May Travels: A Whirlwind Adventure-crazy month

May was a crazy month, packed with adventures, new experiences, and 29 flights through 16 airports with visits to 11 cities! Almost every city had its unique charm, and every flight offered a different story. I went from the furthest northern point of Spokane, Washington, USA (approximately 47.6588° N) to the southern city of Hobart, Tasmania, Australia (approximately 42.8821° S) via Portugal, Philippines, and Japan!

a map of the world with cities

I ran in my sixth Bloomsday Race in Spokane, visited friends in vibrant Seattle and bustling Dallas, got to know the charming city of Des Moines, explored the hidden gems of Omaha, attended a conference in a very changed Detroit, and chilled out in the very sunny and not so windy city of Chicago.

Portugal was a delightful mix of eating and running my way across two of my favourite cities: the historic Lisbon and the picturesque Porto.

Manila was its usual chaotic but friendly self, adding a touch of warmth to my travels.

A quick revisit to Osaka, which remains one of my least favourite cities, was paired with a trip to the beautiful Kobe and an exploration of the serene and historic Nara. I am not sure what it is about Osaka that leaves me cold?

Launceston was a perfect blend of work and play, with a fun run to raise funds for my research. Hobart also offered a fantastic opportunity to mix business with pleasure, catching up with friends amidst work commitments.

Which of those cities have you visited?

airplanes parked at an airport

May Airlines

  1. SWISS: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5) – Superlative
  2. Cathay Pacific: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5) – Exceptional
  3. TAP Air Portugal: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5) – Flawless
  4. Qantas Airways: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5/5) – Reliable
  5. Etihad Airways: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5/5) – Premium with glitches
  6. Alaska Airlines: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5) – Impressive
  7. Japan Airlines: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4/5) – Solid
  8. American Airlines: ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5) – Acceptable
  9. Jetstar Airways: ⭐⭐⭐ (2.5/5) – Average
  10. United Airlines: ⭐⭐ (2/5) – Underwhelming and awful

I had multiple enjoyable train rides across Japan, a very comfortable one from Lisbon to Porto, and a noisy, uncomfortable one from Detroit to Chicago. Amtrak could get some tips from multiple Jaoanese train companies on how to make the experience better.

It was a delight transiting the new Abu Dhabi airport and the ever-pleasant, reliable, and efficient Hong Kong International and the still excellent Denver airports. I was blown away by the United Airlines lounge there. The only good thing about my least favourite carrier.
Chicago and Sydney remain two of my least favourite airports. They are, of course, eclipsed by the ever-woeful Manila airport. That place is so bad, I have grown to enjoy its inefficiency, messiness, and chaos.

The question remains: Why is the TSA experience the worst security experience in the world? Other airports continually eclipse it. Could they learn from the great airports? How hard is it to have good signage, clear pictograms, announcements about the process, friendly greeters, and warm staff? Even gentle music could ease the stress. Flying can be a stressful, confusing business. The good airports make it less so. Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, and Seattle TSA checkpoints make it more stressful.

a man holding a glass of wine

Where are you off to next?

I am looking forward to the next month!

Safe travels, everyone!

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