The McDonnell-Douglas MD-11 – end of an era

KLM MD-11On October 25, 2014 KLM will operate the last commercial flight of the MD-11 passenger jet. KLM has been the only operator of the last large passenger trijet since 2012, with four of its former MD-11 fleet of eleven planes still flying. All four MD-11’s are currently exclusively operating the Amsterdam-Montreal and Amsterdam-Toronto routes. Although once a pretty common sight at any major airport, only 200 MD-11 planes have ever been built, 53 of which in an all-cargo configuration. Continue reading

Space City Baikonur – a travel guide

Baikonur_City_47There are a handful of places in the world that are on top of every space enthusiast’s bucket list. For the true space historian Baikonur has the top spot. This is the town where human’s voyage into space truly began, with the launch of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik 1 in 1957, quickly followed by the launch of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin in 1961. If these two historic facts are not enough to make you want to visit, then the fact that this is the only place in the world (apart from China) where humans are being launched into space today, should convince you. Baikonur embodies the great past of spaceflight, but still counts as the most important space port in the world today, 59 years after construction began. Continue reading

Flying the Lucky Tupolev

Airlinereporter-comRussia is a great destination for aviation history fans. Where airlines all over the world nowadays operate the same ‘boring’ Boeing and Airbus jets, many Russian airlines still operate some more ‘exotic’ planes. Similarly, many Russian airports boast interesting aircraft ‘graveyards’, showing planes that totally belong in aircraft musea. Taking a flight in Russia can lead to interesting surprises, like my story here: Continue reading

Moscow Space Sights

Moscow_Space_Sights_33Moscow is a bucket list destination for space travellers. It is the starting point for all real travellers to space, but it is also a great starting point for travellers interested in the history of space flight. Moscow was home to one of the founding fathers of modern space exploration. It was here where Sergei Korolev experimented with rockets as early as the 1930’s. His amateur rocketry club evolved into a leading global space industry that launched the first ever satellite in 1957, followed by the first human into orbit in 1961. Continue reading

A day in Moscow

Moscow_Citytrip_03When thinking of Moscow, I always had images of military parades, long speeches by uniformed leaders and large statues of communist working class heroes. It took 43 years before I finally set foot in the largest city of Europe, over 25 years after the fall of communism. What I discovered was a city far from my stereotypical perception.  Russia’s capital city is a true international metropolis, offering everything from the most expensive to the poorest neighborhoods in Europe. A far cry from the old communist days. It converted into one of the most capitalist cities I have visited, but friendly to the traveler. A surprisingly inviting citytrip destination. Continue reading

Scandinavia for kids – Norway

Scandinavia_with_kids_028Norway is one of the richest countries in the world. And if you discount the tiny city states that preceed it in the rankings, it is the richest country in the world. But in Norway this wealth is hardly visible on the street. It is hidden in all kinds of benefits to society, like pension funds, road maintenance, airports, hospitals and schools. Most of this wealth is created by oil, which is almost entirely sold to other countries, as the country itself runs completely on clean and abundant hydroelectric power. Norway is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, but that has nothing to do with its financial wealth… Continue reading

Scandinavia for kids – Denmark and Sweden

Scandinavia_with_kids_001Thinking about taking your kids to off the beaten track places in Europe? Think North! The Nordics have a lot to offer to kids all ages. None of the Scandinavian countries are on the classic European itineraries, which makes them a gem for those looking for authentic and adventurous experiences. Even more so when you think beyond the big cities of Copenhagen, Stockholm and Oslo. The best attraction in Denmark, Sweden and Norway is definitely mother nature. So if you and your kids are in for outdoor adventures, majestic landscapes, surprising history, modern culture, friendly people and great food, Scandinavia is the place to go. Continue reading