Mahe, Seychelles (SEZ) to Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF)
Common route right? Lots of people just happen to fly From Seychelles to Bulgaria 😉 There was a route with two stops, but I chose to add a third one in so I could maximize my time on nicer airlines. However, even before I got started, there was some rather serious drama. Flight didn’t leave Seychelles until mid-Afternoon, so after waking up, I went for a 5 mile or so run on the beach. Absolutely amazing running right along the water lapping on the beach, some serious waves crashing…it was definitely paradise! Got back to the room famished, pounded over a liter of water, and gave in to the diet coke in the minibar. It was listed as 500ml for $7 which was a ripoff, but I was willing to pay it. However, the can was only 300ml. I figured I’d take my changes. Make note…
After a shower, I packed my bags, and when leaning over to put the scuba gear away, heard a loud POP in my back, and collapsed to the floor. Fortunately, I was near the bed so I could break my fall, but still scary. Sitting there dazed for maybe 15 seconds, I finally used the bed to lift myself up to sitting and assess the damage. Didn’t feel awful, just really stiff and swollen, and I wasn’t going to miss my flight, so popped some serious anti-inflammatories and called the buggy to take me to check out.
Was honest about the mini-bar, and the agent called the manager on duty. He offered to reduce the Diet Coke to $6.50. Let me get this straight…it’s 40% smaller than promised, and you offer me approximately 8% off. I asked the agent to please call him back and thank him for his extreme generosity, and to please let him know he has an unhappy platinum member whose stay will always be remembered for this act at check-out. I only honestly wanted a fair price (even $5 would have worked) but the sarcasm was duly noted, and the item was removed completely. Above and beyond, tho a bit disappointed I had to go through such extremes.
Taxi came for the airport, and the driver requested 600 Rupees. I was in a negotiating mood at this point, and had put all but 500 rupees to the hotel bill….so I offered 500. He took it immediately when I said it was all I had, which I was mildly proud of, considering I’d paid 600 for the airport.
Check-in at the airport 30 min later was pretty painless, and immigration was pleasantly air conditioned, and soon I was in the lounge. No decent food to speak of, but a few Seychellois rums and diet coke eased a bit of back pain, and the slow internet was adequate for some browsing and e-mail checking. Soon, it was time to board!
Ethiopian Airlines Flight 878
Mahé, Seychelles (SEZ) to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADD)
Departure 16:25, Arrival 19:40 Next Day, Flight Time: 4:15
Boeing 737-700, Registration ET-ALK, Manufactured 2003
The most notable thing about this flight is that business only had 3 people in it, and economy might have been 33% full. The route had just started a week before, so maybe it will take time to come up to speed. There was a rather cranky family that boarded at the last second, and basically demanded to the station manager to be upgraded, and he gave in. I’d seen them in the lounge, so assume they were some sort of local VIPs, Ethopian frequent flyers, etc. To their credit, although they were a bit demanding, the small child was perfectly behaved, and having an extra 3 people in the 20 seats was no big deal at all.
The other strange fact was just how early we were going to be! I guess everyone got boarded early, so why not!
Upon boarding, one of the stranger amenity kits I’ve ever seen was waiting for us!
Pre-departure beverages were offered after door was already closed, and we’d started to taxi, and of course it was bubbly. I asked for a refill since the taxi was a bit long, but was told “NO! Only one!” Hmmm, ok! We’ll be airborne soon enough.
Takeoff had some stunning views, and we did a really quick 180 almost immediately after takeoff, and got a great view of the airport from above:
Dinner came quickly, with Ethiopian’s typical airplane goldfish crackers, and a glass of Ethiopian red wine which was perfectly…adequate.
The starter…I honestly don’t remember what it was, or what I did with so much rice and couscous!
Ethiopian main…I went with the meat, which was a bit disappointing that there was no local option. Oh well…it was pretty tasty, but nothing memorable.
The desert and cheese, however, were absolutely awesome!
As noted above, landing was a full hour early. We taxied past the local plane graveyard (this is still Africa, ya know!) and to our remote parking stand where we got a bus to the terminal.
Dumped off into transit, and there was not a soul in sight to direct us. Eventually managed to find the lounge, where a surly agent told me no, you can’t get your onward boarding pass. Deal with that at the gate when you board. Uhhh…ok. You’re sure I’ll have a seat…right? Yes, of course! Go sit down!
Lounge was nice and empty, and I finally tucked into some tasty Ethiopian food:
I will confess to having at least three helpings…the lady doing the serving was rather excited I enjoyed it so much, and kept bringing me more, all the while giving disapproving looks to all the other westerners who looked afraid. The lounge started empty, but soon was absolutely packed as other flights from around Africa came in to connect to Ethiopian’s European and US Departures. I chatted up a guy headed to DC on the Ethiopian flight who’d just spent a few weeks in Rwanda, and was “over Africa.” Sad.
Security a couple hours later was quick, the gate agent was extremely friendly, said the load in business was only 50%, and of course she’d keep the seat next to me empty. Five minutes before the door closed, I learned she was just telling me what I wanted to hear. No matter, it was barely a 75 minute flight to Khartoum.
Lufthansa Flight 599
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADD) to Khartoum, Sudan (KRT)
Departure 22:55, Arrival 00:40 Next Day, Flight Time: 1:45
Airbus A330-300, Registration D-AIKC, Manufactured 2004
Small snack was offered and one drink, and then I dozed for an hour, managing a good deal of sleep. Nothing exciting at all to report. Completely uneventful flight.
Khartoum, Sudan (KRT) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA)
Departure 01:55, Arrival 7:00 Next Day, Flight Time: 6:05
Airbus A330-300, Registration D-AIKC, Manufactured 2004
After the door closed after nearly an hour on the ground during which only one person boarded in business class, I moved back a few rows to get an empty seat next to me while I slept. Another small snack, couple glasses of wine, and I was out absolutely cold for four hours. Hooray! Woke up and had some muesli and Diet Coke, and we were landing Frankfurt right on time. Lufthansa’s slanty seats aren’t great for sleeping, but more than adequate, and I was very glad I hadn’t wasted the 30,000 miles to upgrade to first. The flight was too short to enjoy the meal, and I slept just fine in business, so it would have been a total waste.
First stop was security and immigration, where I was grilled why in the world I was going through passport control when I had another flight. Um, duh, STARBUCKS! My first complete immigration conversation completely in (admittedly pathetic) German, and stamp stamp I was through, and in Heaven:
FYI, lest you think I’m a total junkie, she misheard me and made it hot at first, and had to remake it iced. I only drank part of the hot one!
Off to passport control, lounge, shower, water, and it was time to board!
Lufthansa Flight 1426
Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) to Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF)
Departure 9:40, Arrival 12:50, Flight Time: 2:10
Airbus A319, Registration D-AILM, Manufactured 1997
This flight was empty in business as well, with only 3 people in 12 seats. Not much to report, but despite being early I decided my body clock was off enough I could enjoy the best part of Lufthansa!
I believe I was coaxed into a second, and crossing the Alps, who can really say no? Landing was right on time, and it was time to explore yet another new country: Bulgaria!
I think I know the cafe you went to in the Ethiopian Airport, cute girls?