Up, up and away – a true wellness experience

 It’s a perfect morning in early summer and I’m drifting like a feather high above the beautiful Lithuanian countryside in a hot air balloon. The air is still and unbelievably silent. There’s not the slightest sound outside the small wicker basket in which six of us are tightly squeezed next to the pilot.

 As the early morning sun makes its entrance, the verdant landscape below is flooded with golden light. Inside the cramped basket, the silence is punctuated with the cries of ‘wow – what a view!’ and the clicking of cameras and phones, as we try to capture the magic of this unique experience.

  The world looks so incredibly beautiful from up here that it’s impossible not to smile  – I feel so happy and elated. Only the occasional roar and burst of heat from the propane burners is a reminder of my initial fears about taking this ride and the vulnerability of the adventure.

  We soar higher and the balloon’s shadow appears like a tiny dot on the sea of green forests that stretch as far as the eye can see. These are just some of the many forests that cover almost a third of Lithuania. We float weightlessly on, over the meandering Nemunas River, savouring the views of sleepy villages and rolling fields. Passing soundlessly over a small farm, the sight of the balloon (or possibly its shadow) unsettles some horses and startles a large hare. I watch as it races along the edge of a long field before disappearing into the undergrowth.

 Drifting above a loop in the river, we notice an impressive building on the bank. Our pilot identifies it as the Royal Spa Residence, one of Birstonas’s leading spa hotels and where we stayed the previous night. It looks quite different from above, but then I recognise the rotundas on the lawns and even a riverside path I used on my early morning walk. We float on, and at one point descend low over a dense forest. The tops of the pine trees seem close enough to touch, but then the burners roar and we rise safely up and away.

 All too soon, it is time to return to earth and reality. Slowly and skilfully, the pilot brings us in to land on almost the same spot in the same field we departed from. We hang on tightly as the basket bumps along the ground and then scramble out, relieved to be safely down but still laughing and exhilarated.

 This slightly scary but life-affirming adventure was amazing – a true wellness experience –  I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

 Catherine’s trip to Lithuania was organised by Baltic Holidays. For further information visit:  www.balticholidays.com, Tel: +44 118187140.

Information from “SPA wellbeing” page, by   (https://spawellbeing.com/up-up-and-away-a-true-wellness-experience.html ).

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