Today is a very special day! I’m going to surprise my boyfriend Sebastian, who’s celebrating his 30th birthday today, with a hot-air balloon ride over the impressive mountain world of Filzmoos and the surrounding area.
Excitedly, I take a look out of the window – it’s icy cold outside. The weather’s just perfect for ballooning, clear blue skies, sunshine and a fabulous long-range view.
At 8.00 am in the morning we make our way to the Hammer launch field, where this year too, balloons set off daily as part of the 41st International Dopgas Hot-air Balloon Trophy.
COLOURFUL BALLOONS OVER FILZMOOS
Due to its geographical location, Filzmoos is the perfect starting point for a hot-air balloon ride over the fascinating winter landscape.
My boyfriend still doesn’t know what’s going on. Quite unaware, he stands next to me and wonders at the many colourful balloons, which head up into the sky one after the other.
Now the time has come, to tell him what we’re actually doing here today. My boyfriend’s eyes widen and he thinks it’s a joke at first, but after I repeated, that to celebrate his big birthday we’re going on a hot-air balloon ride together, his face lights up and he hugs me gratefully.
PREPARATIONS FOR A BALLOON FLIGHT
We’re welcomed by our balloon pilot Peter and his team; and straightaway included in the setting up proceeding. First of all, cold air is pumped into the balloon envelope using a ventilator. Then the air in the envelope is heated using a burner. The envelope slowly inflates, takes shape and the basket is pulled up into an upright position, into which the pilot jumps using both hands whilst his helpers hold it down from the outside.
Whilst the balloon is standing still, my boyfriend and I, plus the other passengers, are able to jump in at last. We are both quite excited, even though it’s not my first hot-air balloon ride. As it really is an amazing experience every time. Finally, equipment such as transponder, radio, helmets, maps and an emergency kit – which we hopefully won’t need – are handed into the basket and off we go.
Peter heats up the envelope powerfully with the burner and slowly but surely the balloon rises. That’s an amazing feeling. The people and the house near the launch field become steadily smaller and finally miniscule. Our balloon glides on the wind. All’s quiet in the basket. Sebastian and I huddle together and we’re both very moved. It’s simply indescribable. From time to time, Peter, our experienced pilot, gives us nuggets of information about the mountain peaks, rising up beneath us. And I contemplate, not for the first time, how beautiful my home is.
The wind determines where the journey takes us. After a good one and a half hours flying time, we reach another atmospheric layer and Peter starts to look for a suitable landing spot. He quickly finds one and we land not far from a small village on a not-so-snowy field. Peter pulls the crown line, which is attached to the top of the balloon allowing hot air to escape. With combined efforts we pull the balloon envelope with the crown line to the ground. Whilst we all help with packing the balloon up, our chase vehicle, which followed us from the ground, arrives. We then head off to the next guesthouse and treat ourselves to a tasty snack and then, as is the custom after a first hot-air balloon ride, Sebastian is christened. Peter sets fire to a strand of his hair and douses its with sparkling wine. I have already been ennobled and he too receives a title of nobility. As it’s also his birthday today, we raise our glasses and toast him on his special day.
LET’S GO TO BALLOON NIGHT
Back in Filzmoos, Sebastian and I reflect on our day. I’m glad that my birthday surprise was a success and he enjoyed it. I know, that I fulfilled a long-cherished wish of his with our balloon ride.
An additional highlight awaits us however, the annual Night of the Balloons in Filzmoos. It is a unique event for all ages. The inflating of the balloons at 6.00 pm already attracts lots of visitors. It’s exciting to watch how the balloon envelopes are attached to the baskets and finally filled with air, so that the colourful shapes stand up straight.
At 7.00 pm the actual programme gets underway. It starts with the “balloon glow “. The pilots light up their balloons to music. It really is a breathtaking spectacle with a wintery evening backdrop. So we don’t get cold, “DJ LuLightner“ gets us going with great music and all spectators are encouraged to dance. The absolute highlight of the evening and the crowning finale is the fascinating firework display at around 8.00 pm.
What a perfect day for Sebastian and myself, making us realise what a beautiful region we live in!
Not just the deep snowy landscape of Filzmoos but also the vibrant array of colours of the hot-air balloons attracts lots of visitors from near and far to the idyllic mountain village.
photo credits: Coen Weesjes, Alfred Hahn