Jun 092012
 

This is going to be a short one…it seems when I get to the end of big trips that I get less motivated to write. Of course, some of that has to do with familiarity. Normally, my trips end with a transatlantic on United, and I’ve done so many of these by now that it’s just routine and I don’t feel compelled to take many notes or pictures. This one isn’t much different, but there will be some upcoming! I’ve accepted American’s challenge, so will likely be trying lots of new airlines in 2012 and 2013, so there will be a bit of excitement!

Up early in the morning, and no coffee in the room means I stumbled through check-out, no trouble at all, used most of my remaining cash to pay down the room, and was off to the airport no problem at all. My already good impression of Bulgaria was reinforced, and soon was at check-in.

Check-in was not too friendly, but no biggie. Checked all the way through to IAD, bags checked, and was off to security. Line was a bit long with no premium line, but still was through in under 15 minutes. Maybe I’m too laid-back lately, but 15 minutes seemed reasonable to me.

Stopped in the lounge that Lufthansa sent me to, and it was adequate. It had an awesome espresso machine, diet coke, and comfy chairs. Not too much else I could want! Waited until 30 minutes before the flight, then walked the 3-4 minutes to the gate.

Lufthansa Flight 1707
Sofia, Bulgaria (SOF) to Munich, Germany (MUC)
Departure 7:15, Arrival 8:15, Flight Time: 2:00
Airbus A320, Registration D-AIPR, Manufactured 1990
Seat 3F

Got to the gate, and the queue to board was down the hall, and over 50 people deep. Grrr! There was no marked line, so being early, hyper-caffeinated by this point (did I mention the awesome espresso machine?), I just walked to the front trying hard to ignore the stares….and the one person who DID say something I just responded to in Russian. I figure nobody likes the Russians in Bulgaria, so it was safe ūüėČ Gate agent apologised for no separate line, beeped me in, and boarding was quick.

Continue reading »

Jun 072012
 

Common route right? ¬†Lots of people just happen to fly From Seychelles to Bulgaria ¬†ūüėČ ¬† 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
Seat 4A

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!

Continue reading »