Last year in Lithuania…
It took a long time before we broke away from the ground. Some of us had to wait in a lying position, I was lucky enough to climb when the balloon was in vertical position. I could take pictures of my friends; they looked like nicely flat sardines in a can.
Finally, I found myself inside. A hot fire was bursting in the belly of the balloon, and it seemed to us that it would soon burn our heads. All my knowledge of flying balloons came from Jules Verne’s books I read as a young girl. After remembering “5 weeks in a balloon” I was expecting a sudden spurt and wobble in all directions. Instead, the wind lifted us up gently like a feather, as if we did not weigh a few tons. Slowly, calmly hovered higher and higher. To our eyes, nature presented more and more patchwork landscapes; green and yellow fields, blue patches of lakes, long rivers wrapped around forests like a scarf.
And wetlands. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many swamps and bogs in my life. Reading historical books about the medieval times of the Teutonic Wars, I often came across stories about fugitives, or spies missing when crossing the marshy forests. Now I can imagine it. Now I believe that the swamp can suck and kill. Woe betides to those who are lost in such a forest.
But let’s get back to our balloon. All fourteen of us got into the basket just fine, some of us were a bit scared, others excited about being able to fly to the sky. Our “pilot” was wonderful, he talked about his experience with balloons and patiently accepted our nervous jokes. The plan was to get to the lakes and watch the Lithuanian castle in Trakai. Unfortunately, if you tell the wind about your plans, it will blow in the opposite direction. A balloon is not a helicopter, can’t be that easily controlled. We did not see the castle, only a tiny spot from a distance, but it was worth it anyway. I did not expect such peace and grace in the air. Total relaxation.
After an hour of flight, the pilot brought us quietly to the ground, without a bump, without any surprises. In the end, he told us the story of the first ballooners, which by accident lit their hair and had to extinguish the fire with champagne, as they had no water. To commemorate this event, hair tips were delicately set on fire and quickly poured over with champagne.
I was first, and I think I’m glad because if I knew exactly what they were doing with my head, I might have doubts.
Here in the picture our balloon and his wonderful Lithuanian crew.