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72 Hours in Melbourne: Hopping in a Hot Air Balloon

January 16, 2013 at 5:32 PM | by | Comment (1)

Yesterday we filled our belly all around Melbourne and, at the end, hinted about getting high. Today we continue to explore while avoiding any hint of the Australian Open, since there's so much more to this city than tennis.

Our alarm went off earlier than we would like to admit, all in prep for a morning filled with flying high over the city via a hot air balloon. Since the balloons are very dependent on weather patterns, the early morning is the best time to head out and enjoy fresh air from in the air.

Normally when we're traveling it's nice to sleep in a bit and leisurely explore a city, but the aforementioned alarm (at 3:45am!) was for good cause: a pick-up and ride to the balloon adventure briefing. Channeling our inner Wizard of Oz, we wiped the short sleep out of our eyes and rallied for high altitude morning. After a short lecture on what to expect, we were off to Albert Park for set-up and lift-off. Our pilots had researched the winds in the wee hours of the morning to ensure the safest and most accurate flight path.

Preparation for the 60 minute flight began by unloading the basket and spreading out the balloon to fill it with air so it can be heated appropriately. After about 30 minutes of watching and assisting, the five balloons on the field started floating above the grass and our pilot, Dave, told us to go ahead and hop in the basket. After just a few more minutes of flame to counterbalance the 10 passengers, we very gently lifted off the grass and floated over the adjacent lake.

In order to get the perfect bird's eye view of the Port Phillip Bay, Melbourne and its sprawling suburbs, our flight took us over the city heading north. This is as close as we got to the tennis action because we did hover over the Rod Laver Arena for a few minutes. The peaceful flight proved to be quieter and more gentle than we expected, except for the moments the flames were on.

Dave spotted our landing area in Yarra Bend Park and prepped us for what to expect on touch-down. Just as gently as we were airborne, we safely landed on terra firma. In only about 20 minutes after hopping out of the basket, we had packed everything away and were back in the car and on our way to enjoy a late champagne breakfast in town.

For tomorrow's adventures we're acting like alley cats and hanging out in the inner city laneways.

Disclaimer: We headed up high as guests of Tourism Victoria and Global Ballooning, but all of our thoughts, images and amazement are sincerely our own.

[Photos: Rayme Gorniak/Jaunted]

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It's magical

I'm afraid of heights but some how I didn't get freaked out by flying in a hot air balloon. Perhaps because it's so smooth... I guess it felt like being in Willy Wonka's glass elevator. There is something fun about not knowing where we are going to land until it's time to land, too.

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