Jonny the Pilot

Commercial Airline Pilot. Vlogging Europe. Loving life. Ironman. Feminist.

Cruising the canals of Venice 🇮🇹

Known as the city of love but you should know that if you’re not presently in love or are taking a break from that particular emotion then Venice offers so…

Known as the city of love but you should know that if you’re not presently in love or are taking a break from that particular emotion then Venice offers so much more.  Home to St Mark’s square, the Bridge of Sighs and one of the most magnificent hotels in Europe.

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We stay across the water on the mainland, but its only a 10 min taxi or a 20 minute bus journey so definitely worth considering if you’re on a tight budget.

On 99% of my flights to Venice we approach and land in an easterly direction onto runway 04 so picking a seat on the right of the aircraft at checkin will give you the best view of Venice and the constant flotilla of boats gliding to and from the floating city.

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For drinks you should definitely head to Harry’s bar. Eye-wateringly expensive but arguably the most famous in Venice! Birthplace of the ‘Belini’ and a brilliant buzz. Try it.

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Piazza San Marco or St Mark’s square to most of us Brits. A great place to start your day. One of the last stops on the water taxi so a good stating point to begin meandering back to the other side of the island.

Not open late but one of my recommendations to start the evening is ‘Al Prosecco”. They serve a great selection of wines by the glass. Most of which I have never heard of but, hey, it makes the experience all the more exciting!

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One of the liveliest bars in Venice, tucked away from the tourists, is ‘Margaret Duchamp’. We often enjoy a down-route beer here after a busy three sector flying day.

For somewhere to eat try the myriad of small side street restaurants. They’re generally great. Be adventurous and try something different to pizza, or pasta.  I love eating the black squid ink risotto.  The crew can always see when I have…

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The following morning, if its not an early flight back to London Heathrow, I like a wander over to ‘Caffe Florian’. It is popular with tourists, no bad thing, and claims to be the oldest restaurant in the world.  I always choose the Casanova breakfast!  Coffee, OJ, fruit, croissant, toast,, focaccia and cake.  Its around €40 but leaves me satisfied for the whole day.

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Gondolas are pricey but very romantic.  Don’t bother if you’re travelling alone. Try one of the water taxis instead and head down to St Mark’s Sq.  I would recommend Caffe Lavena.  A great place for people watching. My record for making a coffee last here is 90 minutes.

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That’s my pilot-eye view of Venice covering some of my favourite spots. Hope you enjoy visiting them as much as I do, often on my days off to explore further the places I’m lucky enough to visit with work whether it’s a nightstop or even better a standover.

Ever been to Berlin? 🇩🇪 

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Berlin are you ready…

Berlin is Uber cool! Getting around is easy and relatively cheap by metro or indeed by Uber.  I lived there when I flew as a senior first officer for EasyJet so…

Berlin is Uber cool! Getting around is easy and relatively cheap by metro or indeed by Uber.  I lived there when I flew as a senior first officer for EasyJet so know it well.  Believe me its a great place to party. Half the population is single which probably contributes to the fantastic night life.

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Some nightclubs stay open for days. Not really my thing anymore, but I can recommend plenty of alternative bars. KLO bar in Leibnizstrasse in the West of Berlin is utterly barmy. Expect drinks served in urine sample bottles, to sit on a toilet or a coffin and be served food in a bed pan. To clarify, Klo translates into english as toilet.  I don’t want to give too much away but a word of advice, you don’t want to be the first of your group to walk into the bar.

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Stagger Lee, in Nollendorfstarsse is named after an old American folk song, about a Missouri pimp and is listed as one the world’s top 50 bars. Think bourbon cocktails, candles, antique furniture all set in the American midwest.  This place usually has a mixed crowd and is unpretentious, like most of Berlin. Might be worth calling ahead to make a reservation. To get here you hop on th U-Bahn to Nollendorplatz and then a five minute walk back in time.

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Walking, running or even by Segway – so many ways to explore this cool city

When you’re hungry, one of my favourite steakhouses in Europe lies just behind Mauerpark in the north of the city. The Bird in Am Falpl is insanely popular and for good reason. Arriving without a reservation is, well, for the birds!  You won’t get in. Low key, a well-stocked bar and mouth-watering messy burgers. Good luck and enjoy!

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During the day one of my recommendations would be enjoying a stroll around the German capital starting at the Brandenburg Gate. Don’t forget to take your passport and ask for all the historic checkpoint stamps to add to your collection.

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2711 concrete slabs make up the Holocaust memorial just next to the Brandenburg gate

We stay in the west near to the Zoo and is well located for a stroll or a morning run round the Tiergarten Park. When I lived here I stayed in Friedrichshain an edgy district to the east which I would describe as the Shoreditch of Berlin.  There’s a great Thai restaurant, ‘Lemongrass’ on Simon-Dach-Strase for a casual evening bite to eat.

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Tiergarten Park – perfect for a run or picnic in the summer.

The majority of the time we fly in and land in a westerly direction onto runway 26 so I recommend sitting on the left for the best views of the city

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Don’t forget to leave your comments and requests for further city reviews. Have an awesome week and I hope to see you onboard very soon.

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Tartan at the ready but no kilt…

Travelling to Edinburgh to visit the capital as a pilot with British Airways. Edinburgh is my favourite place to visit in the UK. with so many flights a day it so accessible

My Instagram TV now has a video from the top of what I think is Arthur’s Seat. It was a big hill either way and I could hardly breathe. Don’t miss it… 😆 Instagram.com/JonnythePilot #IGTV

I’m always asked the best places to stay or where to eat, what bars to visit and even which side of the aeroplane to sit on for the perfect picture as we come in to land.

So where better to start than the beautiful Scotland.

Edinburgh 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 

The Scottish capital has to be my favourite UK destination. There is the famous castle, built on top of an extinct volcano. Climbing or running up to the 822 foot peak of Arthur’s seat when I have enough energy is one of the best starts to the day. The panoramic views are simply stunning. On May Day its traditional for young women to wash their face with the morning dew of the hill to make them beautiful. I’d argue that regardless of your gender it’s a pretty stimulating way to start your day any month of the year!  ☔️  🏃

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A run up to Arthur’s Seat in the rain is a great way to blow out the cobwebs. I may or may not have washed with the morning dew… 😆

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It was a lovely surprise to bump into Legolas, displaying his skills not with a bow and arrow but some bagpipes. Multitalented

Did you know there are more restaurants here per head than any other city in the UK. So depending on what you’re feeling like you could visit one of my favourite spots, ‘the Devil’s Advocate’, hidden just off the royal Mile. Minutes from the castle. An old Victorian pump house. Think bare brick, beams and wood with a fantastic bar, mixologists, whisky selection and dimly lit open plan restaurant that serves food that will quite honestly set the benchmark for the rest of your meals in Edinburgh. The place is always buzzing. The cocktails alone will certainly keep you going on those cold wet Scottish evenings. Not one to miss out on. 🍸

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A fantastic shot of Princes St taken from Calton Hill. You can see the Balmoral Hotel with the clock tower. Excellent afternoon tea. 📷 |@EdinburghPhotoWalk

I usually stay up towards Calton Hill and the Old Town. The city isn’t really that big so it’s easy to walk around but get those thighs ready as its anything but flat!

