bucketlist

Bucketlist #30: Canopy Tour in South Africa

You probably know what ziplining is? You may even have done it yourself once or twice! A canopy tour is basically a route through a wooded, mountainous landscape. The route is established using zip-lines and aerial bridges between platforms that are built high up in the trees. Basically you discover the forest like Tarzan and Jane!

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Source: travelexcellence.com

A canopy tour is a unique way to discover new parts of countries like Mexico, Costa Rica, Thailand or South-Africa, where it is a popular tourist activity. But basically, the concept of canopy tours dates back far into history, where the technique was used – and sometimes still is being used (like in Peru for example) – because it is the only way to get from point A to point B.

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Source: ketaka.com

I was quite young when I did a canopy tour in South-Africa. Unfortunately, this means I also don’t have my own pictures from the experience. However, I do recommend you to try out this activity one time, wherever you want! I know that Costa Rica also offers nice canopy tour packages.

Would you go on a canopy tour?

bucketlist

Bucketlist #28-29: Rock Climbing & Abseiling

In the 3C Adventures series, I have already told you how I lived through the Tata Steel leadership and survival camp. It was also in the middle of nowhere that I got to cross of two things on my bucket list that I didn’t think I was even capable of doing.

I have to admit, there are a lot of adventure sports on my bucket list (also abseiling), but I didn’t really know what it was. It just sounded cool, you know? Abseiling is when you rope down against a flat surface, such as a rock face. It was not at all hard and a fun thing to try. It looks quite cool, really.

The funnest thing about this experience was convincing my friends with fear of heights to try out this activity. This was, after all, a group experience and helping each other reach our goals was the main objective of this activity.

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Also, I got to go rock climbing. We were taught some valuable rock climbing techniques like the chimney, where you climb up or downward in a narrow crack in between two rock faces. The only gear we used was a helmet, our brains, our hands and our newly learned climbing techniques. Good thing we had some experienced guides to show us how to do it. They all reached at least one of the seven summits.

Rock climbing was such a liberating experience, because again, even though it was on my bucket list, I never thought myself capable of doing it, let alone enjoy it!

This time as well, I helped my team members conquer heights and their fear of small & narrow spaces. It was a great adventure! This was definitely out of my comfort zone and I did get some scratches and stuff, but that was nothing compared to the feeling we all got when we reached the top of the mountain!

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Which adventures sports are on your bucket list? Would you go rock climbing and/or abseiling?

bucketlist

Bucketlist #27: Start a First Job

You know when you are good at something, and you have been doing it for years, and your whole life has been built upon this one belief that if you just do your best and work hard enough you will eventually be rewarded in the best way possible… with three months of time to be spent however you like it? How can you give up something like that, that sweet sweet certainty and stability, from one day to the next?

I think everyone knows how scary it is to give up being a student and enter real, adult life. Either because they’ve been there or because it is imminent. I, for one, knew I was not ready yet to start my professional career after I finished my first Master degree. So… I graduated twice.

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Graduating in New York City

You may have been reading about my second year as a Master student in the 3C Adventures Series, which was published live throughout the year on my Dutch blog and which I am now translating for my Anglophone readers. So you know that by now (SPOILER ALERT) I have successfully graduated and am working. Yes, with a real job! As an employee. On a payroll.

After finishing my final degree, I got depressed. My whole future was open, there was no certainty, no plans. I had never before been in a situation like this in my entire life. It was uncomfortable, scary, maddening even. As a last resort, I threw myself on the job search as if it were a full-time job, because it gave me a bit of purpose and something else to think about. I made a whole study of the recruiting agency market by identifying all of them and registering to every single one.

In July, I did some trial applications to practice writing my motivational letters for example, but mostly to see if there was any response for someone with my profile. I felt very flattered when there was! So in August, I went to the Brussels airport every day at 3-4AM, like I have for the past four years, to start my morning shift at Starbucks. A little after noon I went home, took a shower, and started filling out applications again. On a free day, I would go to one or two agencies to present myself.

How I was able to keep this pace up? Well… my goal was to sign a contract before I went on my three-week trip to India. I wanted to be completely care-free on my holiday. While I was finally in the running for three amazing job positions and didn’t hear back from any, the company I am working for now actively approached me.

