Jonny the Pilot

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

Tag: getaway

6 days in Los Angeles 🇺🇸 ☀️ 🌴 🏄🏽‍♂️

Cue packing, taxi, airport lounge,  the almighty British Airways Airbus 380, and a seat that transformed into a bed on the upper deck of this contravercial (when it comes to looks) aircraft bound for California. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s holiday in LA – the city of stars, surfers and sunshine!

Cue packing, taxi, airport lounge,  the almighty British Airways Airbus 380, and a seat that transformed into a bed on the upper deck of this controversial (when it comes to looks) aircraft bound for California. I was fortunate enough to have a week’s holiday in LA – the city of stars, surfers and sunshine!

Picking up the rental, I couldn’t help bargaining for an upgrade (if you’ve read some of my previous posts you’ll know I’m not adverse to the odd sports car!). Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a Corvette – that was it. Papers sorted, over to the Corvette we went…to discover the boot (AKA trunk if you’re American!) isn’t really designed for two  bulky suitcases plus hand luggage 🙈

After masterfully rejigging the luggage, we were off in the tightly packed Corvette, the ride that got us around LA and the surrounding area for the next 6 days – what a holiday!

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3, 2, 1… GO!

From strolling along the beautiful Crystal Cove beach in the south to a luxurious stay in the West London Hollywood Hotel in Beverly Hills to a rather eventful mountain biking session in nearby national park, Big Bear Mountain resort, it really is the city with it all.

Some of our adventure was caught on film by British Airways – check it out on YouTube.

Otherwise read on for some of the best places we came across during our adventure. In no particular order…

Huntington Beach – get that quintessential California lifeguard pic 🏄‍♀️🏄‍♂️

It’s not necessarily beautiful but it was the first beach we visited and, given it’s pretty iconic life guard huts and live video feed in every Holister store, the huge expanse of soft sand under our feet got us off on the right foot of our adventure; this beach is quintessential California.

A shamelessly big, long beach, you’ll find a long concrete pavement winding along the coastline (otherwise known as the Ocean Strand) with people of all ages cycling, jogging, walking and occasionally rollerblading along. On the beach itself groups of people of all ages congregate around big fire pits while in the sea you get a view of surfers ripping up the waves around the Huntington Beach pier.

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Crystal Cove – 🌊 

A beautiful beach in an upmarket part of the city. If you head there you might be sat next to the odd BA pilot or cabin crew – it’s a firm favourite!

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Head here for a more peaceful and beautiful beach experience compared to Huntington – it feels less like mankind has intruded although there are a few buildings along the beach edge including The Beachcomber café at Crystal Cove which is worth a visit. This place serves its food with a view! We visited during the week and even then this little café was busy serving brunchtime food to tourists and locals. Apparently it’s also a beautiful place to visit in the evening for dinner whilst listening to the ocean.

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The Beachcomber Cafe at Crystal Cove 👌


Big Bear – exploring the great outdoors!
 🐻⛰ 🚲 

On our first full day in LA we awoke to a cloudy sky – not the weather we’d expected in California! (June gloom) Subsequently we decided to jump in the Corvette (did I really need an excuse?!) and head two hours north winding up through forest-covered hills to break through the clouds surrounding Big Bear mountain.

2000m above sea level, we weren’t disappointed – the valley views were SPECTACULAR as we broke through the clouds and the sun beamed down on us.

We grabbed some food before considering how to make the most of our afternoon in this year-round holiday (I should say ‘vacation’) resort.

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If you like the outdoors then you’ll love Big Bear. In the winter you can hit the slopes on your skis or snowboard. We were there in spring and had so much choice – kayaking or boating on Big Bear lake, horse riding, hiking…

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In the end we plumped for a couple of hours of adrenaline-fuelled downhill mountain biking. Gear sorted, we headed up in a chair lift to then wind down the wooded mountain trails on two wheels, hanging on for dear life.

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Claire got a bit over-excited on the final run and ended up displaying her acrobatics before coming to rest on the far side of a bend, splayed across the bike trail…! 🤦‍♀️ But after a quick dusting off, we both agreed it was such an awesome place! We only wished that we could’ve stayed for a few more days of fresh mountain air to get our adventure on!

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Oooouch

El Matador State Beach – hidden gem 🏖 

This Malibu beach was a gem of a find and topped our list as the favourite sandy strip we visited!

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Beautiful El Matador State Beach

We came across it by chance, parking on a busy highway and following a trickle of people down some steep steps to a beautiful, sandy and quiet beach dotted with huge rocks.

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It felt personal, exclusive and like a well-kept secret! There were also some modest waves to play about in if you fancy a dip.

Venice Beach – California on steroids 💪

If you love people watching then this is the beach for you. It’s such an eclectic mix of people and just stuff going on – from people working out at Muscle Beach to people blasting out music as they rollerblade to music Mr Motivator used to play to quirky shops selling merchandise along the edge of the beach.

