Hi fellow aviation nuts! I've been a 10+ year lurker, and this is my first trip report! Hope it goes down well!
A nice, moody morning, one not without feeling thankfully, we headed towards Pearson, where, I had shamefully (for a travel and aviation enthusiast) not been for a whopping 11 years. I’ve always flown out from either Buffalo (BUF
) or New York (LGA
), so it was nice to fly out from my home airport for once!
I kinda missed the feel I wanted flying truly international (Europe/Asia), but it was great to be back at Terminal 3, Pearson’s first modern terminal. None of the terminals look extravagant, in fact, they’re all actually quite plain, but like everything else in the country, everything works, works well and that’s pretty much that. So while the architecture didn’t drop my jaw like Suvarnabhumi, the very efficient line processing was nice. As is evident in the picture, I wasn’t the only one with the escape plan. This area was for Caribbean flights, so there were multiple flights headed out in our direction today. Interestingly, few fobs found themselves in this lineup, so no one had like 11 giant fake brand suitcases.
Not our plane, but one of WestJet’s many 737NGs on its way to either somewhere in Canada or perhaps a beautiful warm destination. The temperature was a warm-for-the-season 8c, rising to a ridiculously high 16c in the day. Didn’t bother me, as it would not only be warmer, but greener, bluer and I’d be on an island.
In the distance is the city of my residence, Mississauga, hampered partially by the fog, probably a result of the very weird warm temperature and dewpoint meeting up when they thought they wouldn’t till the spring. That is El Al Israel on the left.
I grabbed the new iPad Mini (32GB) to see how I like it, and I have to say, its much lighter weight compared to the full-size iPad (and even size) made it a lot more handy, not only on the plane, but elsewhere as well. I love the feel of the anodized black aluminum, and the build quality is oh-so-solid. Really, the only letdown is that non-Retina display, which really is hard to get used to after being used to them everywhere. Also in this picture is my Bowers & Wilkins P5s, and they were truly great to enjoy music with on the plane (actually, one of my favourite activities… looking out, down below, sipping a drink, awesome music).
Rare are the days we eat/cook anything at home, so we needed to grab breakfast, and I thought we’d do that at one of the airport’s many restaurants. Umm… that must be a different terminal, because I found almost nothing in Terminal 3 (the few things around weren’t open) and the Tim Horton’s lineup meant I had to choose between a bit of Timmies or Curacao itself. So we made our way to the pub and ordered up some $11 breakfast, which was about as basic as it gets. Really not much else to say… it was there, and we ate it.
The 737-800 from the jetway. Unfortunately, the jetway is blocking the special livery of this Boeing jet.
I love this point, when you can smell the jet fuel, see the interior, and in a few short steps, leave the world behind. I love the curvature of the fuselage, the shiny special livery paint, the window, everything.
Here it is, the final step, and I’m welcomed onto a decidedly Canadian plane!
This single-aisled narrowbody twinjet had 3-3 seating (as always).
View out the window. I’d almost rather not fly than choose a non-window seat. Love the winglets on this modern jetliner.
34″ seat pitch is as good as it gets in the world today for economy class, and I love that I didn’t feel cramped this way. I’ve lost a fair bit of weight, so I wasn’t cramped for width either, but one could always use more of that. It also helped that I was seated next to my female companion.
WestJet offers satellite TV
, but it only works within Canada. There was PPV, and they offered a couple of these channels for free for the duration of the flight, which I suppose, is good for a budget/low cost carrier.
The fog has cleared up slightly as we made our way to runway 23.
Expectedly, there was a lineup, as there often is at
WestJet flight is ready for takeoff! We’re next.
And as we climb, we start turning south, towards the general direction of our destination from our 230 degree takeoff heading. I love how the light is spilling out of the clouds, in this picture, actually illuminating my condo! In the distance, you can see downtown Toronto and the Toronto Island airport that Porter Airlines uses. The body of water is of course, Lake Ontario.
Here we’re leaving the lake behind. These great lakes really are huge!
