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Balkan Open Jaw. Part I: Bulgaria  
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 9254 times:

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BACKGROUND


After a year and a half of not having set foot on the Old Continent I decided that it was time to go back and visit my family (unlike OA260, who always refers to his family as "the Family" I will refrain from doing so because -being Bulgarian and all- you'd think I'm referring to the Mafia). November is not exactly the heart of the tourist season so I was curious to see what kind of deals I could find out of ORD. My hometown (and destination for this trip) is the little town of Petrich, Bulgaria, which sits (relatively speaking) equidistant between SOF and SKG. I personally prefer flying to the latter but I couldn't find any good deals for it. In the end TK came to the rescue and offered me an open-jaw itinerary via IST allowing me to arrive in SOF but depart from SKG for the return, all for the very good price of around $800. The catch was that my layover at IST on the way back would be nearly 21 hours long. I saw this as an opportunity to explore a city I've never been to before so I went ahead and booked it. I was therefore going to try a new carrier (TK), a new airport (IST) and visit a new country (Turkey). How very exciting.

This is a report that covers the first part of this trip (ORD-IST-SOF and destination photos from Sofia and Southwest Bulgaria). The second part will cover an amazing road trip I took to the alpine Greek region of Epirus (which left me speechless with its unexpected beauty) and my return flights (SKG-IST-ORD), including photos from my overnight layover in Istanbul.




Here's the final itinerary: ORD-IST-SOF and SKG-IST-ORD, and here's how it looked like on a map:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/Map6.jpg
Red lines represent flights and white lines represent travel by car. Created using the help of gcmap.com


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Here are the segments covered in this first part. Labelled as "1" on the map is the town of Petrich.




A FIRST TASTE OF TURKISH DELIGHT



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Route: ORD-IST
Carrier: Turkish Airlines
Aircraft: A330-200
Reg: TC-JND, "Antalya"


My trip did not start in the best way. I arrive at ORD nearly 4 hours before my flight and I find the check-in counters staffed but devoid of any pax yet. I walk up to one of the counters and I kneel to retrieve my passport from by bag. As I kneel I hear a loud tearing sound coming from behind me. To my horror I realize that the entire butt-section of my jeans had been torn. After the initial panic I remember that I have another pair of jeans in my (still unchecked) suitcase. I quickly pull the new jeans out of the bag and then hand the bag to be checked in. There was hardly anyone in line behind me so the incident went mostly unnoticed (I think). After completing my check-in I wrapped my rear with a jacket and made my way to the restrooms where I put on my new pair of pants for the day...

Security was uncharacteristically fast (by ORD standards) so I found myself airside with over 3 and a half hours to spare. I went to the gate where our A330-200 was already waiting, albeit mostly hidden behind the jetway. A BA B777 and an Etihad B777 were the only other visible aircraft in T5 so after I snapped a few photos of them I settled in front of a TV monitor showing a Thursday Night NFL game between the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Indianapolis Colts. Despite not being a fan of either team it was an interesting game that kept me entertained until it was time for boarding. (side-note: Despite not being a fan of anything that has to do with New York my favorite NFL team is the New York Jets. Can anyone guess why? ).


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Our bird wearing the old livery hiding behind the jetbridge. I hate that.

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Our neighbor getting ready for a late departure to LHR

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The tail of our A330 barely visible behind the jetbridges.

Boarding was something out of a horror movie. When pre-boarding was called for pax with babies or in need of special assistance the awful sound quality of the announcement combined with the apparent poor English skills of the majority of the pax led to the instantaneous and en-masse gathering of literally hundreds of people in front of the gate. To my surprise the gate agents allowed boarding to take place in this way, ignoring the group numbers we had been assigned at check in. Not cool. This negative first impression of TK's operations was somewhat alleviated by the sight of the chef (with hat and all) greeting us at the door of our aircraft. I've never been greeted by a chef on an aircraft so I found this to be a rather cool touch.