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If you’re standing in front of the Waverley train station in the centre of town, you’ll most likely be looking straight at one of the most luxurious hotels in Edinburgh. The Balmoral Hotel. If you stay here, you wont want to wake up anywhere else, ever! Make sure you ask for a room with a city view and don’t miss out on the afternoon tea!

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I’m still not sure if I made it up to Arthur’s Seat or if thats the one behind me…😆

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You can even have design and have your own tartan registered. So if you fancy joining Legolas on the royal mile this the place to come.

We usually land on runway 24 which generally means a flypast before making a 180 degree turn over the coast to head west. Sitting on the left side of the aircraft offers a fantastic view of the estuary and the bridges that span across to North Queensferry are a pretty spectacular sight as the sun sets.

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Slight word of caution, flying into Edinburgh can be a bit bumpy if there is a strong wind blowing over the hills so buckle up if we pop the seatbelt sign on.

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Snowboarding 🏂 : Canada 🇨🇦 Vs France 🇫🇷

Where to go skiing. Canada or France and where is the best snow? I’ve been to both this year and I’m comparing them both for you incase you fancy somewhere different this year. Enjoy.

2018 so far has been the year of snow! I’ve been lucky enough to hit the slopes on two different continents – Canada and France – and wow have they been awesome! Over 5000 miles (8000km) apart but some of the best snowboarding I’ve ever done.

The season isn’t over yet so I thought I’d compile a quick comparison of my two trips in case you’re thinking about getting your ski on this year.

GETTING THERE

Canada

3 pilot friends and I boarded a BA flight from Heathrow to Calgary – flight time just over 9 hours on the Dreamliner (this was my first time on the 787 and it’s an amazing machine…possibly my new favourite and what I’d love to fly next!).

We rented a Lincoln Navigator – this is basically a presidential 4×4 with 450 horsepower to liven up the drive…

Only one hour cruise later in temperatures of -20C and more fresh snow than I could dream of, we were already passing through Banff National Park. A further 2 hours later we arrived at our first and furthest destination, Kicking Horse mountain resort. Throughout the week we then worked our way back via Banff boarding some of the world’s best off piste.

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One of the best things about getting to Canada is that we departed at 2pm on a rainy London day and arrived at 4pm the same day in snowy Calgary (thanks to a 7 hour time difference). After a few films, some fizz and a nap on the plane (NB: the higher cabin pressure and humidity in the 787 does wonders for passenger comfort) I was honestly so pleasantly surprised at how fresh I felt on arrival!

France

22 of us this time boarding a flight from Gatwick to Grenoble for a friend’s 30th birthday – flight time ~1 hr 20m. We caught a 10am-ish flight arriving in France 12.30 local time.

After spending a good hour or so gathering bags and loading them onto a coach chocablock full of snow seekers, it was just over three hours to our accommodation for the week – a catered chalet in Val Thorens, part of the infamous three valleys (les Trois Vallees).

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Val Thorens is the highest ski resort in Europe and part of one of the biggest ski areas in the world.

Verdict: Despite the idea of going half way across the world to Canada potentially feeling like a chore, the time difference and well-timed flight from LHR actually means you’re effectively still only spending a day getting there. Having been to the Alps many times it really felt like a huge adventure heading over the North Atlantic Ocean. So while France is nearby it still takes a good full day to get to your resort so don’t let the distance to the Rockies put you off if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous!

ACCOMMODATION

Canada

We stayed in two apartments. The first was in Kicking Horse. The apartment slept 4 comfortably with a hot tub outside – good for a beer in -22C after a gnarly day off piste! It had a car park underneath to ensure our wheels didn’t freeze. Given Kicking Horse is essentially a village (there are a couple of lodges and a few apartments) booking accommodation in advance is recommended.

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The second apartment was in Banff – it was essentially a massive hotel full of apartments called The Fox Hotel and Suites (if you stay there definitely make use of the grotto-inspired pool for some R&R and the waffle maker at breakfast with the local maple syrup!). Compared to Kicking Horse, Banff had a lot more options for accommodation – from hotels to hostels.

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France

I’ve been skiing and snowboarding in the Alps many a time having been based in nearby Lyon for 3 years.

As I’ve done a couple of times before we stayed in a catered chalet – for a large group this is an awesome option. Some great chalet hosts, a space you and your group can call your own and some delicious food provided throughout – cooked breakfasts, cake and tea on the table when you arrive back after a hard day in the snow and dinner every night but one when the chalet hosts deserve a well earned break!

We stayed in one of SkiWorld’s many catered chalets in Val Thorens which was very comfortable and had the option to ski in/ski out which was a huge plus. If you’re feeling more upmarket the other nearby resorts of Meribel and Courcheval have plenty of other options too whether self-catered apartments, hotels or catered chalets. (I once stayed in Hotel & Spa L’Helios in beautiful Meribel – definitely recommend if you’re looking for a romantic getaway!).

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Head to Meribel’s Hotel & Spa L’Helios if you’re in need of some luxury

Verdict: if afternoon tea and dinner made for you each night is what you’re looking for then a catered chalet is for you – you’ll find these in abundance in the 3 Valleys. For my trip to Canada we went for the self-catered apartment option which gave us a base from which we could explore local restaurants and bars. Essentially, both areas have got many options of accommodation to meet your needs – ultimately your decision will likely be guided by cost, number of people…..and availability!!

THE RESORTS

Canada

Kicking Horse is a small resort centred around extreme skiing and boarding and was once only accessible by helicopter. There really isn’t much there in the way of apres 🍻 but it’s the champagne powder capital of Canada – enough said 👊.

2 hours along the powder highway Banff offers a completely different resort experience.  What’s odd about Banff for Europeans is that you can’t actually ski or snowboard in the town itself. It’s essentially used as a base to drive from each day to some new slopes and powder in the area (hence why the V-6 engine was a real necessity 😉).

It’s a picturesque resort, well catered for tourists – plenty of shops, restaurants and bars. Block Kitchen & Bar was our favourite – it offered a fusion of Japanese Indian food which was a welcome break from your traditional lunchtime piste-side food (e.g. chips, hotdogs etc.). For a delicious burger I’d recommend Eddie Burger + Bar. Finally, remember to try the local dish, poutine, which you’ll find in most eating establishments in the town.

