Wednesday, November 23, 2022

San Francisco 2022 (day 1)

November 2022

It seems crazy that it was 15 years ago that I started this blog under its original name "Nautical Miles", intended to be a journal of my Hajj experience in 2007 and forgotten after that. But after all it has been such a long journey.

These last years I have not been too active but I refuse to end the story of this blog. So let me share my last layover in one of my favorite cities: San Francisco. Flying the A330neo, of course.

This was not my first time in SF, nor the longest layover available. Despite that, I had the opportunity of having one complete day without worries to explore the city (I mean, without having an early wake-up call the next day).

Alamo Square

My first stop was the Alamo Square with its famous "Painted Ladies", the Victorian style houses. I was on my way to the Amoeba Music store in the Haight Ashbury district. I would return later to this square to catch the last rays of sun while seated on the grass of the park.

Going back for a quick stop at the hotel, I saw this...

... it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas... everywhere you go!

Salesforce Park

This is another park in San Francisco placed on the rooftop of the Salesforce Transit Center that I enjoy a lot. It's quite surprising to have such a feature there.

The whole point of going there was to check the works (I was curious about that) on the sinking and leaning Millenium Tower.

Millenium Tower to the right

The Embarcadero

Next stop was the Embarcadero waterfront. Always, a lovely place.

Ferry Building to the left

On the Pier 14 you get nice views of the illuminated SF-Oakland Bay Bridge.

As a curiosity, this bridge was built by the American Bridge Company, the same guys who built the "25 de Abril Bridge" in my hometown, Lisboa.

Also from the Pier 14, what an amazing view of the Financial District skyline!

Union Square

Before returning back to the hotel and have a good sleep, I didn't want to miss the Christmas lights and tree in the Union Square.

San Francisco... always such a good vibe!

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

And I was back in Punta Cana

June/July 2022

It has been 14 years since I had my last layover in Punta Cana when I was still flying for my first airline. 14 years... can't believe it!

I still keep the envelope with the briefing telling about the inclusive features of the resort where we stayed by that time.

This time we were in a different resort within the same area. Punta Cana is a recent destination for my company and I was lucky enough to get one long layover without having bid for it. A few weeks later, those flights were handed over to Hi Fly, during the month of August, due to lack of capacity. I've got another Punta Cana on my september roster and it should be one of the last flights to be operated to this destination. I don't now if it is for good or if the route is just supposed to be seasonal.

Anyway, I ruined my layover on the first day by getting relentlessly sunburnt. I did use sunscreen but clearly I'm giving up using the lowest SPF available. My skin is not used to the sun as it used to be in the past... I'm getting older and I've not been a proper beach enthusiast for some years now. The same happened to my colleague that spent most of the time with me during the layover. We agreed we would not inflict more pain in our skins just because we were in Punta Cana... So from that day on we just went to expose ourselves to the sun after 4pm until sunset. And the water temperature did remain beautifully warm during that period.

I did not take many photographs... These days I'm just trying to enjoy my moments without the concern of saving them into a virtual camera roll. But I took these:

Well... it made me remember how I miss my glorious charter days! Flying the good old L-1011.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

When you just want to fly on a 4-engined aircraft

July 2022

Four-engined aircraft are certainly a dying breed. Last year I flew on a Boeing 747-8 "Jumbo" from Frankfurt to Palma - and yes, that time I was spending a few days in Palma, such a warm and crystal clear water paradise. Last time I worked on a A340 was in October 2019. So, when a friend of mine heard that TAP Air Portugal was leasing an A340 for the Lisbon-Vienna route, he didn't want to miss that opportunity and challenged me for that trip.

And there we were waiting for our turnaround trip to Vienna.


The A340 assigned to this flight would be the one with 9H-SOL tail number, the one in an all white livery and the very same one that landed in the Antarctica some months ago.

9H-SOL © Hi Fly

Before Hi Fly, this A340 flew for Iberia and it keeps the same cabin interiors of this airline. When it operated for Iberia, it was named Maria Barbara de Braganza. We booked economy class for the outgoing flight and business for the return.

The views from my window seat:

And finally arriving at Vienna Schwechat Airport:

Speed brakes deployed during descent

Just before landing.

Then, parked side by side with a Korean Air Dreamliner:

Our super short layover in Vienna was not totally in vain as we had time to drink a weissbier in the airport terminal before boarding again the same aircraft to Lisbon. But this time in business class!

9H-SOL Business Class (ex-Iberia)

Sunset over the clouds

All in all it was a very enjoyable flight with a nice Hi Fly crew and an unusual spacious aircraft in such a short run. I know this seems a crazy plan, but in my defense I have to say that I already know Vienna very well from the time when, in 2018, I made my first (and only) around the world trip to the date, which included five days in North Korea!

More photos of these flights in the 'Photo Albums' section of the blog.

And this friend of mine... the very same one who challenged me for a crazy weekend in New York in 2006!