Jet Airliner

Ridin’ along in this big ol’ jet plane
I’ve been thinkin’ about my home

I was thinking about my inaugural plane ride when the family travelled to the Netherlands in the summer of 1967. The trip was Mom and Dad’s first time back, almost ten years after their arrival in Canada, to celebrate Dad’s parent’s golden wedding anniversary. It was a highly anticipated event, years saving the money, months in preparation. Mom wanted to make every aspect perfect.

The four boys were dressed for Sunday church, white shirts, black pants, bow ties; eight, seven, six and two. Michael was young enough to be deemed a baby, not requiring a separate ticket, no seat, sleeping at my parent’s feet, in economy class. The neighbour across the street chauffeured us to the Toronto airport, traversing the 401 highway, three hour return, to save on the cost of long-term parking.

We arrived at the requisite two hour advance time for the 7:00 pm departure only to discover the Martinair flight was delayed for some imprecise mechanical repair that stretched to midnight. It’s hard to keep a white shirt clean when you are bored and hungry and tired, squirming to find comfort on utilitarian seats. The meticulous outfits lost to the vagaries airline travel. The entire De Cock and van Rooij families greeted a bedraggled couple with their disheveled four boys in tow.

This trip to South Africa is my first since March 2020, days before the world began to shut down, precipitated by contract work accepted because it would involve travel. All elements are organized and paid by the International Finance Committee of the World Bank, featuring the luxuries of business class with the concomitant priority lines and free lounges.

China and glass and silverware. Wine and liquor and beer. Napkins and comfort and service. Individual pods and sleeping seats and noise-reducing headphones.

This trip is me, alone.

Statue welcoming passengers at Johannesburg – OR Tambo International Airport

This experience is not that first one to the Netherlands almost 50 years ago. My world has changed and taking opportunities to opt for convenience becomes an important goal in planning our growing list of desirable destinations. The prospect of spending seventeen seventeen hours in a plane, squeezed into seemingly small spaces with diminishing quality frightens me.

Yet I would travel in any manner, any time, any where if it meant travelling together, with Olga.

Big ol’ jet airliner
Don’t carry me too far away

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5/22: From the Sky to the Sea

Two of the many things on my bucket list have been accomplished today: Firstly, I rode in a car, flew in a plane, and sailed on a ship all in the same day. All within 3 hours, actually. Secondly, I went on a whale watch.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I woke up early after a night of little sleep to say goodbye to my host family. It was a bittersweet ending to my time in Ísafjörður. They waited outside with us until our ride came, and then waved goodbye as we drove off. I’ll miss them.

We were off to the airport. Just as we checked in, the tiny aircraft that had come to pick us up sped in for a landing. Normally, planes fly into Ísafjörður from the north by looping around. This is the easiest way into the fjord. Today, however, the weather was so nice that it decided to skip the loop and just land coming from the south. (That and the pilot wanted to show off.)

I’ve never been in a plane this small before!

Taking off and landing in a small plane like this is a lot quicker (and a bit scarier). Even for a 35-minute flight to Reykjavík, things were interesting. For one, I flew over the one part of Iceland I haven’t been to yet – the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I’m glad I at least got the chance to see it, even if I didn’t get to go.

Snæfellsjökull from my window

At the very end of the peninsula is a stratovolcano named Snæfellsjökull, located beneath a 700,000 year old glacier. This volcano hasn’t erupted for 200 years, but it’s famous nonetheless. After all, it was featured in the book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, where the protagonists finds the passage that leads to the center of the earth. In 2012, for the first time ever in its recorded history, Snæfellsjökull had an ice-free summit.

After crossing the peninsula, I happened to look down to see a number of humpback whales in Faxaflói Bay. It was a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of situation, but it was cool nonetheless. The moved below the water, like giant shadows beneath the waves.

After landing, it was a very quick process to collect our bags, get picked up by the British people we were meeting with, and be brought to the hostel we’re staying at. Afterward, we went out to get some street food.

Reykjavík was bustling with an energy that was lacking when I was first here in February. Restaurants along the main street had set up tables outside on the sidewalks. People were walking around in t-shirts. The sky was blue. This is nothing like the desolation of Ísafjörður.

While we were eating, we got to witness an… interesting scene unfold. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a baby stroller zooming past. The street was on an incline, and it looked like someone left the stroller unattended. Moments later, a man goes sprinting past us to catch the stroller, which I’m fairly certain had a baby in it. The situation got even funnier when we watched as the man rolled the stroller back up the hill and returned it to a couple who was eating lunch. This dude rescued a child that wasn’t even his, and the real parents either didn’t notice or just sat there and watched. Amazing.

My return to Reykjavík

By then it was time for me to walk to the harbor for my whale watching tour. I was really excited about this, hoping I’d get some nice pictures and get to say I flew and sailed in the same day.

I got a notification that the seas would be rough today, but I didn’t really believe it at first. The weather was so calm and warm in town. It couldn’t possibly be that bad in the bay! So, I may have underdressed a little bit. Luckily, I did have enough foresight to take a motion sickness pill before boarding. It was provided for free, so why not?

Puffins!