France

Val Thorens is the highest of the three valleys resorts at 2300m (7500ft) and the highest ski resort in Europe so they say. While a relatively functional resort its height does mean you’re guaranteed some good snow.

As with the three main resort villages in the region (Courcheval, Meribel and Val Thorens), you’ll find shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and spas to satisfy either a day off or a good bit of apres. In Val Thorens you’ll find the infamous Folie Douce with pumping music on the mountain side (although the one in Val D’Isere is arguably bigger and better). We also popped into 360 bar for a quick afternoon wiggle…

In town head to Tango for a more sophisticated vibe which serves some great cocktails (and is a favourite of local ski/snowboard instructors). Or on the same strip  head to one of the many bars with live music – e.g. Saloon Bar – or pop to Crewzer which has a great atmosphere and serves Belgian beer. The local bar to our chalet was The Red Fox which we happily frequently a couple of times for a beer.

If you’re looking for a more picturesque resort, Meribel and Courcheval might be more your cup of tea or one of the smaller satellite villages such as St Martin.

IMG_4494Verdict: apres in Kicking Horse is a crate of beers in the hot tub – so chilled, I loved it! Meanwhile in Banff it’s a 10 minute walk into the centre of town where you can find some great food and bars if you’re interested….essentially you can find much the same in Banff as in Val Thorens. It’s up to you the extent to which you make the most of the amenities.

THE SNOW

Canada

The aim of this trip was to board as many double black diamond chutes and bowls (AKA crazy black runs for us Europeans) as we could in the week, working our way from Kicking Horse back to Banff. We weren’t disappointed.

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Different kind of flying

We went the second week in January and the slopes were practically empty, it was unbelievable. No queuing for lifts, no queuing for lunch.  The terrain was impressive – vast pistes lined by thick alpine forest amongst which live numerous grizzly bears…thankfully I met a friendly one!

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The steep alpine terrain was perfect for off piste. A constant booming of avalanche blasts by the snow patrol (not the band!) gave us the reassurance (and the odd startle factor!) that we were pretty safe despite having all the necessary equipment.

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In Kicking Horse you can get a gondola from the base of the mountain to the very top which in January temperatures is a massive plus! You’re also guaranteed to make new friends during the journey up as everyone is incredibly friendly.

The resorts we visited while based in Banff (Sunshine and Lake Louise) offered a wider network of pistes and in general were more beginner friendly. There were plenty of blue and green runs that take you cruising through the forest and are suitable for beginners. In fact, if the slopes are always as quiet as they were a couple of weeks ago then I’d much rather learn to master skiing or snowboarding in Canada than on one of Europe’s packed pistes.

As for the snow itself, during our visit we got a fresh dump of powder on arrival although it was limited thereafter.

France

The three valleys essentially make up one of the world’s largest lift-linked ski areas. The whole region is incredibly well connected via a huge network of gondolas, chair lifts and bubbles.

There are a huge variety of runs to satisfy all levels of skier and snowboarder. If you’re based in Val Thorens then the 3 valley lift pass gives you access to the pistes in Meribel and Courcheval as well so there’s a huge amount to explore and a lot of lifts and pistes to make your way up and down to get to the far reaches of the area.

Compared to Canada it is a lot busier. Mornings are definitely the best time to explore although if you’re heading off piste then generally it’s a lot quieter.

At lifts you’ll have to jostle with a cocktail of snow seekers – stay calm and inch yourself towards the lift, you will make it! This trip it wasn’t too bad but during school holidays you’ll need to stand your ground!

We had incredibly good weather for the end of January – sunshine nearly everyday offered good visibility. But by far the best day came at the end when, following a day of snowfall, the off piste was unreal. I headed out with a guide (Matt from Prosneige – such a cool guy!) and haven’t ever experienced snow so soft, powdery and deep!

Verdict: Canada is known for some of the world’s best snow and off piste and I had the most amazing time, especially exploring with 3 other snowboarders. However, this year for the snow Val Thorens just tipped it thanks to some mid-week snowfall – I subsequently experienced my best day ever of off piste (and possibly the best day of my life!!) – it was INSANE!!!!!

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The best day! Boarding with the Prosneige guys

 

Wherever you choose to visit, you’ll have an amazing time.

Remember, GET OUT THERE AND LOVE LIFE!

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Iceland 🇮🇸 ⛄️

Hello everyone, Sorry I haven’t posted a blog for ages. I’ve been jetting around Europe with my day job and also recently headed up to Aberdeen to surprise a brilliant…

Hello everyone,

Sorry I haven’t posted a blog for ages. I’ve been jetting around Europe with my day job and also recently headed up to Aberdeen to surprise a brilliant young man called Finlay. It was a magical moment as part of BAMagic 

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I’m also writing a travel piece on the top 10 cities to visit in Europe. You’ll be able to see that in one of the National newspapers soon.  Hope you’ll find it useful.

In the meantime, if you’ve ever considered a short visit to Iceland then check out the blog below written by Kay Burley for the Mail on Sunday. Looks awesome.

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You can fly with me from London or British Airways also fly from London City

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Spectacular views of Iceland as I flew into Keflavik airport with British Airways.  Jonny says sit on the right of the aircraft for the best views.  He was right!

 

Iceland is on everyone’s bucket list.  Or at least that’s how it appears.  Every time I mentioned I’d spent a few glorious days in this curious country I was met with:  ‘I’ve always wanted to go there.’ Followed swiftly by: ‘Did you see the Northern Lights?’

The answer is, yes I did.  Sort of.  But, there really is so much more to Iceland than looking upwards.

Whale watching, Icelandic-horse riding, snowmobiling, all terrain vehicle tours, caving… They’re all available for the more energetic traveller. Or, for visitors more like me, there’s absolutely breathtaking scenery enjoyed from the sanctuary of the tranquil Blue Lagoon!

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Blue Lagoon is heaven on earth

The lagoon is a spa that was created from a nearby geothermal power plant – almost all of Iceland’s hot water is generated from the earth’s core – and has been developed into one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions.

I visited on an absolutely freezing November day and the tentative sub-zero steps from the main building to the water’s edge took my breath away, but the shivers quickly melted as I eased into the 100 degree biothermal lagoon.  The waters are said to work wonders for the skin and in addition a silica mud mask is a must. I was a little embarrassed about wallowing around sporting the brilliant white mask, but everyone else in the lagoon was doing the same!

Steam gently rising from the crystal clear waters was so relaxing I wanted to stay submerged forever, so I compromised and treated myself to a half hour in-water massage.  Floating on a yoga mat in scenic surroundings while having my shoulders manfully manipulated by a brilliant masseur will, without doubt, be a life memory for me.

