We are officially three weeks into our study abroad program with many of us headed back to the States and New Zealand next Saturday! This has been the funnest, fastest month of me life. However, we have some celebrating to do before then because we have two special birthdays today!
Both Jillian and I share the same birthday so we knew we had to do something out of the ordinary because you only turn 21 once, let alone while in Australia! Earlier in the week we received a brochure of all the fun activities we could participate in during our last weekend. There were options to go skydiving, white water rafting, canyoning (rock climbing meets water), visit Fitzroy Island, and to enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon.
The birthday girls and Olivia chose to wake up at 3:00am for a 4:10 bus ride up the mountains to go hot air ballooning! Seriously what a way to start off my birthday, I feel so incredibly lucky. We watched the four balloons being prepped and taken up into the air, and since you cannot steer hot air balloons we had to figure out where they would land. We felt like storm chasers chasing after the hot air balloon we’d be taking, and once it landed one by one we had to trade places with people who were in the basket in order to keep it on the ground! It was absolutely gorgeous with a spectacular view. It was so quiet, still, and peaceful with a hazy fog up in the clouds. Surprisingly nobody was scared and it felt very safe and secure. We were up in the air for about 45 minutes total and along the way we spotted vineyards, mountains out int he distance, and even kangaroos jumping through the bush down below! It was truly the experience of a lifetime. The landing was so smooth until we had to flip the basket…We had to crouch down into the basket and our guides physically tipped us over into the field in which we landed in order to put the equipment away. It was hilarious and we were all basically crying from laughing so hard! Once we helped roll up the balloon and loaded the equipment up, we bused back an hour to Cairns and laid by the pool to relax. By that point we had been up for about 7 or so hours!
The plans for the rest of our day include heading out to lunch, perhaps checking out the lagoon (large public salt water pool where the locals hangout), shopping, and heading out to celebrate later on tonight! We have had the best day so far.