Flying around-the-world – Part 1

 Frankfurt is amazing for plane-spotting and photography from inside and outside the terminals. That's my 787 right there!
Look at those tails! Frankfurt is amazing for plane-spotting and photography, both inside and outside the terminals. That’s my 787!

I was always fascinated with flight, ever since growing up in Edmonton, Alberta when my Dad, on Saturday mornings, would occasionally take me to either the Municipal or International airport. I would watch the runways and get to play this really cool coin-operated game with a working toy helicopter in a great big plastic dome. And once in a while I would get to fly with Canadian or CP (in their orange paint jobs!). We even took a month-long trip to Europe in 1984 which had at least one 747, a change of airports in Montreal, and classic airlines such as Finnair and Swissair. It felt so special to be a passenger in one of those birds and I still get that feeling today!

Fast forward to the 2000s and I finally have been able to start the ‘grown-up travel’ part of my life. One of the things I most enjoyed, after landing in Vancouver for a stint in the movies there in the 90s was the feeling of walking around a brand-new city and seeing brand-new landscapes. And a great deal of my travel now is focused on experiencing new cities and scenery that I’ve romanticized through movies or books or the internet.

In 2012 I had my first big adventure, subsidized after I picked up an Aeroplan-branded Visa card. I used it for my flight training (soloed successfully, but haven’t completed my license yet) and gained a lot of Aeroplan miles. By putting virtually all my monthly spending on it, I was able to acquire about 75,000 Aeroplan miles, which is what Aeroplan was charging for a long-haul multi-city itinerary. And with that the dream of going around the world took flight in my brain!

With a lot of time spent on the internet, I came up with the idea of flying from Toronto to Frankfurt to Tokyo then home again. When I realized I could do it all in one direction and never backtrack, I was committed. AND as it turns out, one of the options shown was an ANA flight from Frankfurt to Tokyo on their brand-new 787! They were the first airline to have them and the only one for quite a while, and I couldn’t believe my luck! I had always been a plane geek but I wasn’t one who was able to keep up on the latest and greatest, so when I saw that I could fly on the brand-new bird everyone was so excited about, I was so stoked!

My first around-the-world (kinda) itinerary!
My first around-the-world (kinda) itinerary!

I was all set. The trip was booked for March of 2012. The only catch was that I had to do it in 6 days. As it turns out, I had very little vacation time and whenever I’ve crunched the numbers, every extra day on a flying vacation seems to cost me about 250-300$ more, so there is a budget to keep even as common sense seems to be telling us to stay longer because you’ve already paid for the ticket. The other concern was, since I’m not an adventurous foodie by any means, what if I landed in Tokyo and couldn’t find a thing to eat? What if I was miserable in a strange land where I couldn’t speak Japanese (or German for that matter) and couldn’t communicate or get around easily. So I figured the short trip made sense as a middle-ground between seeing the cities and whetting my appetite for more if I loved them.

A Hipstamatic impression of 'Morning over Russia'...holy crap, that's Russia down there!
A Hipstamatic impression of ‘Morning over Russia’…holy crap, that’s Russia down there!

And as it turned out, the trip was amazing and I think about it nearly every day still! Germany was incredible and it felt so cool to be there from the point of a history buff (in 1984 we only visited France, Switzerland, and Finland). I couldn’t believe I was flying over the former Soviet Union, with bears and wolves and untold secrets in the endless snowy lands underneath me. Tokyo was utterly overwhelming and endlessly fascinating because it wasn’t even a Western city like Frankfurt, but an Eastern one. Everything was new and interesting, from the sci-fi looking trains right down to the highly-detailed manhole covers and strange 6-story bookstores. And yes, I managed to find all my comforting fast food outlets and even tried Sushi with Wasabi for at least one authentic experience. In both cities I did nothing special except sight-see and shop and walk around, but it was an intense trip that made a permanent impression on me and I was hooked on the feeling of landing in exciting new cities without anyone else to rely on.

If you love busy, you'll love Tokyo shopping
If you love busy, you’ll love Tokyo shopping

Now in 2018 things are even easier for travelers and the internet makes research much easier, cell service is even cheaper and easier to arrange, and more and more people speak passable English in more and more countries.

So what’s next? I’m planning my biggest around-the-world adventure ever. And the catch is that all the flight segments will (hopefully!) all take place on the exact same aircraft type. But I will have to book it soon and hope it works out. Some of you may already be able to guess what aircraft I’m referring to 😉  Stay tuned!