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The lagoon is heated by a geothermal power plant.  As is 95% of Iceland homes.

Of course I wanted photos too but was worried about keeping my phone dry. I shouldn’t have been. There are plenty of staff who will take a souvenir snap on an iPad and email them to you – free of charge.

If you’re planning a trip to the lagoon then go early would be my strong advice. It does become very busy later in the day. I went at 9am by shuttle bus, around 50 minutes from Reykjavik, and had the waters almost to myself for an hour or so.

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Any road trip offers spectacular views of the countryside.  Locals say if you’re lost in a forest in Iceland – stand up.  Vikings cut down 99% of trees!

If you only have a few days to spare then travelling by bus is an excellent way to get around the country.  Less than a third of a million people live in Iceland with around 120,000 in Reykjavik. However, business is booming and after the challenges of the financial crisis brought the country to its knees, its rebuilding quickly and tourists are flocking there. Two million visited this year and that number is predicted to grow by 40% in 2018, so go soon.

Hotels in Reykjavik – the Smoke City – cater for all wallets, though be aware that Iceland is relatively expensive.  A G&T cost me £14 and supper for us more than £100. Do not buy bottled water.  Tap water is excellent. And free!

The new harbour is a bustling part of town and there’s a strong party scene if that’s your thing.  Restaurants are plentiful and there’s lots of fabulous food to choose from, including a ‘world famous’ hot dog stand where tourists and locals alike queue around the block.

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Reykjavik is a functional rather than beautiful city…

Architecture in the capital is not so much of a draw if I’m being brutally honest, but nevertheless I enjoyed strolling around the small city and a two-hour walking tour conducted by a local historian, was informative and fun.  However, I wanted to see much more than geothermal swimming pools even if Ryan Gosling and the cast of the Game of Thrones had been seen wallowing in one of the outdoor public baths while I was there.  So, I left behind the heated pavements of the capital – no necessity to shovel away snow- for a Golden Circle Tour of Geysers and waterfalls.

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Hot, old geysers everywhere

The scenery is second to none.  Hot, old Geysers putting on a regular show are a popular stop for tourists. In addition, visit Pingvellir, a picturesque world heritage national park which sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of two tectonic plates and is the site of the oldest parliament in the world.

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Pingvellir is a world heritage site where tectonic plates collide

Not my thing, but it’s also said to be one of the best spots for diving in Iceland.  I preferred to visit the Gulfoss waterfall where the power of nature sees chocolate milk-coloured water flowing at 2,000 cubic metres per second.  Don’t stand too near the edge though.  Some have, with fatal consequences.

Gulfoss waterfall is chocolate milk coloured.  Jonny described it as Nesquik on tap.  Wish I’d thought of that.  Perfect description

Of course, I couldn’t not mention the Northern Lights.  Tour operators are certainly geared up for the spectacular phenomenon and on a daily basis they measure magnetic activity to proffer reasonable predictions on what might happen on any given night.  Be prepared though to stand in the freezing cold for a long time waiting for Mother Nature to put on a show.  I was in the United States in August waiting with eager anticipation as a total eclipse was promised. The moon nibbled at the sun, the second it had been predicted to, right on cue.  That doesn’t happen with the Northern Lights.  There’s a lot of looking up towards an inky-black sky in eager anticipation.  It was absolutely freezing the night I was there and just when I could no longer feel my toes and thought I needed to call it an evening and seek refuge in the warmth of the tour bus, the magic came.

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There they are, but be prepared to stand for hours in the cold waiting for the magic to happen

However, it doesn’t always, so build in time to make sure you can boast to your friends back home that you saw the Lights.  My tip would be try early in your visit and if you’re unlucky the first night then you have options.

So, in summary, if the most you knew about Iceland previously was that it was home to an unpronounceable volcano that caused airport chaos around Europe back in 2010 then now’s the time to visit this stunning part of the world.

The phrase locals used to me time and again was:  Take nothing from us and leave nothing behind.  I think I may have left a little part of my heart there.  I’ll definitely be heading back soon to find it…

In the meantime, if you visit before me, could you please visit the square outside the parliament building and just check on how my snowman is doing?

There’s more on my Instagram feed…

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Top 10 Tips for Marrakech 🇲🇦 🌴

Marrakesh, where East meets West in an assault on the senses that will leave you totally spellbound by its Moroccan magic. Here are my top 10 tips for enjoying Marrakesh…

Marrakesh, where East meets West in an assault on the senses that will leave you totally spellbound by its Moroccan magic. Here are my top 10 tips for enjoying Marrakesh to the max.

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1. Getting around  🚗 🐪 🚶

From the airport, take the No19 bus into central Marrakesh or jump in a taxi.  Be sure to agree the fare with one of the hoard of drivers swarming around the exit before you start your journey.  To get to the Medina pay around 70 Dirham. An organised transfer is likely to be around double the cost.

Travelling around the Medina:  When you first arrive finding your Riad can be a challenge. Locals will happily help – for a price.  Set your price and don’t be a pushover 😉  If all you need are directions, then I found market stall owners to be very happy to steer you the right way.

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2. 

Stay in a Riad! 🏠

Staying in a Riad in the centre of Marrakesh is more like a home than a hotel.  Outside the front door its all hustle and bustle but inside you’re enveloped by an oasis of tranquility and calm.

Riads are a traditional Moroccan house centred around a courtyard. Originally home to the Medina’s wealthiest residents, today they’re provide comfortable and classy accommodation for the likes of you and I.

They’re easy to book online ahead of your trip with sites like Booking.com.  Or just rock up and knock on some rather ornate doors to find yourself a room.

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3. Get lost 😳 🗺 

At some point as you meander through the Medina, you’ll realise you’re completely and utterly lost. Don’t panic, it’s part of the experience!  Just remember you’re never far from the main square (Jemaa el-Fnaa) or a helpful local to point you in the right direction.  The Medina is full of others like you and I – tourists desperately trying to look like locals yet failing miserably…all part of the fun! 😆

4. Know your price 💰

Exploring the souks, the labyrinth of market stalls in the Medina, is a must.  From carpets to camels, you’d be amazed what’s on offer for sale, but you’ll have to barter hard for everything!

Three top tips are: Know the conversion rate, what you’re willing to pay and be prepared to walk away.  If there’s profit in it for the stallholder they won’t let you, trust me. Don’t feel embarrassed to go in at 10% of the asking price – they can be very brazen.

5. Don’t fold under pressure ✌️

We all like a bargain but, don’t feel as though you must buy something.  Be respectful of locals’ time and upfront with your intentions. Good manners cost nothing.  Just be polite.

‘Just looking’, ‘no more money’, ‘the suitcase is full’… you get the idea.