We’re now headed almost south-southeast, entering Pennsylvania.
The skies are lively today.
A small airfield, up in the Pennsylvania mountains I believe.
Very interesting landscape. Interesting how its so undeveloped, just minutes away from heavily populated areas.
I have no idea what this, but I’m very curious to know.
We’re keeping our heading as we speed up and climb, on our way to FL380.
Unfortunately, only light stuff was included for free, so being me, and being on a plane, I had to purchase more food. This wasn’t at all bad, and I suppose $6.50 in the air is aaaaaalright. What is that slogan there? Excellent food, sure, if you say so. Superior service… umm… again, if you think so, food company. I’m not sure what service I’m receiving from Scarlett House Catering, but ok. Fresh thinking? About what? Sandwiches? Because ham and swiss croissants have been around for like centuries… Food on a plane? Also not a new idea. Charging for it? Annoying, but also not new.
Wasn’t bad, I like ham sandwiches, but would have liked a warm option. Too much work for them I guess.
As we near the east coast, this comes into view. Dunno where this is exactly.
Eastern tip of where we leave continental North America behind. I believe this isn’t far from where Hurricane Sandy made landfall.
Kind of reminds me of Long Island, NY, but this is nowhere near there. I wonder if this is Blackbeards Creek, just north of Chesapeake Bay.
Big ass tankers and their ilk.
Yes I believe this is just north of Chesapeake Bay and Virginia Beach.
You get a choice of Bits & Bites or cookies, along with a drink (well, as many drinks as you want), which is still acceptable for $140 return.
Had some peppermint tea here.
Always be ready to accept money! Capitalism! Yeah baby!
Service was not bad. The coppertop at the front was an absolutely genuine, super nice sort of guy. If only everyone in service was like him!
Aforementioned peppermint tea after assembly:
Not something I buy, but not bad to munch on.
The water became increasingly blue, which was thrilling for me. I love the indigo colour, as well as the waves which can be seen here. I wouldn’t mind being LOST on an island around here. Dharma and all baby!
Unfortunately I haven’t flown much lately, but some on this forum infer that strong-flavoured things work well in the air, so I ordered myself a Bloody Mary. I’ve never actually had one before and sure enough, that Tabasco and spice mix certainly serves up a strong punch. I didn’t really dig it all that much in the air, but looking back on it now, I find a strong association with the memory, so I may do this again when flying next.
We’re headed STRAIGHT DOWN now baby!
They came around a second time now with snacks and drinks, and when someone offers you something for free, YOU NEVER TURN IT DOWN. Especially food.
I couldn’t believe my eyes at this point. Having not really seen tropical shallow seas before (only memory I have is being on a plane my dad was operating into Doha, Qatar, and seeing the blue water change to desert), this colour boggled my mind. Most of the bodies of water I’ve seen are always murky, dark in colour, usually green or brown (nasty). I’ve never had to urge to jump into that kind of water, but this? I was (more than) half-ready to jump out without a parachute!
Now over the Dominican Republic.
I really like this scene; looks like a fantastic driving road! Can you tell I like cars too?
Fantastic landscape, and it almost looks like a satellite photo.
I think this runoff is Agua Clara, Dominican Republic.
I believe this is Bahia de las Calderas, Dominican Republic.
I had no idea there was such a thing as a Boeing 737-800 LR.
Unfortunately, this is the only shot I got of the somewhat unique livery.
Great planning (/sarcasm) resulted in our flight landing alongside not only an American Airlines 737-800, but also a massive 747-400 from the Netherlands containing a load of Dutch people. Conveniently, our line moved slowest, so everyone around us was out well before us.
Landside! This is beautiful! The sky was so blue it was almost surreal. I was almost in disbelief at the drastic contrast to where I had just left just five hours earlier. It was hot, well over 30 degrees despite some recent rain, and the palm trees were kissably gorgeous.
