As the sky turns from viscous black to vivid pink, the sun slowly dissolves the thick fog floating on the frosty grass of the Ashton Court Estate.
With my shoes soaking up the damp morning dew, I wander around the park looking for the exact meeting point, stumbling upon deer and early morning runners.
The mighty colours of the sky are mesmerising, but I know that the best is yet to come.
We split into three groups to help the crew setting things up. Like on the opening night of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, I’m surprised by the actual size of a balloon and by the way it looks when it is deflated. My thoughts are filled with anticipation, permeated with that nervous kind of energy that makes me savouring every little operation leading to the ascent.
As soon as I climb into the basket, the hot air pushes us gently upward. I expected the balloon to be at the mercy of the wind, but it moves smoothly and steadily instead, as if it were a panoramic elevator.
It glides on the air, over tangled rows of beautiful Bristol’s houses. I turn my face to the sun, eyes set to the horizon. I breathe in the fresh air, feeling it on my face. The weeklong rain had washed the sky, which now looks like an uninterrupted background of blue. The weather is gorgeous and the morning is clear, which allows us to see as far as the sea, enjoying a view usually bequeathed only to the birds.
As we glide on, the pilot announces that we are flying over the Suspension Bridge, the sight of which I’ve (proudly) managed to avoid for the whole summer, as I wanted my first time to be special and going there on my last day in town kind of sounded like a good story. With my back towards the bridge, I stare at the sun for a few more seconds, pondering whether is this the right time to meet the iconic bridge -and quickly realising that no, there would have been no worthier moment than this one.
Down there, there is a bridge majestically stretching over the Avon River, which carries on through the city, skimming the post-industrial docks and harbour and then flowing towards the bright green countryside.
From up here, I can’t help but notice how green the town is. I already knew that environmental awareness and local food production are realities in Bristol, and I’m also a big fan of the many beautiful parks scattered all around the town, but from a bird’s eye view I realize that the city is even greener than I thought.
You can get a better understanding of things when you see them from another perspective. From up here, I can see cars moving around, but I can’t hear the noise of the traffic. In the same way, the heavy traffic of my thoughts passing through the mind is muted: I can still spot the loneliness as well as the achievements of my Bristolian summer, the laughs and the disappointments, but they all are just drifting under me, together with these colourful, iconic houses.
Sometimes all I need is contemplating life from high above.
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Enjoy the video of the flight!
I was a guest of Red Letter Days UK, a company that offers experience gifts for all tastes, including –of course- a hot air balloon ride.
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