6. Feeling hot, hot hot 🐪 ☀️

Marrakesh is sweltering in the heat of the day so its best to explore early morning and later in the evening. Suncream is an absolute must. A hat and sunglasses are also a good idea.  Donning these will also deter at least a few of the mobile salesmen from trying to flog you ‘genuine’ Gucci glasses and a Rolex to match. 😉 😎

7. What to wear 👖 👚 👟

Western dress is widely accepted but do respect the muslim culture. Female tourists, don’t need to cover their hair and you can dress casually including jeans. Be sure to cover your legs, midriff and cleavage though if you want to visit the many mosques or museums.

More generally, loose clothing will help with the heat and don’t be too flashy.  Dressing modestly is a smart idea when it comes to bartering for a bargain. 💪  You’ll be navigating tiny alleyways and uneven streets so I’d also recommend  flip flops, sandals or trainers, you get the gist.

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8. Pap with permission 📷 💥

Every turn offers a perfect photo op in Marrakesh, but make sure you know the rules. Everything is a transaction and if you want photos of locals and their merchandise, it’s likely they’ll want money for the privilege. In my experience, buying something first keeps everyone happy.

Performers are more than happy to pose but will rightly ask for a couple of Dirham (dh) in their hat – remember this is their main source of income!

9. Beware of pickpockets 👀

It’s easy to be mesmerised by the sights and sounds of a bustling backstreet.  Always be aware of your belongings.  Open pockets, mobile phones and expensive sunglasses are an easy target.

10. Tipping 🤝 💵

Having asked a number of locals on my trips, I’ve come to a rough guideline on tipping:

  • Waiters in cafes/restaurants – 5dh
  • Upmarket restaurants – 10-15%
  • Porters – 20 dh
  • Taxi drivers – feel free to top up the agreed price as an extra thank you!

BONUS TIP: smile 😁

Moroccans have a fantastic sense of humour, are warm and friendly and are always happy to help.  If you are not interested in what they’re offering a smile and a “non merci” goes a long way (even if you have to say it 5 times 😉).

Speak to the locals, engage with them and ask for their advice. At the eating places and Riads I’ve visited and stayed in, the best advice has always come from the insiders…the locals!

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HAVE A FAB TRIP!!

2 Comments on Top 10 Tips for Marrakech 🇲🇦 🌴

Glasgow 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 & Bologna 🇮🇹 for a night

Hi everyone, This is a look back at a post that became lost back in June 2017 within the desolate depths of the cyber world. I thought is would be…

Hi everyone,

This is a look back at a post that became lost back in June 2017 within the desolate depths of the cyber world. I thought is would be sad not to share the adventure unless of course you already know which city celebrates producing popes, painters and sausages..?

Hope you enjoy and don’t forget to leave a comment 😊

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Cheers!

Let me start by saying that, without doubt, I have the best job in the world!  Travelling around Europe as a British Airways pilot and enjoying the sights and sounds of more than a dozen different countries is a dream come true.

Many of you are kind enough to comment on my social media photos and videos via Twitter: @jkp320 and on Instagram and Facebook: @jonnythepilot so I thought I’d bring them altogether into a weekly blog.

Do let me know what you think.  Any suggestions about what you’d like to see more, or less of would be greatly appreciated.

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Relaxing with my sister @CharlottethePilot at @lakes_ByYoo in the Cotswolds

Here goes…

Started my week with my little sister Charlotte who is also a pilot. I absolutely love this photo of the two of us chilling together at Lakes by Yoo. We’re lucky to have a friend who lives on the 850 acre estate and so took the opportunity to visit for a couple of days when it was just too hot to sleep in London. You may have seen our videos on Instagram including this one…

 

Before trying to build a Kayak tower… 😆

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Hot, hot, hot. Wet, wet, wet.

Anyway, back to the day job.  As I may have mentioned, I really do think I have the best job in the world travelling around Europe in the front seat of a British Airways Airbus 320. This week I went to Brussels; Belfast; Glasgow; Copenhagen and Bologna!

Let me share with you my time in Bologna:-

I absolutely love Italy, but had never been to Bologna before so I was super excited. It has an amazing cafe culture, architecture and arcades.  And I don’t mean the arcades where you’d find lines of 2p slot machines but those of architectural magnificence, adjoining arches that stretch a staggering 38 kilometres across town.

I decided to hire a scooter and see the sights.  A white automatic Vespa from Paula at Travelhoo was just the ticket to zip around town.  You can find Paula right in the centre of town and hire bicycles as well scooters at a very reasonable rate. Vespa rental was 40 Euros for 3 hrs plus petrol.

 

Bologna is celebrated for producing popes, painters and sausages.

                                                                                                                        – Lord Byron 

If you’re unsure about renting a scooter then there’s plenty of opportunity to stroll though the arcades instead. They stretch for miles so don’t worry if by some miracle its raining and you’ve forgotten your brolly.  You could cover most of Bologna’s city centre without even getting wet (minus the odd road crossing).

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 One of many arcades in Bologna

Leaving the rest of the flight crew relaxing at the hotel I took the opportunity to meander the streets and stumbled across a weekly market selling everything and nothing I needed!

But my mission was to find the birthplace of Lamborghini. As I headed to pick up my Vespa, I stumbled across the iconic twin towers of Bologna.

The Asinelli tower at 97 metres stands taller than the leaning tower of Pisa and her sister Garisenda has an even greater lean than THE famous tower.  Have you been?

Asinelli and Garisenda are the city’s only remaining towers from the 13th century.  If you fancy the exercise you can climb a rickety spiral wooden staircase up Asinelli for a spectacular view of the city.

The time had come to swap two wheels for four.  I could hear the sound of the raging bulls, the Lamborghini museum was calling my name. In true Italian style, I adjusted my sunglasses and hopped on the Vespa to head 40 mins out of town through the picturesque countryside in the 38 degree heat. The breeze was a welcome delight.

My friend @wolfiekutner, an absolute genius when it comes to anything cars had pointed me in the direction of super-car heaven and I was only too delighted to take a few photos for his Instagram page.

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Mind blown…

The guided tour of the Lamborghini museum was incredible – made even more unique by the fact I was the only one on the tour on a Saturday afternoon believe it or not

This experience absolutely sits at the top of my Bologna to do list and only cost 20 euros.

They also run tours on the factory floor Monday to Friday.  Note to self:  Another visit to Bologna plugged into the roster in the next couple of months.

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Did you know only V12 Lamborghini’s have scissor action doors as standard

Check this beauty out: The Reventon.

It has a V12 engine with scissor action doors and 668 Hp.
An F22 fighter jet inspired look with its forward-thrusted air intakes up front, hungry-looking scoops on the side and the 4 glass louvers offering a view of the racious V12 engine.

Only 20 were ever made and were over a million euros to buy in 2007…

Any guesses how much they go for today?

