Travel has taught me many life lessons and one of the most important of all is to embrace the unknown by being willing to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m excited to try new foods, visit new places and experience new cultures. However, my fear of heights is real and something I’ve been dealing with my entire life. Although I’ve never allowed it to get the best of me in terms of not getting on a plane or crossing a bridge, I’ve carefully tailored my travels to be more adventurous in terms of my taste buds as opposed to doing things such as bungee jumping.
When faced with the option of experiencing a hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava for the first time, my default initial reaction was to pass on it. After-all, it is not as though I was getting from point A to B by balloon. I could just sit this one out and resume the rest of my travel itinerary with the group. That would have obviously been the easy decision; however, something inside of me decided not to let my fear of heights get in the way of what could be one of the most scenic flights of my life. I mean, we would be flying over ancient volcanoes and seeing the Pyrenees off in the distance; that’s not a view you get to see every day!
Those waving goodbye at us became tiny dots; we were rising fast. Without articulating it out loud I was panicking inside. I instantly imagined all of the worst case scenarios possible; however, it wasn’t long before I started to relax. It helped that a few others were nervous and that I wasn’t the only person slightly terrified to be up that high in the sky. The ride itself is smoother than flying in a plane or a helicopter. You don’t feel any turbulence whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t even feel like you’re really moving in any direction at all.
I’d be lying if I said I was relaxed in say the same way I would be lounging on a couch back home, but I did start to feel more comfortable. It wasn’t long before I took out my camera and really started to enjoy my surroundings. The views were simply stunning and we couldn’t have asked for better weather. Below us, we had La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park which features 45 dormant volcanoes situated in between the Pyrenees Mountains and the coastline.
By around the halfway point of our journey (most rides are 1.5 hours long) I relaxed even more. It was around this point in time that the pilot brought out cake and cava. Watching the sunrise while drinking cava and eating cake was the moment I realized it was all worth it. I felt more at ease and I realized I had conquered my fear of hot air ballooning. No, I’ll never totally get over my fear of heights but I was ‘okay’ with being up in the air at that moment.
And then came the descent so smooth and gentle, that we hardly felt a thing when we touched the ground. The landing much like the rest of the balloon ride was graceful. I had survived my first hot air balloon ride and I didn’t fall out of the basket! Moreover, although I was glad to be back on solid ground I was already thinking that I could do another ride in the future. Had I decided to let fear get in the way I would not have experienced all of those magic moments in the sky nor would I have felt good about myself for skipping out. Challenging yourself is the only way to grow as a person and I’m glad the hot air balloon ride in Costa Brava reminded me of how important it is to never stop doing that.
Planning your hot air balloon flight:
- Book a flight with Vol de Coloms in La Garrotxa for departures between 7 and 8 in the morning.
- Rides last approximately 1.5 hours.
- The address is: Afores s/n, 17811, Olot, España