After picking up that rarest of supercar (the Kia Rio), we made our way to Willemstad, the capital of Curacao, only to find that everything, and I mean everything, was closed on Sunday. I could not even pick up a SIM card! Finding food turned out to be quite a challenge. The only thing open was Subway, and two subs cost us over $26 US. Our local Subway in Mississauga has any sub for $5.
A Venezuelan-owned oil refinery buns day and night, but surprisingly, the air was as clear as Canada despite this. I guess it blows away in a certain direction, because we couldn’t smell it, and at night, Curacao had amazing visibility, like I’ve never seen in a warm place actually.
This is Punda, the “main area” but also the tourist capital. It looks very unique with its bright colours and Dutch architecture, but there isn’t much there apart from tourist traps. Full of crap merchandise, t-shirt stores seem to be run exclusively by Indian people stocking only the worst quality of t-shirt on the planet, and charging ~$30 for each shirt. Insane.
Across the inlet is Otrabanda, which in Dutch, literally means “the other side.” Similarly tourist-trappy, on the water’s edge there’s a great place called Rif Fort, centuries old, but now housing shops and restaurants. I should have stayed at the Rennaisance hotel there, as this was probably the most reasonable shopping area, had a theater, restaurants and a lot more.
This is from Otrabanda, looking towards Punda, in a restaurant called La Bahia, "specializing" in seafood.
My seafood medley casserole, which was properly ridiculous in terms of portion size (and consequently price). That’s a langostino on top. If a chef can’t make crustaceans taste good (since they do by default), they should really be looking for employment elsewhere.
Trio of fish. That’s what it should have been called, rather than 3D fish... so cheesy (not the food).
Charming building that we didn’t visit, had a great-looking pub. Lots of Dutch girls on the island, not so many guys. Single guys, take note. No shortage of topless sunbathing either.
This bridge was crazy high! Felt like a roller coaster ride, the way you go up, crest and go down sharply, at speed, with gorgeous views.
Playa Cas Abou, great beach. Water was so blue, even when it was cloudy and raining. I could look at this view all day, every day, forever.
Curacao had an extremely blue sky, I’ve mentioned that, but it also had the most vibrant greens I’ve ever seen.
Being a driving enthusiast and being saddled with a Kia Rio is painful, but the views made up for everything. I loved these roads, covered in dense greenery and cacti. We had a wonderful drive up around the northern perimeter of the island.
Lionfish are found all around Curacao’s waters, they’re these fish with poisonous fins. I figured, before it gets me, I’ll go get it! This was a steamed preparation at a Chinese restaurant.
Steamed is, in my opinion, the best way to have fish. Great flavour, very, very moist; we really enjoyed this meal.
We found this place by accident. On my way to Seaquarium/Mambo Beach, we saw a little turnoff towards what looked like water. Me being obsessed with the water, I went in and found this… Boca Oscar! I love this place, I love this vista.
The different blues were a fantastic sight to behold. I can’t imagine not having a permanent smile living in a place like this.
Random picture of the water, taken while driving, to show the sheer beauty of the water anywhere on the island. Such is tropical scenery that I could stop anywhere and just take it in.
Curacao had quite the eclectic mix of vehicles, but these Asian vans are what always summoned a smile from me. I've seen them on my trips in Malaysia, Singapore and India too. They’re so narrow, and so short-wheelbased that they look cartoonish.
Aloe vera grows all over the island naturally. I love seeing tropical plants like these.
I had a lot of trouble finding good food in Curacao, but I really enjoyed this meal at the Rib Factory. Those aren’t fries… they’re made from cornmeal, and were great with the homemade garlic sauce!
The manager was a knowledgeable, friendly Surinamese gentleman, and he offered us, with compliments, this great dessert called Quesillo, the local version of creme caramel (something we already love)!
I love palm trees, and Curacao had so many different varieties!
The greenery was so lush and vibrant, I couldn’t help but snap pictures the whole time. Look at that tree beside the Camaro! And yes, that is a new 3.7-second 0-60 capable BMW M5 in the distance.
