If you’re tired of walking around the same old block day after day, then chances are your dog is too. It may be time to take your dog on what the Bombard Society, a rather unusual but highly successful vacation planner, calls “an aerial nature walk” – coasting over the treetops of Europe in a hot air balloon. Ranked as one of the top tour operators in the world by Travel and Leisure Magazine, the Bombard Society escorts groups of 16 – 24 guests in decorative, nine-story high balloons across the landscapes of Austria, France, Italy, Turkey, Switzerland, and the Czech Republic. Each of the nine amazing tour programs offered also provides guests with a variety of gourmet meals, four and five-star hotel accommodations, and guided visits to cultural and historical attractions.
Buddy Bombard, who founded the Bombard Society in 1977, believes the dogs that have set their paws aboard his balloon greatly enjoyed flying and were quickly accepted by all the guests on the tour. “The dog becomes the mascot of the trip,” he says, “Most guests love it.” What could be better than sailing over Salzburg’s sparkling lakes and flowering meadows, dangling among the vineyards and olive groves of Tuscany, launching over centuries of architectural marvels from Prague’s historic “Old Town Square,” or floating above the remains of monasteries and churches cut into the Cappadocian rock of Turkey with a canine companion?
While one-third of the day is typically spent doing low-level, balloon-related activities, the rest of the day is just as spectacular on ground. Depending on which tour you choose, unique adventures such as lunch with an Austrian princess, a visit to the underground cities of Turkey, and exploration of the 18-mile long cellars of Moet Chandon champagne in France are scheduled. Priding himself on creating an intimate atmosphere, Buddy Bombard even invites guests into his 18th-century manor house in Burgundy,France: the Chateau de Laborde. Here, guests will enjoy a candlelight buffet, sans doggie bones, in the flower-filled ornagerie!
Dogs are welcome to join their parents on all of the tour programs, but consideration is given to its temperament, size, and although the Society tries to give pets and parents their own balloon, other guests are consulted first as about 6-8 people ride in each balloon. Dogs are also welcomed at most of the daily excursions that the Society has planned for guests on the very dog-friendly, European ground.
Whether you choose to celebrate with your pet at the Chateau d’Oex International Balloon Festival in Switzerland or Italy’s medieval festival Palio, the Bombard Society offers pets and their parents an experience that is sure to solve even the worst case of block-walking boredom. The tour programs range from five to eleven days and are offered in January, February, and from May to October. Start planning a pooch-friendly vacation at www.bombardsociety.com.
By rebecca huls
photos courtesy of bombard society; nematolah kashanian
Travel Issue/Volume 15