I’ll keep saving…

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With a heavy heart I headed back to the Royal Carlton crew hotel in the centre of town to prepare for the serious job of flying an Airbus 320 for British Airways from Bologna (BLQ) to London Heathrow (LHR)

We took off, headed west and chased the setting sun for two  hours over the Alps and across Switzerland and France up to the UK.

The transfer to the airport was quick and easy only taking 20 mins.

Arriving back into Heathrow we disembarked the passengers before programming the aircraft for our next flight and deciding on how much fuel to load.  Meanwhile the bags were being loaded and the catering replaced.  Did you know we now offer a Marks and Spencer inflight service?  I love Percy Pigs and Pals.

It was a quick turnaround and 50 mins later we were ready to go.  Time to swap the glamour of Bologna for the grittiness of Glasgow (GLA).  Flight time time: 1hr 5mins

Joking aside I love visiting Glasgow, its one of my favourite destinations. Always a friendly welcome, a great hotel and a curry to die for!

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Buchanan St – Glasgow

Have you been to Glasgow? I often travel to Scotland’s second city and would be delighted to welcome you aboard next time I’m flying up. Keep checking my tweets for the next time I am scheduled there. Maybe even a selfie in the flight deck.

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Pre-flight relaxation

Lots of people ask about pilot training.  The job, stresses and tensions in the cockpit.

It’s so important to be able to manage your stress levels and state of arousal at work in such a busy and dynamic environment.

There can be many challenging factors throughout the day such as no fuel tanker arriving at the aircraft on a 45 min turnaround, a missing passenger, adverse weather – be it thunderstorms activity causing delays and diversions or cold weather requiring de-icing, the list goes on but the most important thing to remember is that safety comes first.  Making time to compose yourself and stay relaxed is paramount.

 

The time to relax is when you don’t have the time for it

                                                                                   – Sidney Harris
Another overnight stay and then next morning we returned the A320 to Heathrow (LHR) and swapped it for a slightly smaller A319 aircraft. You may not notice the difference as a passenger.  It’s a tiny bit smaller!

To finish the day we flew to Belfast City and back – ‘a link’ in pilot parlance. A quick flight but nevertheless an enjoyable one.

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A short runway and beautiful views of the the Irish coastline and of the docks where the Titanic set sail.

If you’re planning a visit I highly recommend the Titanic museum and the dock tour, just a stone’s throw from BHD City Airport.

I hear the tour of the old prison in the centre of town is also a popular attraction and of course the ‘perch’ bar in town is a trendy place to try a cocktail or two.

 

So, there you go, that’s my week.

How was yours?  See you next time.  Happy flying.

 

 

1 Comment on Glasgow 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 & Bologna 🇮🇹 for a night

Ever fancied sailing the Med? ⛵️

Hi everyone, What a month it’s been! Despite September often being associated with the end of summer and the drawing in of longer autumn nights, Heathrow has been buzzing with…

Hi everyone,

What a month it’s been!

Despite September often being associated with the end of summer and the drawing in of longer autumn nights, Heathrow has been buzzing with sunshine-seekers and city-breakers, all looking for a quick adventure before winter truly sets in.

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This means I’ve been busy zooming back and forth all over Europe and have been lucky to fly to some great destinations (mainly in the rain it seems if you read on below!), as well as squeeze in a couple of amazing trips with some great friends. It’s all part and parcel of a pilot’s life – making sure you seize every day!!

Here’s a snippet of what I’ve been up to inside and outside the cockpit over the last couple of weeks…

It all began with a trip over to a city that oozes elegance and is arguably Italy’s gastronomic paradise. The original home to balsamic vinegar, Parmesan cheese, Parma ham and Bolognese sauce. It is also home to the oldest university in the world!

Got it yet?…

🇮🇹 Bologna

Fast cars, great food, graffiti-embellished piazzas and medieval terracotta buildings. I simply love this place.

I went the other month for the first time and spent a morning travelling by vespa to the Lamborghini museum – if you’re a car enthusiast like me, then you’d absolutely love it!

I didn’t manage to head out that far this time, but I still love the city…even in the pouring rain!!

 

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Popped out for lunch and went with the recommended Spaghetti Bolognese… I gave it the thumbs up, along with the owner.

 

🇩🇪 Hamburg

A new night stop for me this month was Hamburg, now my favourite city in Deutschland. Of course, it decided to rain during my visit 🙄 …but it still looked beautiful!

And you’ll know that the rain doesn’t stop me from getting out and exploring the city…

Tip alert: pay attention to the signposts – don’t be a numpty like me and walk in the designated cyclist path…!

Beyond these trips I also flew to Vienna, Manchester, Gothenburg, Aberdeen and Madrid, managing to capture a few great photos from my office along the way 😉

Now to the times where I squeezed in some leisure…

I’ve travelled a lot with work this month but it certainly doesn’t stop me wanting to jump back on a British Airways flight for an adventure with some friends.

Popping over to the beautiful island of Mallorca in early September, I was seeking a different mode of transport to my usual Airbus….a 48ft yacht.

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We weren’t quite sure which of the Bond villains this belonged to… any ideas? We had to take a closer look as we sailed out of Palma.

Sailing from Palma to Barcelona over two days with two of my best mates who I met when I lived in Lyon was epic! It was just us, the sunshine and the waves for 32 hours….oh, and some dolphins about 2 hrs off Barcelona. Made the four hour shift pattern completely worth it – what a magical moment!

 

I’ve got to say that as much as I love being in the sky, the freedom of being at sea is incredible. Hadn’t had the opportunity for a year or so and I think I’ve got the bug back…!

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Kate and Leo, eat your heart out 😛 ⛵️

A couple of weeks later I also managed to squeeze in a trip to Edinburgh – and yes, it rained…! This time I was there for a stag do for one of my best friends from my training days in Oxford. Can’t believe it’s been nearly ten years since we were training there!!

 

 

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Yes, the stag wore a pilot outfit… 👨‍✈️ Here’s when the stag met Forrest Gump…

Anyway, there were 12 of us with an appetite to show the stag a good time. We spent a fair amount of time meandering the streets and then hunkering down in a number of pubs. I’ll be honest, I can’t remember the names of any of the pubs but am keen for recommendations for my next visit so please let me know!

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Had to have a pic with this chap – he was belting out the tunes! Will have to give it a go myself one day – get your ear plugs ready! I also quite fancy my own tartan 😉 Did you know British Airways has its own tartan?

Selfie of the week…

 

 

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What a good looking team 😛  This is the Captain and me with the fueler. He may look like Mickey Mouse but without this guy we’d be going nowhere ⛽️

And another for good measure…

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It’s not strictly a selfie…but after six days working on the trot, I was super excited to attend a charity day for The Brainwave Children’s Charity and bump into this lady! She didn’t have any cakes on her 🙄 but she was still pretty awesome and up for a pic. Thanks Mary! You can find out more about the amazing work that’s being done to support children with disabilities to achieve greater independence here.

