What better way to start a weekend morning than a continental breakfast on board? The plan was actually to go to Vienna later in the day, as I was actually tagging along with a friend. But then we saw that the 777, in this case “November Golf”, would be flying the route that morning and it was clear that I just had to take the earlier flight… I could never miss a chance to fly on this wonderful aircraft. And it had the added bonus of giving me a few hours more in Vienna to explore with my camera 🙂
It was certainly to be a beautiful day… clear blue skies and gorgeous autumnal colours everywhere. I don’t know how many hours I was wondering around. Vienna is one of my favourite European cities. With its rich history, it has old-world charm in abundance, yet is as vibrant and fun as any metropolis many times its size. As evening settled in, it was this side of the city that came to the fore, as we enjoyed cocktails from a sky bar, looking down on a pulsating Vienna below.
All rotations come to an end and so it was with this one. With a vitamin boost coming from a smoothie in departures perking me up at the early hour, we took our seats for the short hop back home. This time, no 777 to take us back, but rather the A319 and some amazing views as the rising sun corralled Central Europe into the new week.
We’re going to Miami! When the schedule came out, I have to say I was very happy to see this. Though I’ve been to Florida a number of times over the years, I’d never made it to see Miami properly… so finally here we were.
After a wonderful flight, we sunk down first of all for pre-dinner drinks in the hotel lobby. Then, it was time to explore the strip. Buzzing with life on a Friday night, it wasn’t long though before we decided to hit the hay.
We wanted to go and see the alligators in the Everglades, so an early morning rather than a late night was in order.
The following morning, I went to pick up our rental first thing and we set off on about an hour’s drive inland. Our boat ride organized, we waited for our allotted time in the warm spring Florida sun.
We certainly weren’t disappointed on the tour. We saw both a number of alligators (not hungry!) resting in the sun and investigating our boat, as well as a traditional village recreation, showing what life was like a long time ago in this neck of the woods.
With our tour over, it was time to head to the hotel in time for the phone call. Just a few hours later, we were back on the return leg, watching the Florida coast disappear rapidly beneath us, as the home base beckoned once more.
In April I was fortunate to have more time in the Land of the Free, venturing somewhat further north to a city I had been longing to visit for many years: San Francisco.
Most of my time I spent exploring, as I tend to, on foot. One place I was particularly keen to visit was the San Francisco National Cemetery. I remember visiting military cemeteries both before my own service, as part of my education in the OTC, as well as at Military Academy. I always found them moving. As a young lieutenant or captain, it was impossible not to be moved by the headstone of a young soldier, who fell at one’s own age. And so it was here also. There was another reason to stop off here though…
We are so used to flying around the world now and view air travel widely as a commodity. There were many, servicemen and women as well as civilians, who gave their lives to expand our horizons in pursuit of the dream that is aviation. One such man is Major Dana Crissy, after whom the former airfield in the Presidio was named. His grave can be found in the cemetery. His legacy, built with the other pioneers of aviation, lives on with us today.
It seems for most destinations, there is one place that every says you just have to go to. Sometimes it’s a particular religious building, a place of historical significance, a cultural center or indeed a natural landmark. São Paulo is in no way short of places to visit in any of these categories. And yet it was food, which seemed to crop up most in my chats on the way to Brazil. They must know a thing or two about a good meal down in Brazil…
Well, it’s certainly true to say that opinions on the hotly-contested topic of food vary. Naturally based on tastes. But I have to say, I was suitably impressed by the food on offer in the market hall. As for the size of these pulled beef sandwiches, I think we could quite easily have shared one. That said, it was so good I’m quite pleased we decided not to.
Few destinations perhaps hold as great a fascination as China, one of the world’s longest standing cultures and a nation that can look back on an extremely rich and varied history. And so I was particularly happy when I found out we’d be going to Beijing. They say the way to a man’s heart is through is stomach, so what better way to settle into the mood for a few days scratching the surface of this fascinating country than a delicious meal on the journey out?
After settling into the hotel, a small group of us decided to make the day trip together to a particularly popular section of the wall, easily accessible from our city-center location by taxi.
Cartegena is an absolutely fascinating city and, for about 3 weeks, my temporary home. This Colombian jewel was founded by the Spanish commander Pedro de Heredia in 1533. Only a few years later in 1586, a British armada under Francis Drake, known by the Spanish as El Draque, attacked the city, razing much to the ground. It was this tragedy that led to the commissioning of the city walls, designed by Italian military engineer Batista Antonelli. This marvel of civil engineering stands proudly around the old city to this day and is the focus of the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
The skies at home may well be grey right now, but just a couple of hours away on the plane and a short train ride is the absolutely gorgeous town of Segovia. With its quaint little alleys and picturesque Roman bridge, it’s certainly a
beautiful place to spend a couple of days exploring after hard work. Of course, no trip to Spain would be complete without a glass of top Spanish wine and delicious Jamon, from the castle with a view over the city and surrounding countryside as well.