A New Adventure
After spending the first half of this year hiking long distance trails in New Zealand and the Canadian Rockies, I’m excited to begin a completely different kind of adventure. I’m off to Amsterdam to aimlessly cycle through the flat countryside of the Netherlands while snacking on stroopwafel and Gouda cheese.
But, first, I need to get to Amsterdam. I certainly haven’t chosen the most direct route.
After visiting mom in Castlegar BC, I caught a quick flight west (the wrong direction) to Vancouver. Castlegar’s airport is notoriously unreliable with dense fog settling into the deep valley, surrounded by steep mountains. Fortunately, my flight was only 3 hours late.
In Vancouver, Charles graciously picked me up and took me out for noodles. Our shared love of noodles is definitely the very core of our friendship. Charles will be joining me and Sil in Amsterdam in just a few days. Before catching my next flight, Charles sent me to check out a trail he wants to run. Vancouver certainly is beautiful.
Cathay Pacific First Class
From Vancouver, you’d think I’d fly right to Amsterdam. Instead, I found myself heading to New York City. Best of all, this flight was essentially free!
Cathay Pacific’s first class is by far the most luxurious way to fly within North America. Cathay is Hong Kong’s flag-carrier airline and this particular flight is an extension of the Hong Kong to Vancouver leg that I flew back in April. “First class” on flights within North America doesn’t really exist but since this is a legit international flight, it’s the real thing. The added cost to tack on the additional leg to NYC was only a few dollars, so why not? (I booked the whole thing on points, so it wasn’t too much more than flying economy.)
But I needed to get to Boston for my next flight. Everything I’ve read says just fly, rather than fighting through the crowds to Manhattan then catching a train or bus. Flying is quick and cheap. So, I found myself on a Delta commuter flight. Goodbye first class, back to reality.
I was really excited as the plane approached Boston. A new city to explore!
The Freedom Trail
I spent my day strolling along the Freedom Trail, a 3-mile walk through some of America’s most important historical sites.
As a Canadian, we learn all about the American Revolution. Seeing where Paul Revere raced into the night warning that “the British are coming!” and contemplating a swim where the colonialists dumped tea into the sea really brought that history to life.
Boston is a beautiful city, full of history and character. I enjoyed my day exploring the city and can see coming back.
Iberia Business Class
Still not straight to Amsterdam! Last year Iberia, Spain’s national airline, had a promotion where they gave 9000 points for every flight purchased. I booked 20 flights for $30 each. I never ending up taking any of those flights but it gave me enough points for a night at a nice hotel, 3 tickets to the Palm Springs Zoo, and a business class ticket from Boston to Brussels via Madrid (and an even longer flight in business class to Shanghai… but that’s getting ahead of myself). Pretty good value (and, yes, the miles & points “game” leads to some ridiculous scenarios).
Despite travelling to over 50 counties, I’ve barely touched Western Europe, so I was excited to finally get to Brussels. I spent my day just wandering around the city, admiring the stunning architecture and soaking up the history.
It just happened to be “Belgium Beer Weekend” and the main square was full of people celebrating. Dozens of local breweries provided samples of their craft and paraded through the streets in horse-drawn carriages.
One day isn’t much time to explore any city, let alone one so interesting as Brussels, but I’m looking forward to a few more days after cycling through the Netherlands.
And Finally… Amsterdam
I enjoyed the train ride from Brussels to Amsterdam. As much as flying first class is an amazing luxury, you just can’t beat the relaxed pace of train travel.
Amsterdam has to be one of the world’s greatest capitals. Fantastic architecture, rich history, and full of culture. It’s a fun loving city too. Everyone seems happy. Maybe that’s because they all ride bikes.
On that note, it’s time to get on the bike and start cycling!