The excitement of my 3 Cards, 3 Continents journey reached new heights on day 2. For those unfamiliar with this thrilling adventure, Frequent Miler, known for its love of fun and competitive team challenges, has set the stage for an epic showdown. In this unique competition, Greg, Nick, and Stephen are racing to design the most extraordinary three-continent dream trip, utilizing the welcome bonuses from three credit cards.
Unveiling the Adventure
Before diving into the heart of day 2’s escapades, let’s shed light on the essence of the 3 Cards, 3 Continents challenge. It’s all about crafting a dream itinerary, fueled by the enticing welcome bonuses provided by three credit cards. This year’s participants, Greg, Nick, and Stephen, are on a quest to curate a once-in-a-lifetime global expedition.
An Odyssey Fueled by World Records
I teased in my previous post that my journey would embrace the theme of world records, and one of the highlights was experiencing the world’s shortest scheduled flight, a mere 90 seconds in duration. However, my day was far from one-dimensional. Here’s a recap of the thrilling events from day 2 of my adventure.
Northern Lights Executive Lounge
The day began with my first-ever flights with Loganair and a departure from Aberdeen Airport. Uncertain about the check-in and security procedures, I erred on the side of caution and arrived at the airport nearly two hours before my flight. To my surprise, the process was swift, and I found myself with an hour and a half to spare.
Despite being a relatively small airport, Aberdeen boasts the Northern Lights Executive Lounge, a Priority Pass participant. The lounge, while not massive, offered a cozy haven given the airport’s size and the limited number of visitors. A bar stocked with a fine selection of Scotch whisky awaited guests, but I opted for a hearty breakfast.
The lounge offered a breakfast menu, allowing guests to choose up to three items. I was torn between the bacon roll and sausage roll but ultimately decided on the latter, accompanied by a steaming pot of tea. It was an impeccable start to the day.
Loganair Flight – Aberdeen To Kirkwall
My journey to Papa Westray, where I would experience the world’s shortest flight, began with a Loganair flight from Aberdeen to Kirkwall, the primary airport serving the Orkney Islands. The flight, operated by a Saab 340, featured a 2-1 cabin configuration, resembling some US puddle-jumpers in size.
Unique tartan-patterned headrests added a charming touch to the cabin. Despite the brief 30-40 minute duration, the flight attendant offered a snack and beverage service. Passengers could choose from tea, coffee, or water, accompanied by shortbread or a Tunnock’s chocolate/caramel wafer. The snack was surprisingly delightful, surpassing my expectations.
Kirkwall Airport presented a diminutive terminal building, making it the smallest airport I had ever encountered. Three gates, with Gates 1 and 2 serving Scottish mainland destinations and Gate 3 for inter-island flights, comprised the airport’s extent. Amenities included a cafe, a bar, a gift shop, and free Wi-Fi.
Kirkwall Airport was also the gateway to the Highland Park Distillery, which I had hoped to visit during my layover. However, tours were fully booked. Although my return layover offered another opportunity, I could only secure a morning tour, which conflicted with my schedule.
However, the bar compensated for the missed distillery visit by featuring Highland Park 12 Year Scotch. I indulged in a shot to complement my surprisingly substantial sandwich, knowing that my flight to Papa Westray was still hours away.
Loganair Flight – Kirkwall To Papa Westray
Following lunch, it was time to board my flight to Papa Westray, and the experience was unique in itself. A Britten-Norman BN2B-26 Islander plane, with only eight passenger seats, awaited my journey.
The flight path included a stopover at North Ronaldsay, the northernmost of the Orkney Islands, to drop off a couple of passengers. From there, we continued to Papa Westray, landing around 2:10 pm.
Papa Westray Airport, even smaller than Kirkwall, greeted me with its compact building. Despite my flight continuing to Westray immediately, I booked a later flight to allow time for exploring Papa Westray.
Exploring Papa Westray
Papa Westray, measuring a mere four miles in length and one mile in width, beckoned with its charm and intrigue. With approximately 2.5 hours to explore, I embarked on a journey to discover the island’s wonders.
Knap of Howar, dating back to 3500-2900 BC, welcomed me as my first stop. These Neolithic homes predate even the Pyramids, remaining hidden beneath the sands of time until their discovery in 1929. Excavations unveiled pottery, bones of extinct great auks, tools, grinding stones, and more.
Knap of Howar is an open site, allowing visitors to enter the buildings. While initially puzzled by the decision to construct homes on the cliff’s edge, I soon realized their strategic placement offered shelter from the relentless North Sea winds. It was an awe-inspiring glimpse into the lives of people who lived over 4,500 years ago.
Next, I encountered a World War I & II memorial, a solemn reminder of the island’s contribution to the world wars. Even remote places like Papa Westray were not untouched by the devastating impact of these conflicts.
Further exploration led me to St Boniface Kirk, a site with origins dating back to the 6th century BC. The current church building, built in the 1200s and modified in the 1700s, stood as a testament to history. It remains open for worship and is a piece of living history on the island.
RSPB North Hill Reserve, a birdwatcher’s paradise, was my final stop. Although I hoped to catch a glimpse of puffins, my visit coincided with their mid-August departure. Despite my lack of bird-watching luck, the cabin at the hill’s summit provided a breathtaking view of the sea.
Loganair Flight – Papa Westray To Westray
The highlight of my Papa Westray exploration was taking the world’s shortest scheduled flight from Papa Westray to Westray. Although the flight was scheduled for two minutes, it felt more like 90 seconds in the air. The experience was exhilarating, and I documented it for those eager to share the adventure.
Accommodations on Westray were limited, given the island’s size and budget constraints. I opted for The Barn at Chalmersquoy, described as a hostel but offering private rooms. My room, priced at £35 (~$40), included a shared bathroom, with only hand soap provided.
Savoring Local Delights
The evening took a culinary turn as I indulged in fish and chips from JACKS Chippy at Pierowall Fish. JACKS Chippy, open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays, offered cod and chips, accompanied by a Tunnock’s toffee swirl ice cream and a can of Lilt. It was a delightful taste of local cuisine.
Scotland’s association with whiskey beckoned, and I seized the opportunity to commemorate my earlier whisky experience on the Isle of Arran. Duty-Free offered miniature Scotch whiskey sets, and I selected a three-pack gift set of Talisker, alongside a miniature from Glenlivet.
As you read this, I have bid farewell to Westray and embarked on the next leg of my journey, taking me closer to my next continent.
Stay tuned for more updates as my 3 Cards, 3 Continents adventure continues, promising more exploration, world records, and memorable experiences. Frequent Miler’s challenge is a testament to the thrill of discovery, the joy of competition, and the boundless wonders of the world.