Dec 312013
 

Normally, I wouldn’t make too big of a deal of yet another transatlantic with Lufthansa. I’ve posted many, many reviews of it. However, see, this time I jinxed it. I kept promising another Lufthansa first report and…the upgrade didn’t clear. I was to be stuck with the commoners…in business! ūüėČ Anyways, scroll back to 4 in the ungodly morning when my alarm woke me from my slumber. Well, it didn’t so much wake me as it did annoy me – I’d strategically put the phone on the other side of the room so I’d get up as quickly as possible, since I’d only given myself 30 minutes to get out the door.

Check out was quick, I think there was a shower that I don’t remember, I know there was a can of Red Bull I don’t remember…and I was off. I’d booked the hotel car, figuring there was no telling what a taxi would be like at this hour. I should have stuck with the taxi. My driver insisted on doing his best Nascar impression, gunning it at 140-150 kph the entire way down the highway, all the while telling me about his side job as Serbia’s most famous iPhone repairman. I kid you not. I suspect he had a lot more Red Bull than I did.

Got to airport way early, and check-in and passport were a total non-event. ¬†The agent harassed me about the weight of my carryon (around 12.5 kg) but eventually gave in as she wasn’t prepared to argue at this hour.

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…because EVERY airport needs a tree with Bambi!

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Dec 292013
 

After arriving and checking into my hotel, I headed out to dinner.  The choice was Lorenzo and Kakalamba, which got great reviews on TripAdvisor and sounded fun on top of it.

I’ll admit, when I walked in and saw this in the entryway I was a little scared:

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…and when I sat down and got the menu, I was even MORE scared:

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Dec 272013
 

Check-in, security, and immigration were a breeze in Podgorica. ¬†The airport is so small there’s no real gates, just one large room on the other side of immigration with multiple doors leading out to busses. ¬†There was a VIP lounge as well, but unfortunately (for some odd reason) Air Serbia had no agreement for business class passengers to use it. ¬†Yes, I said Air Serbia. ¬†So what happened to flying JAT? ¬†Well, for once, I trusted my travel agent (who knew JAT was gone) that I was JAT, but they’d actually rebranded several months prior to Air Serbia when Ethihad took a 49% ownership stake.

Air Serbia flight 173
Podgorica, Montenegro (TGD) to Belgrade, Serbia (BEG)
Depart 15:40, Arrive 16:30, Flight Time 0:50
Airbus A319-100 Registration YU-APE, Manufactured 2007, Seat 2A

15:40 came and went, and no sign of boarding, although the area leading to the door outside was a madhouse.  Finally 5 minutes after scheduled departure, the floodgates were open, and everyone madly rushed our plane:

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I was expecting the usual crappy Euro Business by this point, but it was proper 2×2 US-style seating up front…quite nice!

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Quickly was asked for a pre-departure, and I asked if by chance they had sparkling wine.  She went to the galley, and brought it on a tray with my glass to pour in front of me, and OMG it was Veuve!  Now THAT is seriously impressive on a 50 minute flight gate to gate!

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Nov 232013
 

Having just returned from 5 consecutive weekends on the west coast thanks to the United $10 fare sale, I was ready to be home. Seriously I was. Especially since I had 7 visas to sort for my New Years trip to Africa coming up. Work, however, had other plans for me.

No Thanksgiving this year, but rest assured I was going to have Turkey. As in the country, not the bird.

It actually started as a week-long trip to Tajikistan…and the easiest way there was through Istanbul. Then, a week in Moscow got added on. Now, mind you, last time I was in Moscow was 1988 when it was still part of the Soviet Union, and it was my 3rd country visited after Canada and the UK. I’m going to guess Moscow is a bit different 25 years later.

I’d planned on taking a few days of vacation after that, to visit 2 of my 3 remaining countries in Europe, when fate intervened I was needed in Montenegro. Score! This would also mean an overnight in Vienna. …and business would finish on Friday, allowing me a weekend connection in Serbia at no charge. That will leave poor little Andorra as my last country to visit in Europe.

I’m going to try and keep up with this in real time. Just managed to secure 10 visas in a little over 3 weeks, which is some sort of personal record, and especially impressive giving they included DR Congo, Angola, Russia, and several other places in West Africa where I’m headed in just five weeks! ¬†Then, it’s back home for a grand total of five days, before a few day Christmas with the family, and then off to West Africa for two+ weeks.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep up in real time. The flight routing is:

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Off we go!