My friend Mariana challenged me to a balloon ride in Ribatejo, an experience that had been offered to her but because of less happy circumstances (for her, not for me :P) she asked me to accompany her! I said yes immediately, imagining dozens of balloons, as in Cappadocia, but now in Portugal.

We went to Coruche the day before, since the balloon would take off at six in the morning, and we still had time to take a walk around the city, too deserted for a Saturday afternoon, to go up to the Church of Our Lady of the Castle, to talk to some local old ladies and have dinner at Sabores de Coruche, the best restaurant in the surroundings, according to locals.

The next day we left the hotel at dawn to find only one balloon, for about 20 people, and the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen in Portugal! After filling the balloon with hot air and being briefed about what to do for landing, we started by flying over the rice paddies, with the sun peeking out in the horizon! The long shadows, the sun rays piercing through the trees, the Sorraia River, the dogs barking at the approach of the giant in the sky, the cows fleeing, the herd of sheep guided by the shepherd dog, resembling the flow of a river, the circular fields, the morning mist lodged by the water, and the charcoal ovens, so photogenic!

We learned that in the morning it is colder near the earth than at altitude and that as the day progresses, the ground is heating up, this mass of cold air rises and so lets the wind in. We learned that in a balloon there is no control of the direction, only an exceptional knowledge of the winds to know how to take the balloon from point A to point B, going up and down as needed. We learned (although we already knew) that our country is beautiful!

Thank you to Mariana and Windpassenger for the experience!