly recommend this, just fabulous.