After a jam-packed roster and a few bits of personal travel squeezed in, I’m now looking forward to nearly 3 weeks off….that’s right!! I absolutely love the day job but sometimes after jetting between different countries and cities, some R&R is required.

So it’s off with the wings and on with the tourist hat…here’s to some autumnal adventures…

You can come with me if you like?

All my daily adventures will be on my Instagram story, Facebook Page and for those that love to tweet – Twitter 

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As always love to read your comments and suggestions.

See you soon!

 

2 Comments on Ever fancied sailing the Med? ⛵️

The Day I Became a Horny Cow 🐮

  Hi everyone, What a week! Can’t believe its September already.  This year has flown by… Apart from a few sunny days in June we seem to have been rained…

 

Hi everyone,

What a week! Can’t believe its September already.  This year has flown by…

Apart from a few sunny days in June we seem to have been rained on for most of the year.  Who else is hoping for an Indian Summer?

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Chilling with my sister, the amazing @PilotCharlotte

Having said that the sun did shine for the August bank holiday as I safely delivered many of you on your last summer holidays before the kids are back to school and now its the long stretch from here to Christmas.

Yikes, I can’t believe I’ve mentioned the C word with still another three months to go. Moving swiftly on, this is what I’ve been up to this week.

I began my bank holiday weekend on the sunny Friday afternoon in London with a flight over to Frankfurt and back before heading to Berlin, one of my favourite cities and one I’m lucky enough to visit fairly regularly.

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Storms moving in at Frankfurt 🇩🇪

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+TSRA (Thunderstorms and heavy rain in pilot speak) Time for a bit of a detour…

After negotiations with thunderstorms departing Frankfurt and the notorious stop board at Tegal airport (TXL) in Berlin we hopped into the crew transport which whisked us into town where we stay at a lovely hotel by the zoo.

A quick shower to freshen up before heading to the toilet!  The KLO bar to be precise. You may recall I visited this whacky bar with a colleague once before. After telling the story to the crew on the journey to the hotel they were keen to experience sitting on the loo drinking from sample bottles! The bar with its moving tables and squirting water certainly didn’t disappoint and we had a great evening.

We had a late pick up the following day and so I treated myself to Wiener schnitzel for lunch.

 

As we flew back towards home, the gods must have been looking down on us.  Air Traffic Control was quiet!  That’s almost never the case at one of the busiest airports in the world where aircraft land seconds apart.  Speed reduction and at least a 10 minute delay is the norm.

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Approaching the east coat of the UK before our descent into LHR

It was our lucky day: ‘Speedbird 985, maintain high speed 300 knots. Expect straight in approach, runway 27L’. Awesome! The words every pilot loves to hear.

We were 20 minutes early delivering delighted passengers to the stand and it also meant some unexpected chill time for us before prepping the aircraft for Paris 🇫🇷

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Prepping for our departure to ORY 🇫🇷

Flying to Paris is over in the blink of an eye and our work must be swift but precise. Running a systems check of the aircraft, sending for an updated weather report for destination and alternate airports to make sure they’re still suitable options and checking the runway you are expecting to land on is still the one in use are done without delay.

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We are lucky enough to see some incredible views. 🛫 🇫🇷

It’s then time to check the coding in the system for the approach you expect to be flying and deciding on how the approach is to be flown. We brief that between us in the flight deck, setting ‘gates’, where we verbalise our intentions at certain stages of the procedure. The pilot flying will intend to have the aircraft in a certain configuration at a certain speed. This is a hugely efficient way of sharing your mental model. We achieve this with the use of what we call ‘open questions’. Questions beginning with what, why, how, describe, tell me about, therefore engaging the other party in conversation.

Paris, au clair du lune 

                                                                                       -Paris is the moonlight

This time we were flying over to Paris Orly (ORY) as opposed to (CDG). I enjoy flying into ORY with its 2 runways and a short taxi onto stand. Safely on the ground and with passengers disembarked my mission on this trip was to see the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe.

I managed one better. I also skateboarded the final stretch of the Tour de France that Chris Froome has cycled to victory on, 4 times!! (The Champs Elysee)

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Sunday morning in Paris was as perfect as you might imagine. Like all capital cities the pulse slows but she remains elegant and stylish. A relaxed atmosphere, locals sitting outside enjoying their morning coffee with breakfast. The polite exchange of bonjour was pretty much my limit as I glided up towards the magnificence of the Arc de Triomphe. This is where the heartbeat quickens.

L’Etoile (the star) is 12-pointed junction – the craziest roundabout I’ve come across and I was certain the saying Fred karno’s circus must have originated. Even on a Sunday morning it was carnage!  Sat serenely in the centre is the Arc de Triomphe.

 

My guide book tells me the Arc was commissioned by Napoleon, the then Emperor. He wanted to honour the ‘Grande Armee’ (the French Army), who had conquered most of Europe. Napoleon told his soldiers  “to return home through the Arches of Triumph”.

A grand gesture from the famously diminutive leader, but nevertheless the Arch remained unfinished for 12 years during the abdication of Napoleon and was finally completed a decade later in 1836 at a cost 9.3 million Francs

 

I really enjoyed being a culture vulture in Paris and next on my list is heading to the top of the Eiffel Tower. `Next time.

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The city of love – My skateboard and I

Heading home I was looking forward to sharing some quality time with family and where better than the rather swish Soho Farmhouse in the Oxfordshire countryside.

With 40 log cabins set in more than 100 acres its the perfect getaway for yours truly and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

I swam, I worked out in the gym, I ate delicious food and I chose to be a horny cow for an hour!

 

Hopefully you were able to see my Instagram live in the gym. If you missed it you can find it all on my Facebook page. Facebook.com/Jonnythepilot

 

Selfie of the week…

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It was a pleasure to meet twitter follower Pete @Rightpeg on one of my flights this week who had been away to watch N.Ireland win their football match. ⚽️

I finished my week with a walk back in time in the magnificent city of Bologna but more of that next week.

See you then…

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 Comments on The Day I Became a Horny Cow 🐮

Full moon; half moon; total solar eclipse!

Hello everyone, Hope you’ve had a wonderful week and are enjoying the bank holiday weekend?  I can’t believe its the last one before Christmas.  If you’re heading away for a…

Hello everyone,

Hope you’ve had a wonderful week and are enjoying the bank holiday weekend?  I can’t believe its the last one before Christmas.  If you’re heading away for a few days remember the roads will be very busy, especially on Monday.

