The Long Way to Amsterdam

The Long Way to Amsterdam

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.

Vancouver

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.)

Boston

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).

Brussels

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 Train Station

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!

2018 in 12 Photos

2018 was a year full of travel, adventures, and some nice time back home. I made sure to keep things interesting by having a wide diversity of themes to each trip, probably more so than I’ve done in recent years. From cooking classes in Dubai, Hong Kong, and Kuala Lumpur to backpacking trips in Kyrgyzstan and the Grand Canyon, and cycling through Western Australia, it was a great year.

January – Trying strange street-food in Hong Kong
February – I visit my mom and Aunt Bev on the Columbia River in BC. Here’s Bev’s new house, coming along well.
March – Cycling all the way from Perth to Kalgoorlie to see the Super Pit – one of the largest open pit gold mines on earth
April – Cycling through Valley of the Giants in Western Australia
May – Walking Scotland’s West Highland Way
June – I join a great group of people to walk coast-to-coast cross Sweden
July – Backpacking the spectacular Northover Ridge in unusually warm weather
August – Traversing the remote volcanic landscape of Edziza in northern BC
September – Enjoying the clean mountain air of Kyrgyzstan’s Pamir Mountains
October – Discovering old Communist monuments in Tajikistan
November – Hiking and backpacking in the Grand Canyon
December – Sometimes it’s nice just to be home, enjoying the company of loved ones

2019 is shaping up to be another great year of travel with even bigger, grander adventures in the works. Can’t wait!

What will you remember most from 2018?

2017 in 12 Photos

I’ve been terribly remiss in writing about my travels over the last year but I’ve had some great adventures. At the end of one year and the beginning of the next, I love looking back and reflecting on what I’ve experienced. Here are a few of my favourite memories from each month of 2017.

January - I discover my new favourite place to hike & cycle - the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona
January – I discover my new favourite place to hike & cycle – the Sonoran Desert of Southern Arizona
February - Crisp early mornings give way to scorched afternoons
February – Crisp early mornings give way to scorched afternoons
March - the desert comes alive with the colours of spring
March – the desert comes alive with the colours of spring
April - My first cycle race, the Round-the-Isle Randonee on England's Isle of Wight
April – My first cycle race, the Round-the-Isle Randonee on England’s Isle of Wight
May - I discover the soft rolling landscapes of England's South Downs Way
May – I discover the soft rolling landscapes of England’s South Downs Way
June - Iceland's thundering waterfalls
June – Iceland’s thundering waterfalls
July - An unusually dry summer makes for great mountaineering among BC's rarely visited peaks
July – An unusually dry summer makes for great mountaineering among BC’s rarely visited peaks
August - I discover just how hot the Grand Canyon can get on my first full crossing from the north to the south rim
August – I discover just how hot the Grand Canyon can get on my first full crossing from the north to the south rim
September - I do my best to capture the beauty that Ansel Adams discovered in California's Sierra Nevada
September – I do my best to capture the beauty that Ansel Adams discovered in California’s Sierra Nevada
October - Cycling through Vietnam and Cambodia, I discover some wonderful people and delicious food
October – Cycling through Vietnam and Cambodia, I discover some wonderful people and delicious food
November - I'm awed by the unbelievably massive mountains on Nepal's Annapurna Circuit
November – I’m awed by the unbelievably massive mountains on Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit
December - Sunset over the Himalayas
December – Sunset over the Himalayas

Here’s to more fun adventures in 2018.

2016 in 12 Photos

Another year is about to close and a new one beginning with endless possibilities. I love taking a few moments in the short days of winter that come around New Years to reflect on both the ups & downs of the last 12 months. Here’s what my year looked like…

January - Cycling to the Edge of the World Tasmania, Australia
January – Cycling to the Edge of the World
Tasmania, Australia
February - visiting the famous The Twelve Apostles along Australia's Great Ocean Road
February – visiting the famous The Twelve Apostles along Australia’s Great Ocean Road
March - awed by Bali's new year celebration, Nyepi
March – awed by Bali’s new year celebration, Nyepi
April - salt cracks form octagon shapes in Death Valley's Badwater Basin, the lowest point of North America
April – salt cracks form octagon shapes in Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, the lowest point of North America
May - cycling through the tail end of winter on the Icefield Parkway
May – cycling through the tail end of winter on the Icefield Parkway
June - caught in a snowstorm while traversing off-trail through the front ranges of the Rockies
June – caught in a snowstorm while traversing off-trail through the front ranges of the Rockies
July - mountaineering in BC with the ACC
July – mountaineering in BC with the ACC
August - Rio Summer Olympics!
August – Rio Summer Olympics!
September - sharing great times while trekking through the rugged landscape of Ladakh, India
September – sharing great times while trekking through the rugged landscape of Ladakh, India
October - in Idaho, the higher you get, the higher you get
October – in Idaho, the higher you get, the higher you get
November - stumbled upon a UFO recovery and repair service
November – stumbled upon a “UFO recovery and repair service” in Southern California
December - desert magic in Sedona
December – desert magic in Sedona, Arizona

With 2016 come and gone, I wish you the best in 2017. Happy adventuring!

Cycling the Icefield Parkway

Cycling the Icefield Parkway

I first cycled the Icefield Parkway three years ago with a great group of friends. It was a really fun and memorable trip. We stayed together in hostels and shared delicious meals every night. There were lots of stories and laughter. That trip was at the end of summer and I’ve been thinking about returning to see this famous scenic road in spring ever since. I finally had the chance this year. Continue reading “Cycling the Icefield Parkway”