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The long stretches of concrete pavements make it an ideal place to skateboard. After all, this is where it all began… We were also lucky enough to see Sky Brown hitting the main skate park – there’s a reason why she drew the crowds, she’s incredible and only 10!!

Pink’s hotdogs – you’d better like big sausages 🥪 🐶

Watch the British Airways ‘Inside Los Angeles’ YouTube video and you’ll spot Claire and I stuffing our faces with some enormous hotdogs…seriously tasty! We even met the owners – what an awesome family! We were plied with every merchandise imaginable…

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This place has been around since 1939 and always in the same family. There’s always a queue – if you’re hungry this is the place for you!

Santa Monica 🎣 🎡 

This place is probably most famous for its pier and being officially the last stop on the famous Route 66 – aka the metaphor for the American Dream! If you’re road tripping then this beach is a must visit – gaze out at the beach views from the pier, chat to the locals doing their best to catch some fish and jump on a fairground ride for some old-fashioned fun.

Runyon Canyon – get your sweat on with the stars

Your in the foothills over LA alongside the infamous Hollywood sign. If you’re looking to get your sweat on with a jog/walk then get yourself over to Runyon Canyon.

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We were in LA in June and it was HOT. Don’t go around lunchtime when we did – the hottest part of the day.

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Downtown LA in the distance. Exploring the canyons in the hot summer haze

Clearly the weather doesn’t deter locals from pelting up and down these canyons – sturdy trainers needed!

I like to think I’d be as fit as the locals if I lived in LA…truth is I think I’d be splashing around in the sea and cooling off!

Still, definitely worth a visit for that view over LA – awesome!

GET YOUR ADVENTURE ON…

So this was pretty much a long list of some of the things we got up to. But in short LA was FANTASTIC. If you’ve got bundles of energy then there’s just so much to do here and we barely scratched the surface!

Let me know what you think and if you’ve been to LA. I genuinely can’t wait to go back!

@TheKevinGreene – Epic capture

I also recently came across a handy blog I wish we’d looked at before we went – a genuine abundance of tips and ideas for your visit from a Californian local: California through my lens. Check it out and let me know how you get on!

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24 hours in New York, New York! 🍎 🚕

A couple of days off…what to do?? Where to go that’s not too far, somewhere I’ve never been and I can jam-pack full of adventure?

Flight booked at 5.55pm. Uber arrived at 6.05pm. Horrendous traffic at peak commuter time (move out the way!!). Check in online en route. Heathrow Terminal 5 at 7.10pm. Flight departs at 7.50pm….it was close!

A couple of days off…what to do?? Where to go that’s not too far, somewhere I’ve never been and I can jam-pack full of adventure?

Flight booked at 5.55pm. Uber arrived at 6.05pm. Horrendous traffic at peak commuter time (move out the way!!). Check in online en route. Heathrow Terminal 5 at 7.10pm. Flight departs at 7.50pm….it was close!

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Hello First Class!

So off I went. Ushered into my seat, 5G, on a BA Boeing 747 where I was plied with champagne, water and delicious food for the next 7 hours.

Before I knew it I was disembarking and getting very confused about which immigration queue I needed to be in. Third time lucky – there I was stationed at the end of the longest queue! 🙄

Collected my bag and walked out of JFK airport to miles of yellow cabs. I’d arrived – I was in NEW YORK CITY!

An hour later I was in Mid Town Manhattan, a stone’s throw from Central Park and Times Square. This place is nuts!


I literally couldn’t stop saying WOW. Everything is so big – the cars, the buildings, the lights, the food portions – just WOW. People everywhere, sirens on steroids, sights, smells…

Even though it was 12.30am EST the place was buzzing. And those lights – it could be daytime! ☀️ 😎 I headed out for a couple of Long Island Ice Teas – why not?!

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I was wandering around in awe. And it felt so different to London! The people are so friendly. They actually want to chat and say hi which is pretty nice (…unless you’re in a hurry 😉)

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My plan for a fresh morning jog around Central Park quickly went out the window. Instead I found myself waking up and heading towards a local diner – The Morning Star Cafe – to get the real authentic American breakfast experience 😜  Waffling down some huge portions, we were told by a local on the next table that our accents “were like music”. Ok, thanks I guess!

We jumped on some bikes and went for a cycle. Great way to see the city. Don’t even think about driving. The place is gridlocked!

We headed south on second avenue towards East Village and Lower Manhattan – cool area. A cross between London’s Soho and Brixton. Loads of old school bars, cocktail lounges, alternative restaurants. At all times I genuinely felt I was on the set of Friends – in fact for some reason I felt like I was on a film set the whole time. It was all so surreal.

