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The Finn Went To Georgia: HEL-TLL-TBS  
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 12729 times:

Introduction

"The Finn went down to Georgia, he was looking for an ex-Soviet republic.
He was in a bind 'cos he had no idea about the country and was willing to learn.
When he came across this friendly guy sitting in an airplane and being very chatty.
And the Finn jumped upon his seat and said: Boy let me tell you what:
I guess you didn't know it but I've been around a bit."


Having traded a visit to Tbilisi, Georgia (the republic in Caucasus, not the state in the US South) to a visit to Dubai and some additional flying back in February (see the story here: Russki Way To Armenia: HEL-SVO-EVN (by FlyingFinn76 Feb 23 2012 in Trip Reports) ) I was obviously looking for another way to visit the place. Tbilisi has been a popular summer destination for Estonian Air for quite a long time and after I found a dirt cheap one way fare of 103 EUR on OV I decided to book if for July. Well, dirt cheap it really wasn’t as some months later OV had their legendary “All destinations 100 EUR roundtrip sale” where one could actually fly to and from Tbilisi for the same amount of money, but still...

In addition to these flights I really wanted to try out the Georgian Airline Air Zena. They had a “perfectly” (when you arrive at 4AM no flights is exactly perfect) timed flight to Batumi, the summer capital of Georgia, a huge (for Georgians and some Turks) beach destination on the Black Sea. That sure sounded interesting and a one way ticket ticket on TBS-BUS was only about 50 EUR so I decided to book it.

Well a slight problem was that I couldn’t book it. The Air Zena website always died on me, refusing to accept any of the credit cards I tried (four different ones I think). None of the usual travel sites listed the Air Zena flight either. After a lot of searching I finally found Edreams.com who had the flight available, albeit at around 10 EUR more than the Air Zena website (their cut of the cake I guess). So I booked it, received an email confirmation and even an Amadeus PNR that worked and showed that everything was on order.

So I thought I was all set. Bad thought, I know. Fast forward two or so months and Edreams sends me an email that my Air Zena flight has been canceled and I should contact them (the airline, not Edreams) for my options and alternative flights. Well that’s complete bullcrap, after all they are supposed to be my travel agency and thus act as the interface between me and the airline but apparently they don’t want all that responsibility!

Well, I knew better than to try to argue with the Spaniards (Edreams is a Spanish company) so I contacted Air Zena, and after a false start (which went unanswered) they informed me that the flight is not canceled, although it did have quite a significant schedule change and “by the way you are not on the passenger list”, asking me to contact my travel agency to fix it. Well well, this was getting interesting!

As the new schedule was not really that good for me I decided to ditch the Batumi sidetrip and asked for Edreams to refund my money. Well, what did you really expect - they never answered my request. After a couple of weeks I was quite pissed off with them, decided to add them to my permanent shitlist of companies (which keeps growing and growing) and disputed the charge with my bank instead. Oh, and interestingly I also found after reviewing my credit card statements that they had charged me *twice* (but slightly different sums) for the ticket, one under their own company name and one to someone named “Hahn Air” (which Air Zena also mentioned was the “travel agent” who had issued my ticket). Grrr. Needless to say both charges were disputed and reversed by my bank. These kind of monkeys should be put out of business for good! So beware, never deal with Edreams.

So this is what I ended up with:



To get back from Georgia I had some very interesting plans and managed to fulfill some of those, but those will be covered on another report later on...

But wait - this is not all. Just before leaving for the trip I was somewhere else in Finland than my home where I needed to get back to. I could always take the train, but then just a week or so before the travel date I noticed that Estonian Air was selling KAJ-TLL-HEL for only 65 EUR. A domestic Finnish flight via Tallinn sounded good, as did the miles they hand out on these itineraries plus the fact that I’d be arriving to HEL from TLL on the noon flight only to fly back to TLL on the 6 PM flight to continue my trip to TBS appealed a lot to me so I booked it... The train would’ve been around the same price, although this itinerary had me overnighting in Tallinn so the hotel cost has to be factored into the calculations of course.

If only it would have been this simple...

Sunday 15.7.2012

So this story starts in Kajaani, in the northeastern part of Finland, in the middle of grand forests and not too many people. After arriving into town on another train I have some hours before needing to make my way to the airport.

The wide Kajaaninjoki river, tranquil:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_1.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_2.jpg

The main square - not too many people up and about this Sunday:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_3.jpg

They have some interesting bars here, so what’s a better way to pass the time, it’s not like this town has much of interest:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_4.jpg

The town church:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_5.jpg

Eventually I grab some mediocre food from a restaurant, buy some supplies (beer!) from a supermarket and hop on to a taxi to the airport. They have a bus service that should be aligned to flight schedules but for reasons unknown (well, how about double pay on Sundays in Finland?) this 9 PM flight on Sundays does not warrant one so a taxi it is. Some nice chat with the driver who surprises me by announcing that he is leaving for a day trip to Helsinki (some 600 kilometers away by road) at 4AM the next morning...

Eventually I get to the airport which is completely deserted. No one at check in yet so I sit outside in the sun and decide to drink up the beers I bought as I can’t take them onboard anyway (the sacrifices we all have to make!).

Not exactly busy:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_6.jpg

Tranquil:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_7.jpg

Inside the terminal:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_8.jpg

While waiting I check the flight status from the Tallinn airport website - an hour’s delay is to be expected, bugger! Half an hour later some other people arrive, including a young Estonian gastarbeiter. A few minutes later I follow him indoors where both him and the check in agent say to me “It’s an hour late!”, choruslike. Thanks.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_9.jpg

The delay is no good news, it means all the buses have already stopped running to the airport so I will have to take a taxi to my hotel, bugger...

This time I sit down inside to charge up my devices and use the wifi connection. Eventually the lady comes back and says that the flight has just been cancelled. WHAT? Yes, cancelled. Bugger, that doesn’t sound good! She informs all the six of us (yes, stellar load on the Saab 340) that she doesn’t yet know more and has been trying to call Tallinn to ask for instructions on what to do but hasn’t been successful yet. So she asks us to sit down and wait until she has some more information on hand.

Yes, rub it in, will ya:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_10.jpg

In the meantime I check my options - the only flight for the next 36 hours is the next day’s Finnco.. err sorry, FlyBE Nordic early afternoon to HEL, so we will most probably be rebooked to that. But it gets to HEL after two in the afternoon and I was supposed to be there just before noon and have tons of stuff to do before leaving for Georgia. Any little delay and I’d be in quite a hurry, doesn’t sound too good.

Ok, let’s check the trains. Hmm, one leaving at 3 AM, getting me home around 9 AM - sounds tempting but no thanks! Ok, what’s this? 6 AM train, arriving at my local station just after noon. Ok, sold! Well not really, as the VR website (like so many others these days) has this annoying two-step validation process when paying by a credit card and I don’t carry my bank account codes around for fun so no dice for e-commerce. Man how do I hate these credit card companies.

In the meantime the lady has returned. It is as I expected - hotel night and a seat on the BE flight next day. I tell her I’ll take the hotel room but no need to rebook, I’ll take the train. One other passenger prefers the train as well, whereas the Estonian guy apparently had a connection to TAY but they can only book him on the HEL flight and he is told to sort it out at HEL. Doesn’t sound too promising, I’m pretty sure the Servisair agents at HEL will be completely unbriefed and clueless about this and it’s not like TAY has many flights to choose from for rebooking purposes... He curses a bit about Mr. Taskila’s 30K per month salary (yes, this was big news in Estonia, he is the highest paid civil servant in the country)...

Anyway I’m secretly hoping we will get any other hotel than the Scandic as when I stayed there the last time I found that it was a dump (see: Proper Inaugural Flight And The OV E170: KAJ-TLL (by FlyingFinn76 Apr 5 2012 in Trip Reports) ). Not that there are many hotels to choose from in this northern metropolis of barely 30000 people. But my dreams are soon shattered when the lady distributes the hotel vouchers and mentions that she already called us a taxi to “The Scandic”... bugger!

The ride passes in complete silence as all the four of us (two passengers were locals so apparently went home) are rather pissed off.

So here’s my room - they were doing a renovation back in April when I was here and apparently it is now finished, although I have no idea what they were renovating since the room is exactly the same dump as back then:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_11.jpg

Well, no sleep for the wicked yet. I don’t want to leave my train ticket purchase until the last moment so I walk the one mile to the station to purchase it from the self service kiosk (of course these don’t need any extra verification when paying with the very same credit card - highly illogical Mr. Spock would say!) and then hit some dive for another beer before retreating to the Scandic for a crap night’s sleep.

The river looking quite beautiful shortly before midnight:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_12.jpg

Monday 16.7.2012

Ahh, up around five or so the usual morning stuff follows, plus checking out and grabbing a sandwich and a drink (free as I am leaving too early for breakfast) from the lobby shop follows. Then it’s another 20 minute walk to the station.

The river in the morning - tranquil:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_13.jpg

The station - no horrid modern travel centre here, phew:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_14.jpg

This train is leaving from Kajaani instead of coming from Oulu so it is already waiting in the platform:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_15.jpg

Empty:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_16.jpg

No window seats were available any more - decent legroom on my aisle seat:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_17.jpg

I eat my breakfast and then figure out I should get as much sleep as possible. Initially this is easy as there are just a handful of passengers so I find an empty two seater (I have a seatmate) and sleep away until my hometown of Kuopio, some 1h45mins. Unfortunately from that point on the train is practically sold out, so it is back to my own seat. From that point on sleep is also practically sold out, too many noisy people around, too many people walking the aisle up and down, too many people annoying the heck out of me.

So I decide to use the free wifi offered by VR... which of course doesn’t work. Bugger. Sometimes it works for a bit, always extremely slow and for the most part of the trip it just gives up. So the next four hours of the trip are boring and very annoying, not exactly lifting my already pissed off mood much. Things get worse at Pieksämäki where a good number of people get off the train (it is an interchange station for trains heading to Jyväskylä, Tampere and finally Turku, although why someone would want to go to Turku is beyond me).

Unfortunately they are replaced by a bunch of people fresh (well not exactly fresh) off the Joensuu train where the weekend featured a very popular music festival. So this means there are a bunch of people who look and smell like they’ve spent the last three days without changing their clothes or washing up, sleeping rough and basically drinking a case of beer a day. Yes, you can imagine the sights and smells. This doesn’t do any good for my spirits either!

