I Now Pronounce You Hot Air Ballooners

Hello Dear Readers!

You may remember that time last year when Joni and I took a hot air balloon ride over Luxor, watching the sun rise spectacularly over the Nile as we drifted above.

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Wheeeee

I had such a great time then that when planning Harrison’s birthday trip I thought ‘Hey, I wonder if they do hot air balloons in Lithuania?’

The answer to that is yes, yes they do.

So it was that we rose at the crack of dawn to blearily drag on every item of clothing we owned (kidding, I was also wearing half of Harrison’s clothes) and hop into a van with several strangers, bound for Trakai, the neighboring city and site of our launch.

It was approximately 1 degree outside despite being April, which meant I looked like this:

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Send help.

I did, however, manage to thaw a little as Harrison helped to inflate the balloon:

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Look how badass he is.

The ride itself was very peaceful, with just three of us (and the pilot) flying over the city.

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Now, I don’t know if this is a real thing, but after landing the pilots, um, said a prayer and poured champagne on the ground. They then wiped it on our head and pronounced us official hot air ballooners. No, really.

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What just happened?

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Regardless, I enjoyed the free champagne and loved being able to take Harrison (who by the way was terrified) up over the skies.

-Carissa “Officially Qualified to Fly the Balloon” Rawson

Luxoriffic Luxor

Hello Dear Readers!

As is surprising to no one, I’m currently in an airport waiting to start the very long journey to Hong Kong. I’ve got a few things left to tell you guys about Egypt though, so buckle in. Today we’re going to talk about Luxor, where Joni and I spent a whirlwind 2 nights before heading back up to Cairo.

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The gorgeous view from our hotel room.

Now, when I vacation I do it either one of two ways. In one, I get up at the crack of dawn with a full day of activities planned and very little sleep involved. In the other, I arrive to a hotel and literally do not move until check-out, whenever that is.

This was the first type.

So it was that Joni and I rose for the fourth day in a row at 3am, dreaming longingly of sleeping in until 6. Alas, our hot air balloon ride was due for the sunrise, which is ludicrously early in the Middle East.

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We need sleep!

It was so cool!

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We soared over the entirety of Luxor, catching glimpses of the Valley of the Kings (King Tut’s tomb!), the Valley of the Queens, Hatshepsut’s Temple, and throughout it all, the Nile winding its way through the ancient city.

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For those of you who don’t know, Luxor is considered one of the best places to go see ancient history, much better than Cairo, and has some of the best preserved tombs in the world.

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So it was that after the hot air balloon ride we met up with our private guide, who spent the entire day showing us around.

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Ok, so. You guys know that Egypt is cheap, right? I’ve spoken about it enough that it should be old news by now. So when the tourism office at the Valley of the Kings wanted to charge us $15 for the ability to take photos, I flatly declined. I mean come on, our guide for the entire day was only $20. I didn’t need no stinking photos.

Or so I thought. I really underestimated how cool the tombs were- definitely photo worthy. And once we got down there, I saw all kinds of people taking photos. So I thought to myself, “hey, I’m gonna do it anyway. What’s the worst that could happen?”

Well, boys and girls, the worst that can happen is that one of the guards can seize your phone, demand you open it, scroll through your photos, and then try to shake you down for a bribe in order not to report you to the photo police.

I pretended not to understand him and Joni and I ran like hell out of the tomb, afraid that he was chasing us. We stuck to postcards after that.

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Behold! The Offending Photos!
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They aren’t even any good. 

But it was cool!

-Carissa “Lawless” Rawson