Jan 152017

So, yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve written a travel blog. I think after Iceland I was a bit exhausted, and combine that with the fact that October-December are always my busiest months at work it meant I really didn’t have much time for travel – or for writing about it.

If there’s any interest, I can put together blogs on two trips I took in the past few months to Zagreb and Bangkok, but you’re not going to see too much outside of hotels and tons of airplane pics because it was long work days without much time to get out and about. However, if you want to see more Lufthansa First as well as my impressions of the first day of United Polaris service I’ll be happy to put those up.

February is going to be an interesting month. I had originally planned to stay closer to home and enjoy the car I make payments on but never seem to drive and take a long roadtrip through the Southern United States to visit four of the eight states I haven’t been to.

However, travel has a way of pulling you back in, and so I started looking at what I could use some of my miles for…and managed to piece together a crazy 17 day round the world with stops in some of my favourite cities: Hong Kong, Bangkok, Cape Town, Paris….oh, and it would involve first class travel on ANA longhaul, Thai on the A380, Qatar on the A380, Emirates on the A380, and yes, more Lufthansa first. It’s pretty hard to say no to, even though I should be a bit fiscally responsible…time will tell!

I recently did an interview for another website which will be up shortly, and I’ll link to it when it’s live. As part of it, I was asked to pick some of my favourite travel photos of myself, which was fun going back through memories. So, my favourite are below. Promise I’ll write more regularly again!

Top of Huayna Picchu near Machu Picchu, Peru


Crossing the river from Rosso, Senegal to Rosso, Mauritania:

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Jumerah, The Gambia


New Years Eve stranded in Gabon, due to a coup in Democratic Republic of Congo:

gabon bottle

Darvaza Crater, Turkmenistan


Koala cuddling in Brisbane, Australia:


Cuzco, Peru:


Hanging out with the Wrestling Cholitas in La Paz, Bolivia:


On the equator in where else, Ecuador:


Waiting for the tube in London, UK:


Friendly lemurs in Madagascar:

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Inland lake in Comoros:


Pyramids of Giza, Egypt:


Leptis Magna, Libya:


Feb 132015

Driver had dropped me off at the airport for my flight, and check-in was quick. Before heading through security, a quick shot of the bustling Hahaya International Airport in Comoros.


The waiting area was just one big room, but some great views onto the tarmac. Not the best shot, but a Ukrainian military helicopter…because that’s not all sorts of random in Comoros!


While we were waiting for the flight, it was also prayer time. The shot below shows how slick the floors look…nice and shiny. Which was great, until people went to the washroom to wash their feet before praying, and then headed into the waiting area to pray. Witnessed one guy slip, land flat on his back, and paramedics had to come and take him away. Rather unfortunate start to the day! You can see in the photo below just how small the airport is. Yes, this is the entire departures area.


Soon, the plane arrived right on time and it was time to board!

East Africa Safari Express flight 542
Hahaya, Comoros (HAH) to Mombasa, Kenya (MBA)
Depart 14:00, Arrive 15:30, Flight Time 90 minutes
Canadair CRJ-100, Registration 5Y-BXD, Manufactured 1994, Seat 1A

Flight was open seating, so I made a dash for the aircraft in order to try and get the bulkhead. Parked myself in 1B, and knowing from the check-in agent it was booked to 38 of 50 made sure to take up as much space as possible so as to make the seat next to me look undesirable 😉 It worked, and I ended up with both seats to myself for the short 80 minute or so flight.

Small snackbox was offered, and I decided to eat the muffin and apple (I don’t do sketchy room temperature sandwiches). Still, gotta give them credit for giving everyone a free snack! Beverages were offered, which were coke or juice. I decided to stick with water.


Disembarking in Mombasa. Nothing says “sketchy” like a solid white plane with no identifying marks on it!


Welcome to Mombasa!


Quite a long walk along the tarmac to the arrivals door, maybe 200-300 meters or so, passing a large Ethiopian jet on the way:


I was prepared for the $50 Kenya visa on arrival, but due to the fact I was only staying 24 hrs they approved a $20 transit visa instead. Saving money is always a good thing! Outside departures there were plenty of taxis, with a price list posted, so there was no scamming going on here. I’d had a difficult time deciding where to stay, and originally had planned the Serena Hotel since it looked like the most upscale option, but then I saw the Voyager Resort which was not only $100 cheaper, but also billed itself as an all-inclusive resort. I thought that was a Caribbean-only concept, so had to book it just to see!