Here’s the map of all the Finnish railroads, with my route highlighted:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_18.jpg

After Kouvola I give in and head to the restaurant car for some sort of lunch. Bad choice, overpriced and completely tasteless, plus I’m surrounded by annoying people who are well into their fifth pints of the morning despite it barely being 11AM! So I wolf down my sustenance (can’t call it food) and head back to my seat where I somehow manage to survive the remaining one and half hours and eventually emerge at my local station, six and half hours after leaving Kajaani, glad that this very annoying train trip has come to an end.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_19.jpg

I walk home, do all the stuff and errands I needed to do and eventually leave again for the airport with my trusty bus, this time in somewhat higher spirits.

Helsinki Airport

For reasons unknown (ok, they are actually well known reasons - their handling agent is Servisair who just happens to have a presence only at T2) Estonian Air is at T2 even though their SAS pals are at T1. So that’s where I step off the bus.

The biggest customer of Servisair at HEL is KLM, I guess that is why you have to use the KLM website to do OLCI ex-HEL. This is by no means a very smooth process, as the HEL-TLL leg is handled just fine but selecting your seat for the next segment seems to be almost impossible. The seat map shows plenty of good seats available, but I can’t change my assignment and in the end end up with 23A or something like that, a window seat right next to the CRJ-900 engines in the back, never my choice of a seat! Well, I will deal with this in Tallinn, but this is very bad for the hub-and-spoke operation Mr. Taskila is trying to build!

So thru security I go and decide to tease the girls at the exchange booth a bit by asking whether they have any Georgian Lari (yes, certain members of this board might find the name of the Georgian currency somewhat funny) or Ukrainian Hrivnas (whoops, did I just give out a hint here?). I know fully well they don’t, but the girls are cute and I like teasing them.

As part of the Servisair handling package one must sign up for their lounge too I guess, so to the Aspire I go. Which is fine by me as it is a very nice lounge and I actually prefer it to the SAS one.

Before entering I spot this:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_2.jpg

This is the much-touted Airport Library that Finavia opened a while ago - basically a room with some shelves where passengers are free to drop off their unwanted books and pick up some other books in exchange. I haven’t seen the place before so good that I stumbled upon it. Jonas would love this concept if he read books, but as he doesn’t I guess he should write a suggestion to Finavia to expand the concept to DVDs and lounge access vouchers...

Oh, Servisair is running a summer campaign - well considering I’ve never seen more than a handful of people in this lounge, most of them Dutch KLM status passengers they sure could use some additional revenue (but 25 EUR still isn’t exactly a “walk-in” fare methinks):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_1.jpg

They have some delightful young, cute girls working here and today’s no exception. After a quick check of the appropriate credentials I’m admitted. See, I told you it is mostly empty:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_3.jpg

I agree with makeree that this vegetable soup is excellent:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_4.jpg

A “gabrielchew” to start another nice trip with two new countries on the agenda - and to celebrate that this is the only lounge at HEL where you can get this for free (if you ignore the ridiculous drink chits at the Finnair Longhaul Lounge which you should):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_5.jpg

I’m sort of expecting some sort of replacement plane to pop up, assuming that the Saab I was supposed to fly last night really went mech - this was the reason they cited as the reason for the delay. So when I see this RAF Avia Saab landing I get excited for a moment thinking it might be my ride, but this doesn’t turn out to be the case:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_6.jpg

Instead I spot “Hockeybird” standing on the wet apron:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_7.jpg

Eventually I mosey over to the gate, which just happens to be in a newly opened bus gate area downstairs. At least the signs are very explicit (but I’m absolutely certain that some people will get lost anyway):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_8.jpg

Quite stylish actually:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_9.jpg

A lot of people are standing there, waiting for the boarding to commence. The gate agent makes an announcement that anybody who was rebooked from the canceled airBaltic flight has to come and see her at the gate. Judging from the number of people who do so it looks like that at least half of the passengers (and probably most of the revenue) on this flight are courtesy of BT. After this is done I ask the girl for a gate check tag for my roller, no way it will fit anywhere inside the Saab. She is happy to give me one.

Right after boarding commences, with the usual short bus ride to the apron:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_10.jpg

ES-ASO is an old villain of mine, I flew her twice back in March (see: Day Of The Albino Planes: HEL-JOE-TLL-HEL (by FlyingFinn76 Mar 29 2012 in Trip Reports) ) although she was a horrible albino back then. These days she is carrying the special “Hockeybird” livery to celebrate OV’s status as the official airline of this years Ice Hockey Championship Games which is kinda weird considering that the event did take place in Estonia... But business is business.

Under the wing as someone prefers:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_11.jpg

The prop:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_12.jpg

The captain must be feeling hot:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_13.jpg

HEL - TLL
OV616 Operated by Estonian Air Regional
Saab 340 ES-ASO
Seat 11A
19.10 - 19.35

A semi friendly blonde FA as seems to be the norm with OV Regional. I picked a seat on the last row and as usual I get the whole row for myself. Around twenty pax in total.

The captain is Swedish, Johan something and he makes a short welcome speech, where the beef is a flight time of 25 minutes.

Notice the kippa the guy is wearing - there was an extended Israeli family traveling to TLV who were rebooked from the canceled BT flight, more on them later:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_14.jpg

Hmm, I wonder what “when applicable” means in this case - or what are the exceptions when you can keep it up:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_15.jpg

Departure is 15 minutes late after this LOT E170 making a splash (yes, the weather is the usual yucky Finnish summer):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_16.jpg

Luckily the far runway is still being resurfaced so the nearby 22L it is for us, meaning a taxi time of just two minutes.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_17.jpg

Eventually we enter the murk:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_18.jpg

But luckily it lasts only for a few seconds as we are overflying the city centre of Helsinki with some excellent views.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_19.jpg

Here’s the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1952 Summer Games:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_20.jpg

This is the famous Rock Church in Töölö, surrounded by residential buildings:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_21.jpg

Helsinki Main Station on top, with Kiasma, the contemporary art museum with interesting architecture visible, one can also see the new extension to the parliament building on the lower right corner of the picture:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_22.jpg

The sea looks a bit rough, I’m happy I’m cruising here above it today:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_23.jpg

Service is a Kalev (the famous Estonian candymaker) candy:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_24.jpg

In no time at all we are on approach to TLL, from the east to runway 26 this time. The weather here is much better than back home:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_25.jpg

Landing after 23 minutes of flight time:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_26.jpg

The DOT ATR is still here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_27.jpg

Tallinn

Well, it is a Saab and this is Tallinn which means a bus ride to the terminal. This is relatively quick and I’m out in the public in no time at all. Why not go to the lounge, I hear Jonas ask? Nope, not yet - I’ve got more than four hours to go so I want to sort out a few things and head into town for dinner. So first I go to the deserted OV check in, decide to check my roller in and ask for a better seat. There are no window seats available apart from the one I already have right next to the engine so I ask for the next best thing - an exit row seat. The girl is glad to give me an aisle exit row seat - just the thing I need for this 3+ hour midnight flight as there won’t be a view outside anyway.

Having gotten rid of my roller I then pay the Estonian Air ticket desk a visit. I need to get an official written statement from them about the cancellation of my flight the previous day for my travel insurance. Even though OV refunded the flight fare (which was almost equivalent to the train fare) I am still set to lose the hotel night I had booked in Tallinn as it was too late to cancel it (well, later it turned out they didn’t charge my credit card for the stay anyway but back then I had no way of knowing this!). This takes a while as there a Russian girl there who apparently missed her connection to TRD and is now very unhappy to learn that not only she has to spend the night at TLL (at OV’s expense of course) but she also has to make a connection to get to TRD (the direct OV flight is not daily). She is first offered TLL-CPH-OSL-TRD and TLL-ARN-OSL-TRD which makes her even more unhappy, apparently because of the double connection (weirdo, I’d embrace the possibility of more flights and more miles!) but eventually they manage to rebook her to just TLL-OSL-TRD and she sets off somewhere. My business is much more straightforward and I get the required document just fine. The girl even manages to apologize for the cancellation - by this time I’m well over it so I tell her it is fine, things like that have a tendency to happen in this business.

Next I go downstairs where they have relocated the bus stop from the departures floor - probably a good idea as the driveway to the upper level had a tendency of getting blocked by cars dropping people off parking just about everywhere. While waiting for my bus I spot this:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_28.jpg

Yes, this is a free shuttle bus to the giant liquor stores at the port, targeted for thirsty and tax burdened Finns. I make a mental note to investigate this matter if I find myself needing a ride to the port in the future.

My bus soon arrives and I hop in and after a couple of stops hop off again near to my target for tonite.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_29.jpg

And here we are - this place has been on my TOEATIN list for quite a few years now but I’ve never managed to make it, probably because it just happens to be a little outside the center, but for today very convenient as it is on the road to the airport, halfway between it and the center:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_30.jpg

The decoration of Mack’s is your usual Americana, although this disco ball just feels quite kitch (sorry Parton87):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_31.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_32.jpg

An “interesting” take on Gumbo:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_33.jpg

After an average (the appetizers were great but the main course so-so so it averages) meal I make a small stroll around.

The sun is just setting, makes for a nice view behind the Tallinn business district:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_34.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_36.jpg

“Don’t let them control your thoughts”:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_35.jpg

Seeing this I started thinking (as I have a tendency to do after enough beers):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tallinn_37.jpg

I’m thinking that I’m actually in a city and country that used to be a part of the Soviet Union. More importantly during this trip I will visit four countries, all of which used to be part of the same failed experiment in Marxism-Leninism and blatant denial of the basic human nature. That feels funny, as it’s been years since I stopped thinking of Estonia as such - they are a completely westernized nation these days, far more free market and capitalist than my homeland of Finland for example. And thinking it further I’m pretty certain I will see countries that didn’t make it as good after the breakup, heck even a country I’m pretty sure would go back to those times in a jiffy given the chance! But maybe this is just the beer talking in me so I better catch a bus back to the airport...

Interesting exhibit of famous people who have traveled thru Tallinn Airport - there seems to be plenty of places to add a photo of me:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_1.jpg

Not many people around this time of the evening - they were waxing the floor, that’s why they have the cordon here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_2.jpg

On the way to the Linda Lounge I spot the TLV-bound passengers from my previous flight, still waiting here. Poor guys, it’s been three hours since the earlier flight and they even have a toddler with them! I’m not sure how they were rebooked anyway as the TLV flight leaves RIX close to midnight and I don’t think there’s any flight to RIX anymore this late...

Not too hard to figure out which company is sponsoring this lounging area from the colors (but keep these in mind, we will come back to them later on):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_3.jpg

Not surprisingly I’m the only guest in the lounge. TBS obviously isn’t popular with the Swedish Business Traveler Horde (TM).