Food’s never far from my mind and we were near the infamous Katz’s Delicatessen – the number one Deli in NYC. This place was founded in 1888 and each week it serves 6800kg of pastrami – that’s CRAZY. Upon entry were given a ticket and chose our meal.


The place was rammed – so many people, so busy, staff everywhere behind the counter carving and carving that pastrami and corn beef. A healthy helping of grub in our stomachs, we paid with our tickets on the way out. Nice.


Then hello Central Park – an oasis in the city and even bigger than some countries (apparently it’s 6x larger than Monaco!). And everywhere you look in the distance there are these huge, towering sky scrappers rising above the trees. We’ve all seen it in the movies but it’s something else in real life.


At this point I headed to Uptown to meet some friends. Made a new acquaintance too, hey Melinda (apparently her and Bill are big fans of The Crown!) – and then off I went up one of the tallest buildings in NYC…the Empire State building.

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Again WOW! What a view from the top. You literally have a 360 degree view of the city. Top tip – pay a bit extra for the fast track otherwise you queue forever for the lifts!

First lift takes you to 80th floor where you get an amazing view. Then it’s another up to 86th floor where you can go outside – awesome.

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And then you can go up even further to the 102nd floor (not for those with a fear for heights!). From there it’s like there’s nothing in New York you can’t see. Except where I parked my bike 😉

The Statue of Liberty, the Chrysler building, the Flat Iron building, the Rocefella building, the Hudson River (where good old Sully landed), Central Park, the list goes on….

Then it was time for me to leave the city that never sleeps. Boarded a Boeing 777 bound for Gatwick, wheels up, lights out – I slept all the way to London. (The White Company duvet made it especially comfy – good partnership BA).

Gorgeous morning in London – what a nutty 24 hours adventuring over the other side of the Atlantic.


Am literally still BUZZING from the whole experience and can’t wait to go back – just definitely go with deep pockets because the place has a steep price tag!….but it’s worth it. Just WOW!

Any tips on where to go and what to do when I next visit let me know.

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I’m off to Love Island…

It’s got it all – Sun, Sand and Sangria. Its aquamarine water and raw adventure is simply second to none (and of course it’s home to the set of popular tv show Love Island).
You won’t get bored here! Welcome to Mallorca. Or is it Majorca…

It’s got it all – Sun, Sand and Sangria. Its aquamarine water and raw adventure is simply second to none (and of course it’s home to the set of popular TV show Love Island).

You won’t get bored here! Welcome to Mallorca. Or is it Majorca…

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Welcome to Love Island (Aka Mallorca!)

Last week I hung up my cap and epaulettes for 6 days of escapism. Some of you will know I’ve been a few times in the past couple of years – once to go windsurfing after missing a flight to Greece (note to self Mallorca isn’t actually a surfer’s paradise due to the general lack of wind!) and another time to go road cycling with a friend who lives half the year on the island, getting our sweat on winding up and down the incredible Tramuntana mountains.

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SOS! 🚵🏻‍♂️

This time it was just me and Claire enjoying a mix of relaxation and exploration of the west of the island. Here’s some of the best places we found during our stay.

Sa Calobra

Two things to know about this small but beautifully formed beach: (1) get there early, it gets packed pretty swiftly; (2) bring goggles/snorkel.

The drive down to the car park seems like an endless pattern of twists and turns but it’s worth it. Get ready to stroll through some pedestrian cave walkways as the view of the bay you’re heading for emerges. 

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First you’ll likely spot some super yachts already moored in the bay – there will be more as the day progresses. Eventually you’ll spot the small pebble beach poking out between two cliff faces that you’re heading for – probably a ten min walk from the car park.

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Yep, that’s me. I’ve floated further from my super yacht than intended. 😜

We arrived at about 10am and we’re glad we did. After soaking up the scene we hobbled across the pebbles down to the lapping Mediterranean Sea. Goggles on we plunged in – amazing! Water’s so clear and just an awe inspiring place to swim.

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We found a couple of rocks to jump off if you’re feeling adventurous.

After a good long swim we headed back to the beach – this is when we realised this place gets busy! After sticking it out for 20 mins we retreated with our beach towels in land and eventually left for some food and a drink back at the nearest cafe.

Definitely worth a visit but I’d recommend getting there around 10am if you can to fully enjoy and appreciate the natural surroundings. And if you’ve got a yacht definitely a spot worth mooring up at (and if you invite me to join I’ll accept).

Valldemossa

A stunning town 30 min drive from Palma into the Tramuntana mountains. It’s promoted internationally as a place of outstanding beauty and makes for a great two-three hour visit in either the morning or afternoon if you’re in the area. 

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The beautiful Valldemossa. I took this photo in April when I came cycling.

