Jonny the Pilot

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

Tag: travel

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!
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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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Top 5 perks to being an Airline Pilot👩‍✈️ 👨‍✈️

Ever wondered what makes a pilot tick? There are many great things about a career in commercial aviation. I’ve picked out my top 5. Here we go… TRAVEL What’s not…

Ever wondered what makes a pilot tick? There are many great things about a career in commercial aviation. I’ve picked out my top 5. Here we go…

  1. TRAVEL

What’s not to love about a job that takes you all over the world?

Whether you’re short haul (like me flying around Europe) or long haul (flying to Hong Kong one week and Miami the next), the opportunity for adventure, to explore new cities, countries and meet new people is undoubtedly the biggest draw of the job.

While it does mean you’re often away from loved ones, it’s even more of a reason to make the most of the opportunity this career affords.  Wherever I’m staying I always try to make the most of getting out there and soaking up the sense of the new and the unknown.

Plus I always love a quick chat meeting local restaurant owners or hoteliers with local knowledge and advice – a smile and a laugh always goes a long way and I always feel incredibly warmly welcomed.

  1. FLYING A MULTIMILLION POUND JET

I’d be lying if I said flying a multimillion pound jet wasn’t one of the key reasons I became an airline pilot.

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📷 | @berlin_planespotter[[

With great power (and these really do have a lot of power!) comes great responsibility. Every time I walk up to our aircraft I feel proud not only of myself, to have worked so hard to reach the position I’m in, but to know I’ll be pulling back on the sidestick at 160 mph taking to the skies in such an incredible machine. 🛫

Even after a year and a half of training and nearly 10 years flying commercial jets, the sense of being in control of something so powerful always gets my heart pumping – ask any pilot I know and they’ll only agree!

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  1. THE OFFICE VIEW!

Freedom in the skies! Undoubtedly what attracted me to becoming an airline pilot is the chance to be above the clouds.

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I’m an island boy at heart and the ability to experience that sense of wonderment and freedom comes with this job whilst still operating in such a regulated and safety conscious industry.

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Guess which mountain range?

Living in the UK in the winter there’s really nothing better than when you break through the clouds, gaze out at that vast open expanse of the skies and feel the heat of the sun on my skin. No seasonal affective disorder (SAD) here!

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  1. TIME OFF

It varies airline to airline but pilots generally receive a good number of days off – not necessarily over the weekends but it’s still generous compared to most jobs.

That’s not to say we don’t work hard! If you’re on short haul like me then it’s often 2, 3, or 4 sectors (flights) in a day, while long haul pilots will be away for potentially a week or more. But the opportunity to recouperate, explore or take up other hobbies is fantastic.

Check out my blog on Canada vs France if you’re a keen snowboarder or skiermg class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3022″ src=”https://jonnythepilot.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/IMG_4518.jpg” alt=”IMG_4518″ width=”2736″ height=”1824″ /> In the winter I can’t keep away from the slopes!! ()[/captio

I’ve flown with many an interesting Captain all able to lead diverse lifestyles due to work patterns (not your typical 9-5 job) – e.g. part-time dentists, on-the-side property developers, semi-professional athletes, etc…

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As you know, I’m pretty keen on jumping on board another plane to continue exploring new places or getting my adventure on whether at home or abroad (or back on the island of dreams…AKA where I grew up on the Isle of Wight!).

  1. THE UNIFORM

Ok, so being a pilot today isn’t always as glamorous as in the movie ‘Catch Me If You Can’ but putting on my uniform certainly makes me feel great!

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A year and a half of solid study and examination led to me getting my Air Transport Pilot License (ATPL) so it undoubtedly feels satisfying! And on the plus side it means not having to worry every day I go to work if I have clothes to wear – just whether I have clean ironed shirts lined up in the wardrobe and that I’ve remembered to pick up my uniform from the dry cleaners. Oh and the hat, I’m always loosing that. Thankfully it’s like a homing pigeon.

Being a Pilot has been my dream since childhood and I feel very fortunate to be living it! Any thoughts on the perks let me know!

Of course there are some downsides as with any job. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll share my view.

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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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A very swanky 4th July Party 🇺🇸

If you’ve ever been to America you’ll know that Americans don’t do things by halves! It’s that time of year and what better excuse to party than to celebrate the…

If you’ve ever been to America you’ll know that Americans don’t do things by halves!

It’s that time of year and what better excuse to party than to celebrate the country’s  independence in serious style.