With my colleagues at the Christmas Market in Aachen, Germany

I had been approached by a dozen recruiting agencies who wanted me to work for them instead of them looking for a job for me with one of their clients. I declined every time. Why? Well, the job search made me feel like I was “one of the many”. Not that I wanted to get “special attention” or anything, but when you are really pining for a job and they “forget to tell you that they found someone internally” it is really disheartening. Also, who would want to work for a recruiting agency?! I mean, I didn’t even study for that…

When my current company invited me over for a talk, I only went because it was a family friend who got me in. They have really high standards and I was flattered that I was even invited, even though I had already written off the whole business. However, by the end of the 2.5h interview, during which I was already made a full-blown offer, I found myself reconsidering.

I will not make this look any better than it was. At first, I was ecstatic that I had a job literally the day before I left for India! And the day after my return, I would be starting immediately. There would be no time to be lovesick. The first week in the office was amazing: colleagues were great, everything was new, I had a purpose again in the shape of an agenda that was completely filled up for me. There were a lot of trainings and the thrill of putting them in practice right away kept me motivated.

From the second week it went downwards and by the end of my first month I was ready to quit. I was sent for a training day in the office in Holland and let’s say my brain was completely rewired there. I understood again what the beauty is of working for a headhunter’s agency, the value I could bring to the company, and the possibilities for my future professional career development.

From then onwards, I just started doing everything my way, I started going places in the weekends instead of working on the trainings, studying and stressing. I have been trying – and am still trying – to find a balance and routine between work and private life. Even though I don’t believe there will be any balance any time soon, I am feeling better in my skin.

The view from my office window (no filter!)

I have regretted quitting student life at least once a week. I miss having a lot of free time and not having to go to class if I am having a bad day. I miss being being able to work at the kitchen table at home or on the couch without anyone watching or listening in to everything I’m doing. But I have to admit that I also feel incredibly lucky to get such a nice, complete package, including amazing colleagues and an exemplary boss.

It will all work out eventually. I know it will for you to. So if you ever feel scared to take the leap into adult, working life, just know that you are not the only one. We have all been there!

 

How do you feel about entering adult life? What was your experience like when you got your first job?

bucketlist

Bucket List #26: Ride a Camel

So, I have this thing with transportation on my bucket list… Remember?

I already told you in my very first post about my elephant ride in Thailand (and I just have to add, I was not aware at that time how these poor elephants are often treated to please tourists, so you’ll have to forgive me).

I told you about my dream to learn how to drive a car and to own one. 

You know how scared I was to climb on that jetski in South-Africa but I did it anyway and loved it.

Oh, and how I succeeded in horseback riding in the Costa Rican rainforest without falling of!

And there’s the time when I went indoor karting after all those years where I couldn’t because I was too tall for the kid karts and too young for the adult ones.

Today, I will tell you about my short, but totally worth it, ride on a camel in Puri, India.

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So, let me briefly catch you up to speed as to why I was in India in the first place.

Last January till April, I lived and studied and traveled in India for the international business program I partook in. I lived and studied in Xavier Institute of Management in Bhubaneswar (don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal that you’ve never heard of this place) and traveled all over the country. Puri is a famous coast town in the same state of which Bhubaneswar is the capital city. It is very popular with Indian tourists, who visit this famous temple with a name that is too long to remember and then go to the beach to relax and swim.

The first time I went to Puri was the Sunday of my first week in India. We had partied the night before and went to visit the town and beach the next day. While half the group went back to Bhubaneswar, I hung back with our Indian batchmates to spend some more time on the beach. I mean, who knew when I would get the chance to come back, right?

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Here I found out you could ride a camel. The sun was setting and I could already imagine how nice it would be to do this ride by the sea… So, of course I did it! Actually, it was kind of a similar experience as the elephant ride. You get shaken around a lot. Otherwise, the setting was absolutely amazing. The beach, the sun setting in the sea, making the water glimmer like the lights in my christmas tree right now. Just gorgeous.

The only downside was the fact that as soon as I got of the camel, the owner tried to rip me off. Just great. Ruin my perfectly great experience… Good thing I was with my indian friends, who negotiated down the outrageously high price. Especially to Krishna, thanks again if you read this!

