Me and Nick got married on February 10th and have been looking forward to our honeymoon a LOT! I actually planned it and didn't let Nick know where we were going or what the plan was. Although he did manage to squeeze out of me that we were going to Napa Valley about a month ago. I had totally forgotten that Nick had some bad memories from that place so at first I thought that my plan was a big mistake. But Nick came around and said that this would be a good opportunity to see Napa the way that it was supposed to be seen.
The closer we got to the trip, the harder it was to keep quiet about my surprise. I kept telling my sister and friends about it so it wouldn't be so hard to not tell Nick! Last Friday we finally went on our road trip up north. Nick all of a sudden wanted to buy new shoes so we made a stop at the mall first. We had some extra money saved up so he decided that we should spoil ourselves for once. He took 100 dollars and gave me 100 dollars, then we split up and bought things that we have needed and wanted for quite some time. It felt great! We mostly bought clothes and a few other items.
It took about 2 hours to get to Napa. At first we were disappointed that the Inn that I had booked, looked more like a motel. Great. It's not easy booking these things and knowing what is what. But this room actually turned out to be one of the nicest places we have ever stayed at! We felt right at home! Plus we had a giant bathroom because it was adjusted for handicapped people, but I had to book that one because they didn't have very many rooms left. We arrived very late and the only food places around were fast food. It was close by so we walked around to each and every place but at that point it was all closed for guests, so we had to turn back around and get the car and use the drive-thru instead! But this was the time when I finally couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to share my excitement about the next day with Nick and not just look forward to it by myself. He teased me for the longest time saying "No no, you have been keeping this as a secret from me for this long.... I can wait a little longer... it's your turn to suffer!" haha! During our walk he finally got to guess and his first idea was "hot air balloon" which was correct :) I knew that he had a hunch for a while about the hot air balloon, but he wasn't 100% sure.
He was beyond happy and excited about the next morning and literally didn't sleep one second that night. I myself only slept for a few minutes. It was horrible, lol. We are just so used to being up late at night. And for the balloon ride, we had to get up at 4am... ugh!! The sunrise sure was pretty while we drove to the meet-up downtown. "Balloons over the Valley" staff were super friendly and served delicious treats to wake us all up. I thought that it was just the people for one balloon that would be there. But it turned out that about 60 people had gathered and several balloons would fly at once.
They sent us away in different vans depending on what balloon we had been given. It became very real when we all of a sudden saw several balloons starting to form far away while they were being prepared. We sure had butterflies but not scary ones, just happy and a little nervous because we didn't know how flying would feel :) Our pilot's name was Shane. A great middle-aged guy who had lots of interesting and fun stories to tell about his job. Apparently he holds the world record of being the pilot who has dropped most skydivers from his balloon.
The easy part was lifting from the ground. Even though it made us nervous that our balloon was rubbing against another balloon. We trusted the pilots but once in a while you got that feeling of "oh no, we are going to crash... that balloon is coming right at us or is going to land on top of us". Because we knew that the pilots only had control of going up and down, not what direction the balloon should fly. We got used to being up there quite fast. It was so peaceful and beautiful. Once in a while the loud noise of the propane would hurt our ears and the fire would feel hot on our heads. And we were packed in the basket like sardines. But I don't think anyone mind because the morning fog covered the mountains like a shimmer, with the sun shining right through it. Nothing that you would see from the ground. Me and Nick thought that we would be flying over a city, since that was what my dad did when I was little. But because Napa isn't very windy at all, it took us an hour just to get a few blocks haha! We basically just flew over a bunch of houses (where the owners simply had to get used to waking up to a balloon in their backyard once in a while... apparently one owner HATED the balloons) and landed on a field of grass not far away from where we started.
This photo makes me think of the song "Misty Mountains" from The Hobbit movie... it was absolutely magical...
Now the landing was a much different thing that the start up... I was nervous but mostly excited when we started flying and soaring. I figured that would be soft and smooth. But we kept looking down at the other balloons when they were landing... it looked soft, but sometimes you'd see one going off into the forest and another almost landing on a roof top (I am sure those house owners quickly woke up). The pilots were very skillful and always managed to save those situations. But the closer that we got to the ground, the more anxious I got about crashing. I told Nick to hold me and the pilot told us all to bend our legs. Basically we were sitting like a spoon on our partner's legs because we were that cramped. I was hoping that the landing wouldn't be as hard as I feared. And it was actually MUCH easier! I was amazed by how little I felt from us hitting the ground. If I had jumped from a ladder on my own two feet, I would have hit the ground harder xD So that was sure a relief! The staff dragged us in the balloon, over the grass, closer to the other ones. I told Nick that them dragging us over bumpy grass while half soaring in the balloon was almost more fun than the actual trip, lol.
The last few balloons coming in over the valley! At this point it was about 7 o clock in the morning and yet we felt like our day had gone on forever.
While walking back to the van, this view struck my hard. It reminded me so much of Sweden. I rarely see nature here that looks just like my home country but this green forest with misty fog all over it looked just as mystical and gorgeous as it would in Sweden. I loved it so much that I took way too many pictures.
In the package deal that I had bought, there was a champagne brunch included afterwards. So those who had purchased this went to a restaurant with us and we got to sit outside and eat with everyone to talk about our experience. They were so friendly and many congratulated us on getting married. We met one couple who had been married just as long as me and Nick had been alive. What I loved the most was that these photos of us in the balloons had been put on the tables! I thought that was such a sweet detail to keep as a memory. We of course had to pay for it but we didn't mind at all. The one and only thing that I did not enjoy was the food. Nick absolutely loved it but I thought it was quite tasteless and boring. Considering the money that I paid, I had expected more like a buffé or something. But I would still recommend this experience to ANYONE! It's one of those things that you just do once in your life. Then you are happy and satisfied and don't feel like you need to do it again. It has been crossed off our bucket list. Our honeymoon could might as well have ended here but we still had several wonderful times to come that weekend. I'll write about it in another blog post :)