It was time to sharpen up

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Taken by the amazing Mark Harrison 📷

I was lucky enough to receive an invite to the swankiest party in town. The US ambassadors annual 4th of July celebration at Winfield House set in 12.5 acres of Regent’s Park…

I approached the 15ft high iron gates around which there is a serious level of security (lots of black suits and sunglasses). After an ID check I was ushered through to the Ambassador’s garden where there is absolutely everything I love about America. We’re talking a Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Gin cocktails, a Jim Bean whiskey tent and a Craft Beer Motel!

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People danced the night away to a fantastic live soul band (The Soul Jets) on a centre stage fit for a music festival with a mix of familiar faces from TV, Radio and politics, all dressed to impress.

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The garden was lined with Marines in uniform who entered the party in true military fashion providing quite the show. Check out my Instagram TV for the video.

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The incredible Laura Wright sang the National anthem and the party began…

Mr Ambassador, Robert Wood Johnson (Woody) then gave a fantastic speech joined on stage by his wife and 2 sons in suave matching Ralph Lauren outfits.

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Thank you Mr Ambassador for putting on such a great party.

A spectacular firework show drew the evening to a close.

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Happy 4th July! 🎉

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Fancy Lisbon?

Why Lisbon? I hear you ask For staters you can indulge in fine wine, Superlative seafood, sun-ripened fruit, listen to Fado – a genre of 18th century Portuguese music whilst…

Why Lisbon? I hear you ask

For staters you can indulge in fine wine, Superlative seafood, sun-ripened fruit, listen to Fado – a genre of 18th century Portuguese music whilst you soak up the Iberian spring wether on offer.

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Lisbon was also the first city in the world to import Guinness and has the worlds only public tie mirror… at least that I know of, there’s no other city in the world with a public mirror like this oneYou’ll find it in Rossio, close to door number 115 on D. Pedro IV square.

It reads something like: “tidy your tie’s knot” (componha o nó da sua gravata).

There are few well know places around Europe where you can park yourself on a sunny terrace of a trendy cafe surrounded by such historic beauty and not get stung for an over priced beer or coffee. Welcome to the exception – Lisbon.

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This is one of the best value major Cities you can visit and I can fly you there in just 2hr 45min from London. This enchanting city feels anything but cheap.

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Food and drink

It’s all about Presunto (dried ham), port, seafood, and the original Nando’s Piri Piri Chicken. 🐔 🍤 🍷 It’s all absolutely delicious and reasonably priced.

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I’d lost count as to how many Pastel de Nata I’d eaten by this point… 🙊  #SoGood

 

’13 sardines per second’ 🎣 

The timeout food hall is a must visit for any foodie. Whilst the dishes on offer aren’t all strictly Portuguese, it is a pretty cool place with so much to choose from. You’ll find stalls run by some of the best chefs in Portugal, selling some of the best food you from around the world. The choice is almost overwhelming so make sure you have plenty of time.

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Desert leaves you with other option other than one created by the catholic monks of the 18th century- the Pastel de Nata or Portuguese custard tart. Made using layer upon layer of puff pastry and dollops of set custard. Im salivating at at the thought of one… or 3. In fact if you want to bring some back they come in sleeves of 6. I frequent the airport terminal if we don’t have the luxury of staying in Lisbon. But be warned they don’t always make it back to London (irresistible when warm).

 

 

Visit in June ☀️ 

June is the perfect time of year to visit Lisbon. The flowers are in bloom and street festivals create a friendly buzz around the city. The feast of St Anthony being one of the festivals in June and its all about sardines! 🐟 In fact its reported that on average 13 sardines are consumed per second!

Getting around

Take tram 28 for a tour of the city – touristy but marvellous

Be sure to hop on tram 15 to see Torre de Belém and Jeronimos Monastery and make sure you try the Pastel de Nata at the top. They’re devine and its a rite of passage!

The Metro system runs from the airport to the city centre easy to navigate and use on arrival with your bags at the airport as an alternative to a taxi/Uber.

Uber is widely used in Lisbon and its cheap. I took a ride to the top of the hill and started my day with a walk around the castle and magnificent views over the city. It was then pleasant to meander through the streets down towards the port and the food hall rather than the other way round.

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Where to stay

If you want convenience and character Pick accommodation in the Alfama, Baixa or Bairro Alto districts. There are plenty of options from Air BnB’s, to hotels to hostels.

 

Jonny’s Top tips

  • Tram 28 is a favourite for pickpockets. Absolutely no need to be paranoid just be aware of your belongings and take sensible precautions
  • Other months: Apr-Sept – Warm Oct-March – Cooler, more rain.

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Travelling further…

  • Cascais is only 26km on the train – Beaches, great surf, buzzing nightlife
  • Sintra is only 27km on the train – Fairytale palaces, subtropical gardens, lush forests
  • Mafra is 40km by car – extravagant monastery-palace, beautiful parkland

 

 

 

 

 

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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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