I can’t sleep. I toss and turn all night. I am worried. My husband is awakened in the middle of the night by me. I tell him I should have never agreed to go, and he will have to go without me. He says, “don’t worry I will take care of you”. I am going on a Hot Air Balloon ride in the morning. Due to being frightened of heights, this balloon ride scares me. Morning arrives and we set off with our good friends, Jim and Melinda. We drive to the hot air balloon site. Everyone is excited, but I secretly hope the guy does not show up. He does show up and I feel sick. After all the prep-work, we are ready to take off. I begin to cry. We are off and in a few short moments I realize how amazing hot air balloon riding really can be. It is so relaxing and we are just floating over the desert in the cool morning sun rise. What an amazing trip with such good friends. This is one item to cross off the bucket list. Oh yeah, it was never on the bucket list to begin with but it gets added and crossed off. Thumbs up to a great adventure.
On our journey we flew over the LaQuinta, California area. LaQuinta is a resort city located in the Coachella Valley not far from Palm Springs. As we flew over this desert town we could spot the many golf courses, San Andres Fault and in the distance we could see the beautiful Santa Rose Mountains.
Balloons Above has an overall rating of 4 on Trip Advisor. I rated them a 5 for the following reasons: the staff was friendly and for the nervous balloon rider they made you feel comfortable. We started right on time and you could tell from the start how experience they were.
If I would have read more about the skills and experience of the crew at Balloons Above, I think I would have been more comfortable and might not have lost so much sleep the night before. So here is a little more about Balloons Above that really explains why I had such a comfort level.
Balloons Above is owned by Wil LaPointe. Wil shares on his website that he “was in the cellular communications business in the late 1980’s when he saw his first hot air balloon in the Tulsa, Oklahoma area. He immediately realized the potential to draw a crowd, so he purchased a rooftop type to advertise his business. One day, a salesman stopped by who was also a balloon pilot. Although Wil had never been “up” in a balloon, he purchased a red, white and blue passenger balloon, perfect to promote his U.S. Cellular business. The pilot took him for his first ride and he was hooked on the experience.
Wil then trained to be a licensed pilot and became quite successful at competitive racing, eventually being ranked #5 in the entire country. He has been having the time of his life introducing people to the joy of hot air ballooning for the last twenty years.”
The associates at Balloons Above have the following certification:
FAA LTD Commercial Pilots and Flight Instructors
FAA Certified equipment
Liability Insured to California regulations for Balloons and Vehicles
Member of Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
BFA Nationals Competitor for 15 years
Learn more about Balloons Above at: http://www.balloonabovethedesert.com
Please contact Tina Honkus for California Adventure.
Agent: Tina Honkus
You have your work, your friends, your home and suddenly you decide that the safety net wich you created with so much love and tenderness in not enough for you anymore. Last summer I graduated from university, had already completed my internship and here I am with absolutely no clue about my future, about what I want in my life, what will make me happy. So I just disappeared in Portugal for one month. Was it a success? Did I book the first ticket back to Greece by the time I set my foot to this country? Well keep on reading my friends.
Worldpackers is a company which helps young people to travel around the world without spending a small fortune as they provide free accommodation, meals and sometimes a pocket money in exchange for their skills. These skills vary from photography to cooking or even painting. Mine where storytelling and photography so I found a job in a hostel/surf camp, called “Perfect Spot Lisbon” and was located well in Lisbon, in order to provide their business in social media and press. Did I mention that I always wanted to learn how to surf?
So here I am, in a residence five minutes from the ocean trying to decide what to cook with my roommate Kamila, who is also a volunteer in the hostel. By the afternoon we had already finished all of our work, so we just hit the ocean to spend the rest of the day surfing. As you can imagine we were starving by the end of the day and the good thing with our hostel is that it has a huge kitchen equiped with pretty much everything so in no time pretty much everybody was gathered in the kitchen for an “international” dinner.
This is the second thing that I loved through my experience in Portugal, the first one was the ocean. The fact that you can meet so many interesting people, all of them travellers. Some were travelling for the last year, some of them have just started their journey, and some of them were only for their holidays. But you know the main characteristic was that they were all very keen to know with each other and have a great time while spending their time there.
Besides good food is for sharing, and trust me Portugal has amazingly good food. Since I was supposed to stay there for a month I mostly cooked but I had promised to myself that once in a while I would take him out for dinner. By that time I discovered “Mules and Gin” which serves around fifteen different types of mules and around ten different types of gin. If you happen to be there you have to pay it a visit. Another place that it can easily become a spot in Cascais is “House of Wonders”, a terrace for smoothies, tapas, sweets and great cocktails, totally recommend it.
In general I used to spend my days in Cascais because I was working, living, surfing and doing horse riding there but if I wanted to check Lisbon, I could just take the train and in thirty minutes I was in the centre. Lisbon is located in seven hills so there are many viewpoint or you can just “miraduro”, the view is amazing and if you are a fan of sunsets I should advice you to go to “Park”, which is literally a parking lot with a hidden door leading to one of the most beautiful terraces you have ever saw.
Between surf, horse riding, the work in the hostel, and my small adventures in Lisbon, I did not realize how my holidays came to an end. I did not forget that, in the beginning of my article I told that I came in Portugal for a reason. Well I advice you that if at any case you find yourself lost in a more than one ways you just have to book a ticket. Through my journey I realized not only that destiny is to invest myself in the travel industry as a digital storyteller but also I had the chance to meet so many inspirational people, one of them actually is sitting with me while I am writing this article. Hope that you found my experience inspirational, see you soon possibly bringing news from another destination.
Author: Ilektra Chatzopoulou
I love camping since I was a child. When I settled in California and had my own family, I took the family to go camping every summer at several camp grounds through out California. Our last summer 2016, We visited Norway to see many places in the capital of Oslo. We squeezed our limited time with couple days to camp in Østmarka: Øvresaga, Oslo. It is a self-service cabin accommodation with gas, wood fuel stove, 8 beds. 3 canoes in the forest.
We stayed in a cabin approximately 1 hour's drive from Oslo. The cabin was called Øvresaga and belongs to the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT). It is Norway's biggest outdoor activities organization. Most of the DNT cabins don't have electricity, but they are well equipped with everything you need except for food. The cabins have bunk beds with pillows and blankets, wood for the fire, pots, pans, matches, candles, and sawdust toilet with toilet paper. We had to carry water buckets from the stream near our cabin for daily usage. Living in such conditions was tough but it makes us appreciate what we have at home even more. The best part was the beautiful nature, quiet environment, and fresh air, picking wild blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and canoeing on the lake.
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