Our first stop was to a little island that hosted a sizeable puffin colony. It was a bit difficult to see them amidst the hordes and hordes of seagulls, but there were definitely there.

After that, we were off on our adventure to look for whales. As soon as we left the inner part of the bay, I realized exactly why I was warned about rough seas. The wind was insane. I went from wearing a t-shirt to having to bundle up in my sweater, coat, and gloves. Often, it felt as if the ship would turn upside with how much it was bobbing!

At least, by the time we started to turn around, things died down a bit. From then on, it was a rather pleasant ride. The only problem was, we never found any whales. Amazingly, I managed to see some whales on my flight, but not on my whale watching tour! Luckily, I was given a free ticket to try again if I want to, which is valid for 2 years. I may try again later this week if I have time, but if not, I guess I have 2 years to return to Iceland.

For the rest of the day, I walked around town, got some groceries, took pictures, and had ice cream. I redid the shore walk in explored in February, which was a cool experience. There were lots more people out and about, but, I’ll let the photos do the talking:

More exciting days to come!

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5/22: From the Sky to the Sea

Two of the many things on my bucket list have been accomplished today: Firstly, I rode in a car, flew in a plane, and sailed on a ship all in the same day. All within 3 hours, actually. Secondly, I went on a whale watch.

But let’s start at the beginning.

I woke up early after a night of little sleep to say goodbye to my host family. It was a bittersweet ending to my time in Ísafjörður. They waited outside with us until our ride came, and then waved goodbye as we drove off. I’ll miss them.

We were off to the airport. Just as we checked in, the tiny aircraft that had come to pick us up sped in for a landing. Normally, planes fly into Ísafjörður from the north by looping around. This is the easiest way into the fjord. Today, however, the weather was so nice that it decided to skip the loop and just land coming from the south. (That and the pilot wanted to show off.)

I’ve never been in a plane this small before!

Taking off and landing in a small plane like this is a lot quicker (and a bit scarier). Even for a 35-minute flight to Reykjavík, things were interesting. For one, I flew over the one part of Iceland I haven’t been to yet – the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I’m glad I at least got the chance to see it, even if I didn’t get to go.

Snæfellsjökull from my window

At the very end of the peninsula is a stratovolcano named Snæfellsjökull, located beneath a 700,000 year old glacier. This volcano hasn’t erupted for 200 years, but it’s famous nonetheless. After all, it was featured in the book “Journey to the Center of the Earth” by Jules Verne, where the protagonists finds the passage that leads to the center of the earth. In 2012, for the first time ever in its recorded history, Snæfellsjökull had an ice-free summit.

After crossing the peninsula, I happened to look down to see a number of humpback whales in Faxaflói Bay. It was a “blink and you’ll miss it” kind of situation, but it was cool nonetheless. The moved below the water, like giant shadows beneath the waves.

After landing, it was a very quick process to collect our bags, get picked up by the British people we were meeting with, and be brought to the hostel we’re staying at. Afterward, we went out to get some street food.

Reykjavík was bustling with an energy that was lacking when I was first here in February. Restaurants along the main street had set up tables outside on the sidewalks. People were walking around in t-shirts. The sky was blue. This is nothing like the desolation of Ísafjörður.

While we were eating, we got to witness an… interesting scene unfold. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a baby stroller zooming past. The street was on an incline, and it looked like someone left the stroller unattended. Moments later, a man goes sprinting past us to catch the stroller, which I’m fairly certain had a baby in it. The situation got even funnier when we watched as the man rolled the stroller back up the hill and returned it to a couple who was eating lunch. This dude rescued a child that wasn’t even his, and the real parents either didn’t notice or just sat there and watched. Amazing.

My return to Reykjavík

By then it was time for me to walk to the harbor for my whale watching tour. I was really excited about this, hoping I’d get some nice pictures and get to say I flew and sailed in the same day.

I got a notification that the seas would be rough today, but I didn’t really believe it at first. The weather was so calm and warm in town. It couldn’t possibly be that bad in the bay! So, I may have underdressed a little bit. Luckily, I did have enough foresight to take a motion sickness pill before boarding. It was provided for free, so why not?

Puffins!

Our first stop was to a little island that hosted a sizeable puffin colony. It was a bit difficult to see them amidst the hordes and hordes of seagulls, but there were definitely there.

After that, we were off on our adventure to look for whales. As soon as we left the inner part of the bay, I realized exactly why I was warned about rough seas. The wind was insane. I went from wearing a t-shirt to having to bundle up in my sweater, coat, and gloves. Often, it felt as if the ship would turn upside with how much it was bobbing!

At least, by the time we started to turn around, things died down a bit. From then on, it was a rather pleasant ride. The only problem was, we never found any whales. Amazingly, I managed to see some whales on my flight, but not on my whale watching tour! Luckily, I was given a free ticket to try again if I want to, which is valid for 2 years. I may try again later this week if I have time, but if not, I guess I have 2 years to return to Iceland.

For the rest of the day, I walked around town, got some groceries, took pictures, and had ice cream. I redid the shore walk in explored in February, which was a cool experience. There were lots more people out and about, but, I’ll let the photos do the talking:

More exciting days to come!

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