KIEV – International Mystery Destination 2018
The Yellow Brick Road International Mystery Journey is finally here.
We are heading to Kiev, Ukraine!
My group is currently enjoying the inflight service on board an Austrian Airlines 767 aircraft. After 8hrs and 15 minutes we will arrive in Vienna. We then have 80 minutes to make our connecting flight to Kiev.
I admit the last couple of days have been a little stressful. Who would imagine in the middle of April that we would be still contending with winter weather – ice and snow.
When I checked into the Hilton Hotel, Toronto Airport early last evening the staff informed me that their occupancy had quickly doubled due to the number of cancelled flights at Pearson Airport. I met frustrated passengers who were going to have to wait a few days before getting to their destination.
Luckily for my group our Austrian Airlines 767 flight left on-time today. Yesterday it was 90 minutes late and the flight was cancelled 2 days ago due to the icy weather that has plagued Southern Ontario.
I originally was going to come into Toronto today but when I heard there was snow in the forecast I decided that I better come in early. Luckily I did, because an accident this morning on highway 401 delayed traffic for hours.
Many of you will remember Mark, the Canadian Sales rep for UniWorld Cruises. He has presented at many of my travel shows. Last night he invited me for dinner and shared his knowledge about the Ukraine. He has visited the country 5 times and absolutely loves it. Thank you Mark – I learned a great deal from you.
I met all my passengers at 2pm this afternoon in the International Departure area at Pearson Airport. I admit I was a little anxious because this is my first “International” Yellow Brick Road Mystery Tour. I’ve run many mystery coach tours over the years but this was my first one involving an International flight. Were my passengers going to be excited when they heard where we were going?
I handed everyone an envelope which contained a note plus their e-ticket and then I announced when they could open them. It felt like Christmas Morning – I could feel the anticipation and excitement. I then saw smiles and expressions of amazement. Not one of my passengers has been to the Ukraine – a new destination for everyone.
Almost everyone that booked this mystery journey has travelled with me in the past and for months they have been guessing possible destinations. In fact Tim was certain he knew where we were going. He spent hours researching and on the recent Galapagos Island Journey he was certain he knew our destination. I of course knew he was wrong.
For my first International Yellow Brick Road Mystery Tour I felt it was important to pick a destination that most of my travellers had never been too so I did all kinds of research and finally picked the Ukraine.
After spending time in the Toronto Premium Lounge (a Travel With Bradley perk) we boarded the Austrian Airlines 767.
Soon after we reached cruising altitude beverages and snacks (from Italy) arrived.
Dinner followed – choice of a moist chicken breast with mashed potatoes and vegetable ratatouille or vegetarian pasta. The chicken was very flavourable and the potatoes were buttery. The coleslaw had a bit of a zing and the chocolate cake was light and luscious – just like you would expect in Vienna. Impressive for airline food.
A jumbo muffin with beverages was served before our arrival in Vienna.
Once we got off the plane in Vienna it felt like we were walking through a maze but I leaded the group – finally we arrived at security then our gate. After a 5 minute wait we boarded coaches and headed to an Austrian Air Airbus A320 aircraft for the 90 minute flight to Kiev. A snack and beverages were served on board.
We are all impressed with Austrian Airlines – great job!
After we retrieved our luggage in Kiev we met Vincent from Edmonton, along with our local hostess and driver. All of them were wearing “Travel With Bradley” polo shirts – what a great surprise. We couldn’t wish for better hosts – my passengers were asking me how I find these wonderful people in destinations all over the world. Vincent is one-of-a-kind – after just 1 day I know I will be working with him on future departures in the future.
A delicious luncheon was served at a lovely restaurant overlooking Independence Square in the downtown area.
We also toured the beautiful core of Kiev – filled with people, very lively, stately communist architecture.
We arrived at our exceptional hotel, the Hyatt Regency at 530pm. Many rate it the best in Kiev. It lives up to its 5 star status – a very classy place. I so appreciate the heated marble on the bathroom floor and the rain shower head in my hotel room.
Dinner was great fun. The restaurant was located in a picturesque park. It was packed with patrons. We enjoyed a tasty salad that reminded me so much the ones my Grandmother use to serve. The vegetables are not genetically modified here so they taste like they should. Our main course was a scrumptious Chicken Kiev as we are in Kiev, with mashed potatoes. Two thin crepes – one filled with apple the other filled with a sweet cottage cheese was our dessert . The entertainers kept us clapping. Since we are tired the wine made us giddy.
We should all sleep extremely well tonight.
Its been an exceptional first day at our International Yellow Brick Road Mystery Tour Destination – Kiev!
We enjoyed a picture perfect weather day too – hoping it continues tomorrow.
—- sorry, my photos are not transferring to my blog – I was able to post photos on Facebook today (Bradley Walters and Travel With Bradley). I’ll get caught up with posting photographs to this blog when we hopefully come across more powerful WI-FI