So much time has passed already since my last post and I have a lot to catch-up on... As you may have noticed, I even have a new name! Roughly translated (for all my non-German speaking friends) I am Baroness Taylor, high in the blue canopy, ascending conquerer of the air from Hofkirchen. But if you like, you can still call me Taylor for short ;-).
I picked up my "balloon name" on my latest adventure. A hot air balloon ride over the hills of Eastern Styria! In case I haven't bragged about this to you for the past 3 months, this was Chris' Christmas/Birthday present to me, and we couldn't have picked a more perfect weekend for it. So here's how I spent days 81-79! (YIKES! I'm already in the 70's!!)
7:00 AM- Balloon and basket arrive. Time to help set up. Lucky for me, the pilot thought only men were capable of helping out... so I took lots of pictures of the men doing their thing.
Setting up the balloon wasn't easy after all. The wind decided to change just as we got the balloon up in the air, and the men holding on to it to keep it stabilized had a really hard job. Eventually, we got enough hot air in the balloon and as soon as the pilot gave us the word we all hopped in the basket (there were 10 passengers plus the pilot) and away we flew.
Here's video of the first few moments going up in the air... I only freak out a little bit. I was also so nervous I didn't realize I was filming sideways part of the time... sorry you'll have to tilt your head!
Some shots from the air:
That's our hotel from above
Time to pack up the
balloon and head back again :-(
After arriving back at the hotel saftely we had a nice breakfast followed by the traditional "christening ceremony." I had no idea what to expect... The passengers had to take a knee, say a vow (I have no idea what I vowed because our pilot's Steierischer dialekt was so strong!), then we each had our go at getting baptized with fire! Lucky for me, I wasn't the first one to go because I probably would have freaked out. The pilot took a strand of our hair, burned about 3 inches (7.62 cm) off with a lighter and then dumped champagne over our head. Afterwards we received our new names, a glass of champagne to drink and a certificate with our burnt hair inside. I have Chris' christening on video :-) The picture on the right was with a fellow balloon passenger who happened to be wearing a Minneapolis T-shirt... (they even got hwy 169 right!!). He didn't want to trade shirts so, naturally we had to have our picture taken together!
Later in the day:
We went exploring around the area. Since it's still just mid-March everything was closed, and I mean everything! Despite having no luck with visiting famous sites, we went for a nice drive through the countryside. I loved the tiny little roads (except when they made a sharp turn and you couldn't see if someone was coming around the corner from the other direction). We found Scottish highlands cattle on a farm right next to the tiny little road.
Chris is unhappy because he thinks he's doing all the pedaling... not true!⇑
Even later in the day: We went to a Therma (thermal spa) and played on some wicked watersides. After I almost had a heart-attack from what seemed like a near death experience sliding down a steep drop backwards in the dark (our 2 person tube got turned around in the wrong direction), I relaxed in the warm pools and called it a day. It's hard to believe we could fit that much excitement into one day.