New traveling adventure took a lot longer than I expected but it’s finally here. In 2014 I will be away from home (Montreal) for almost 6 months.
On March 5th 2014 I flew to Warsaw, Poland to join my girlfriend who will be studying in this beautiful city until June. Although most of the time will be spent in Warsaw I will be visiting other cities around Europe whenever I can. From June to August we’ll be traveling to other countries.
Getting to Europe
As it often happens, I ended up buying airplane tickets from CheapTickets.com – they usually offer the cheapest tickets. I had a 2 hour layover at Schiphol airport (Amsterdam) which gives just enough time to walk around, browse the duty free shops and buy some cheese. I don’t mind layovers in 2 cases: when they are short (less than 3 hours) and when they are long (12 hours +). A long layover gives you a chance to visit the city. I am lucky to have a Canadian Passport so I can visit most countries without a visa.
My flight was operated by KLM (I love ’em) and somehow KLM gave me the “Economy Comfort” seat for free (usually an extra $150). They say that an economy comfort seat offers 10 more cm of leg room and the seat’s back reclines twice as far. Well, I was quite comfortable and a little bit of extra leg room does wonders.
I should also mention that even though you are offered a wide variety of entertainment during your flight (recent and classic movies, music and even the snoring of the person in the next seat), you should plan your own entertainment.
Charge up your iPhone with your favorite songs, make sure your favorite movies are on your laptop or a book. Remember that in some cases you might be able to charge your electronics during the flight, however, a book will never run out of battery. This time I bought a book right before flying: Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vee.
I prefer to learn something I am interested in rather than reading Fifty Shades of Gray or whatever is the new hot bestseller. I also had my iPod with 400+ songs to keep me entertained.
Almost 7 hours in the plane can be pretty uncomfortable, even with the extra leg room – so getting up and moving around at least 3 times is highly recommended. I was very happy to land in Amsterdam because walking around the airport for an hour or two feels kind of incredible after a long flight.
Once in the airport, I had to go through the security check once again which is kind of annoying (take off your belt, watch, jacket, sweater, empty your pockets, take the laptop out, etc) but it took a total of 10 minutes. Then passport control where they inform you that as a non-EU resident you are only allowed to stay in the Schengen Area for a total of 90 days in a 180 period but I already knew that and it’s a big issue for people who want to travel Europe for more than 90 days. I will be writing a detailed blog post on this subject when the time comes.
So, after the security and passport control I was in the duty free zone, looking for the right terminal to catch my flight to Warsaw, Poland.
AMS – WAW flight was also operated by KLM; friendly crew, clean plane, smooth flight. The flight was delayed for some 10-15 minutes in Schiphol and another 10-15 minutes while flying over the Chopin airport – nothing major. The Poles happily applauded the captain, which was kind of cool, although I thought that landing a plane was a normal thing to do
I also noticed that I was the only (on both flights) who didn’t actually print tickets. KLM sent me the tickets by e-mail and I saved them on my iPhone. The folks at both boardings (Montreal and Amsterdam) scanned my phone screen with a bit of surprise. I am far from being a hipster environmentalist but I don’t understand why in 2014 we still waste paper when we really don’t need to. Using a phone as a boarding pass is also more convenient because there is less of a chance of losing the phone than of losing a piece of paper. Oh, make sure your phone is charged 100% before you leave to the airport.
Well, I am in Warsaw now. Got my luggage and went on, looking for my way to the city. More details in the next post.