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_4.jpg

Refreshments - I bought that passport holder from Dubai, several officials have given me compliments on it:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_5.jpg

A beautiful E170 pulling in:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_6.jpg

Linda, the mysterious lady of the lake, from the Estonian mythology and their national epic “Kalevpoeg”:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_7.jpg

According to the legend (and quite appropriately) the Lake Ülemiste, lying just a couple of hundred meters from the airport was formed from her tears.

I think that will be my CR9 to Tbilisi:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_8.jpg

A small 10 minute delay is posted, nothing bad though. Eventually I decide to head to the gate in the non-Schengen part. This is my first time passing through the Schengen border at TLL.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_9.jpg

The process can be summarized as interesting. There are plenty of passengers whose papers get a very close scrutiny plus a German-Georgian couple who apparently haven’t checked in since they don’t have boarding passes, just their itinerary printouts - the (German) guy argues that he came on another flight from Germany blah blah, but the border guard just directs them to the transfer desk. As expected my passport from a small, neutral, non-offensive EU nation doesn’t really arouse anybody’s interest and I’m through in a heartbeat.

And here she is - looking gorgeous in this light:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_10.jpg

ES-ACD, second flight with this particular bird.

Seeing this gets me slightly excited:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_11.jpg

No sign of boarding commencing yet so I decide to lubricate myself a bit more. I really like the Saku brewery and especially the fact that they are not afraid of experimenting with less than mainstream beers, unlike their cowardly counterparts in Finland. Image dedicated to the one man who is responsible for 15% of Stuttgart Airport’s yearly revenue - Flieger67:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_14.jpg

I spot some Finns who were on the Saab with me and head over for a chat. They indeed are on their way for a vacation in Tbilisi. We trade some war stories, these people are extremely well traveled especially considering that they live in the far north of Finland near Ivalo which is a long way from anything interesting. Our chat is cut short by the boarding announcement so let’s head to the gate!

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_15.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_16.jpg

My my, what a long plane this is:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_17.jpg



36 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 1, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 12811 times:

TLL - TBS
OV387
CRJ-900 ES-ACD
Seat 15D
23.50 - 04.03 (+1)

A male purser and a female FA, both quite young as Estonians tend to be.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_18.jpg

Legroom on the exit row is of course excellent, no problems sleeping here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_19.jpg

Then something really odd happens. I say the usual “Hello” to my seatmate, an older guy who turns out to be Georgian. And then he starts chatting with me. I’m usually not that chatty in planes with strangers, preferring to take in the whole experience and so on. But this guy is super nice. He is very impressed by the fact that I’m going to Georgia just out of pure interest in his country and am genuinely interested in it plus I already know something of its history. Oh and we both have a common enemy as well - looking at history that’s not really a surprise!

So we chat. And chat a bit more. And chat even more. I sort of lose track of time and everything as this guy and our chat is so interesting. I barely make a note that we push back ten minutes late and take off into the darkness from 26 ten minutes later.

More interesting chat follows until it is time for the service run. I’m kinda impressed by OV again as they have a choice between two different sandwiches, “smoked chicken” or “egg mayo” thinking of KLM I go for the egg mayo one which to my delight comes on dark rye bread (the chicken one was a wheat roll). Soft drinks and coffee/tea are free, I splurge for a beer - too bad it is A Le Coq and not the preferred Saku though. Kinda impressive for a flight in the middle of the night - they could’ve easily gotten away with a quick drinks run and maybe a pack of crackers but decided to offer something more substantial, thumbs up Mr. Taskila!

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_20.jpg

After the food I try to sleep for a while but it doesn’t really work out so we chat some more. Eventually we both manage about an hour of sleep - just enough to get me to my hotel bed.

We land in complete darkness on what I later figured out was TBS’ runway 31R after three hours of flight.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_21.jpg

Tbilisi Airport

A packed bus ride to the terminal follows. Surprisingly there’s a lot of activity at the airport - I see LH departing to MUC and some other planes around. According to my new friend most of the European flights leave at this miserable hour, well looking at the map it is only natural I guess!

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_22.jpg

I’m very impressed by the sparkling clean and very modern terminal. Immigration is also a cakewalk, the guy stamps my passport and welcomes me to Georgia. My friend actually uses the e-gates and beats me - wow, my prejudices towards this country are disappearing fast!

Remember the TeliaSonera couches at Tallinn - well the company is here too:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_23.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_24.jpg

Luggage takes a while but amazingly my priority tag works just fine here and my roller is one of the first ones (and I didn’t even know that Estonian Air had any priority tags!):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/To_Tbilisi_25.jpg

After we both have gotten our bags I exchange some money in the arrivals hall and then off we go. Oh, yes, my friend also offered to drive me to my hotel, just like that. I was really overwhelmed by this genuine friendliness but of course had no choice but to accept. There’s actually a train connection to the airport but it is quite infrequent and the next one is not for many hours (remember, it is almost five AM at this point). Also no buses at this hour so it is either a taxi or a free ride courtesy of my friend. I’m a little worried after we speed along some completely deserted city streets, but eventually he gets me to my hotel. I cannot thank him enough, but he’s like nothing - business as usual. Wow. I’m speechless.

The House of the Rising Temperature

Next comes the worst part of this amazing trip: my accommodation. I picked the weirdly named Hotel Babilina (turned out the owner’s name was Babilina!) because of its excellent location at the edge of the Old Town and cheap prices. And note that booking.com also promised free wifi and air conditioning on every room.

Since it is around five thirty AM on a Tuesday morning I decided to book the hotel room starting from Monday to make sure I would have a place to crash after I got there. I wrote about my late arrival into the notes for the booking and even got a call from somebody at booking.com a few days later who claimed to have called the hotel and arranged with them that I would have a room waiting for me at this late hour.

So imagine my surprise when the woman (who turned out to be Babilina herself) there started arguing with me that they have no room for me and check in starts at 14.00. Not exactly something you want to hear at 5.30 in the morning when you are dead tired and just want to crash!

It didn’t help that I accidentally provided the wrong printout of my booking, but eventually we found the right one on her email and she had to admit that yes, I should have a room. Magically a room was available all of the sudden, but what room it was:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_1.jpg

Well, she promised me that we could switch rooms the next day and since I just wanted to sleep I accepted and crashed until noon the next day.

Now the thing here is that:
1) Every day the temperature outside was well over 30 degrees.
2) That sorry room didn’t have any air conditioning. It did have a bathroom though.
3) Every night it was maybe 50 degrees in the dingy room, sweat started pouring out from your body right after entering it. You can imagine what it was like sleeping in there.
4) There was a window in the room, but it opened into a sort of enclosed indoor balcony, so opening it did no good to the temperatures.

Every day I asked about switching rooms. Every day they told me “in the evening”. Every evening I asked, but the answer was that all the rooms were already gone. Not very happy about this.

In the end I managed to get a whopping 5 EUR per day discount on the daily rate (actually pretty good as the room was only 30 EUR per night) because of this crap room, but I didn’t leave as a happy customer - no way I’m going back to this place.

Oh, and the other rooms did have air conditioning, real beds, televisions and all kinds of amenities. My room had just the bunk bed, a small bedstand and a light on the roof. That’s it.

I did send a complaint to booking.com who seemed to be taking it seriously, but nothing of course came out of it. They did contact the hotel and even forwarded Babilina’s reply to me but she was saying some different things than what my version of the events was - apparently the other employees (well family members as the “hotel” is basically just the two top floors of their house) never told her about my requests to switch rooms and she wasn’t always there...

Tbilisi

I’ll end this report with quite a number of pictures from Tbilisi and around - what an amazing place.

The old town of Tbilisi:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_2.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_3.jpg

Presidential Palace:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_4.jpg

The Bridge of Peace - a pedestrian bridge over the Mtkvari (or Kura, a funny name for Finns) river:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_5.jpg

My favorite Georgian beer - it was hot so you needed a lot of hydration:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_6.jpg

A typical Georgian church:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_8.jpg

Reminds me of the Romeo & Juliet balcony in Verona. Much less touristic though:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_9.jpg

Mother Georgia watching over the city - quite appropriately with a sword and a chalice of wine on her hands. The perfect description of the Georgians - overwhelmingly friendly to their friends but brutal to their enemies:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_10.jpg

The Mtkvari river:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_11.jpg

Going up on the cable car:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_12.jpg

Sameba Cathedral - quite possibly the largest church I’ve ever seen:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_13.jpg

OA260 - come claim your property:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_14.jpg

I was really surprised to find out they had these very advanced smart cards for public transportation when “technologically advanced” countries like my Finland are struggling way behind:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_15.jpg

The city of Tbilisi in the valley below:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_16.jpg

Hmm, didn’t really expect to see this here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_17.jpg

There were hardly any stray dogs around but plenty of cats - for a cat person like me this is good news:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_18.jpg

The Georgian Parliament building:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_19.jpg

No comment:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_20.jpg

I wonder where they got that TAM plane for the sign:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_21.jpg

Riding the metro - dirt cheap and the usual very effective and fast Soviet system. Very deep underground though:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_22.jpg

This is the old town hall - having seen the (ugly) new one that replaced it I can only ask “why?!”:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_23.jpg

Errr:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_24.jpg

Yes, indeed the Georgian currency is the Lari:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_25.jpg

Georgian food - back in the Soviet times the Georgian SSSR was known as “the Italy of Soviet Union” thanks to its amazing cuisine and I can only agree:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_7.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_40.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_41.jpg

Also love Georgian lemonade - all natural with no artificial crap thrown in. I’m pretty sure this is the stuff I was drinking as a kid on a holiday in Yalta which back then was in the Ukrainian SSSR:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_65.jpg

Hmm, what’s this:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_26.jpg

Peculiar:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_27.jpg

Those domes are are actually underground baths on top of hot springs - the very same springs that caused this city to be founded here in the first place. Would be a nice experience but as it was well over 30 degrees a hot bath didn’t sound that appealing!

Narikala fortress up on the hill:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_28.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_29.jpg

Considering the number of construction projects going on everywhere in Georgia I guess it is only appropriate that their greatest national hero is king Davit Aghmashenebeli, or David the Builder in English:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_29.jpg

Special shot for Jonas:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_30.jpg

German Bar? Oh yes, Germany is so famous for its... err.. cocktails?

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_31.jpg

Again showing some amazing Georgian hospitality which left me almost speechless my new friend insisted he takes me sightseeing one day. So we drove to Mtskheta, one of the oldest cities in Georgia just 20 kilometers north from Tbilisi along the Mtkvari river. The whole town is an UNESCO World Heritage site.

This is a traditional Georgian church on top of a hill overlooking Mtskheta and the confluence of the Mtkvari and Aragvi rivers:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_32.jpg
Mtskheta can be seen on the right - plenty of construction going on there. It looked like they were building a shopping mall and hotels right next to the historical sites, tsk tsk:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_33.jpg

Interesting sign at the entrance to the church - apparently females can enter carrying a gun:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_34.jpg

Inside:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_35.jpg

Svetiskhoveli Cathedral in Mtskheta (which once was the nation’s capital), the holiest of the holy sites for Georgian Orthodox:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_36.jpg

A relic:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_37.jpg

Err, what - a sticker in a trash can in town. I think the Swedes have been hitting the bottle a little bit too hard to be seeing pink elephants:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_38.jpg

You can also tour Mtskheta on an electric Mercedes limo:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_39.jpg

After a very nice late lunch we drove back to Tbilisi and had a very nice chat along the way.

Hmm, that registration reminds me of somebody:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_42.jpg

Fancy buying a car - Auto Bild test winner and all:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_43.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_44.jpg

This stuff is excellent (but will kill you if you believe the Putin regime propaganda):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_45.jpg

The Bridge of Peace all lit up in the evening - tons of people were just strolling around with not a care in the world - these Georgians sure know how to live:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_46.jpg

A very nice new park next to the bridge, tons of people here every night too:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_47.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_48.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_49.jpg

I think the Georgians have a thing about lighting things up in most spectacular ways - this is the TV Tower:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_50.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_51.jpg

And even the Presidential Palace:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_52.jpg

I was also very positively surprised by the fact that most of the young people spoke excellent English, something that wasn’t true in neighbouring Armenia. I had a conversation with a school kid maybe 12 years old and even he was very fluent in English, explaining me some sights and stuff. He, like all the Georgians I met were very proud of their country and the way it has been developing recently, towards Europe. They were also most curious and very taken by the fact that people actually want to come to their country as tourists to see it.

One day I made a day trip to Gori, a town some 75 kilometers away from Tbilisi. I decided to take the train there. The train station looked very drab outside but inside it was quite nicely renovated - although following the trends it was also crammed full of shops. Heck, they even had a western-style food court and free wifi (which didn’t work though):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_53.jpg

Buying the ticket was however a blast from the Soviet past - I queued a total of 30 minutes to five separate counters, at each of them I was directed to another one until the fifth one where there was a young girl who spoke some English and managed to sell me the ticket.

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_54.jpg

This is no Virgin Trains first class, but for an hour’s (yes, these trains aren’t exactly very speedy) ride okay. Packed as the train is continuing to Batumi and everyone was flocking to the beach:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_55.jpg

Gori is famous for one thing. Or actually person, a certain Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, better known as Joseph Stalin. Whereas most of the world remembers him for his atrocities and tyranny, here he is the hometown boy who made it big, bigger than anyone could ever imagine. They have an interesting Stalin Museum here - this is the house where he was born and lived as a child, moved here from the outskirts of the town and preserved in a sort of temple superstructure:
http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_56.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_57.jpg

The grand entrance to the museum:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_58.jpg

Fancy buying a bust:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_59.jpg

Or maybe some Generalisimus Stalin wine:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_60.jpg

I’m very ashamed to admit that they had the Finnish translation of Stalin’s books there:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_61.jpg

And Finnish on this propaganda poster too:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_62.jpg

Apparently the Generalismus didn’t like to fly (weirdo!) and he traveled in his personal train car everywhere he went to. Well, it does look very nice inside, so maybe this is better than an economy class seat on Aeroflot around 1943:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_63.jpg

The town’s main drag is also appropriately named:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_64.jpg

Err what:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_66.jpg

A lot (and I mean a lot) of the cars and all the vans around were old used German models - my friend told me that there are people here who make a living my flying to Germany, picking up an used car and driving it back the long way via Turkey and then selling it with profit. Sounds like a good market for LCCs offering one way flights to Germany then (and in fact Wizzair Ukraine has recently started flying to Kutaisi from IEV). Also notice the registration, something familiar here:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_67.jpg

That train ride was very expensive (by Georgian standards) so I took a good old marshrutka back - very nice value for money at 2 EUR for a 75 kilometer trip:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_68.jpg

All the taxis and marshrutkas seemed to have these - the Georgians are quite devoted Orthodoxes. It was actually funny watching people on this drive as most of the fellow passengers were automatically doing three signs of the cross whenever we passed a church and let me tell you there are a lot of churches in Georgia:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_69.jpg

A new highway all the way, very nice:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_70.jpg

This was kinda interesting - no fences or anything, cows are grazing right there beside the road. I guess they get a lot of accidents which are a handy way to provide more ingredients for a mtsvadi:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_71.jpg

A Lada Niva 4x4 Taxi - this must be the coolest thing in the world. Shame I couldn’t find the driver, would’ve loved a ride, it’s been ages since I was in the army and rode on these on a regular basis:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_72.jpg

Lazing in the park:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_73.jpg

I’ll end this with some night time shots from the edge of the Old Town - I told ya the Georgians a crazy about lighting things up:

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_74.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_75.jpg

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/ac154/FlyingFinn_photo/Tbilisi_07_2012/Tbilisi_76.jpg

Conclusions

Firstly Estonian giveth and Estonian taketh away. The start to this trip wasn’t exactly very smooth and I did curse Estonian into the deepest pits of hell more than once. Of course it is not really their fault that alternative flights from a tiny outstation like Kajaani are what they are, but I really was quite miserable during that packed train ride. Well, OV is stopping the KAJ route in a few weeks so I guess it didn’t perform that well anyway...

But I can’t be mad at them for a long time - that flight cancellation was eventually handled in a very efficient way with my fare fully refunded. And the flight to Tbilisi was great, good fare, comfortable, nice service onboard and at Tallinn airport so what’s there to complain about? Nothing!

And then Georgia. What can I really say? I was literally blown away! I expected something completely different, but what I found was a country with amazing sights and sounds, top notch food, a great drive to improve their infrastructure and modernize the country and most importantly amazing people! Nowhere else have I found such genuinely friendly people who are so damn proud of their little country that they literally treat any foreign tourists interested in their little corner of Caucasus like kings! As I mentioned the fact that English was quite widely (and good) spoken was a real surprise to me.

Special mention to George, my friend - thanks for everything! Like I said, any time you are in Finland (and this is often, this guy is a serious globetrotter!) don’t hesitate to contact me and I’ll be making an effort to return at least a tiny part of the hospitality you showed towards me! Thanks pal, it was great meeting you!

Go to Georgia before the rest of the world discovers it. It is amazing. You won’t regret it, you have my word!

Happy contrails!


User currently offlinefinnishway From Finland, joined Jul 2012, 309 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 12405 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I expected something completely different

I was also expecting something different before I read this trip report, but I was wrong.

It seems that Georgia is a great mix of old Soviet times and modern era. I would like go there in the future.

Thanks for this great trip report!


User currently offlinesultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1718 posts, RR: 30
Reply 3, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 12355 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi Petteri,

A good read! Quite a troublesome start again, it seems the last trips you have taken all are sick in the same bed. Besides the annoyance of the revised booking and unexpected stay in the KAJ surroundings, OV have picked it up again and got you safe and sound in TBS, as it should be. You got me to chuckle quite a bit there with that double decker bed hotel room, just great! Very nice destination pics of Georgia as well.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
TBS-BUS

BUS, what a funny name for an airport!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Edreams is a Spanish company
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
So beware, never deal with Edreams.

Another Spanish company on the black list. Just what the country needs...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Yes, rub it in, will ya

Glad to have learned some Finnish here, so 'peruttu' means cancelled  

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The prop

Looking very mean, nice shot!

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineParton87 From Sweden, joined Sep 2008, 533 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 12325 times:

Hello P!

Thanks for the nice story. I´m also interested in these former Soviet countries so it was a very enjoyable read! Georgia looks really nice! Maybe I should pay a visit there too but maybe in January or something!?:D Not fun doing some city sightseeing when the temperature is over 30 degrees!

Pity about the OV cancellation. Good you had a lot of time so you could catch your flight to Georgia, OV looks good there, I wouldn´t hesitate to fly them again.

Good choice to visit Gori. A town you heard the name many times but nothing more so nice to see some pictures from it. Even if I´m not a friend of Stalin and his politics is still would be interesting to visit his birthplace, but I have to wait until my Grandmother is gone. She will never forgive if I go there, hahaha!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I think the Swedes have been hitting the bottle

I didn´t know that "Rosa Bussarna " had trips over there. They have some really interesting trips, throughout the hole African continent for example. Don´t know if I want to sit on a bus for so long though!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
so maybe this is better than an economy class seat on Aeroflot around 1943:

It probably was!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
but will kill you if you believe the Putin regime propaganda):

I believe Putin here for once! You know I took one of these bottles when you invite me to the lounge at RIX. I opened it when I come home and it smelled and tasted very strange!:D

Again, thanks for the great story and I´m looking forward to the return report!

Greetings
Robert


User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2429 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 12180 times:

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
I then pay the Estonian Air ticket desk a visit. I need to get an official written statement from them about the cancellation of my flight the previous day for my travel insurance.

Not only for your insurance, but also for the compensation request according to EU 261/2004 law!

Quoting finnishway (Reply 2):
Oh, and the other rooms did have air conditioning, real beds, televisions and all kinds of amenities. My room had just the bunk bed, a small bedstand and a light on the roof.

I am pretty sure, this room is actually the staff dorm...


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 15
Reply 6, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 11759 times:

Hola Petteri


Nice report, thanks for sharing. Too bad about the KAJ misery, I remember you where not so happy about it.
Interesting to see TBS, looks to be a pretty nice town.
On the other side, that room just looks so dinghy...

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineLH4116 From Sweden, joined Aug 2007, 1714 posts, RR: 18
Reply 7, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 11656 times:

Hey Petteri, nice report!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
They have some interesting bars here, so what’s a better way to pass the time, it’s not like this town has much of interest:

But why do you keep make all these efforts in going there? Haven't you been there like 5 times already this year?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
No one at check in yet so I sit outside in the sun and decide to drink up the beers I bought as I can’t take them onboard anyway (the sacrifices we all have to make!).

In Sweden that would've been considered taboo in our society. Public drinking is illegal, and I'm quite surprised that isn't the case in Finland.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Man how do I hate these credit card companies.

Well it's all for your own safety. One thing I've found pointless is that one is sometimes given the option to use the 2-step or not. The obvious answer is no, so really it's a pointless thing to have if that's the case.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
although why someone would want to go to Turku is beyond me).

What's so bad about Åbo anyway?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
and in the end end up with 23A or something like that, a window seat right next to the CRJ-900 engines in the back, never my choice of a seat!

