“Reykjavík to Scotland and on…
Jirra, I can’t really even remember from where I last posted. I only vaguely remember having a lovely birthday day in Reykjavík!
We asked for “sight-seeing” over the volcano on the way out of Iceland and were enthusiastically invited to sight-see as we wished – low-level, inside of the Keflavik International CTR. Real “Land of Fire and Ice” stuff. Just so civilized. And then gorgeous, isolated farms with deep green fields and black sand beaches, ice and steaming geysers behind, the whole way along the Iceland south coast.
More tailwinds to Wick, with lovely Scot’s accent on the radio and a photo of JP in the FBO – They must have very poor judgment! We filled up and headed south, planning Headcorn for an early departure to France. Pretty much en route, we decided to pop in at Sling Central in the UK, Top Farm, to relinquish our dinghy, dry suits and HF radio. It was wonderful to arrive to a welcoming committee of Tim Hardy, our UK Distributor, James Bently, of Eva’s Field, now Top Farm, Sling mechanic par excellence, Andy Beggin, Sling builder, with his beautifully-chromed Sling, and Jerry – Sling UK 7 day builder team member, AME and Sling maintenance expert.
Following a hot cuppa, we set out for Headcorn, skirting London to the East. The place was deserted and it was quite a mission to find accommodation, eventually in the Maidstone Days Inn.
Saturday represented something of the ridiculous to the sublime. We awoke in the pretty grotty “Days Inn” hotel, Maidstone, found our way to Headcorn, refueled, headed for France and didn’t stop until we got to Portorož, Slovenia. We were definitely the only people crossing the Alps VFR (not that that’s strictly correct, in the true sense of the definition). Anyhow, European ATC were just so super cool. It’s clear that their view is that they do their job, giving you all the help they can and that you do yours. No, “Please confirm ZU-SHW that you’re VFR” or anything like that – they’re far too civilized for such irrelevant inquiries.
After having crossed hundreds of nm of dead flat northern France, we got ourselves over a layer of cloud. The EFIS reflected some mountains ahead, so we climbed to 13,500 feet to clear them, in a great cathedral of cloud, often inside of it, and in pretty heavy rain. The Garmin showed where everything was, but of course, we could see nothing. Breaking out into a gap somewhere in southern Switzerland, to massive peaks and ridges left and right, many apparently towering above us. Andrea was so overcome by the drama and beauty that I could see tears running down her cheeks.
On we went through the French, Swiss, Austrian and Italian Alps, out over the coast, past Venice and down to Portorož, a narrow section of Slovenia between Trieste, Italy to the north, and Croatia to the south. The airport (and our accommodation) was recommended by Kathrin, the German pilot we’d met in Narsarsuaq, and what a great recommendation it’s proven to be. We’re already refueled and ready for Greece. But today, we’re on a scooter and exploring Portorož and Piran. Last night, we had what I consider the finest restaurant meal I’ve ever eaten – Gostisce Ribic, Portorož. Come here if you ever get the chance – under the olive trees just off the beach. And with a hedgehog and a great big fat cat under the table to pick up the scraps!
We now head for Milos, Greece, at which our kids have arrived and are awaiting us. To fly in and buzz them in Serifos, just north of Milos and en route, is going to be an incredible relief. I’ve been quite focused these past 3 weeks (we left Jhb, Sunday 17 July) – Just contemplating the prospect of getting it all right to arrive in Greece, via Oshkosh, in a prototype aircraft, in 22 days. I can hardly believe every single element has pretty much panned out, including almost 20,000 nm of tailwinds quite literally all the way. It’s still 707 nm to Milos but it’s all down the Croatian, Montenegran, Albanian and Greek coastlines, so it feels easy. We’ve got a car and a ferry booked in Milos, to get us to Serifos and it all just feels surreal to be here on the Mediterranean. We’ll do one more post when we arrive in Greece and then I’m afraid it’s an 8-day break before ZU-SHW moves on! More details of that day after tomorrow!