Full of Hot Air: Great Ballooning Adventures
Few European cities can rival the fairy-tale setting of Salzburg. Situated on the banks of the Salzach River, Salzburg is tucked between two mountains just a few kilometers from the Austrian Alps. The Bombard Society conducts a superlative five-day balloon tour of the region. On the first day, guests arrive at the elegant Schloss Fuschl Hotel, a tower built in 1450 by the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg as their private hunting castle and summer residence. In the afternoon, you float over nearby farmlands and foothills.
The next day, the group tours Old Salzburg. This lovely cityan Old World gemseems far removed from the hustle and bustle of the 21st century. The afternoon features a scenic flight above the foothills of Salzburg, home to some of Austria's most impressive places.
On day three, the balloonists visit St. Gilgen, at the end of Lake St. Wolfgang, and eat lunch at the Helenaa privately chartered lake steamer that cruises Lake Mondsee. Dessert is also served in a café in the village of Mondsee, wedged between lake and mountain. In the late afternoon, the group goes ballooning over nearby lakes and alpine villages.
The fourth day kicks off with a private yacht cruise to picturesque Hallstatt, where Austrian Princess Manni Wittegnstein hosts a lunch in her alpine home. The group then lifts off for a late-afternoon float above the Jagdhofa traditional Austrian hunting lodge run by Schloss Fuschl.
The trip costs about $5,500 per person double occupancy; single supplement $600. For details contact the Bombard Society (West Palm Beach, FL. 800.862.8537 or 561.837.6610. www.bombardsociety.com) That price is beyond the reach of most travelers, but other balloon operations offer single-day rides in Austria. A favorite of many, Ballooning Tyrol (01143.5352.65666. www.alpennet.com/ballooning-tyrol), flies from St. Johann and Kitzbuhel, home of a famed ski resort. Winter offers the best flying conditions, and in mid-January you can enjoy WinterzauberAustria's premier balloon festival. More than 45 ballons fill the air; ski competitions add to the fun. Contact Austrian National Tourist Office (212.944.6880. www.anto.com)
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication