Hello everybody, new year, new report, hope you enjoy it.
New year is there and with it came another excuse to do some flying. My wife had a family reunion to attend to somewhere in Belgium and she went there by car for a few days. As I had to work I decided to join her on Sunday in the town of Liege from where we would hit the road together to drive home. I checked some possibilities to fly there but everything turned out either too expensive or with an unsuitable schedule. So in the end I settled with just two Ryanair flights. Saturday morning from FKB to Ciampino and further on Sunday morning to Charleroi. I have actually never been to Rome before so that was an added benefit. And with just about 20,- Euro per flight (including taxes, fees, etc) it wasn't too expensive either
So here is the route map, nothing too spectacular, but nice for a weekend trip:
Flight 1 (22.01.2011)
scheduled 11:00 – 12:30
actual 10:45 – 12:10
Fortunately my dad offered to drive me to the airport at this Saturday morning as FKB is a bit hard to reach by public transportation. And with an 11 o'clock departure it was an easy morning. I arrived at the airport at around 9:45 and went directly through security. Not many people there and the staff was very friendly and relaxed and even joked around with me.
Looks my flight is on time, nice:
Notice that there are only 7 flights the whole day. Well, Saturday is by far the slowest day at FKB. Also notice the delayed Germania flight to TFS. As I overheard later their plane obviously had some technical problem and everybody had to disembark again. The departure hall was full of frustrated tourists. Bad luck for them, but good luck for the only restaurant there, they made good business that day and eventually even run out of sandwiches.
The view from the smokers terrace to the control tower of Flughafen Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden:
Soon thereafter it was time to board. A queue was already forming but with priority boarding I just went in front and was the first out on the apron for the short walk to the plane:
It was EI-DWW (delta double whiskey, I like that call sign ), first flight at January 24, 2008, so almost to the day three years ago.
As usual I boarded through the rear stairs and took seat 26A. Load factor was very light (maybe 50%), the last few rows were blocked, but it was still a whole row of three seats for me.
Boarding was completed quickly and the captain came on with a very friendly welcome and some information about the route of flight (Zurich, Milan, then directly to Rome on flight level 370) and the flight time (1:15).
Another view of the apron with an Air Berlin 737 that has just arrived from TXL:
Engines were started 15 minutes ahead of schedule, followed by a rather quick taxi to runway 03 and a rolling take-off. Airborne:
The “Staustufe Iffezheim”, a power plant on the Rhine river which also marks the German-French border here:
Later the crew (three females, one male, friendly, but not too many smiles) handed out the BOB menu and the inflight magazine, which had a very nice cover this month:
Then the Alp mountains came into view, always a stunning and amazing sight:
Locarno and its airport on the shore of Lago Maggiore:
Formula-1-Fans will recognize this location, the famous racetrack in Monza:
Later on it was getting more and more cloudy and we also encountered some turbulence, nothing serious though. The crew continued with there inflight sales show which was completely ignored by almost everyone. (Has anyone ever seen anybody buying these smokeless cigarettes?).
Descent started and we were almost immediately within clouds. The Captain came on again with another friendly speech with some information on the not-so-good weather. He almost apologized that it was rather cold and rainy today in Rome. And indeed it was quite dark and depressing once we broke through the clouds.
The remainder of an old airport (?) :
Touchdown on a very wet runway 15:
Arrival at the gate was at around 12:15, so 15 minutes ahead of schedule, which of course caused them to play the famous fanfare.
I disembarked again through the rear stairs and hurried through the pouring rain to the terminal. Once outside I tried to find the bus going to Ciampino where I had booked a hotel. It turned out that I had just missed the 12:20 bus and that the next bus only leaves at 13:20. Oh well, no problem, as I wasn't in the mood for sightseeing anyway in this weather. The bus eventually arrived and just five minutes later I was in the town of Ciampino where I grabbed a nice Ciabatta sandwich for lunch. I stayed at the hotel Villa Guilia, small and basic room, but clean and ok for just one night. At around 4 o'clock the rain finally started to lessen and I thought “now or never” and got into a train towards Termini and from there with the Metro to the Colloseo:
This was like a childhood dream for me, since I have always wanted to see this famous building. Unfortunately it was already closed, well, next time. Then I just power walked through the city, passed some ancient roman ruins, the Monument of Vittorio Emanuele II, the Trevi fountain, the Pantheon, Castel Sant'Angelo and finally arrived at the Vatican:
After this 'Explore the Major Sights of Rome in just 3 Hours Tour' I was really hungry and, what else in Italy, had a very nice pizza with red wine. And as dessert one of the nicest Tiramisu I ever had.
Flight 2 (23.01.2011)
scheduled 08:45 – 10:55
actual 08:55 – 10:55
Next morning the alarm sounded at 06:15 and I had a rather nice breakfast. Now this being a sunday the first bus to CIA departed only at 07:50 which I found a little bit tight for an 08:45 departure. So I decided to take a taxi. Well, that was quite a rip-off, as they charged me almost 20,- for the relatively short ride Still, with the bus I wouldn't have made it since the security line was awfully long and slow moving. It took nearly 30 minutes to get through.
I explored the airport a little afterwards and I must say, CIA definitely is a rather unpleasant place, even for a Low-Cost airport. Atmosphere like in a factory hall, crowded, very little seating available, not much to do. At least a somewhat nice view on the runway. FR is just departing, with the town of Ciampino in the background:
Pretty soon it was time to board my flight from gate 14. Bus boarding this time. They had a reserved area in one of the buses for the priority passengers, separated by a red chord, very nice. I joked with an American couple that this almost feels like Business class .
A 'Bye Bye EasyJet' logojet with, well, easyjet in the background:
After a short bus ride we arrived at the plane, EI-DLJ, first flight in 2006:
Again I boarded through the rear stairs and was greeted by a very friendly, probably Belgian FA. Again a rather light load factor, better than on the inbound flight, but still three seats for me. Three LCCs on one picture:
Pushback was about then minutes late and the Captain made a short welcome speech announcing the duration of the flight as 1:50. Takeoff was from runway 15, followed by a very slow climb. We were turning at a very low altitude and stayed low for quite some time before finally started to climb. I guess this was to avoid FCO airspace. Right after departure:
Fresh snow on the mountains:
Route of flight was along the coast, towards the Island of Elba:
making landfall somewhere near Genoa:
again crossing the Alps, again some stunning views:
crossing lake Geneva (here the city of Lausanne):
From there over the eastern parts of France and it was getting cloudy. The flight itself was uneventful, just the ordinary Ryanair flight. Descent started somewhere over France:
And pretty soon we descended into the clouds. Captain came on with a weather update of Charleroi, foggy and a temperature of around 0. And it was indeed very foggy, flaps fully extended and still nothing to see:
But there is indeed a runway here, touchdown:
Turning from the runway and taxiing to the gate, a little too fast for my liking given the bad visibility:
Anyway we arrived bang on time at the gate, well done, and again we were treated with the fanfare sound. I disembarked through the rear stairs, took a picture of the plane mirroring in the terminal windows:
Well, now I had a train to Liege to catch so I went out as quickly as possible and fortunately there was a bus to the train station ready to depart. It was a bit close to get the 11:40 train but I made it. After about one hour through the southern Belgian landscape with some not-so-nice industrial areas I finally arrived at the new Liege Guillemins train station, with its very interesting architecture:
Here I met my wife and now we had another 4 hours of Belgian and German autobahn to go before arriving at home.
A short trip, nothing too special flight wise, still two new airports for me. And my first visit to Rome, definitely an interesting city. The weather wasn't pleasant at all, but that is to be expected in January. Well, and about Ryanair, I know some of you here have some mixed feelings about that carrier, but they got me to my destination and back on time, without any problems, for a very affordable price. I know what to expect from the service, basically nothing, so that is ok for me. And the views from the plane are the same, regardless of the price you pay for your ticket
So that's it, thank you for reading this report. Hope you enjoyed it and, of course, questions and comments are very welcome.