We stopped for a late lunch in a cafe called ‘Cappuccino’. There are lots of shops to pop into and cafes/restaurants to eat at. It’s renowned for its ice cream so worth sampling as 1 of your 5 a day 😉

Beyond that soak up the traditional architecture and wander up and down the cobbled streets. There are a couple of beautiful churches worth exploring and an art museum for the more cultured among you.

Sa Foradada, Deia

WOW! This place is something special…but you’ve got to be prepared to feel the heat (i.e. sweat A LOT!) to reach this secluded bay.

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Thinking about the walk back up already… it’s worth it though, trust me! 🌡 ☀️

The views you get on the 30 min walk down give you a taster of what’s to come – beautiful secluded bay, a load of rocks you’ve got to try and make yourself comfy on (it’s worth it), crystal blue waters and some pretty spectacular super yachts and sailing boats ⛵️ who all seem to have been tipped off about this idyllic spot.

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All the essentials. Rubber ring, goggles, towel ✅

 

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On the walk down. You’ll struggle not to stop and take pics. It’s stunning.

The other attraction of this place – beyond it feeling like a bit of a local secret – is the restaurant ’Sa Foradada’ perched overlooking the bay. Amazing location and apparently good food but if you don’t book they’re not interested in your custom – not a huge fan of that attitude but I will say that the food looked. 👌🏻🦐 

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Sa Foradada restaurant. The food looked delish – remember to book!! 📷 |Tom Exwood

We had a fantastic day here so if you’re up for the challenge, check this spot out.

Pollença

Just a quick mention on this town as we didn’t really explore it but we did go for a sea kayak here with a company called Mon d’Adventura. A great 3 hour afternoon trip including gliding through a natural arch, a quick view of some local mountain goats in precarious places and a refreshing stop halfway through including a dip in an empty bay again only accessible by boat, kayak or mountain goat.

Good for the arms 💪🏻 And beware as the default is you share a twin kayak if you book as a 2…doesn’t always make for plane sailing 😬😜  (45 Euros/pp)

Puigderros

If you enjoy snorkelling and exploring rocky enclaves then this is the place to go. Overall I think this was my favourite place to swim, dive, jump off rocks into the sea and swosh past plenty of sea life 🐟🐠🦀. 

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Negotiating the rocks!

As with most of the other beaches I’ve mentioned it’s not sandy (try Mallorca’s East coast for sandy beaches). But there are plenty of rocks to accommodate you, other tourists and the many locals! Crystal blue waters, fish in abundance, I loved it! 

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Right above the rocks there’s also the Mhares Sea Club where you can base yourself if you’re looking to enjoy the day with the comfort of a padded lounger.

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Evening view of the Mhares Beach Club 😎 

This was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Dinner there was great (try the salt baked sea bass!) It was also refreshing to come back up to a mojito after hitting the waves. 

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This place is only 10 minutes from the airport so we made a second and final dash to the sea here before jumping on our British Airways flight back to London that afternoon.

Sóller & Port de Sóller

Finally, the place where we started our trip – Soller is another beautiful town centred around a lively square bustling with cafes and restaurants with a mix of locals and tourists soaking up the atmosphere. 

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Port de Sóller

Sóller has some great restaurants (try Restaurant Ca’n Boqueta if you’re feeling romantic – 55 EUR pp for 5 courses with wine paring!) and benefits from being well connected thanks to its unique tramline. 

We spent a while figuring out where it stopped but once we did, jumped aboard heading for Port de Sóller – a 20 min trip (€7 one way) and worth doing to get a different view of the surrounding area. 

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Tram from Sóller down to the Port

The tram also goes all the way to Palma if you’re thinking of a day trip – sounds awesome. 

Port de Sóller is pretty beautiful despite being fairly commercialised. The beach doesn’t get as crowded as you’d expect and there are plenty of shops and activities to keep you entertained.

We did a spot of paddle boarding in the bay. Always good for a laugh.

Overall, a big thumbs up for Majorca/Mallorca. It’s not somewhere I get to stay when I’m working but it’s a fantastic and easily accessible destination (2 hrs from London) for a week’s summer holiday.

The locals are incredibly welcoming of tourists and we also enjoyed being surrounded by such a great mix of nationalities – Brits, Germans, French, Norwegians, Belgians, Dutch, etc, etc… an island that offers so much adventure and fun times – that’s what it’s all about! 

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This was an absolute steal! Booked through the travel supermarket – 35 Euros for 6 days 💰

To get a great Instagram pic as you come into land sit on the right hand side of the plane. This will give you a great view of the Tramuntana mountain range that lines the north of the island as you descend towards this summer paradise. 

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Cheers 🥂

Hopefully I’ve inspired you to give Mallorca a go? I simply can’t wait to come back! Totally fell in love 😉

Hope you’re having a great weekend,

Jonny.

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