Such gorgeous trees! I took this from a bit further away to get a sense of scale.
The winding road we took to get to Fort Nassau.
It pissed me off that this whole place shut down at 6 pm. This was taken at 6:15 pm, and generally, the idea was to spend the day doing beach or nature stuff, and spend the evening shopping. No can-do. In Curacao, you have to choose between daytime activities and shopping.
Indonesian immigrants brought with them nasi goreng to Curacao. We love that cuisine, so we decided to try it and weren’t disappointed! Nothing like what you get in Southeast Asia to be honest, but still quite yummy. Definitely interesting, as it had meats you don’t commonly find in Asia, such as turkey.
These ribs were from Dino Ribs, imported from the Netherlands. Very meaty indeed, but not that great tasting. I loved the beet potato salad though!
Remember what I said about eclectic cars?
Big-assed manacans. Make of that what you will.
I guess there must have been a big problem with people stealing vending machines.
The oldest Synagogue in the western hemisphere.
Tell me you don’t love the views?
Curacao is famous for its iguanas, though I didn’t see as many as people said I would. I love these guys, they’re so chilled. Unfortunately, they run away if you try to approach them.
This place is called Boca Pistol, and it was one of my favourite places to visit.
OK, one more.
Surface of another planet? Our own planet in the cretaceous period? I wish!
Hiking trail leading to Boca Kalki.
This is Boca Kalki.
Fossilized coral and stuff, millions of years old. I loved this, very unique experience.
Don’t litter people! Look how beautiful the island is!
My first view of Playa Kalki! So exciting to see.
We saw a barracuda and parrot fish from the pier here.
Someone must be looking down at us and thinking “I want to be there!”
Red snapper at an American soul food restaurant near Kalki. Very nice.
View from Sol Food, the soul food restaurant.
Pretty good pizza with fresh tuna! Fresh tuna at all the restaurants we went to!
Just another random, beautiful place seen from a coastal road.
We weren’t the only ones feeling peckish.
I never saw crabs on the beach, until I looked at this picture later. The eyes look crazy!
Look at this bird, just peering out over the ocean for its next meal. It didn’t move at all, the whole time I was in and around the water.
This is Knip Bay, or Playa Kenapa.
Gorgeous view over Playa Jeremi.
This man knows what he’s doing.
McCafe in Curacao is actually awesome. They have brownies…
And a good cheesecake! McDonald's was also literally the only place with reasonably priced food. Also had the freshest McD's salad I've ever seen. Even local joints like the food truck below were kinda pricey.
Food truck, where we ate twice.
Ribs from the food truck.
Red snapper, grilled, at the Iguana Cafe, looking across to Otrabanda.
Entering the enchanted forest! This felt like it was straight out of a Disney theme park! I know that quite a few places in the world (Europe etc.) have this kind of scenery, but it's tropical, and very different from Southern Ontario.
Near the Renaissance hotel and Rif Fort.
This man was said to make the best fish. Where did I hear that? Well, I should have taken that with a grain of salt, given who it came from. When I was at the food truck (pictured above somewhere), I ran into a crazy Czech guy who lives in the Netherlands, who looked like he was on something.... uh, special, let's say. Fidgety, angry, impatient and also a close talker (Seinfeld fans?), this guy started talking about how socialism sucks etc, so to stir the pot a little, I reminded him of the purpose of taxes. He took a few steps back, looked like he was going to pull his own head off and started telling me about how messed up the Netherlands is, and that he earns 3000 Euros a month but comes home with around half that... So somehow, he and I got around to food, and he told me about the "one-armed" man who makes the best fish on the island. He said "you can see that he can't use one of his arms, but he struggles, and he smashes garlic with it and stuff" - with a story like that, gotta try it out right?
Turns out Rudy (the fish man) is not one-armed, which is not relevant anyway, and is a fine gentleman. He gave me a choice of fish, about an hour out of the ocean, and we chose a couple.
[Edited 2013-02-11 16:26:23]