When all you hear is the purring of the front wheel on the tarmac and the satisfying “clunk” as the rear derailleur perfectly positions the chain down a sprocket, when the chain is silent as it strains against the gears and your bike responds to your every whim, when the previous days of cycling put you in good shape and you are going at a good pace without an apparent effort, then you are one with the machine, and all is right with the world, and you feel you could fly.Continue reading
A Bubble of Good Weather
“Hotel Papa Mike you have two Mirage fighters 1000 ft above you and two helicopters 1000 ft below”, said the military Air Traffic Controller.Continue reading
Over the Alps?
At 5:30 of the morning of our departure, we were still dubious whether we’d be able to leave.
Nabil was stuck in London, his flight having been cancelled the night before, and I was waiting for confirmation that his rerouted flight via Basel took off. When he called to let me know that they also cancelled that flight, I decided to throw in the towel. I mean, there are times when Fate sends you signs and woe betide those who ignore them, as the ancient Greeks had discovered. I resigned myself to it being “maktoub” that we would not fly this weekend.Continue reading
La Maremma in Two Acts
They are always fashionably dressed. The men wear their shirts over their shorts and it’s a sacrilege to wear socks. The women wear free flowing dresses, Raybans perched on their foreheads. Both stroll with a breezy insouciance, Rolex Submariners and golden bracelets nonchalantly displayed. The tourists have arrived.Continue reading
It was the longest final approach I had ever done. We had just flown over the French-Spanish border, some 40 miles out from our destination, when Girona Tower cleared us for a direct approach — unheard of from a busy airport so far away. We thanked the controller for his kindness and flew for about 15 minutes with nary a word from another aircraft on the radio. It was a surreal experience: we had the airport for ourselves.Continue reading
A Stitch in Time
It took them 45 seconds and 3 hours to take off my one stitch.
I was in the A&E of Orbetello hospital to remove a stitch on my left eyelid, done back in Geneva. We were on holiday in Tuscany and I had to have the stitch removed before heading back home. We were advised by local friends that the best course of action was to visit the A&E, known here as “Pronto Soccorso” and this was where the adventure began.Continue reading
Slow Travel to London
There’s nothing like cycling a strenuous uphill to focus your concentration on the here-and-now, to the exclusion of all else: there is only the cadence of your breathing as you narrow your vision to the pedals, counting one revolution after another. Here you are in your own bubble, and you fight the urge to look ahead to see what’s remaining of the hill. The satisfaction of reaching the crest is reward enough — until the next uphill.
Why I Fly
There’s something almost mystical about those early hours of the morning, between day and night, when the sun gently rises above the horizon, its warm glow casting long shadows as it slowly shakes the day from its slumber.
Nouvelle Escapade en Croatie
Nous étions bouche-bée. Notre taxi roulait sur la piste d’atterrissage pour nous servir de “follow me car”! Nous venions d’atterrir à Hvar, un aérodrome folklorique en Croatie où les seuls êtres vivants avant notre arrivée étaient un âne et un cheval, « le Ground Maintenance Crew » selon les dires du chauffeur de taxi.
Croatia over the Alps
We were not used to such luxury. There was someone waiting for us in a “Follow Me” car. Another brought the fuel truck to our plane as his colleague was tying it down. And capping all this was the courtesy bus to the terminal.