While walking to my seat I notice from afar that it is occupied by a toddler next to its mother. I point out to them that they must be sitting in the wrong spot and sure enough they realize that they should be sitting a row ahead of me. I'm hardly surprised that (yet again) a toddler is going to be in my general vicinity during a flight. Paedoproximia Repetitiva Aerii is a phenomenon that both palmjet and I are very familiar with.

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Nice branded seatbelt buckles

The seats on board our A330 are not great to say the least. A huge IFE box is occupying the best part of my legroom, a stupid foot-rest is fighting for the same space as my left knee, the headrest is not adjustable and located incredibly low thus stabbing me between the shoulder-blades, the PTV screen is located rather low too meaning I can't see most of it. I'm not sure what the designers had in mind when they created these seats but sure as hell it wasn't a 6'3'' person. To make things worse the windows on my seat are misaligned.

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Evil IFE box

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This seat is causing me pain indeed...

We push back right on time and take off over a Chicago that's getting ready for sleep. Soon after takeoff we are distributed amenity kits which come in cute TK-branded pouches (see below). How lovely. My seatmate is an interesting character. A retired cowboy-looking fella from Arizona who's heading to Kyrgystan to go hunting. He shares with me a ton of stories about his travels in Mongolia, Yukon and other God-forsaken lands. Chatting with him makes time go by fast.

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Nice view of ORD soon after takeoff

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Cabin view

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Amenity kit (shot later on at home)

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Amenity kit contents

Most pax appear to be Middle Eastern and Indian. I can hardly hear any turkish around me which I find surprising. Then again even if there were Turkish people around me I wouldn't be able to hear them because a kid a couple of rows in front of me is being slowly murdered for the past 2 hours. That's the only explanation I have for its constant wailing and crying. Its poor mother is in despair but the little brat won't shut it. Meanwhile behind me an old man is having the coughing fit of a lifetime. Good times.

OK, perhaps I have complained too much. Let's talk about the food. TK is known for its excellent catering and it certainly did not disappoint me on that front:

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First Serving: Grilled chicken breast with roasted vegetables, Turkish-style bulgur salad, iceberg-tomato-mozzarella salad, and cheesecake. Instead of chicken we also had the choice of mushroom raviolis. It was all really delicious and served with metal cutlery no less! My apologies for the bad quality of the photo but for some reason we were served in the dark and I didn't want to use a flash.

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Delicious roasted hazelnuts. For this photo I simply turned on my personal light (I should have thought of this earlier!).

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PTVs. A multitude of TV shows, movies and documentaries were available but unfortunately clicking on some of them simply brought up a message saying: "Program not available"

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Checking out some info about our aircraft

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Mood lighting

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Flying over lake Balaton in Hungary

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Wing view

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Second serving: Scrambled eggs with cottage cheese and sauteed spinach, tomatoes and potatoes, fresh fruit salad, assorted cheeses with tomatoes and cucumber, and fresh bread. Superb once more. The pieces of melon in the fruit salad smelled like one's dirty foot so I had to skip them.

Now a few words about the crew. Actually just one world: Cold. Not a single smile the entire flight and at times even abrupt with the pax. This however was to get even worse on the return leg (in Part II). The rest of the flight goes by with me reading or sleeping (or trying to). At some point we overfly Sofia which is kinda weird as I'm not used to overshoot my destination. The approach to IST offers some nice (albeit hazy) views of the north shore of the Sea of Marmara. The touchdown is rather smooth. I'm surprised to find out that instead of a jet-bridge we are heading to a remote location from where we would be bused to the terminal. No big deal, now I can even shoot a under-the-wing photo for Markus (FLIEGER67).

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Flying over Sofia. Can't we just make a stop?