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Would you like to ride a camel one day?

bucketlist

Bucketlist #25: Graduate from university

It finally happened! After the first milestone, have & learn to drive a car, I reached the second milestone in my life: graduate from university!

I am so very proud of this! At first, I couldn’t stop mentioning it and making jokes about it. “But what would I know. I am only a Master in Multilingual Business Communication…” My aunt called me a nerd and my mom kept rolling her eyes. It’s kind of funny. For a while. Right?

Actually, it feels like I graduated twice. I got my test scores already in July. So when I learned I passed all my exams, I already knew I succeeded in my goal: finish my bachelor and master degree in four years. Woohoo!

In Belgium, we also have a graduation ceremony. That was on September 11 actually. It was boring, but it was amazing to hear my name being called amongst the Honors students. I worked really hard for it! We didn’t get togas to wear or hats to throw in the air. We didn’t even get to go to the front to pick up our diplomas. But I did get a group pic!

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The road to graduation…

Going to university was a relief for me. I had been bullied more or less continuously for 10 years throughout primary and secondary school and I was just… exhausted. I’d had enough. The sad thing is I still don’t really know why I was bullied. I guess I was an easy target, being insecure and quiet as I am.

High school was torture most of the time. I lost my trust in people. Teachers laughed along with the jokes of my bullies and people I considered close friends spilled my secrets to the popular kids in order to protect themselves.

So going to university meant a new start for me. New people, new studies, new city, new life. I loved that I didn’t have math anymore, only languages. I loved that I could finally figure out who I was when I didn’t have to look over my shoulder the whole time.

And I loved looking forward to my Erasmus semester the most!

After a walk through the dark caves, you have to walk on water

Highlights

I can definitely say Erasmus was the highlight of my academic career. Living and studying in Barcelona was like a dream come true. I got to know myself and changed (or tried to change) what I didn’t like. Of course, that didn’t happen overnight – I’m still working on being the better version of me – but it was the stepping-stone.

Another highlight for me was actually the greatest part of last year: I was tired of studying cultural history and reading difficult Spanish and English literature. It was great to finally do something ‘useful’ again when I turned the focus of my studies towards business. I learned the best way to write a bad news letter and how to turn my CV into a piece of art. I learned how important strategy and marketing is for any business. I even learned to read financial statements! And on top of that: I started volunteering for two start-ups.

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Future

What I found out last year is that I had been underestimating myself. I mostly did copywriting for those start-ups, but it wasn’t enough to keep me entertained. I felt restless and wanted to do more. But I simply couldn’t. I didn’t have the right knowledge. So I started looking into business schools and actually ended up in the Antwerp Management School. That is where I have been studying for a few weeks now.

My group consists of about 7 different nationalities. The program we are in is called 3 Continental Master of Global Management. This means we study the European business context in Europe, the Asian business context in Asia and the American business context in the USA. Traveling and studying my way around the world – that’s just my kinda thing!

I hope that wherever I may end up after this program, I will still keep up this blog. It’s definitely going to be a busy year, but I’m gonna try hard to keep this side-project going.

Write to you later!

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Can you help me out with my bucketlist?

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It has been a while since I got to scratch of new things of my bucketlist. Part of it is because I need help with some of the seemingly easy things, which I apparently can’t do on my own. So I thought, I’d ask you!

Here are some of the things I could really use your help with:

  • Learn to drive a scooter (you know, like a Vespa)
  • Catch a fish (and practice my patience)
  • Fly a kite (because I was never allowed to as a kid)
  • Drive a Smart (I think they’re cute)
  • Shoot a (hand)gun (because I wanna know what it feels like)
  • Sing at a karaoke bar (and conquer my fear of being in the center of attention)
  • Go to a festival (like Tomorrowland!)
  • Have a small part in a movie or series (so that my nine years of acting classes weren’t for nothing)
  • Archery (I have done this before, but I don’t really remember and have no pictures to help me recall the experience)

It would mean a great deal if you could help me out with my dreams. They may seem silly to you, but they have great meaning to me. But that’s always how it is with bucketlists, right? I have been dreaming about doing these things for four years (well, at least, cuz that’s just the moment I decided to write them down)!

