who would have thought so many people were up before the crack of dawn?
after a couple of false starts due to inclement weather, including a cancellation at the ungodly time of 3:45am, we finally had the chance to go for a hot air balloon ride (elmo did well to keep this a secret for so long!).
we started at southbank at 4:30am, headed out to monash uni and were in the air by 5:30am. this was the best part of the morning: watching half a dozen giant deflated balloons gently roar to life one by one, the air swirling around inside as they begin to lift off the footy ground. we waved the first balloons off, then a quick scramble into the basket and away we floated, waving goodbye to the ground crew ourselves. not sure if it was the lack of cawfee or the lack of sleep, but this was a truly magical experience.
despite the low cloud, the view was spectacular. from the air, we saw the synchrotron, trains and cars on the freeways, the racetrack, various universities, many a dream suburban home (so many swimming pools in the eastern suburbs. tsktsk ;p), elmo's old high school, the amazing greenery surrounding melbourne and folks on a morning jog or walking their dogs.
other than the odd burst of flame to keep us afloat, it was eerily quiet, so still, so peaceful.
as we neared the cbd, the winds became more temperamental so our pilot, marlon, landed us with a few soft thuds on an unsuspecting school oval. for this honour, the groundsman was more than happy to accept a bottle of champers, a tradition harking back to French pioneers who appeased folks with their local sparkling, when landing in their fields. marlon tells us this also served as assurance that 'balloonatics' were not messengers of the devil.
we ended the morning with a champagne breakfast with our fellow basket ballooners to celebrate various anniversaries, weddings and birthdays. incredible to think we can still experience this technology, and an unforgettable, breathtaking start to the morning (thank you so much elmo :) )