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First glimpse of Turkey after the clouds cleared

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Winglet

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Getting closer and closer to Istanbul

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A few moments prior to touchdown

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Applying the brakes

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A nice Atlasjet airbus

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IST terminal building view

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Our aircraft's tail as seen from the bus

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Dedicated to you all know who  


Once in the terminal I follow the signs for the international transfer pax until I find myself at a security check-point. Just before I go through the metal detector a security guy stops me and the following dialogue takes place:

-You have laptop in bag?
-No
-Where you from? Germany, eh? (***I'm thinking to myself "WTF? Germany? Are you drunk?***)
-No, I'm from Bulgaria
-Stoichkov, Lechkov, Konstantinov, Penev, Berbatov, (at this point he waives me through), Sirakov, Balakov, Kishishev, Bojinov, Ivanov...
By the time I'm collecting my stuff off the belt on the other side he is still spurting out names of Bulgarian soccer players in quick succession. I'm impressed.



HEADING TO THE BALKAN HEARTLAND


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Route: IST-SOF
Carrier: Turkish Airlines
Aircraft: A320
Reg: TC-JPG, "Osmaniye"

IST is a very interesting place. Extremely crowded and with a demographic that resembles the exaggerated portrayals of international airports in Hollywood movies: People with turbans, ladies in traditional Asian dresses, people in shiny African clothes and some even in Mongol-style outfits,. Had I seen anyone wearing a lederhosen I would have thought the whole airport was set up to prank me. There was no place to sit so I simply walked around, manoeuvring around people sitting on the floor. In the restrooms I saw an African guy (in an arab outfit) in a gymnastics posture washing his feet on the sink, most likely in preparation for visiting the airport mosque. I mean, seriously?

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Watching nightfall from my gate

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A lot of TK traffic around here (obviously!)

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The still empty gate area.

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An MS Airbus departing from a nearby gate

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Our A320 hidden behind the jetbridge

When the gate for my flight was announced I walked up to it to find a bunch of gate agents (left from the previous flight) arguing with each other in loud voices. I couldn't tell what was going on (they were speaking in Turkish of course) but eventually they just picked up their stuff and walked away. Weird. The gate was nice and spacious, with huge windows offering nice views to the apron but it lacked an information monitor. There was no way of knowing whether your flight was still leaving from that gate or not. As people started arriving they were asking each other if this was still the gate to Sofia. Even the most podunk airports have monitors by the gates, why not here? Not very practical.

A few minutes prior to official boarding time I see 6 guys escorting a person in handcuffs to the gate. They walked with him to the aircraft and then 4 of them walked out. I'm guessing the guy must have been deported from Turkey (or elsewhere) back to Bulgaria: probably just another example of Bulgaria's famed criminal exports. Boarding was moderately orderly (by Balkan standards anyway). I was expecting an A319 for this flight but it seems like there was a last minute change and we got an A320. I'm cool with that.


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Boarding time.

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Interesting pink armrests

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Legroom is OK this time

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A very short hop today

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Taking off over Istanbul


TK once more impressed me with their catering service. The amount of food offered for this 50-min hop could only be described as an overkill. A cheese-ham and tomato sandwich, a salmon salad with greens and potato, a cherry pie and crackers. And it was delicious. The flight went by in a heartbeat and before I knew it we were descending over Sofia.


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This is a ridiculous amount of food for a 50-min flight

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Cabin view

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Approaching SOF

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SOF is not terribly busy at this time of day

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An OS Fokker is one of only a handful of aircrafts present


After anchoring on a jet bridge I made my way to immigration (which literally took 5 seconds) and I was one of the first few to arrive at the luggage area. My bag took forever to show up and for a moment I thought that it got stuck back in IST. Fortunately it showed up as one of the last bags on the belt.

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A quick sneak of SOF's airside area (photo taken on the move while trying to beat people to passport control).

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SOF luggage reclaim area

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A very ugly logo if you ask me. We could do better than this..

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SOF exterior


WEIRD FIRST NIGHT IN SOFIA


After arriving at the Arrivals area I started looking for my father who was meant to pick me up from the airport. Instead of him however I saw a family friend waiving at me. To cut a long story short, my father felt really sick that afternoon and had to be taken to a hospital. He had driven to Sofia earlier that day with a friend of mine and after getting to Sofia he collapsed. Not the way I wanted to be greeted back in Bulgaria. Fortunately by the time we got to downtown my dad was discharged from the hospital and we all made our way to the hotel I had booked for the night. We stayed at the Kempinski Hotel Zografski in the Lozenets neighborhood. A unique hotel in many ways as it was build by Mitsubishi in conjunction to the Bulgarian government back in the 70s. The hotel has a number of unique features including the only Japanese-style garden in the Balkans. Depending on how you see it we were either fortunate or unfortunate enough to get a room that belonged to the small minority of rooms at Kempinski that have preserved the original 70's look. The room was clean and great looking but the furniture took me several years back.


