September 4 – Rome Airport to Los Angeles, California (10580 km, 6574 miles)

September 4 Route Map – Rome to London
September 4 Route Map – London to Los Angeles

Well, this is my last day in Europe. I got up at 6:00 am and got packed and had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. When I carted my boxed up bike through the lobby and out to the shuttle bus, everyone around was staring at it, and me. But maybe it was just because of the way I boxed the bike – completely wrapped in cardboard except for the seat, which stuck up out of the top of the box and served as a nice carrying handle.

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This is something I've never seen before - chewable toothbrushes. Just another example of how the Europeans are ahead of the U.S. in some ways. This was at the Rome airport. ^

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I got to the British Airways check-in desk and had my two panniers and bike checked as baggage, but the agent told me I had to get the bike wrapped. For security reasons, at the Rome airport they require that certain large pieces of luggage be wrapped in plastic – it’s the kind of industrial-size plastic wrap that is used to wrap cargo on pallets. So I had to leave my place in the check-in line and go stand in the line for the wrapping. There were two attendants and when they say my bike they looked at each other it was a special thing to get to wrap it, and it looked like they both wanted the job, but one eventually won out. I think he wanted to prove to his buddy how much of an expert he was, so he quickly (and not too carefully) put my bike on the rotating stand and hit the switch. He got about two complete wraps before the bike slipped on the stand and got jammed between the stationary part of the machine and the rotating stand. It put a nice bend in the box, but what happened inside it, I don’t know. I’ll have to wait until I get home to see if something was bent.

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View of Genova, Italy. My bike route was through the mountains from right to left, to the coast in the center of town, and then along the coast to the bottom left of the photo. ^

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View of the Rhone Valley in Switzerland, looking toward the northwest. The glacier-covered peaks are the Berner Oberland Alps. The switchbacking road in the lower right corner leads up to Grimselpass. ^

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Here's a closer view of the road up to Grimselpass. It was a fun ride down from the pass on this road. Location of the road: 46.562850° North, 8.355482° East.^

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This is the central part of Switzerland, looking west along the Rhone Valley. France is in the distance beyond the snowy peaks. ^

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The Eiger, with the village of Grindelwald in the cloud-free valley to the right and below the Eiger. ^

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Somewhere over central Germany. The layout of European villages and farm fields is, I think, more visually appealing than the grid pattern that we have in the U.S. ^

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As with the flight from Los Angeles to London at the beginning of the trip, today’s flight from London to Los Angeles was in First Class on a British Airways Boeing 747-400. Yesterday when I checked online on the status of the flight I noticed that there were only five other people in First (there are 14 seats total) and that seat 1K was available. The two seats in Row 1 (1A and 1K) are normally reserved for BA’s elite high-mileage passengers or for VIPs, and they are ranked as the best seats on the plane by Seatguru.com. So I was very surprised when the British Airways website offered me the chance to change my seat from 2K to 1K, which I did immediately. And I’m glad I did. Seat 1A was unoccupied which meant that I had about 20% of the entire First Class cabin all to myself! I had a space about 12 feet from side to side and about 7 feet from front to back, with three windows on each side, right up in the very front of the plane. What a way to fly, especially for an 11 hour non-stop flight. I’m sure I’ll never get another deal like that ever again.

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After a quick 1 hour and 45 minute flight from Rome to London, we landed at Heathrow Airport. Terminal 5, shown here, is British Airways' main terminal for international flights. ^

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I doubt that I'll ever have another boarding pass like this one. British Airways, Boeing 747-400, First Class, Seat 1K, 11 hours non-stop from London to Los Angeles, all during daytime, with fantastic views of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. It was the best flight I've ever had. ^

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My ride from London to Los Angeles. My seat is at the first three windows. ^

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Here's the front of the First Class cabin. There are only two seats in the first row - my seat is on the right, the other one was unoccupied, so I essentially had this entire space to myself. ^

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British Airways 747-400, Seat 1K. The main seat reclines into a fully flat 6.5 foot long bed. There's a second smaller seat in front where a companion can sit and share dinner on the fold out table that's stored in the console beneath the the windows. ^

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A person can really get used to the service in First Class. This was the first of two appetizers, followed by the main course, and then dessert, which was then followed by cheese, fruit, and sandwiches. And of course, there was plenty of champagne and wine. ^

