Taking to the skies 🇺🇸

Dear Readers,

Isn’t it almost mandatory when you’re a child to be fascinated by things, especially airplanes? I am pretty sure everyone as a child must have been at one point. I was one of those kids, but an obsessed one. It was not one of those typical desires to go to the airport and experience a flight. It was more of a ‘I want to be the person flying that machine’ kind. So much so I ended up obtaining an undergraduate in aerospace engineering, and here is an insight into my experience.

Many many moons ago (actually like 4 years) I went on an educational experience to the land of opportunities aka United States of America. I was still at university finishing off my engineering degree and one of my modules was pilot studies. There was a requirement in the module that I should have flown 20 hours in order to get my full credits. I had two options. One was to simply do the 20 hours in UK in a flying school or to go to US and do it. Option 1 was not feasible as it costs a lot of money to fly for an hour over in the UK. It’s the same as paying for your driving lessons but just multiply an hour of a driving lesson by 8 or more and that’s how much you would be paying for one hour of flying.

Option 2 then became a reality. Rather than doing the basic 20 hours I decided to obtain my private pilot license , PPL for short. I realised that if I was going to obtain my licence in the UK it would have cost me 3 times than what it would cost me in the US. I spoke to my parents and they supported me on this endeavour.

“Working for an hourly salary in a grocery store and they didn’t even hesitate to say no to it or to the costs of it. I may wish to have different things at times in life, but i always feel blessed to have my family. If you can relate to this then you are blessed like I am, and if you cannot you will soon enough”

So eventually summer 2013 I took off to an unknown town called Traverse City, Michigan. NMC (Northwestern Michigan College)  had a partnership with my university and I attended their flight school. I had to take 2 flights to get to Michigan with a little stop over in Chicago. Traverse city was one of the most beautiful quaint little American town I’ve ever stayed in. It is on the bay of Lake Michigan.

The first 30 hours of my lessons was with an instructor of course. I was a little bit nervous on my first lesson and they told me it was normal to be nervous and some students were even sick during their first flight (what a way to put me at comfort). The first lesson I did was an observation lesson where I sat in the back of a Cessna and monitored how flying was done. I was actually enjoying the view outside of the plane more than anything. The next day was my first lesson with my instructor and my nervousness was still there. However i kept focus on the objective and I eventually grew out of it. Everyday my schedule was simply to wake up, fly, attend theory lessons and explore.

Eventually I learnt more manoeuvres such as emergency landing, stalls, altitude correction. For example the emergency landing manoeuvre would be where my instructor would cut the engine and tell me to do an emergency landing within a few minutes. Yes its scary but more fun than anything, once you’re comfortable.  One of the most exhilarating experiences was that I was taking off and landing on a domestic airport where jetliners were landing everyday. It couldn’t get more real than that.

Solo Time

One of the important parts in the journey to become a private pilot or even an airline pilot is the first day you go solo. I was doing a routine take off and landing with my instructor and he suddenly tells me ‘You’re good to go now, land once more and I will get off the aircraft and sign you off to go solo straightaway’. I was so excited, happy and basically thought to myself ‘this is it’. Then I really took off to the skies all by myself flying over ‘Lake Michigan’ and its surrounding. From that day onwards till my final examination where I became an official private pilot the solo journey was the most exhilarating time.

In life there are some experiences and learning that stick with you forever. This is one of those experiences that will forever be in my heart and something that I will be proud of.

A day in the Dam 🇳🇱

There are some places that you can visit for a day and you would get the feeling that you’ve seen it all. Not to say that it was not a good experience or anything like that, but to just get the feeling that you’re content with the fact it was a short visit yet it was a lovely experience.

I got the same feeling when I went to Milan with my love and also to Amsterdam, Netherlands. It was my first time to Amsterdam, despite all the pre-assumptions about the place I always knew there was something beautiful about the city. So I was excited and made my way to the ‘Dam’ with my love.

The first thing I would like to point out is, that you can walk around the city centre pretty easily, therefore if you travel by train to the main station then refrain yourself from buying a day ticket to get on the trams. I did the same and it turned out to be a waste, as the beginning of the city was not  even a stones throw away.

You’re immediately attracted by the winding canals and the bike aficionados of Amsterdam. Oh dearie me,  the January chills cut you like blades but with the excitement to explore the city and my love for the company, I marched on.

First stop was food. Old habits die hard they say, as I saw a wagamamas I ran in there quickly and ordered my all time favourite ‘Prawn Firecracker’. In my humble opinion it is the best thing on the menu especially if you love the spicy side of things in life. To all the katsu curry lovers sorry but not sorry. Also you can find the wagamama right inside the ‘Amsterdam centraal station – ij-hal’ 

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After that it was time for the exciting part of the day the “Amsterdam Light Festival”. The festival ran from Nov 30,2016 – Jan 21,2017. It also runs every year, therefore if you’ve missed it last year make sure you don’t miss it at the end of this year. The tickets for the cruises can be bought in advance, Cruise details. The cruise also offers free hot chocolate and Glüwhein, trust me you would need it. Opting for a brave open boat option to see the festivals we began our experience. There were over 35 artworks from different artists from all over the world. Each of them were unique in their own way, despite the cold we were awestruck by some of the art that was installed along the canals.