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Our hotel entrance

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This is seriously old-school

I had made some preliminary plans to get in touch with user eco to meet and get out for a beer but the whole ordeal with my dad left me psychologically exhausted so we just stayed at the hotel and went to bed early. The next morning I woke up very early and having a couple of hours to spare before leaving Sofia for Petrich (I had some business to attend in Petrich in the afternoon) I went out for a walk around town in order to shoot some photos. The last few times I was in Sofia I stayed there only during night hours so this time I really wanted to see the town in daylight before leaving. Due to the lack of time I had to walk fast and ride a couple of taxis in order to shoot all the photos I wanted.


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Panoramic view of Sofia from our hotel room in the morning.

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View of the Japanese Garden from our room.

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Our hotel from the outside

The Japanese Garden inside the hotel premises:
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HOW TO SEE SOFIA IN LESS THAN 3 HOURS


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Some nice Bulgarian banichki pastries. They make an excellent breakfast

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Sofia apartment blocks

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An adorable Zaporozhets ZAZ 968M

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Not a terribly unusual sight in downtown Sofia

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Some typical local architecture

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Entrance to the Evropeiski S'yuz Metro staton

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Cherni Vr'h Park monument

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Old buildings with western ads on their roofs near the National Palace of Culture.

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The National Palace of Culture (known as En-De-Ka) square with a total DPRK-esque absence of people at this time of the morning,.

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The newly uncovered ruins near the TsUM (the socialist era shopping Mall)

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Sveta Petka church and TsUM in the background.

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The Largo and the National Assembly building (the old Bulgarian Communist Party HQs) in the center.

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Some nice neoclassic architecture

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Empty benches in Banski Park

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Detail of the Central Bath House building

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Entrance to the Halite market

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The Banya Bashi Mosque, one of Europe's oldest.

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Church of St. Nicholas the Miracle-Maker

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National Archaeological Museum

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The former Royal Palace (now the National Art Gallery)

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Buildings around the Yellow Cobbles area.

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Alexander Nevski Cathedral.

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An exhibition of some well-preserved East German Trabant cars in the front of the cathedral

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Alexander Nevski Cathedral detail

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Metro station sign

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University of Sofia

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Entrance to the St.Kliment Ohridski Metro station

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Monument to the Soviet Army

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Orlov Most (Eagle Bridge)

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A true hybrid: Made in...България.

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Leaving our hotel room. Sofia looks kinda pretty from up here


HEADING DOWN TO PETRICH


After I was satisfied with my photo shooting I headed back to the hotel, checked out and got ready for the drive down to Petrich. Getting there required that we drove south all the way to the Bulgarian-Greek borders. Petrich is just 2 miles from the Greek border (yet one has to drive 10 miles to the nearest border crossing at Kulata/Promahonas).


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One of many tunnels on the way home

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Interesting rocky landscape on the way south. This area is part of the Kresna Gorge, which in bio-geographical terms is the northern border of the Mediterranean.

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Interesting water tower or whatever this is

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A stop by a roadside restaurant for some food and one of my favorite Bulgarian beers: Kamenitza

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We're almost on the Greek border by now

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Getting nearer and nearer to Petrich

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Greeting sign with the Petrich coat of arms at the city limits

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Welcome to the "west side".

Petrich is a quiet place with very few tourist attractions. Nonetheless it used to be (and still is to some degree) quite popular with shoppers from Greece who come here to buy clothes, food and gas for much cheaper than back in Greece.

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The main square in front of the Town Hall

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Old buildings

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One of the many statues scattered around town

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Another pedestrian square

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WWII monument

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Some more old buildings

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Bulgarian-style wild boar stew

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Pirinsko Pivo is the local beer of southwestern Bulgaria (made in Blagoevgrad).

