The View From Above

How often do you ask for a window seat when flying? I suppose IÂ’m like a little boy still filled at the wonder of flying, always requesting one when the chance arises. It boggles me how many people will close their shade as soon as the plane takes off, only to open it upon landing.

IÂ’m definitely a geographical nerd in love with maps and seeing the world from any angle. When I was young, I spent hours looking at atlases memorizing the contours of coastline, names of exotic cities, and the shapes and proportions of places I had yet to see.

I was thinking of the phenomenal sights that IÂ’ve witnessed while most other passengers were sleeping. Here are just a few of them:

* The entire length of Africa, from the brick red sands of the north, through the lush Congo, the scrub land, and finally the cape peninsula in which Cape Town is nestled – 9 hours over one continent.

* The early morning sun rising over Italy, shimmering over both the east and west coasts at the same time – displaying just how small the country actually is, or just how high we really were.

* Eastern Canada locked in a frigid mass of snow and ice, but gleaming in the radiance of the blue sky above.

* Ireland from 35,000 feet, rocky and barren, yet spectacularly green, and appearing as nothing more than two large islands in the churning Atlantic.

* Greenland, with its lack of any noticeable cities or communities, appeared as a flat plain of pure white snow with little in the way of civilization evident from the skies.

* The simplicity of the Dutch canal system and the resulting fields of crops, producing a truly peaceful scene.

* Central Paris, and the Arc de Triumph visible from the air.

* The majestic beauty of the Austrian Alps at 5am, covered in January snow, with valleys of isolated farms and villages straight out of a childrenÂ’s story book.

* And most recently, the sunset catching the peak of Mt. Fuji; appearing as if someone had pasted a Japanese watercolor upon my window for only my eyes to see. This final site was truly awe inspiring, witnessing the scale and proximity of this legendary mountain so perfectly symmetrical with Tokyo not so far off in the distance.