So what? Isn't it all part of the a.net spirit so sit next to the engines, and listen to the noise. Heck I bet a handful here have engine noise as MP3's on their smartphones, listening to the sweet hums before going to sleep  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The captain must be feeling hot:

What the hell is that?! Seems like a very pointless feature to have on a plane.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Interesting sign at the entrance to the church - apparently females can enter carrying a gun:

That's interesting, but the women can't enter wearing pants. Even more weird...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
it’s been ages since I was in the army and rode on these on a regular basis:

Really, you have mandatory army service in Finland? Man our countries are different!  

"Wheels Up!"
//Jonas



SAS Plus is Business Class made faux!
User currently offlinealexeu From Serbia, joined Oct 2007, 1817 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 11598 times:

Great and exotic report!

Georgia is high on my must-visit list and I wanted to visit it this year...Did you have any safety concerns, I heard Tbilisi is the most dangerous city in Europe!?

Also surprised to see CRJ on a 3 hours flight!

Cheers,
Alex


User currently offlineozzietukker From Netherlands, joined May 2007, 62 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11533 times:

Great and interesting report!

I am going to Tbilisi myself with Estonian Air coming May so was happily surprised to see a part of the flight already covered. I will only be going next year as I didn't think the winter is the best time to visit Georgia.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
A small 10 minute delay is posted, nothing bad though. Eventually I decide to head to the gate in the non-Schengen part. This is my first time passing through the Schengen border at TLL.

I hope they delay this flight for late incoming passengers, as I still think 25 minutes of connection time at TLL airport coming from Amsterdam is still a bit short...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I’m kinda impressed by OV again as they have a choice between two different sandwiches, “smoked chicken” or “egg mayo” thinking of KLM I go for the egg mayo one which to my delight comes on dark rye bread (the chicken one was a wheat roll). Soft drinks and coffee/tea are free

Sounds good, but not sure if I want to eat something that late...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
ccording to my new friend most of the European flights leave at this miserable hour, well looking at the map it is only natural I guess!

Yes, all the flights to Europe have not that good schedules, but one have to make a sactifice though, Georgia is on my visit list for a long time.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Next comes the worst part of this amazing trip: my accommodation. I picked the weirdly named Hotel Babilina (turned out the owner’s name was Babilina!) because of its excellent location at the edge of the Old Town and cheap prices. And note that booking.com also promised free wifi and air conditioning on every room.

Any suggestions where one should be staying? Obviously this one is not a good choice, but you might have seen some nicer places while in Tbilisi.


User currently offlineKnightsofmalta From Malta, joined Nov 2005, 1826 posts, RR: 19
Reply 10, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11524 times:

Hi FlyingFinn

Thanks for the excellent report. It was very entertaining, in fact I dare say I think this is your best report to date!

I'm must say I'm quite surprised by Georgia. If I'm perfectly honest I wasn't expecting anything much, just your standard ex-Soviet Union architecture. But form the pictures you took it actually looks rather nice. I'm also quite impressed by Estonian. Nice service considering it was in the middle of the night. Although I am quite surprised they'd use the CRJ900 on a three hour sector. Sexy as it may look, it is after all only a regional jet.

Thanks for posting!

Cheers,
William


User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 26997 posts, RR: 57
Reply 11, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11486 times:

Hey P another nice report . Found this one most interesting.

It certainly seems worth a visit sometime. I love the old churches and architecture in general. Certainly looks alot nicer than I had thought.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
OA260 - come claim your property:

Shame its not in Mayfair, London or Kolonaki , Athens but it may be worth a few £££'s or Lari .  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
for a cat person like me this is good news:

Oh your not all bad then lol...  

Thanks for the pleasant read as usual.

Regards

Philip  


User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 12, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11439 times:

Hi all, good to see so many comments! Thanks a lot!

Quoting finnishway (Reply 2):
It seems that Georgia is a great mix of old Soviet times and modern era. I would like go there in the future.

Since you now you have two reasonably priced options ex-Finland, BT and OV there's no excuse for you not to go!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
Quite a troublesome start again, it seems the last trips you have taken all are sick in the same bed.

Yeah, this year has been terrible for me, never had so many cancelations, missed flights, mechanical delays etc. crapola. I've never flown with OV this much either, so maybe this has something to do with it  . And don't even get me started on the rebookings and schedule changes for my upcoming OV flights this autumn...

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
You got me to chuckle quite a bit there with that double decker bed hotel room, just great!

No it wasn't!

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
BUS, what a funny name for an airport!

And now you can even fly an AirBUS there from TBS thanks to the new startup FlyGeorgia! If only they'd started operations a month earlier...

Quoting sultanils (Reply 3):
Glad to have learned some Finnish here, so 'peruttu' means cancelled  

Yes it does.

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 4):
Georgia looks really nice! Maybe I should pay a visit there too but maybe in January or something!?:D Not fun doing some city sightseeing when the temperature is over 30 degrees!

Well in January there will be snow there. It wasn't too bad, just make plenty of stops and drink a lot of... liquids  .

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 4):
Pity about the OV cancellation. Good you had a lot of time so you could catch your flight to Georgia, OV looks good there, I wouldn´t hesitate to fly them again.

Yeah, I did assess my risks carefully before deciding to book the flights so it was a calculated risk.

I'm following the OV developments really closely - they have a lot of potential if Mr. Taskila can pull it off. If not it will end up being another airBaltic I guess. It is not an easy task though.

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 4):
I didn´t know that "Rosa Bussarna " had trips over there. They have some really interesting trips, throughout the hole African continent for example. Don´t know if I want to sit on a bus for so long though!

Oh, they are famous in Sweden are they?

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 4):
I believe Putin here for once! You know I took one of these bottles when you invite me to the lounge at RIX. I opened it when I come home and it smelled and tasted very strange!:D

Well it is an acquired taste and quite heavy on minerals and thus can be a bit overwhelming if you're not used to it. I like it. So does Gab  .

Quoting Parton87 (Reply 4):
Again, thanks for the great story and I´m looking forward to the return report!

Well this trip will be actually in three parts plus I might throw a Norwegian story in between to spice things up a little bit!

Quoting debonair (Reply 5):
Not only for your insurance, but also for the compensation request according to EU 261/2004 law!

I thought about that but then again I was at Vantaa about 40 minutes later than with the plane, and home about the same time so I don't think there are any grounds for compensation. Had I taken the BE flight it would have been a delay of 1h50mins.

Quoting debonair (Reply 5):
I am pretty sure, this room is actually the staff dorm...

Yeah, I thought about it as well. I think it is a spare room they rent out during the winter when it is not so hot and stuffy but now had to get me a room somehow and this was the only choice.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 6):
Nice report, thanks for sharing. Too bad about the KAJ misery, I remember you where not so happy about it.

Yep, was quite frustrated by it all. But time heals all the wounds you know. I just hope they won't cancel my KAJ-TLL flight tonight, two times in a row is too much!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 6):
On the other side, that room just looks so dinghy...

I don't really mind dinginess, it would have been okay with me for the cheap price if there was air conditioning there. It was the high temperatures that made it unbearable!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 7):
But why do you keep make all these efforts in going there? Haven't you been there like 5 times already this year?

Jonas, I like to ramble. And I like these small places a lot, my soul belongs in small towns and I feel happy there even though I may complain a lot. Heck if I didn't like it I would just be flying between HEL and ARN to log flights, much cheaper and the risks for canceled flights are much lower.

As a matter of fact I'm in another small town right now, heading up to Kajaani in a few hours to catch this very same flight down to TLL  
Quoting LH4116 (Reply 7):
In Sweden that would've been considered taboo in our society. Public drinking is illegal, and I'm quite surprised that isn't the case in Finland.

It was decriminalized some years ago. Some cities then forbade that on public spots on some dubious grounds but basically if you don't cause a scene, behave yourself and are of the legal drinking age it is not a problem at all. Just take a stroll down Esplanadi smack in the middle of Helsinki centre on a sunny summer day and you will se *a lot* of people sitting on the grass, happily drinking away.

Besides there was no one there. If a tree falls in a forest and nobody is watching it doesn't really fall, does it?

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 7):
Well it's all for your own safety. One thing I've found pointless is that one is sometimes given the option to use the 2-step or not. The obvious answer is no, so really it's a pointless thing to have if that's the case.

It's not for my own safety. It is to protect the credit card company. My safety is guaranteed by the consumer laws regarding credit cards - if something bad happens you just dispute the charge and that's it.

Norwegian does have that option, very nice for them!

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 7):
What's so bad about Åbo anyway?

It is the arse of Finland  . Turku is okay, but it is full of Turku people who are not okay.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 7):
What the hell is that?! Seems like a very pointless feature to have on a plane.

Weren't you supposed to be the airplane engineer? I think that hole is meant for passing papers like the fuel bills, manifests etc back and forth between the ground and cockpit staff. On bigger planes they open the side window on the cockpit and the ground crew has a special "grabbing device" which they use to raise the papers up.

Quoting LH4116 (Reply 7):
Really, you have mandatory army service in Finland? Man our countries are different!  

Wow, I'm really surprised that you didn't know this?! Considering that the differences between the Swedish and Finnish armies are regular news here everybody knows it in Finland.

And yes, we have conscription and will hopefully have it forever. There's no other way. Otherwise we might as well start learning Russian. It is different for you guys as you have us (and to a lesser degree the Norsemen) as a buffer between you and the Horde.

Actually there was a really good story on today's newspaper that the real reason for Finland joining in the EU had nothing to do with the economy - but safety. It is a handy guarantee that in the hour of need there will be someone backing us up. This is why we are such good pals with Germany and are always backing Mrs. Merkel - Germany is the only country that actually made good of its promise to help Finland and did so in a big way, probably saving this country's independence in the process. That's why we love Germans.

I just can't understand what the big taboo about joining NATO here is. Of course we should join it. Should've done so right after '89 when it would've been possible for political reasons.

Sorry, political rant over. But these things are very close to my heart.

Quoting alexeu (Reply 8):
Georgia is high on my must-visit list and I wanted to visit it this year...Did you have any safety concerns, I heard Tbilisi is the most dangerous city in Europe!?

What? Really? I didn't feel unsafe at all, the Georgians were so nice and friendly that I'm sure they are not capable of causing any harm to other people  . I think your biggest hazards there are getting run over by a car (traffic is crazy), or falling into a pothole in the old town (since there is A LOT of construction everywhere) or getting a heatstroke in your hotel room  .

