In my last blog of 2015 I mentioned what a special year it had been for us, but honestly 2016 has topped it in so many ways.
It was the year Bowen travelled the most miles and visited even more exciting, exotic destinations than ever before. There were again a few firsts (first time to Zel am See, Mexico City, the island of Bali and Kraków). British Airways was the carrier of choice and they lived up to their great customer service by upgrading us twice for free.
On the BA website they have this cool little chart showing some cool statistics.
The year of travel started in late March with a week long trip to a small Austrian town called Zel Am See. This was our first ski trip to Austria and it was awesome! The weather was perfect most days, the scenery was outstanding.
A week or two later we were jetting off to Mexico City for the wedding extravaganza of the year. Our friends Rodney and Sofia were getting married, but this was no ordinary wedding.
Every couple of months in the news there is a mention of a train company striking. Today it is Southern Railway. If you didn’t know already about the upcoming inconvenience, here are the upcoming strike dates:
The on-going dispute between Southern and the RMT union is over the role of train conductors. Southern plans to change the role of its 400 plus conductors from August with the introduction of driver only operated trains.
So Southern Railway want to modernize their network by making the train driver more responsible for the train and not the conductor. What is wrong with that? Do commuter trains really need a conductor?
Chaps, we are in the 21st century! London has proved through the DLR that trains don’t need conductors checking tickets, ensuring doors are opened and closed, making announcements, because the entire system is computerized from buying the ticket, to checking in and out to actually driving the train. Driver-less trains, what an invention?
As the subject suggests our flight from Mexico in April was delayed by 30 hours. The airline was not entirely helpful in terms of offering us compensation.
I did a few searches online to see who could take my case and Airhelp accepted.
Their website is great. it is easy to find information and everything is clearly explained. Check out the know your rights page.
You tell them your flight details and they will tell you if your claim is valid. It turned out my claim was valid because it was delayed by more than 3 hours and it was not down to nature, although we did have some of that as well.
There are no fees unless they win the case, otherwise it is 25%.
The sign up process was easy.
Communication was very good. They emailed me every step of the way and answered all my questions promptly.
It took less than two months to complete.
Payment was equally fast when I heard we had won our case. We got €1200 (less their 25% fee). Payment was arranged through Payoneer.com and I got it instantly.
I highly recommend Airhelp.com if your flight is delayed by greater than 3 hours and is between an EU and non-EU airport.
I visited Singapore last week on the back of a trip to Houston Texas the week before. Of course my body clock was all screwed up. When I was meant to be sleeping I was wide awake, so I decided to make use of the extra time by making a time lapse video of a Singapore sunrise. They are beautiful. I used my GoPro Hero 4 Silver, and set the time lapse to take a photo every 60 seconds.
Watch “Mike & Jo mastering the ski lifts at Schmittenhöhe, Austria” on their GoPro Hero 4 silver.
We recently went skiing at Zell Am See in Austria, where I used my GoPro Hero 4 Silver to capture some video footage. I took over 140 HD videos over the 6 days and have been going through the clips using the GoPro studio. I made this short 1 minute video while learning to use the program.
I hope to create a few more short videos of our skiing.
I will do a review on the GoPro Hero 4 Silver in May when I have some time, as I will be using it again on an upcoming Mexican and Bali trip.
Let us know via the comments what you think about the video.
2015 has proved to be an extra special year in a number of ways.
There were a few firsts along the way for the Bowens.
You know you are getting old when the f#@!ing optometrist tells you it is time to wear glasses. “No way!” I said, but there was no denying the skewed results, so I got to pick some sexy expensive “old fogey frames” to compliment the even more expensive lenses. (yes, had to remortgage the house).
I still can’t believe I needed glasses, as my eyesight is great (denial). To be frank I have only worn them on airplanes, because let’s face it, those crappy TV screens are tiny. Lots more after the break.
My work trip to Houston turned out to be a very productive week. It is always fun going to Houston as my colleagues at Platts like to spoil me rotten, and this time was no exception. There was no rest for the wicked and I was out every night with them.
Highlights of my trip; the English pub in Jon’s neighborhood , electronic darts evening with Ariana, Julie and Chris, the editorial drinks evening, the lunch at Killen’s Barbeque with Marc, Gauri and the team and finally the golf evening under the lights with Mike. (That was competitive).
On our recent trip to Southern France we had the opportunity to drive a different route back to Calais, so we decided to drive via the awesome Millau Viaduct. The Millau Viaduct is a cable-stayed bridge that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France.
We had driven to the Millau area the night before and stayed at a cheap hotel. We awoke early and drove over the bridge, which was incredible with all its lights. The valleys below were covered in mist and it was still fairly dark. There was a look out area, where one can park and take photos of the bridge (see the buildings in my photograph), but to be honest every Tom, Dick and Harry were there making a racket and clicking away. We decided to drive through the Toll Gates and then back towards the bridge via a small country road. To be honest this road had the best views.
I took this photograph with my Panasonic DMC-G2 at around 7am. It was quite cloudy all around but the bridge was completely clear. The sun was just filtering over the clouds to the East. I am very proud of this photograph. I think it is one of the best I have ever taken. The colours of the fields, the changing colours in the sky, the mist running through the valley and the bridge with the sun reflecting on the cables stays look amazing.
The 6th of July was an interesting day because Jo and I flew back from Budapest, where we had been staying for the weekend of the Red Bull Air Race. It was an early start to the day.
It was also the day I flew British Airways to Atlanta. It was a mad dash home to have a nap, pack and head out to Heathrow to catch my flight.
Atlanta was lovely and hot. I stayed at the Sheraton Hotel off the big ring road around Atlanta. It is a great hotel with large comfortable rooms.
The Uber taxi ride to ICE head office was not great and my colleague and I were almost killed at the ICE entrance gates because the idiot Morman Taxi driver didn’t understand the rules of the road and somehow managed to cross an intersection without looking. I tell you my life flashed in front of me. If the Uber app allowed it I would have rated him -5 stars.
After the near death experience in Atlanta I decided to fly back home in business class, just in case it would be my last flight home 😉 Business class is like the holy grail of travel, until they tell you it will cost you £400 to upgrade.