Remember to start writing down your own goals, no matter how silly or how impossible they may seem. I started my list to prove to myself I can achieve things, that I’m not a complete failure and that my dreams can come true. That is also why I keep a list of goals I have already achieved, dreams that have become reality. If it’s something that you dream of achieving, than it’s worthy of your list. Experiencing these achievements and scratching them out makes you feel good and keeps your thoughts positive.

Happy bucketlisting!

Want to know what else is on my list? Check it out here.
Do you have a bucketlist or do you think I can help you out with your goals? Ask me!

bucketlist

Bucketlist #24: Travel Alone

One of the main reasons people don’t travel alone is, well, because they’re afraid of being alone. Do I never get lonely by myself? The truth is: I am hardly ever alone when I travel solo. The difficult thing is actually finding ways to get some me-time. When you are somewhere by yourself, you are more approachable to, say, other travelers. You would rather approach someone who’s alone too, wouldn’t you?

Travel-Alone-Introvert

Of course, I am sometimes worried about feeling lonely too. I travel alone to get some me-time, but I’m also not keen on being alone with my own thoughts quite often. There are some simple tricks I use to solve this dilemma: I coursurf or airbnb and I join meet-ups. Sometimes I’d rather discover a city with someone by my side, but prefer to be alone in my room afterwards. Sometimes it’s the other way around.

Even at home, the thought of being somewhere, friendless, is more terrifying to extraverts than it is to introverts. I believe that three is a crowd. The more people join the conversation, the more I disappear into the background. That is why it is no problem for me to be alone for hours at a time when I travel.

The hard thing is, as it is for all introverts, to go against our natural urge to shy away from strangers. I had to learn this and have grown as a person because of it. Extraverts, on the other hand, can use the alone-time traveling to get more in touch with their surroundings and connect with their own thoughts. See, there’s an upside for both groups!

Travel-Alone-Introvert

Traveling alone has made me bloom, grow and socialize. When I first went away by myself almost two years ago, I started small: walking around cities where I was staying during language courses, then taking the train to other cities nearby, and finally, my first solo-trip by plane.

On the one hand, I thought I’d meet people everywhere and make friends for life and locals would be showing me around. Those are some of the stories my more experienced friends told me and it’s what you see in movies like Eat, Pray, Love.

It didn’t happen quite like that. My first trip was to Sevilla in Spain. I stayed at an AirBnb, also for the first time, but as my host was a tour guide she didn’t have time to show me around anything else but her apartment. So I turned to the Couchsurfing website, where I found another Belgian girl, who invited me to join her and two friends to a festival and another student in the city who didn’t mind showing me around (as I would do for you if you ever came to visit my city!). I had to make the effort myself, but I did get to meet people!

Later on, when I traveled alone, I always met at least one other person that I’m still in contact with thanks to the fabulous thing called Facebook. I didn’t always spend a lot of time with new people. When I traveled around in Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Andorra, I wandered about and had lunch mostly by myself and also my evenings and dinners were spend in solitude. What did I do with my time? I walked. I observed. I read.

Travel-Alone-Introvert

The thing is: there are so many benefits to being on your own. For one, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want. Of course, sometimes people look at you weird. I’m quite certain that when I went to Jamie’s Italian in Greenwich, they thought I was a reporter because I was writing the day’s impressions in my notebook.

The main thing you learn is: if you’re alone against your will, it’s because you’re afraid. And you know what you should do with your fears. You gotta conquer them in the best way you can. Being extravert while I’m a true introvert is tiresome. I usually return more mentally tired from a solo-trip than when I left, but I feel enriched as well.

The reason why I even considered traveling alone – and believe me, I have considered it for a loooong time and maaaany years – was because I was just so tired of having to count on other people to do the things I wanted to do. My friends don’t wanna travel with me? They don’t want adventure, new friends, new experiences? Fine. Fine! I’ll go by myself. Greatest decision of life! I still can’t do my own laundry, but I became experienced and independent in so many other ways.

The more you practice traveling alone, the easier it will become. A lot of people, even introverts and women, travel solo these days. People like us, you and me. Do it while you’re young and unattached. Do it now that you’re afraid, because you will become stronger because of it.