The taxi price was 1300 Kenyan Shillings, approximately $14, and the driver told me prices were based on distance. 100 shillings per kilometer of driving. Talk about honest! It was about 30 minute driver, and my driver was fantastic. Talked about life in Mombasa, how things were safety wise etc. He was a safe driver and really nice guy, and before dropping me off I asked if he’d like to come back the next day to pick me up. He was happy to, and asked not to be paid until he’d done his job. I was impressed! It was 1300 one way, but in the end I gave him 3000 for the roundtrip based on his honesty, efficiency, and for making things easy for me.

Check in was nice, cold towel and juice offered, and I noticed the hotel had a rather corny nautical theme. Signs like “enjoy your voyage!” and referring to the groupings of rooms as “decks.” Hah! The room was clean and cool, but unfortunately the internet didn’t work in my room…it seemed to be in a dead spot. They informed me there were no other rooms available, so this was pretty disappointing. It was soon forgotten, however, when I went to the pool for a swim and to enjoy an “all-inclusive” drink. Tusker Lager on draft:


One of the several pools at the resort:


Unfortunately I was one day late. Sunday was “Swahili Day” at the resort…I would have loved to see their take on Hawaiian Day…not to mention a disco party!


Oh, there was also one bottled beer on offer as part of the all-inclusive…not good, but not awful…


The hotel seemed to be absolutely packed with German tourists, and everywhere I went I heard German being spoken. The next day when departing, there was a flight to Frankfurt leaving from the airport, so my guess is that German travel agencies arrange trips to Mombasa. It’s funny how every country seems to have its resort destinations, and for some reason Mombasa seemed to be popular with the Germans.

View from my room:


After sunset, it was time to head to the restaurant for dinner. It was buffet, and I was pretty surprised just how limited the offerings were. There was plenty of food, but definitely not a super wide variety. Part of it was probably that it was Swahili night and many of the options did not look very appetizing, but even beyond that it just felt limited in choice. This was made up for, however, by a reasonably drinkable (hey, I’m used to United Airlines, ok?) red wine that was provided with a fair amount of refills. The staff seemed a bit overworked, however, and as a result a bit cold and distant.

It had been a long day, so ended up crashing right after dinner so I could could continue my journey in the morning!

Feb 122015

Up early to do a bit more exploring in Tana before heading to the airport for my flight. I’m generally not a big fan of organized tours, but in this case I’m super glad I booked it. Despite only having three nights in Madagascar, this company packed a lot in when I told them I wanted to see as much as possible and they really did their best to not only be flexible when I changed what I wanted to do – but also to cram in as much as I wanted.

That said, early check out from the hotel and off to do a bit more touring. First stop was Haut-Ville, the part of the city built high in the hills overlooking downtown Tana:


The National Stadium:


After walking around the upper town for a bit, we got back in the car to visit a souvenir/craft market on the way to the airport. Lots of interesting little things, but nothing I liked so much I wanted to haul it around Africa for another couple of weeks. View of the river next to the market:


Some of the market stalls:


Check-in wasn’t open yet when I got to the airport, as it was nearly three hours until the flight. My driver was afraid of traffic jams, so wanted to be sure to leave plenty of time just in case. The queues to get to the check-in counters weren’t marked at all, so I had to ask around which one to get in. “Oh, and is there a business class one?” Nobody seemed to know. Everyone just sort of lined up, and waited. It seemed there were no mid-morning flights at all, but plenty of them around the same time as mine…as there were three different flights waiting to check-in.

As it got more obvious they were about to open check-in I asked a few security guard looking types where Air Madagascar business class line was. They just escorted me to the front, and I was first to the counter when check-in opened. No problems at all, immigration and security were a breeze, and soon it was time to see what the Air Madagascar Business Class Lounge was all about:


There’s no pictures. For a reason. It was so dark in the lounge I’m not sure they would have turned out. It was also incredibly warm, despite the fact it was nice and cool outside. There was a fan…which I commandeered and pointed at my seat. There was plenty of beverages – coffee and espresso made to order, which the lounge attendant happily delivered. The internet kept cutting in and out, and was more or less useless. With an hour to go to flight time, I decided to go people watch in the terminal instead. Soon, my plane arrived:


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