22 October 2011

View from 30,000 feet

I'm quite fussy when I fly, especially long haul. I see it as an experience and part of the holiday, and not something worthy of compromise. 

I'm not saying that I fly first class, because I simply can't justify the expense. (Although I did once fly Virgin Upper Class to Cape Town, and it is up there with one of the most amazing experiences of my life). But I'd rather spend a bit more to ensure I get all the special touches.

My airline of choice is Virgin, but I'm about to fly to Australia with Singapore Airlines, so I'll let you know how I get on. I've also flown with BA and Quantas to Australia, but it was over 10 years ago, and I'm not sure its fair to comment on the experience now.

I like to choose my seat before I fly and I'm a big fan of Seat Guru because it lets you see where your seat is on the plane, where the toilets are and the formation of the seating layout. It also lets you know handy things like which seats have slightly more leg room and whether you have a plug point and USB port. 

My preference is by the window. On many flights, because of the shape of the planes, you get a bit more space to the side of you which is useful for sleeping or putting your bag when you're in the air.

But the main reason is because I love seeing the earth from the air, and planning where to go based of the places I see from 30,000 feet. I once went with a friend to Crater Lake because she had flown over it so many times commuting from Oregan to San Franciso that she wanted to see what it was like from the ground.

And the best thing about flying long haul? An endless supply of red wine. And Virgin tend to have a good choice- the last couple of times I've had a lovely red from the Languedoc region of France.

Here are a couple of the views that I have found most beatiful from the sky: (I hope to keep adding to this in time.)

Over the Adriatic Coast
When flying from London to the Greek Islands, you generally fly through France, over the French Pyrenees (which nearly had a mention on their own) down to Italy and over the Adriatic Coast. I've never been to Italy or Croatia, but it is definitely on the list because of how it looks from the sky. (photo taken with my iPhone out of the window!)

The whole of the coastline looks absolutely stunning. The sea is Bombay Sapphire  blue, and there are lots of little, craggy island formations, sea lagoons, sea spits and inlets. It looks absolutely beautiful and I hope it is the same from the ground.

Up North from California
Once when I flew out from San Francisco, because of some freak weather, the route took me directly North over Oregan and then North East over Greenland. If nothing else, it was a great lesson in Geography!

To start, the view leaving San Francisco took us straight over the bay and Golden Gate Bridge, and its a great way to get your bearings on the city and also say goodbye! From the sky, you can clearly pick out the red, red of the bridge, Alkatraz and the magical bay of Sausolito. (If you must, and if you have no taste, you could probably see Fisherman's Wharf).

I then flew up through Northern California where is was a bit cloudy but I managed to get a view of Mount Shasta which is one the highest volcanic peaks in Northern California and part of the Siskiyou County. I'll no doubt talk about this area of Northern California at some stage, because it is definitely worth a visit.

Finally, we crossed over Greenland during the night. I did take some photos, but as it was dark, none of them came out that well. So I'll have to describe it instead! Quite simply, it looked like a winter wonderland. Beautiful swathes of ice and snow, and even at night, you could pick out the icebergs and frozen lakes below. Because it was night and many people were asleep, it really did look like a dream below (and I'd had a few glasses of rouge by this stage). Amazing.

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