Travel-Alone-Introvert

If you gotta start somewhere, start small like I did. Talk to a foreigner at a place you know well. Show them around your town. Then go on a day trip, be open to conversations with strangers. Meet up with someone through sites like Couchsurfing. Believe it or not, there are people out there who want to meet someone like you! Then go have lunch and dinner at a table for one.

It will not be easy in the beginning, but it will become easier with time. I promise. After a while, people will come to you.

There is no thing more wonderful, than the moment you realize you can do this. You are independent and you have earned a new experience. No one can take this away from you. Besides, you’ll be able to scratch something of you’re bucketlist, whether you call it “traveling alone” or “do something brave”.

Just remember: even though you set off to a destination alone, you are never alone on the road.

“Traveling solo doesn’t mean you will be alone.” – Travel blogger Nomadic Matt

Travel-Alone-Bucketlist-introvert

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Bucketlist #23: Win the Lottery

Last week I celebrated my 22nd birthday. I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling twenty twoooo

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself!

Okay, continuing… So, birthdays mean presents. And amongst my presents were three Win For Life tickets! I am that person who has neither luck in love nor in the game. I never won anything… that is, until April 8th, 2015.

There is some irony here. One of my guy friends is very… reserved. I have a hard time figuring out what he likes, so for the last two years I’ve bought him a few Win For Life tickets. If he won something, he could buy whatever he wanted, I figured. Fortunately, he liked the idea and the excitement that went ahead of scratching the ticket. Unfortunately, he never won anything (yet). Not even when he bought his own tickets afterward.

This year, he gave me my own three tickets to scratch. If you have ever played the lottery, you know how exciting it is – that moment when you uncover the symbols, compare them to the winning symbols and find out whether you’ve won anything or nothing.

Each ticket I got gave me two tries. Already on the second try of my first ever lottery ticket… I’d won €5! We were playing bowling at the same time – five of my friends and I – and within the distance of five lanes, everybody must have known that I won. Oops. It wasn’t necessarily that I was happy with winning only 5 euro, but just the fact that I won something was all that mattered. I could barely contain my excitement.

The second ticket, I won nothing. But I had already decided I was perfectly happy with that one win. But then, with the third and last ticket… I won again. And again! Two times 10 euros! I almost cried with happiness. I couldn’t stop laughing. This truly was the perfect birthday gift.

Win-lottery-for-life

Have you ever won anything in the lottery? Is winning the lottery on your bucketlist as well?

bucketlist

Bucketlist #22: See an Opera

Ladies in beautiful, floor-length gowns and perfectly made up hair and faces. Gentlemen in tailored suit ’n ties and polished shoes. Men and women striding into an awe-inspiring, pearly white temple that is the Opera, excited to enjoy one of the genre’s best known pieces, the opera of opera’s: Amadeus Wolfgang Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but… nothing like that happened.

This is the 21st century people. The dresscode at the opera is no longer your most exclusive evening wear nor do you have to arrive in a posh car – or in a horse carriage for that matter. So my sincere apologies for spoiling the picture, but I gotta be honest here.

opera

Last Thursday night, I was so tired of a long week with a nice headache to top it off, that I decided to go to the Vlaamse Opera in jeans (and a decent blazer to keep up appearances). Besides, Don Giovanni lasts for 3 hours, so I wanted to feel comfortable. Actually, with all that’d been going on lately, I had forgotten that I was going to see an opera that evening until the evening before. We had booked our seats, like, 4 months or so ago, so it wasn’t that big of a surprise that I’d kinda spaced.

Source: inventaris onroerend erfgoed

I have wanted to go to an opera for a long time and I wasn’t too happy about not feeling like going that particular night, but of course I went. We have read parts of the opera in Spanish class when we were studying Don Juan – which is the Spanish name of Don Giovanni – so I was happy to go see an Italian opera of which I knew the story. I was even happier when I found out there would be subtitles! You know, because it meant I might actually understand something of what the singers are talking about.

operaMozart’s second ever opera was first staged in Prague in 1787. For those of you who are not that familiar with the story, I’ll give you a brief summary. At the beginning, Don Giovanni kills Donna Anna’s father, the Commendatore, in a sword fight. The reason? After having seduced the daughter the casanova had, as is to be expected, invoked the father’s wrath. Don Giovanni has to flee the house and Donna Anna makes Don Ottavio, her fiancée, swear to her to avenge her father. Don Giovanni is a true Don Juan, who says “his heart is so big and full of love it would be shameful and selfish not to share his love with other women”. I don’t wanna spoil any more things in this blog post, so I won’t tell you what happens throughout the story.