Then again according to my friend things were vastly different under the old regime, so ten years ago this was quite possible. The new president has done a lot of good things and seems to be determined to be serving the people and making Georgia a better place for its citizens and tourists alike. The first thing he did was to clean up the police force, so there's no corruption there any more - whereas the old police was completely corrupt.

Quoting ozzietukker (Reply 9):
I am going to Tbilisi myself with Estonian Air coming May so was happily surprised to see a part of the flight already covered. I will only be going next year as I didn't think the winter is the best time to visit Georgia.

Yeah, I think spring might be the best time unless you like high temperatures. It gets quite cold during the winter with snow so that might or might not be your thing. And besides the OV route runs only during the summer season.

Quoting ozzietukker (Reply 9):
I hope they delay this flight for late incoming passengers, as I still think 25 minutes of connection time at TLL airport coming from Amsterdam is still a bit short...

Oh, they will most certainly wait if you are running late - they don't want to pay for hotel accommodation and a tricky rerouting the next day - the flight does not run every day!

Quoting ozzietukker (Reply 9):
Any suggestions where one should be staying? Obviously this one is not a good choice, but you might have seen some nicer places while in Tbilisi.

If you've got the money go for either of the two Marriotts, best hotels in town but of course very expensive. There's also a Radisson BLU, equally expensive but looked quite fancy.

For something more affordable my friend recommended Sharden Villa: http://www.info-tbilisi.com/shardenvilla/
It looked nice from the outside and has a great location in the old town next to the bar area, close to the thermal baths, river and pretty much everything apart from a metro station which is a couple of kilometers walk thru the old town.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
Thanks for the excellent report. It was very entertaining, in fact I dare say I think this is your best report to date!

Thanks! We all have our favorites, glad you liked this one. Some interesting stuff coming up on this trip, stay tuned!

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
I'm must say I'm quite surprised by Georgia. If I'm perfectly honest I wasn't expecting anything much, just your standard ex-Soviet Union architecture.

Even during the Soviet times the Georgians had it better than everybody else - they had better food and more people here lived in traditional houses instead of the Soviet apartment blocks than anywhere else throughout the empire. And you can definitely see that in Tbilisi - sure there are those drab blocks around, but not to that extent that you'd expect from a city of 1.7 million people.

Quoting Knightsofmalta (Reply 10):
Although I am quite surprised they'd use the CRJ900 on a three hour sector. Sexy as it may look, it is after all only a regional jet.

Well it's not like they really have any other choice. The 737s are mostly gone, I think there's still one remaining which will be gone by the end of this year. I think it is mostly earmarked for the LGW route these days. Next year even LGW will be operated by the new E195s.


User currently offlinedc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2293 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11349 times:

Hi FlyingFinn!

Good to see a Georgian report up. Most Georgian reports here include ATL and that's it  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Edreams sends me an email that my Air Zena flight has been canceled and I should contact them (the airline, not Edreams) for my options and alternative flights. Well that’s complete bullcrap, after all they are supposed to be my travel agency and thus act as the interface between me and the airline but apparently they don’t want all that responsibility!

That's ridiculous. Edreams? More like Enightmares...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Estonian Air was selling KAJ-TLL-HEL for only 65 EUR. A domestic Finnish flight via Tallinn sounded good, as did the miles they hand out on these itineraries plus the fact that I’d be arriving to HEL from TLL on the noon flight only to fly back to TLL on the 6 PM flight to continue my trip to TBS appealed a lot to me so I booked it.

Not bad, but KAJ-HEL via TLL and an overnight in TLL? Does anyone actually use that option?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
A few minutes later I follow him indoors where both him and the check in agent say to me “It’s an hour late!”, choruslike. Thanks.

Good to know. Better than no one saying that!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
So I decide to use the free wifi offered by VR... which of course doesn’t work. Bugger. Sometimes it works for a bit, always extremely slow and for the most part of the trip it just gives up

Sounds like NSB's wi-fi... That's exactly how you could describe it.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
The captain must be feeling hot:

Oh, man, a bit of fresh air!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Here’s the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1952 Summer Games:

I remember that, I went up that tower.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
That feels funny, as it’s been years since I stopped thinking of Estonia as such

I couldn't think of it as USSR land. Although, a lot of Russian is spoken there. I do think Estonia was a technological center of the USSR.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Oh, yes, my friend also offered to drive me to my hotel, just like that. I was really overwhelmed by this genuine friendliness but of course had no choice but to accept.

Wow. Amazing hospitality, as you said!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Every day I asked about switching rooms. Every day they told me “in the evening”. Every evening I asked, but the answer was that all the rooms were already gone. Not very happy about this.

Not amazing hospitality by Babilina's crew  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
And then Georgia. What can I really say? I was literally blown away! I expected something completely different, but what I found was a country with amazing sights and sounds, top notch food, a great drive to improve their infrastructure and modernize the country and most importantly amazing people! Nowhere else have I found such genuinely friendly people who are so damn proud of their little country that they literally treat any foreign tourists interested in their little corner of Caucasus like kings! As I mentioned the fact that English was quite widely (and good) spoken was a real surprise to me.

Tbilisi looks really good! And the whole country, really. And 75km in an hour? That's pretty fast by my standards. I wouldn't complain.

Yes, I have to see about Georgia--no visa needed, and Armenia close by for a getaway. Interesting places. On the other hand Azerbaijan looks quite boring...

Thanks for your report, P. Looking forward to the next parts! I won't give anything away, haha.


User currently offlineTravelsUK From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2007, 134 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11265 times:

Absolutely AWSOME read, great entertainment and IMHO the best TR om A.net so far this year - Thank you!

You really should write a book...

Take care and Cheers!

Nick


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6570 posts, RR: 55
Reply 15, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 9 hours ago) and read 11205 times:

Hi FlyingFInn!

Very nice report with nice pictures!

Flights seem okay but too bad that the flight from KAJ cancelled. Flight on Estonian to TBS looks okay; always great to have the exit row.

Very interesting to see Tbilisi ! City looks nice and I'll probably visit some day.

Looking forward to your next report !

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6808 posts, RR: 77
Reply 16, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 11124 times:

Hi FlyingFinn,

great report with awesome pictures from Georgia. I'm positively surprised by that country, your report definitely helps to improve Georgia's image!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
. Tbilisi has been a popular summer destination for Estonian Air for quite a long time and after I found a dirt cheap one way fare of 103 EUR on OV I decided to book if for July.

Sounds very good!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
So I thought I was all set. Bad thought, I know. Fast forward two or so months and Edreams sends me an email that my Air Zena flight has been canceled and I should contact them (the airline, not Edreams) for my options and alternative flights. Well that’s complete bullcrap, after all they are supposed to be my travel agency and thus act as the interface between me and the airline but apparently they don’t want all that responsibility!
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
As the new schedule was not really that good for me I decided to ditch the Batumi sidetrip and asked for Edreams to refund my money. Well, what did you really expect - they never answered my request. After a couple of weeks I was quite pissed off with them, decided to add them to my permanent shitlist of companies (which keeps growing and growing) and disputed the charge with my bank instead. Oh, and interestingly I also found after reviewing my credit card statements that they had charged me *twice* (but slightly different sums) for the ticket, one under their own company name and one to someone named “Hahn Air” (which Air Zena also mentioned was the “travel agent” who had issued my ticket). Grrr. Needless to say both charges were disputed and reversed by my bank. These kind of monkeys should be put out of business for good! So beware, never deal with Edreams.

That's too bad. Edreams is a company to avoid, it seems.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Not exactly busy:

Almost as bad as it used to be at HOQ...but in contrast to KAJ, HOQ doesn't get scheduled airline flights any more.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
This time I sit down inside to charge up my devices and use the wifi connection. Eventually the lady comes back and says that the flight has just been cancelled. WHAT? Yes, cancelled.

More bad luck...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Well not really, as the VR website (like so many others these days) has this annoying two-step validation process when paying by a credit card and I don’t carry my bank account codes around for fun so no dice for e-commerce. Man how do I hate these credit card companies.

...and more bad luck.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
We land in complete darkness on what I later figured out was TBS’ runway 31R after three hours of flight.

That's really long for a CRJ - but still better than getting an ERJ-145 for several hours on US domestic flights...

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Now the thing here is that:
1) Every day the temperature outside was well over 30 degrees.
2) That sorry room didn’t have any air conditioning. It did have a bathroom though.
3) Every night it was maybe 50 degrees in the dingy room, sweat started pouring out from your body right after entering it. You can imagine what it was like sleeping in there.
4) There was a window in the room, but it opened into a sort of enclosed indoor balcony, so opening it did no good to the temperatures.

Every day I asked about switching rooms. Every day they told me “in the evening”. Every evening I asked, but the answer was that all the rooms were already gone. Not very happy about this.

In the end I managed to get a whopping 5 EUR per day discount on the daily rate (actually pretty good as the room was only 30 EUR per night) because of this crap room, but I didn’t leave as a happy customer - no way I’m going back to this place.

Oh, and the other rooms did have air conditioning, real beds, televisions and all kinds of amenities. My room had just the bunk bed, a small bedstand and a light on the roof. That’s it.

Horrible, totally horrible. How much more expensive were other hotels in the area?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Hmm, that registration reminds me of somebody:
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Also notice the registration, something familiar here:

How familiar, always nice to see "777" on license plates...


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2429 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 11047 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 12):
I thought about that but then again I was at Vantaa about 40 minutes later than with the plane, and home about the same time so I don't think there are any grounds for compensation.

I see it much different... You selected this route, bcs. you had to be in TLL that night. As flight OV503 was canceled- the purpose of your travel failed, an alternative transport to TLL that night was not offered=compensation!


User currently offlinedeltamartin From Sweden, joined Dec 2010, 1061 posts, RR: 7
Reply 18, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 6 hours ago) and read 11046 times:

Hi P!

Great report just as usual! I really enjoyed this one!
I'm really glad to hear that Georgia was such a nice place and that you met George who seemed like a great guy.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Here’s the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1952 Summer Games:

I have a thing for arenas and stadiums so I really liked that picture!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Oh and we both have a common enemy as well - looking at history that’s not really a surprise!

A common enemy is a great way of getting a new friend.  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Remember the TeliaSonera couches at Tallinn - well the company is here too:

Now that's a surprise.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

The House of the Rising Temperature

Haha! Good one!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

The Bridge of Peace - a pedestrian bridge over the Mtkvari (or Kura, a funny name for Finns) river:

Great looking bridge.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I think the Swedes have been hitting the bottle a little bit too hard to be seeing pink elephants:

Well Rosa Bussarna is some sort of travel agency or travel tour company or something that arrange bus journeys to various places. I don't know much more about them, nor do I know why they have pink elephants there!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

Go to Georgia before the rest of the world discovers it. It is amazing. You won’t regret it, you have my word!