One of my favourite one was the artpiece called the ‘Brigde of the Rainbow’ by a French artist called Gilbert Moity. It symbolises open-mindedness and diversity.

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Another one of my favourite was the artwork from an Italian Duo where ‘Love Is Contagious’ is translated into 5 different languages and it was displayed in varieties of colours and light sequences

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If you want to know more about the artwork that was posted in the festival, head over to  Amsterdam Light Festival . My only wish was, that my iPhone could have stayed alive throughout this journey as it couldn’t handle the cold and decided to kill itself many times.

This was definitely one of the most beautiful day in my life, even though it was for a day it was a beautiful experience and sometimes ‘memories are souvenirs’ too!

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Iceland 2016 🇮🇸

It’s been quite some time since I’ve written about my travels. This year during May I visited Iceland. I went on a road trip exploring the island for about 6 days. Before I left I knew it was an expensive place to go, therefore I had to prepare in advance. Any one who wants to travel to Iceland please bear the costs in mind. I will give some pointers from my experience at the end but now to the good part

A country where you feel like you’ve landed in a different planet – This sentence sums up the landscape of the island. As soon as I landed, I was like ‘wow, have I just landed in Mars in an easyJet flight’

So I got into my rented car and drove off to the first stop and it was SeljalandafossIts a popular waterfall with a lot of tourists and a lot of wedding photoshoots have been taking place at this waterfall recently. You can see a shot of the waterfall from afar below.

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Seljalandafoss

The second stop was the breathtaking black sand beach. The beach is located in the town Vik. Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach and features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid, which is called Gardar. Out in the sea are the spectacularly shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar.

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Reynisfjara beach

The best way and only way to travel through Iceland is via car and you get to see some beautiful scenery such as this shown below

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Jökulsálón is a large glacial lake in the southeast Iceland, on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. Situated at the head of the Breidamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.

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Second half of the trip…

For the last half of the trip, I drove up from south to east of Iceland. Along my way I came across so many waterfalls. One of the mighty ones was Godafoss (known as gods waterfall).

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Unknown & untouched waterfalls

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What I learned and what you could be aware of before travelling to Iceland.

  • Its expensive so be prepared
  • If you’re going on a road trip to the remote areas please do a big shop in a supermarket and stock up. Restaurants are pretty expensive and there are no fast food restaurants throughout the country
  • Best places to eat food are at petrol stations where they serve hotdogs
  • If you’re hiring a car don’t gamble on sandstorm insurance. You’re better off with it 
  • Stay in airbnbs. It’s a lot cheaper
  • Get yourself a fuel card in the capital. Makes life easier when you have to top up fuel

 

Milan 2016 🇮🇹

I went on a day trip to Milan, Italy in May. It was the most enjoyable and beautiful trip to date. Day trips are not everyone’s cup of tea but with beautiful company and pre-planning you can definitely pull it off. However you feel shattered at the end of the day but that’s all part of the fun

The first stop in Milan was Duomo di Milano. It is the biggest highlight of Milan. To simply put it there is nothing else like this Cathedral. It is the fifth largest christian church in the world.

There are 3,400 statues, 135 gargoyles and 700 figures that decorate Milan Duomo and the most exciting part is that it is still under construction even after six centuries

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The inside of the duomo is impressive as the outside. The architecture and the intrinsic design keeps you in awe!

If you are ever visiting the duomo I highly suggest buying the passes online in advance as the queues can be long and go for the full package as you get access to all areas and even get to go to the top of the duomo in a lift. In my opinion is a beautiful way to see the skyline of the modern Milan city

Once you’re out of the duomo the city is filled with beautiful buildings and narrow winding streets. Do not miss out on the ice cream in Milan. It was my first time to Italy and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II is right outside the duomo and it contains all the high end shops and its a nice stroll to take if you’re window shopping (which was the case for me) lol. 

Castello Sforzesco in Milan is almost as impressive as the duomo. However it looks more like a medieval prison, even if it was a beautiful place. It was built in the 15th century and Leonardo Da Vinci worked in this castle for many years 

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Christmas 2015 🇩🇪

As per tradition I am in Germany over the Christmas and New Years period. I was initially at my aunts in Dortmund for Christmas and then I came to Stuttgart a few days ago. I was able to visit a few places of interest around Stuttgart. Some pictures to follow. I shall add more details over the next few days. Hope everyone’s had a lovely Christmas and have a happy new year.