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I didn’t like the opera, too my deepest regret. A few months ago, I went to see a ballet. I hadn’t set high expectations – even though the show was completely sold out – but i was blown away by the story, the dancers and the music. I wasn’t as captivated by the opera unfortunately. The mix of old and new elements and the constant repeating of the same, same, same sentences and the elongated storyline were almost to be called boring. It sounded and looked kinda messy to me as well.

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There is no use of arguing about tastes. I like musicals more than I like operas and I guess that is all there is to it. But don’t let my experience scare you off. Hopefully you’ll have a better feel for this type of culture than I!

Have you ever been to an opera? How did you like it? Is going to the opera on your bucket list?

bucketlist

Bucketlist #21: Take a Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Last summer, one of my dreams came true: I was invited to go up into the air… in a hot air balloon! Truly a once in a lifetime opportunity – I mean, when am I ever going to do this again?

I have flown in airplanes all of my life and have even flown over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter! That doesn’t mean it didn’t wanna go up in a hot air balloon – and especially not after having seen UP When I get excited like I was that day, it is difficult for me to find a balance between experiencing this wonderful moment and taking pictures and videos to document everything. Everything. Instead of enjoying the moment I tried to capture every detail, so you’ll be seeing some of the best pictures me and my brother took.

I don’t know about you, but when I imagined taking a ride in a hot air balloon, I didn’t think I’d have to do anything besides, you know, climb into the basket, watch the sunset, yell at the people below like a crazy person, and hope I don’t break my legs when we land in the middle of nowhere. None of that. Everyone had to do their part for the flight to go through.

We were a group of nine and were completed engaged in the whole process of blowing hot air into the balloon, keeping the whole thing from floating upward without us by hanging all of our weight on the basket until we were allowed to climb inside. Finally, when everyone had climbed in one by one, we were up and away. My granddad and brother followed us by car. You have to be able to get home when you have landed in the middle of nowhere, right?

Here are some facts about our particular balloon:

  • height: 5 floors, or 28m, or 92ft
  • speed: 12-13km/h or 7-8mph
  • legal stuff: in Belgium you can’t fly higher than 750m (or half a mile) above sea level with a hot air balloon, which is just below the level where airplanes fly when they leave from Brussels International Airport

We flew from Waasmunster in the direction of Zele. It’s too bad we couldn’t fly over my region, but hey, this was a lot fun already!

In the wake of several other balloons, we soared along on the northerly winds and enjoyed the views of changing horizons in which the sun set and the landscapes of green fields and woods and the typical red Belgian rooftops of the little houses. We waved – and in my case yelled (which created these freaky echo’s) – at the spectators below us and laughed at the way the dogs in the people’s tiny yards reacted to our balloon.

Eventually we started to look out for a nice field we could land in. As we got closer to the ground, I noticed how quiet it had been up in the air. Sounds started gaining volume again: birds, cars, the wind in the trees…

Our pilot – or whatever you call someone who steers a balloon – decided upon a field where an angry-looking peasant woman was waiting for us. Her hands put firmly in her waist, she looked as if she would… I don’t know… scream our heads off if we dared set foot on her land. Not that there was anything I could do about it, though.

Of course, I’d had nothing to fear for. Apparently, the farmers in this region are used to random balloons using there fields as an airstrip. They know they’ll get something in return: in this case, a basket filled with Belgian beers.

The flight took about an hour. Basically, it was over way too soon. After we landed we had to work like a team again to hold down the balloon before we guided it neatly onto a truck that would take the basket and balloon back to… wherever it came from. Everyone, including the drivers that followed us around during our flight to take us home afterward, got a drink (champagne!). We, the flight crew, received a certificate for our first time riding a hot air balloon.

Riding a hot air balloon was one of the many things I got to scratch of my bucketlist last summer! Is this on your bucketlist too?