Your report sure made me want to go there, and I'll try to make sure I get there one day.

Martin


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1920 posts, RR: 9
Reply 19, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 10939 times:

Thanks for a wonderful trip report! Sorry to hear about all the cancelations but Estonia Air looks pretty good once it gets to the air. The CRJ900 Next Gen looks beautiful and the sandwich is decent. It is funny that we all go "wow" if they bother with a sandwich on a three hours flight.

Georgia looks like a very beautiful country and maybe I should give it a visit in the future.

Thanks,
Carfield


User currently offlineba319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8546 posts, RR: 54
Reply 20, posted (2 years 3 weeks 2 days 17 hours ago) and read 10690 times:
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Hi P,

Georgia looks great from your images and text, really a must visit place before it get's spoilt.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Ok, sold! Well not really, as the VR website (like so many others these days) has this annoying two-step validation process when paying by a credit card and I don’t carry my bank account codes around for fun so no dice for e-commerce. Man how do I hate these credit card companies.

- I know it's all security related, but these two-step validations are a pain when your trying to buy something!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I somehow manage to survive the remaining one and half hours and eventually emerge at my local station, six and half hours after leaving Kajaani, glad that this very annoying train trip has come to an end.

- Yikes, what a trip!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
25 EUR still isn’t exactly a “walk-in” fare methinks

- Not at that price!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
They have some delightful young, cute girls working here and today’s no exception

- Markus would love it by the sounds of it  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
A male purser and a female FA, both quite young as Estonians tend to be.

- Is there a lack of old Estonians then?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
I’m usually not that chatty in planes with strangers, preferring to take in the whole experience and so on

- I'm the same.

Cheers

Mark



111,732,3,4,5,7,8,BBJ,741,742,743,744,752,762,763,764,772,77L,773,77W,L15,D10,30,40,AB3,AB6,A312.313,319,320,321,332,333
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3270 posts, RR: 12
Reply 21, posted (2 years 3 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 10626 times:

Nice report P, and some great photos of Georgia....lovely country isn't it!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
“All destinations 100 EUR roundtrip sale” where one could actually fly to and from Tbilisi for the same amount of money, but still...

Wow, great calue...how often are these sales?

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Kinda impressive for a flight in the middle of the night - they could’ve easily gotten away with a quick drinks run and maybe a pack of crackers but decided to offer something more substantial, thumbs up Mr. Taskila!

Hmm, well for a 4 hours flight, I think it was the least they could offer. I remember my OS flight VIE-EVN with similar times, and we hot a very nice 3 course hot meal

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
A packed bus ride to the terminal follows. Surprisingly there’s a lot of activity at the airport - I see LH departing to MUC and some other planes around. According to my new friend most of the European flights leave at this miserable hour, well looking at the map it is only natural I guess!

I was delighted that the BD flight I took home left at 9am.....the airport was basically deserted from 0500-2000, with all activity happening at night. Must be annoying for the locals

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

In the end I managed to get a whopping 5 EUR per day discount on the daily rate (actually pretty good as the room was only 30 EUR per night) because of this crap room, but I didn’t leave as a happy customer - no way I’m going back to this place.
Oh, and the other rooms did have air conditioning, real beds, televisions and all kinds of amenities. My room had just the bunk bed, a small bedstand and a light on the roof. That’s it.

Sounds like they took you for a ride  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Georgian food - back in the Soviet times the Georgian SSSR was known as “the Italy of Soviet Union” thanks to its amazing cuisine and I can only agree:

Ooh, a khatapui, so so tasty!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Those domes are are actually underground baths on top of hot springs - the very same springs that caused this city to be founded here in the first place. Would be a nice experience but as it was well over 30 degrees a hot bath didn’t sound that appealing!

They were very nice on a cold, wet October day!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
This stuff is excellent (but will kill you if you believe the Putin regime propaganda):

I LOVE BORJOMI! Shame you didn't go and pay a visit.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:MAN-LHR-ARN-OSL-TOS-LYR-OSL-CPH-LHR,LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-TPE-
User currently offlinereifel From Germany, joined Feb 2005, 1360 posts, RR: 1
Reply 22, posted (2 years 3 weeks 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 10403 times:

Hi Petteri,

Thanks so much for writing this review! I should go to sleep but I couldn't just do before reading this.
The reason for that is, as you mentioned, I have also booked this 100 EUR roundtrip fare, from Hannover via TLL to TBS. Quite a strange routing and it has 7 hours each way in TLL. I will probably fit a Avies flight to URE or KDL into it as it is dirt cheap and will give me the chance to fly a J31. This will be in October. I have a huge travelling friend which I knew wanted to got to TBS, too, so I also told him about this offer and he booked over Christmas.

Now, you know what happened? OV is cancelling HAJ on beginning of october and TBS on mid of October. My outbound flight is unchanged, and TBS-TLL is fine, too. For TLL-HAJ they have an agreement to replace it with TLL-CPH on OV and CPH-HAJ on SK. So I was rebooked HAJ-TLL-TBS-TLL-CPH-HAJ.
But now take a seat and listen what happened to my friend which will travel over Christmas. All his flights were cancelled. They are aparently not expecting transfer travellers. So they only have arrangements for people travelling HAJ-TLL, and seperately TLL-TBS. It would make sense that someone travelling HAJ-TBS would be rebooked on a itinerary which is logical, i.e. via MUC with LH or whatever, but no! My friend got the jackpot and was rebooked as follows:
HAJ-CPH with SK, CPH-TLL with OV, TLL-RIX-TBS with BT, same way back with a overnight stop paid by OV in TLL! What a trek, I can only imagine the poor check in guy at HAJ tagging him to TBS via CPH and RIX on 3 different airlines...  
Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
In addition to these flights I really wanted to try out the Georgian Airline Air Zena. They had a “perfectly” (when you arrive at 4AM no flights is exactly perfect) timed flight to Batumi, the summer capital of Georgia, a huge (for Georgians and some Turks) beach destination on the Black Sea. That sure sounded interesting and a one way ticket ticket on TBS-BUS was only about 50 EUR so I decided to book it.

Too bad... I am planning to do something similar as well. There is a new Georgian carrier flying this route, so that could be an option.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
So I thought I was all set. Bad thought, I know. Fast forward two or so months and Edreams sends me an email that my Air Zena flight has been canceled and I should contact them (the airline, not Edreams) for my options and alternative flights. Well that’s complete bullcrap, after all they are supposed to be my travel agency and thus act as the interface between me and the airline but apparently they don’t want all that responsibility!

Here I have to disagree. I may be biased, as I am an IATA agent myself. However - at least here over in Europe - things have changed. Airlines do not pay comission anymore. So if as a passenger you book a ticket with a travel agent, you pay the air fare, and you pay seperately a service charge which is basically what the agent gets for searching the fare and issuing the ticket for you. With this your contract with the agent is fulfilled and all the agent needs to do is to give all contact data to the airline and can indeed send you to the airline. You paid a charge for issuing a ticket. This is fulfilled and his business with you ends as this point and they're not responsible to interact between you and the airline lateron, although obviously a good agent will do, since you should provide some customer service. But this is theory. We know that reality is different: airlines usually play the other way round and love to send you to the agent saying "oh you didn't booked with us". I understand usually the passenger is sent from A to B, but we all know how airlines work and that they have own laws and rules and are cherrypicking whenever they can.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Oh, and interestingly I also found after reviewing my credit card statements that they had charged me *twice* (but slightly different sums) for the ticket, one under their own company name and one to someone named “Hahn Air” (which Air Zena also mentioned was the “travel agent” who had issued my ticket).

This is indeed strange. Indeed Airzena does not participate in a lot of European BSP's, so this means that it is not possible for agents i.e,. in Germany to issue their flights on Airzena ticket stock. Hahn Air is the biggest e-ticket solution in the world for "exotic" airlines that do not want or can not make themselves available on all BSP's in the world, as they do not or do not want to meet the requirements for that. So travel agents would issue these flights on Hahn Air ticket stock, this Hahn Air will collect the payment, and then bill it seperately from BSP with the Airline. This makes these exotic carriers available on all BSP markets where Hahn AIr is present, which is literally all around the world. So it makes definitely sense Hahn Air charged your CC. However it makes no sense that edreams charged it seperately again, they should onlyhave taken their ticketing fee. Thanks for warning us about this agency.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):

http://i895.photobucket.com/albums/a...hoto/Tbilisi_07_2012/Kajaani_9.jpg

Interesting boarding pass, interesting to see that they use boarding passes from Tallinn  

[quote=FlyingFinn76,reply=0]Well, no sleep for the wicked yet. I don’t want to leave my train ticket purchase until the last moment so I walk the one mile to the station to purchase it from the self service kiosk (of course these don’t need any extra verification when paying with the very same credit card - highly illogical Mr. Spock would say!)

Maybe this is an online thing. Because at the machine you enter the card physically, they know this card is here... Online it can be stolen data, so they would double check it with PIN's etc. In Germany we have similar things, however they would only ask you for an additional password, which is always the same, rather than for a different PIN number anytime you use it.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Not too hard to figure out which company is sponsoring this lounging area from the colors (but keep these in mind, we will come back to them later on):

Tell me more about this lounge. Does it has nice views? It looks great. What about food options? You know I will spend quite a lot of time there with my 7 hours layover (will head to the city though and eat a lot of dumplins).

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
No sign of boarding commencing yet so I decide to lubricate myself a bit more. I really like the Saku brewery and especially the fact that they are not afraid of experimenting with less than mainstream beers, unlike their cowardly counterparts in Finland. Image dedicated to the one man who is responsible for 15% of Stuttgart Airport’s yearly revenue - Flieger67:

Who came up with that name??

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Thread starter):
Surprisingly there’s a lot of activity at the airport - I see LH departing to MUC and some other planes around. According to my new friend most of the European flights leave at this miserable hour, well looking at the map it is only natural I guess!

Yes I believe a lot of airlines fly overnight to these eastern Europe destinations (as with TLV, KUF, ATH etc) as it's a great way to use aircrafts during night time making them available for western routes during day.



Again thanks so much for sharing. I can't wait to get to TBS and I really enjoyed watchting the pictures and reading about the great people you met there!
Also nice to see that your experience on OV - besides the cancelled flight - was quite ok.
It's nice to see that OV cares about their passengers, even if they're rebooked from a 4 segment itinerary to 8 segments, but we flight geeks would probably not complain because of that  


User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6570 posts, RR: 55
Reply 23, posted (2 years 3 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 10255 times:

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
Here I have to disagree. I may be biased, as I am an IATA agent myself. However - at least here over in Europe - things have changed.

