Monday, 14 September 2015

Full of Hot Air - Virgin Experience Days

Last year for my birthday I was treated to a hot air balloon voucher with Virgin, I know, lucky right!
I think I mentioned in my Bath post that we originally went to Bath to do the hot air balloon ride but unfortunately it was cancelled due to forecast rain - it never did rain so that was a major let down but when your flight gets cancelled your vouchers are reissued online up to 9 times so we had the chance to rebook. Problem was the voucher was due to expire in March 2016 so I knew we had to get the flight in asap rocky or else we would lose the voucher as, lets be honest, flying in October is not going happen given the likely weather and the flights seem to be less frequent in the winter months anyway, which makes sense, given the short days and terrible weather.
On a Friday morning towards the end of August we saw that the weather for the following day was going to be dry and sunny so decided to try and book a last minute flight close to home and we actually got lucky! There was one flight spot in Berkhamsted with 2 spaces left and as it's only a 2 hour drive from home we booked in last minute and set off at 3:30am to make it there for the flight. What's an early start when you're flying in a hot air balloon?
Arriving at a dewy rugby ground at 5:30am we helped the crew set up the balloon (I watched actually) ready for the flight which was scheduled to last around an hour.
It was such a calm day so there was little wind to take us anywhere at first, which I was quite glad of as it meant we had to go higher to catch a current. The higher the better I say, plus it gave us the opportunity to properly watch the sunrise.
We were technically flying in Luton Airport's air space but it was so early that it wasn't an issue and they must get it all the time as there are quite a few launch sites in that area; we saw three other hot air balloons while we were up there.
Of course I took a selfie!
We travelled 13 miles on our flight, saw stately homes and gorgeous countryside, went just under 2000ft high and then landed in some unsuspecting farmers field where we packed up the balloon and had champagne and a chat before setting off back to the original launch site in a mini bus. It was all so chilled out and therapeutic and considering you can get the virgin experience days on Groupon now for a fraction of the price, it's well worth the money and makes a great gift.
If you're not scared of heights, I would definitely recommend adding this experience to your bucket list. Watching the world from a basket in the sky... hands down, best experience ever.

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