Over the Arctic: From Amsterdam to Whitehorse in 21 Hours

Our holiday ended yesterday with a 21-hour journey back home to the Yukon. I always pray for clear skies when flying over the Arctic, and I did get a couple of hours of good weather this time.

The day began late, and at 9:00am I watched a bit of the late rush-hour traffic pass below our hotel room window 🙂

Rush hour in Amsterdam
A few minutes later we were on our way to the massive Schiphol airport (AMS), to arrive 3 hours before our 13:00 flight direct to Vancouver. Last year, 49.8 million passengers went through AMS – that’s almost 3 times the number that Vancouver processed (17.0 million). From our downtown location to the airport, the taxi fare was just over 42 Euros.

Schiphol airport
The International Fund for Animal Welfare has a lot of signs around Schiphol asking people to not buy any sort of wildlife souvenir. They report some appalling examples that people buy: “While fewer than 50 wild tigers remain in China, more than 6,000 tigers are held captive on a few huge commercial farms where they are bred and then killed to make tiger-bone wine and other tonic products.” Tiger-bone wine – geez 🙁

I spotted KLM Asia’s Boeing 747-400 Combi PH-BFC, named “City of Calgary”, on the way by on a moving sidewalk, and went back for a couple of photos.

KLM Asia's Boeing 747-400 Combi PH-BFC, named City of Calgary
This is the plane that would take us to Vancouver, an 8-year-old Boeing 777-206ER named “Galapagos Islands”.

KLM Boeing 777-206ER named Galapagos Islands
I added a handful of new aircraft to my photo collection, including this 1999 Embraer EMB-145LR operated by Air France. This was shot as we started taxiing to the active runway.

1999 Embraer EMB-145LR operated by Air France
We taxied on and on and on…

…over a freeway…

…and smaller roads and a canal before finally taking off 20 minutes later. We certainly taxied a few kilometers.

Climbing out from AMS.

The mouth of the North Sea Canal at IJmuiden. The obvious industrial activity is the Hoogovens steelworks.

The mouth of the North Sea Canal at IJmuiden
We went into a thick cloud layer for a while, getting into clear air at 2:30pm off the northwestern coast of Scotland. I believe those great beaches down there are in the Outer Hebrides.

I believe that’s the St. Kilda archipelago, the furthest-west of the Outer Hebrides.

The Scottish clearing was very short-lived (perhaps 10 minutes), then we went back into the clouds until reaching the west coast of Greenland at 5:30pm. This is along the shore of Disko Bay.

Looking south across Disko Bay.

Back into the clouds crossing Davis Strait, we popped out again over Baffin Island, to see these incredible cliffs.

Cliffs on Baffin Island

Cliffs on Baffin Island
Our track into the Canadian Arctic, about half-way up Baffin Island.

Baffin Island
A particularly fine glacier seen just 2 minutes after the GPS screen above.

Glacier on Baffin Island
I just never get tired of the view. I think of it as rather like reading a book written in calligraphy, in Latin – I only understand a little bit of what I’m reading, but its beautiful in any case. From the broad view…

…to the medium view…

…to the closeup, sometimes almost abstract view, I just plain enjoy it.

Our KLM flight was very uncomfortable – the cabin was far too warm, and the plane had no air vents to even give us a bit of a breeze. We reached Vancouver at 1:20pm, then had to wait until 6:00 for our flight to Whitehorse. By the time we reached Whitehorse I was tired and grumpy and was in no mood for the parking lot ticket machine to not work – the security guard let us out at no cost.

So that’s it – an amazing trip is over, it will take me weeks to properly digest and file the paper and photo memory-joggers, and our next little trip, to Kelowna to see my Dad, is only a month away. I hope that you enjoyed travelling with us 🙂


Over the Arctic: From Amsterdam to Whitehorse in 21 Hours — 12 Comments

  1. I really enjoyed following your trip. I tried to keep a simple log of my activities once and failed miserably so I appreciate how much work you put into this documentation. I enjoy your trips in Yukon also. Keep up the good work.

  2. Your photos from the plane bring back such memories of my trip to canada – must go and dig out the slides again.

    I have friends who lived in Amsterdam for several years, and to see the places and pictures of the things they described was wonderful. Thank you Murray, it has been a very pleasurable experience travelling with you.

  3. Hi Murray, simply loved your last photos taken from the air. What beautiful scenery or icy mountains and glaciers…….what king of zoom lens did you use ?

  4. Thanks for all of your comments 🙂

    Maureen, I used a Canon 18-200 for the entire trip. I bought the lens just before the trip in the hope that I could use it for everything, and never did wish that I had another (I left my 75-300 at home, and never even wished that I’d brought it).