Here in the US, the travel agent IS responsible for notifying the passenger of schedule changes and is also supposed to reissue the ticket. I'm not in reservations anymore so it's possible that things may have changed here as well although unlikely.

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 24, posted (2 years 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 10109 times:

Hi guys, lovely to see so many comments, thank you!

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 13):
Good to see a Georgian report up. Most Georgian reports here include ATL and that's it  

Hah, yeah this is what I thought as well!

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 13):
Not bad, but KAJ-HEL via TLL and an overnight in TLL? Does anyone actually use that option?

Well I did last weekend!  . Back in its heyday BT was offering quite a few domestic Finnish connections via RIX, I flew quite a few of them actually. Yes, it was cheaper than booking with Finnair  . But this route is ending in a few weeks so no such connections anymore.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 13):
And 75km in an hour? That's pretty fast by my standards. I wouldn't complain.

I guess I'm used to the Finnish trains - even the "slow ones" regularly do 140km/h.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 13):
Yes, I have to see about Georgia--no visa needed, and Armenia close by for a getaway. Interesting places. On the other hand Azerbaijan looks quite boring...

Yes, Georgia and Armenia are easy to access and very nice, definitely recommended by me. Shame about the need to have a visa for Azeri plus not being able to get it at the border, that's putting it a bit off for me (but I'd love to visit, if for nothing else then for a chance to visit a city called "Ganja"  ).

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 14):
Absolutely AWSOME read, great entertainment and IMHO the best TR om A.net so far this year - Thank you!

Thank you! We all have our favorite reports, I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thank you for your business and welcome back!

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 14):
You really should write a book...

I would need a publisher for that...

Quoting The777Man (Reply 15):
Very interesting to see Tbilisi ! City looks nice and I'll probably visit some day.

Yep, definitely recommendable. Just no triple seven flying there, but at least you have those nice car plates...  
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 16):
great report with awesome pictures from Georgia. I'm positively surprised by that country, your report definitely helps to improve Georgia's image!

Thanks. This was partly the idea, this hidden gem of a country deserves to be known better!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 16):
Almost as bad as it used to be at HOQ...but in contrast to KAJ, HOQ doesn't get scheduled airline flights any more.

Is the brewery & beer garden still open?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 16):
Horrible, totally horrible. How much more expensive were other hotels in the area?

Well in advance I could've gotten something for maybe 70 EUR. I actually thought about booking a different hotel for the last night but the good looking ones nearby were all rather expensive and I didn't really feel like heading out into the suburbs where the prices were quite okay.

Quoting debonair (Reply 17):
I see it much different... You selected this route, bcs. you had to be in TLL that night. As flight OV503 was canceled- the purpose of your travel failed, an alternative transport to TLL that night was not offered=compensation!

Yeah, I guess you could put it that way. But OV's mostly been nice to me so I don't want to take them for a ride...

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 18):
I'm really glad to hear that Georgia was such a nice place and that you met George who seemed like a great guy.

George from Georgia, hah. Just like that "Hermann the German" joke in Men Behaving Badly  .

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 18):
Here’s the Olympic Stadium, built for the 1952 Summer Games:
I have a thing for arenas and stadiums so I really liked that picture!

Ahh, so you have to come and take a closer look!

Quoting deltamartin (Reply 18):
Remember the TeliaSonera couches at Tallinn - well the company is here too:
Now that's a surprise.

Well not really, they do lots of business in eastern Europe and the Caucasus area, in countries like Kazakstan, Uzbekistan etc.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 19):
Sorry to hear about all the cancelations but Estonia Air looks pretty good once it gets to the air.

Yep, pretty much all of my inflight experiences with them have been good and some even great. The ground handling and the TLL hub operation can sometimes be a bit of a mess and they are still trying to reinvent themselves so schedule changes, route suspensions etc. are quite commonplace which causes some extra hassle now and then.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 19):
It is funny that we all go "wow" if they bother with a sandwich on a three hours flight.

Yeah, sign of the times I guess  .

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
Georgia looks great from your images and text, really a must visit place before it get's spoilt.

Yep, indeed it is. I really want to go back, especially to Batumi to checkout the beaches. Also flying to Kutaisi with Wizzair sounds very tempting...

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
- I know it's all security related, but these two-step validations are a pain when your trying to buy something!

Tell me about it, one of my pet peeves.

Quoting ba319-131 (Reply 20):
- Is there a lack of old Estonians then?

Well compared to most of Europe the Baltics have quite a healthy age pyramid, there are a lot of young people around.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 21):
Nice report P, and some great photos of Georgia....lovely country isn't it!

Indeed it is!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 21):
Wow, great calue...how often are these sales?

I've only seen that one they had last spring. I didn't even realize it in the beginning, I thought it was your usual "fares starting from 100 EUR" type of deal but amazingly every single destination was available for that price, ex-HEL that means 25 EUR per segment if you fly further than TLL. I ended up booking three trips from it  .

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 21):
Hmm, well for a 4 hours flight, I think it was the least they could offer.

Three hours actually. There's an hour's time difference.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 21):
I was delighted that the BD flight I took home left at 9am.....the airport was basically deserted from 0500-2000, with all activity happening at night. Must be annoying for the locals

Yeah, it was packed in the middle of the night when I was leaving.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
Quite a strange routing and it has 7 hours each way in TLL. I will probably fit a Avies flight to URE or KDL into it as it is dirt cheap and will give me the chance to fly a J31.

That sounds nice, Kärdla especially is a very cute little airport. Flying to Kuressaari is not really worth it as you should really pay the town and the island a visit and it sounds like you are planning on doing a same plane turnaround. BTW this weekend I saw a Lithuanian-registered Turbolet LY-ABN operating the KDL flight. It was listed as being operated by "Aviabaltika" or something like that - would be a great catch!

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
This will be in October. I have a huge travelling friend which I knew wanted to got to TBS, too, so I also told him about this offer and he booked over Christmas.

When are you there in October? Fellow a.netter AYA333 is also heading there on this very same 100 EUR deal.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
Now, you know what happened? OV is cancelling HAJ on beginning of october and TBS on mid of October.

Yes, plenty of changes for the winter schedule. TBS should return as a seasonal destination next summer. I had my fair share of changes for my autumn itineraries.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
HAJ-CPH with SK, CPH-TLL with OV, TLL-RIX-TBS with BT, same way back with a overnight stop paid by OV in TLL! What a trek, I can only imagine the poor check in guy at HAJ tagging him to TBS via CPH and RIX on 3 different airlines...  

Hah, looks like they took him for a ride! I'd really love a rerouting like that, unless it of course cuts down ones time at the destination a lot. But I think this is quite typical for OV, they decided to reroute HAJ passengers this way and TBS passengers that way and there's no incentive to come up with a more clever solution.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
Too bad... I am planning to do something similar as well. There is a new Georgian carrier flying this route, so that could be an option.

Yes, shame FlyGeorgia started a few weeks after I was there. That would've been very interesting.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
We know that reality is different: airlines usually play the other way round and love to send you to the agent saying "oh you didn't booked with us". I understand usually the passenger is sent from A to B, but we all know how airlines work and that they have own laws and rules and are cherrypicking whenever they can.

Yeah, I guess you have a point. But I've called Lufthansa enough times with changes to Expedia ticketed itineraries and when it comes to handling money, refunds etc. they've always referred me to Expedia. For reroutings they've usually agreed to do it themselves.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
However it makes no sense that edreams charged it seperately again, they should onlyhave taken their ticketing fee. Thanks for warning us about this agency.

Thanks for your information regarding Hahn Air, now it sort of makes sense. And it looks like the amount charged by Hahn Air was exactly the ticket fare and the one by EDreams the fare + their 10 EUR fee.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
Tell me more about this lounge. Does it has nice views? It looks great. What about food options? You know I will spend quite a lot of time there with my 7 hours layover (will head to the city though and eat a lot of dumplins).

Save the dumplings for Tbilisi - Khinkali are much better than the Russian style stuff you get in Estonia I think! But this one is no lounge - they simply have setup these comfortable couches at one of the gate areas, in the TeliaSonera colors of course. They look quite comfy and would probably make for a nice bed...

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
Who came up with that name??

I don't know. They seem to have launched this beer series - there's an English style ale named "Manchester" (delicious) and I saw an ad for Saku "Dublin" which I assume is a stout. Or maybe a red ale a'la Kilkenny.

Quoting reifel (Reply 22):
It's nice to see that OV cares about their passengers, even if they're rebooked from a 4 segment itinerary to 8 segments, but we flight geeks would probably not complain because of that  

Yeah, they rerouted my LGW-TLL-HEL to LHR-CPH-TLL-HEL which actually I don't mind a single bit!


25 deltamartin : Hi again, Well I've been right outside it once! True, I'd still be quite surprised to see them there though, due to associating them so much with Swed
26 Post contains images roberts87 : Great report as usual! Always nice to read about the not so common destinations, such as Georgia. And some bonus pics of Finland and Tallin included t
27 Post contains images reifel : Yes, KDL is beautiful. I spent a day there a few years ago when flying with Avies. They used Turbolets and Tickets were hand written Think that chang
28 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi guys, You can climb the tower, you know? Well, my trips tend to take me to multiple places these days... The terminal building is rather new and so
29 LXM83 : Hello FlyingFinn76 Fantastic and fascinating report! Thanks for sharing your Georgia tour with us. Still alive and thanks to a Russian product shop in
30 Post contains images airbuseric : P, great to read your experiences and trip to Georgia. Now it's always on your mind! What a welcoming country it seems to be, indeed you mention alrea
31 okapi : Hey Mr Finlandais Volant! This is one the most amazing trip you've taken, or at least, this is the feeling I get after reading it. You should publish
32 Post contains images infodesk : Hi P, Super, super stuff. Really enjoyed this report. What a lot you saw & experienced during your stay in Georgia. Such a great story with your s
33 lukeyboy95 : Hi P. This was an absolutely terrific report. It is easy to get lost with you on your journeys and this was no different. I just knew that Georgia wou
34 Post contains images FlyingFinn76 : Hi folks, good to see more comments, thank you! No problem, glad you liked it. I really loved my time there so I guess it shows through here! Really?
35 FLIEGER67 : Hi, P., great story, great pictures. It seems Georgia is definitely worth a visit. Like me, you know!. Hah, never expected something like this. Really
36 Post contains images adamspotter : Hi there FlyingFinn, Another entertaining and great report on your trip to Georgia. Wasn't expecting Georgia to be like this either to be honest, quit
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