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Appetizer #2 - as described in the British Airways menu, "Twice-baked cheddar souffle with chive pesto and confit of courgette with sage." Does "twice-baked" mean this is just a warmed up leftover? I don't know, but it sure was tasty. ^

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Main course - "Beef Wellington with brandy, sauteed wild mushrooms and Parmentier potatoes." ^

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Dessert was "Scottish raspberry mille-feuille with raspberry compote, nougatine, raspberry and balsamic jus." Yummy! ^

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Unlike the flight from LA to London, which was mostly at night, today’s flight from London to LA is completely during daytime, due to going west instead of east. It was therefore very conducive to sightseeing and I was hoping the pilot would take the great circle route over the southern tip of Greenland, and that it would be clear. It turned out that we went several hundred miles north of the great circle route, which put us on a route over a much wider portion of Greenland. It was completely cloudy over Iceland and to the west toward Greenland, and as we approached the east coast of Greenland the clouds rose in elevation until we were engulfed in the them at 34,000 feet. But fortunately it didn’t last long and I was able to get fantastic views of the western half of the Greenland ice sheet and the outlet glaciers and fjords on the west coast. A bit further on the clouds completely disappeared and I had great views of the glaciers and icecaps on Baffin Island. What a spectacular landscape! But what was hard for me to believe was that everyone else in the First Class cabin had their window shades down. They didn’t give a hoot about seeing one of the most amazing sights on the planet out their windows. How can people be so uninterested in what’s around them? I don’t understand it.

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What's this? It's a photo of the massive Greenland ice cap. But there's more than just snow and ice in this photo. Near the center of the photo you'll see what looks like a speck of dust on the lens, but it's not a speck of dust - it's the Dye-2 Distant Early Warning (DEW) Line radar station. This is one of 58 long-range radar stations constructed by the United States between 1955 and 1960. The stations were located in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, and Iceland. Their purpose was to provide early warning of Soviet bombers and intercontinental missles launched from the USSR. All DEW line stations have been decommissioned. Dye-2 has subsequently been used as a base for scientific research, including the recovery of deep ice cores for climate studies. Click the photo to get a better view of the station. ^

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View of the Greenland ice sheet. The blue features are simply meltwater on the surface which form stream channels. The wide, grey-colored features were likely formed by wind acting on, and altering, the structure and/or orientation of the snow crystals. ^

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A view of supraglacial streams on the Greenland ice sheet. ^

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Here's a closer view of the previous photo. ^

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A lake on the Greenland ice sheet. I don't know exactly how big this lake is, but I guess it's probably 300-500 meters long. ^

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This is near the western edge of the reenland ice sheet, at Evighedsfjord (Fjord of Eternity). The prominent arcuate bands in the glaciers are wave ogives, which typically form at the base of steep icefalls and are quite common on glaciers around the world. ^

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A closer view of the wave ogives. Location: 66.141552° North, 51.533270° West. ^

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This glacier is named Kangerlussuatsiaq. It flows southward from the Greenland ice sheet and terminates against an island in Evighedsfjorden. Location: 65.995792° North, 52.836738° West. ^

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A small alpine glacier in southwest Greenland. The contour-like banding patterns are caused by ablation which has exposed multiple annual accumulation layers in the snow and ice. ^

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View of the glaciers on Baffin Island, Canada. Greenland and the northern Canadian islands are a spectacular landscape. I couldn't believe that everyone else in the First Class cabin had their window shades down. I just don't understand how people can be so dis-interested in the world around them. ^

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The plane arrived in Los Angeles at 6:00 pm and by the time I got through Customs and retrieved my checked baggage it was about 8:00 pm. Since my flight from LA to Anchorage isn’t until tomorrow at 3:30 pm I hopped on the first hotel shuttle bus I saw and ended up at the Holiday Inn near the airport for the night.

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4 Responses to “September 4 – Rome Airport to Los Angeles, California (10580 km, 6574 miles)”

  1. Paul Zallek Says:

    Scott, I hope you made it home to Anchorage O.K. Congratulations on a successful trip!

  2. Paul Zallek Says:

    Scott: Do you have any adventures planned for this year? Paul

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