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Enjoying some Sofia-made Ariana beer too

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My absolute favorite Bulgarian salad: Ripe tomatoes, grilled red peppers, garlic, parsley, olive oil and a touch of vinegar.

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0402.jpg
Bulgarian lukanka (semi-dried Bulgarian salami), another of my all-time favorites

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/DSC_0198-1.jpg
Last summer my parents caught a huge octopus in Greece and they saved it so we could eat it together. I don't care what some of you say this is just so unbelievably tasty.  .

CONCLUSION OF PART I.


A few words about my flights. TK was exactly as I expected them to be. Great catering and very generous overall service but by a less-than-charming crew. The seats were atrocious for a person of slightly above average height which made me dread the (even longer in duration) TATL crossing on the way back. Nonetheless it was great to try a new airline and especially one that keeps growing so fast.

My time in Petrich was quite limited: An old school friend of mine (and best man at my wedding) and I had plans to make a long roadtrip in Greece. Both my friend and I love mountains so we were particularly interested in the mountainous Epirus region of Greece, known for its pristine rivers, forests and breathtaking landscapes. After a few days of rest at home we jumped into his car and we drove off into Greece for one of the best roadtrips I've ever taken. This trip and the return flights to the US (plus a day in Istanbul) will be described in Part II.

Thank you for reading.


Widebodyroga


To be continued...

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/SAM_9768.jpg
Entering Greece as the night falls.


Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
22 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3372 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 9083 times:

Vewry nice report WBR! TK looks generally good, but a litle rough arouind the edges at times. I guess their super expansion comes at a cost.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I was therefore going to try a new carrier (TK), a new airport (IST) and visit a new country (Turkey). How very exciting.

Great to tick some new boxes. I'm planning a trip right now that will see me tick of the final 3 missing lounges from the M&M network.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Paedoproximia Repetitiva Aerii is a phenomenon that both palmjet and I are very familiar with.

Ha, an awful afliction!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The seats on board our A330 are not great to say the least. A huge IFE box is occupying the best part of my legroom, a stupid foot-rest is fighting for the same space as my left knee, the headrest is not adjustable and located incredibly low thus stabbing me between the shoulder-blades, the PTV screen is located rather low too meaning I can't see most of it. I'm not sure what the designers had in mind when they created these seats but sure as hell it wasn't a 6'3'' person. To make things worse the windows on my seat are misaligned.

Doesn't sound good

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Most pax appear to be Middle Eastern and Indian. I can hardly hear any turkish around me which I find surprising. Then again even if there were Turkish people around me I wouldn't be able to hear them because a kid a couple of rows in front of me is being slowly murdered for the past 2 hours. That's the only explanation I have for its constant wailing and crying. Its poor mother is in despair but the little brat won't shut it. Meanwhile behind me an old man is having the coughing fit of a lifetime. Good times.

Hmmm, sometimes it can be worth spending the extra and going with an airline with (slightly) more civilised clientele

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
This is a ridiculous amount of food for a 50-min flight

Wow, they certainly can cater well

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Last summer my parents caught a huge octopus in Greece and they saved it so we could eat it together. I don't care what some of you say this is just so unbelievably tasty. .

Ah, that was nice of them...looks tasty



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinevio From Canada, joined Feb 2004, 1446 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 9055 times:

Great report, well written and nice photos. Too bad about the uncomfortable TK seats. I always wanted to visit Bulgaria, but never really had a chance yet. I hope your father is doing better. News like that is hard to take, especially after not seeing them for a while.

Cheers,

Vio



Superior decisions reduce the need for superior skills.
User currently offlinedc9northwest From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 2302 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 8904 times:

Hey Stojan,

Now for a more complete response  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Here are the segments covered in this first part. Labelled as "1" on the map is the town of Petrich.

