Jonny the Pilot

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

Tag: staycation

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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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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1 Comment on Iceland 🇮🇸 ⛄️

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? ⛵️

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