My first time paragliding took place in the intensely stunning and clean city of Salzburg, Austria. It is one of my favourite cities of all time in Europe and the city took my breath away instantly.
The moment when we were on the streets looking for our hostel, when I first spotted the Salzach river.
Salzburg will be the topic of another post. My main focus of this post would be the view of the alps and of this particular city at sunset I had experienced, whilst tied to a man and seated in a comfortable chair, gliding over the skies, after having just ran off a mountain like a dog.
We started off our run at the top of a mountain, with the view of the Bavarian Alps.
My pal was the first one to run off the mountain, in deep snow. and i mean DEEP. It was up to mid calves for me and every step i took was incredibly slow because i had to lift my whole leg up before setting it down and sinking another few centimetres before becoming stable. My shoes also became soaked in snow so my feet were completely numb from the cold.
So naturally, I failed at my run off.
What you do in paragliding: make sure everything is buckled, get prepped in a position whilst your tandem instructor is behind you watching the wind flag. Wind direction is paramount in paragliding, because it will determine if you are able to actually glide into the sky or just fall flat on your face with the parachute covering you as you try not to roll down to your death.
Think of it simply of flying a kite, without wind, without proper wind direction, the kite would not be able to take off, much less it does but whacks you in the face because of sudden wind change.
I failed because of two things, poor wind direction and the fact that I could not run fast and hard enough to actually gain momentum to fly. I will be honest and admit that the latter reason was the main one for my failure.
For starters, we waited for AGES after my friend flew off, to get the proper wind. My poor instructor stared at the flag like as if his life depended on it and everytime it got close, it was off in a split second and he heaved a sigh. I was crouching in the snow, barely breathing, well aware I was supposed to take off like a racehorse the split second he yelled GO, with a massive amount of weight on my back.
Why i failed at running? The snow got the better of me and my skinny legs and I just couldn’t push myself hard enough to run faster. I collapsed in the snow in my gear, trying not to face the reality that I could actually roll down the mountain if a mini avalanche were to break out; all this whilst my instructor was running around trying to scoop up the sinking parachute and yelling ITS OKAY ITS OKAAAY, ARE YOU ALRIGHT?!?!?!?
For me I was just trying to breathe, gone past caring about my near frozen feet.
If you’d imagine it this would be spectacularly funny for someone watching it through a movie, but believe me I was so upset there and then I wanted to burst into tears. DID I GET A SECOND CHANCE?!?!?!
Thankfully, I did. He eventually packed everything and said Come, lets go. We proceeded to the other side of the mountain, which did not have any snow and was fully soil and grass (why in God’s name did we not come here earlier?!).
This time I was beyond ready for my ‘race’. I glided into the air like a dove and once I was safely in the arms of the wind, I hauled myself into my little butt seat and looked at what my efforts got me into.
It doesn’t look like much and unfortunately Ive only got this one photo of the whole city, no photos of the alps in front of me because I was busy videoing the rest of the ride. It was truly unforgettable. It may not be the whole adrenaline pumping skydiving material, but at that moment it was pure ecstasy for me and I was really happy to be finally in the air.
If you haven’t done paragliding before, I suggest you should (: It could be a pre step to skydiving,if you are terribly afraid of heights or one of those people who dislikes having their hearts fall out.
The overall experience felt like watching TV. In a seat. With the wind blowing in your face, and the scenery changes in front of your face.
Whatever it is, it really strengthened my love for Salzburg and I could not bare to leave it out of my mind since that day.
Let me know if you have had gone paragliding, and where!