Nice to see ORD moved to Cernavoda, the site of the Romanian nuclear power plant. It's a perfect place for a nuclear power plant. Cernavoda, as you might be able to figure out, means Blackwater. Makes it quicker to get to Bucharest.  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Security was uncharacteristically fast (by ORD standards) so I found myself airside with over 3 and a half hours to spare.

3.5 h in T5. Did you not die of boredom? The fact that you watched some American football only makes it worse, and my question more in need of an answer 
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Boarding was something out of a horror movie. When pre-boarding was called for pax with babies or in need of special assistance the awful sound quality of the announcement combined with the apparent poor English skills of the majority of the pax led to the instantaneous and en-masse gathering of literally hundreds of people in front of the gate

Feeling at home yet? Balkan style.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Paedoproximia Repetitiva Aerii is a phenomenon that both palmjet and I are very familiar with.

Ewww, I'm often afflicted with that myself.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Then again even if there were Turkish people around me I wouldn't be able to hear them because a kid a couple of rows in front of me is being slowly murdered for the past 2 hours.

Did no one rush to its rescue? Or was everyone hoping the assailant would succeed? (Yeah, I know, that's horrible, and I don't mean it)

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
-Stoichkov, Lechkov, Konstantinov, Penev, Berbatov, (at this point he waives me through), Sirakov, Balakov, Kishishev, Bojinov, Ivanov...

See, your name isn't like any of these!! How could they know you're Bulgarian?  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I couldn't tell what was going on (they were speaking in Turkish of course) but eventually they just picked up their stuff and walked away. Weird. The gate was nice and spacious, with huge windows offering nice views to the apron but it lacked an information monitor. There was no way of knowing whether your flight was still leaving from that gate or not. As people started arriving they were asking each other if this was still the gate to Sofia. Even the most podunk airports have monitors by the gates, why not here? Not very practical.
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A very short hop today

Nice to see the Turks still think they own Romania. Everything's in English, Bukres, in Turkish.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A quick sneak of SOF's airside area (photo taken on the move while trying to beat people to passport control).

Looks quite depressing. On the other hand, the outside looks quite nice.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Japanese-style garden in the Balkans.

I think they have a small one in Cluj but that's not geographically in the Balkans I suppose.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
He had driven to Sofia earlier that day with a friend of mine and after getting to Sofia he collapsed. Not the way I wanted to be greeted back in Bulgaria. Fortunately by the time we got to downtown my dad was discharged from the hospital and we all made our way to the hotel I had booked for the night.

Oh no, that's very sad. Sorry to hear that. Hope it wasn't too serious  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
An adorable Zaporozhets ZAZ 968M

Don't see that every day. On the other hand I see Bulgarian plates every day in Romania. They get them to escape some sort of tax.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Petrich is a quiet place with very few tourist attractions. Nonetheless it used to be (and still is to some degree) quite popular with shoppers from Greece who come here to buy clothes, food and gas for much cheaper than back in Greece.

Looks decent. Reminds me of places in Romania, though nowhere in particular. Maybe Sfantu Gheorghe a little bit.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Enjoying some Sofia-made Ariana beer too

So if a Bulgarian would see "Ariana Afghan Airlines" would they think "Beer Airlines"? And immediately picture a drunk pilot?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Getting nearer and nearer to Petrich

You sure that's not in Romania? No, I guess it's not, the cart doesn't have specialized horse-cart license plate. It can't be in Romania. LOL.

Thanks again for sharing, Stojan!


User currently offlineflightsimboy From Canada, joined Sep 2005, 1344 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 8776 times:
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Once again love your photos of Sofia, and the people, the food, the vibe and above all the octopus dish...I'm not complaining!!

Sad TK did not meet up with your expectations...and it would appear TK is starting to overtake DXB as the centre for mulitlingual customers to meet up

Looking forward to your return journey on TK and above all the photos on the ground.