I have an idea guys, why not fly with me instead?  I’ll be in Berlin, Frankfurt and Paris! I absolutely love travelling to all three cities and in fact used to live in one of them.

What have I been up to this week?  Well, it began at my favourite place for brunch @thelidocafe.  Its a great location for me to have a swim and recharge my batteries.  As always, the food was just too good and I ate more than I’d planned, so afterwards I made sure to squeeze in a run. Flying around Europe means long hours which can take their toll and I always try to stay as fit as possible.

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Scrambled eggs and avocado on toast. My favourite start to the day.

So, after a few days R&R it was time to pack my bags, brush off my hat and head to work for a two-day trip.

I was off to Stavanger, one of Norway’s oldest cities, officially founded in 1125.  Flight time is just over 1 hr. Our route will cease in October so I hope to spend a couple more days there before it does.  I read that Stavanger’s Old Town is preserved as a historical monument and is  home to hundreds of 18th and 19th century white timber properties. The area is car free and includes restaurants, an open-air market, and small fishing boats along the harbour selling freshly caught shrimp, crab and lobsters. Yum!

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‘Pulpit Rock’ ~ photo by Brice Portolano

The lady that meets the aircraft in Stavanger told us we must also visit the ‘Pulpit rock’, very popular with base jumpers apparently.  It looks amazing and definitely on my to-do list.  Sadly, not enough time on this trip.

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Our view from the cockpit departing south from Stavanger, gorgeous beaches. 19 degrees, warm enough?!

Arriving back at LHR and after a quick turnaround (normally in the region of 50 mins), we were heading to Paris for the night with no idea quite how the weather would affect our plans later in the week. More of that in a moment…

Its just a quick hop to Paris, flight time in the region of 40 mins, straight into Charles De Gaulle on the Easterly Runway, 09L.

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On our way to Paris. Fabulous views to the west as the sun dipped beneath the clouds into the Atlantic.

But, a lengthy taxi almost doubles the journey time onto stand and makes for quite a conversation with ATC.

Speedbird 322 the first left, right, left, left, contact apron on frequency 121.930. 

Speedbird 322 hold at N1 then right, left, giveway to the Airbus 380 before first left and left again, standby for stand number‘…

You get the idea.

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We stay in the centre of town and it was pretty late when we arrived so after a quick change into civvies we went straight out for some local vin rouge and an entrecote.

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Dining with the Crew by the Champs Elysees 🇫🇷 🍷

 

The following morning I had an early run to take in some of the famous sites.  More of that in a future blog.  I’m still desperate to have dinner at the Jules Verne restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower.  Who wants to come?

Back to the hotel for a quick shower and we were soon heading home again.

I’m constantly travelling and so don’t spend as much time at home as I would like.  The flip side of course is that I have a birds-eye view of Europe and after just enough time to unpack and repack my carry-on I was returning to work. This time a 3 day trip!

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If you’re travelling through an airport and you see a first officer with a skateboard, it’s probably me!

We started with a quick trip up to Newcastle and back, or at least that was the plan. Sadly, the weather had other ideas.

As I’m sure you know, LHR is a very busy airport and our air traffic control operators are superbly efficient at making sure we all get on our way in good time.  However, you can imagine the chaos it creates as soon as aircraft can’t take off or land for only a few mins. Bad weather can cause havoc with our schedules.

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Captain Neil and I waiting and waiting and waiting our turn for pushback.

A couple of weather cells passed west to east over the airport and after many changes in a slot restriction we spent three hours on the stand before being able to push back and join the queue for departure.  There was more challenging weather to the north which contributed to our delay as northerly departures were now being limited to one every 10 mins.  We were 10th in line.  Colleagues in nearby aircraft were 16 & 17 in the queue…

To help pass the time for passengers we invited those onboard to visit the cockpit and say hello as we gave them regular updates on the delays.  Passengers and crew frustrated, all in the same boat.  With the weather as it was we felt like we needed one!   After as lengthy a delay as I can remember, we were finally on our way and up to NCL.

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On the approach into NCL

The weather was much calmer at NCL and after an uber-quick refuel we were soon back at LHR for an aircraft switch and then off to Spain 🇪🇸 , Barcelona to be precise.

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      Italy has great food and Barcelona has great energy

                                                                                                                               – Stefon Harris

I love Barcelona, but this trip was tinged with sadness as we arrived the day after the terror attack on Las Ramblas.  I took some time the following morning to visit the thoroughfare and was delighted to see locals and tourists alike determined not to be bowed by terrorism.  It was bustling with activity and I even managed to catch up with the amazing Emily Deeker, a senior producer at Sky News who was broadcasting live with her team.

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Now, I know that many of you have this rather glamorous image of an airline pilot and it is a great job, but it doesn’t always go as smoothly as planned!  Apart from the weather challenges this week we were also slightly delayed by a toilet blockage…

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Although a small inconvenience… the problem was quickly resolved and after loading the aircraft with food and fuel we were once again taxi-ing for take-off.

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Operation in full swing at LHR to prepare the aircraft for our trip to Dusseldorf.

Arriving in Dusseldorf we wanted to dine at a local Italian restaurant – when in Rome – but it was closed.  So instead we took advice and indulged in a highly recommended kebab, washed down with a local beer.  I have to say it was excellent but with one more day of this trip left it was early to bed.

Day 3 had us heading to LHR and up to Aberdeen where it was blowing a hoolie and horizontal rain with it. Not the best weather certainly, but I always LOVE spending time in Scotland so I really don’t mind what weather greets us.

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…especially when I’m working with such a fantastic team.  There was just time for a quick selfie on the airbridge before heading home and some well-deserved rest days.

My rota is incredibly busy this month and I was gutted I couldn’t make it over to Madras in Oregon for the ‘Jaffa cake’ eclipse, who remembers that famous ad?

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Still, I could watch it all unfold on Sky News. As day turned to night-time, Kay B did what she does best.

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It was almost like being there. Almost.  I loved her phrase centuries: in the making, decades in the planning, minutes in its magnificence!

Even the President and the rest of the First family took time to head out onto the Truman balcony and look up.

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NASA had chaser planes in the air and scientists on the ground across the whole path of the total eclipse, some 2,500 miles, as it cast a shadow from Oregon to South Carolina racing at speeds of 3,400 miles an hour.  That puts our A320 top speed into perspective!

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I was inspired to learn more and a quick Google search brought up this photo from more than 40 years ago. Wow.

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Concorde backlit by a total eclipse – photo Arthur Gibson, 1973

That’s it, I’m definitely making plans to see the next one in person.  South America 2019, here I come.

Right, that’s about it. Hope you enjoyed flying around Europe with me.  Just before go I thought I would end this week’s blog with a new feature.

Selfie of week…

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Maybe you next week?  If you see me on my travels do please come and say hello.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

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