User currently offlineSultanils From Belgium, joined Mar 2010, 1789 posts, RR: 30
Reply 5, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 8774 times:

Hello Widebodyroga,

Wow my friend, this was seriously good stuff. Well, apart from the flights itself that is  Written with a good dose of black humour you had me chuckle quite some times! As for TK: I expected (much) better. The only positive thing here seemed to be the catering or am I wrong here?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I will refrain from doing so because -being Bulgarian and all- you'd think I'm referring to the Mafia

   I can assure you: I don't associate Bulgarians with the Mafia. A slight consolation?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
As I kneel I hear a loud tearing sound coming from behind me. To my horror I realize that the entire butt-section of my jeans had been torn.

Oh man, that must've been a fantastic sight to see. Where are the pics?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I hate that.

The old livery or the fact that the aircraft was hidden behind the jetbridge?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I've never been greeted by a chef on an aircraft so I found this to be a rather cool touch.

The Chef as in 'the person who prepares the meals' or as in 'the captain, sitting in the left hand seat upfront'?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Paedoproximia Repetitiva Aerii is a phenomenon that both palmjet and I are very familiar with.

Oh man, you're killing me!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The seats on board our A330 are not great to say the least.

Was there truly nothing positive to say about the seating comfort? Your seat btw looks totally misaligned as well  Wow!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
For this photo I simply turned on my personal light (I should have thought of this earlier!)

First time flyer 

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Interesting pink armrests

What on earth did the cabin designer drink the night before he chose the colours of the plane's interior? Seriously...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Not the way I wanted to be greeted back in Bulgaria.

I'm sorry to hear that. I hope he's back to 100% now.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
An adorable Zaporozhets ZAZ 968M

Is that actually the brand name of that car? Great!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I don't care what some of you say this is just so unbelievably tasty.

No comment 

Sultanils



In thrust we trust.
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 8660 times:

Hey guys, nice to see so many comments so soon. Thanks!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Vewry nice report WBR! TK looks generally good, but a litle rough arouind the edges at times. I guess their super expansion comes at a cost.

Hey Gabriel! That's exactly what I thought too. It can't be easy to keep everything at check when you're growing so unbelievably fast.

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Hmmm, sometimes it can be worth spending the extra and going with an airline with (slightly) more civilised clientele

You may be right. But what would those carriers be in this case?

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
Great to tick some new boxes. I'm planning a trip right now that will see me tick of the final 3 missing lounges from the M&M network.

That's quite nice. It's amazing how many different thing we a.netters "collect".  .

Quoting vio (Reply 2):

Great report, well written and nice photos. Too bad about the uncomfortable TK seats. I always wanted to visit Bulgaria, but never really had a chance yet. I hope your father is doing better. News like that is hard to take, especially after not seeing them for a while.

Thanks vio! Bulgaria has a ton of interesting places to visit that's for sure. Nonetheless, one has to be ready for a few cultural shocks as well  . As for my dad, he is much better, thank you for asking!  .

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
Nice to see ORD moved to Cernavoda, the site of the Romanian nuclear power plant. It's a perfect place for a nuclear power plant. Cernavoda, as you might be able to figure out, means Blackwater. Makes it quicker to get to Bucharest.

Hey Alex!. Ha, I knew someone would comment on that. Cernavoda, huh? Quite a name for what must be a pretty polluted place as well...

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
3.5 h in T5. Did you not die of boredom? The fact that you watched some American football only makes it worse, and my question more in need of an answer

Haha, but I'm a huge fan of football! I actually had a great time watching the game. However, if it wasn't for the game I would have died of boredom for sure. I have no idea why I went to ORD so early.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
Ewww, I'm often afflicted with that myself.

This leads us to a simple conclusion: There are far too many babies flying nowadays...

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
See, your name isn't like any of these!! How could they know you're Bulgarian?

True. But my name on my passport contains many more words than the name you know (I put many Spaniards to shame) and some of those extra words do actually sound a bit more Bulgarian.  .

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
Nice to see the Turks still think they own Romania. Everything's in English, Bukres, in Turkish.

Haha, yeah, I noticed that. Those maps are so weird in so many ways. I love it when sometimes they omit whole country's capitals but include villages like Dolna Oryahovitsa.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
Looks quite depressing. On the other hand, the outside looks quite nice.

Actually SOF's interior is quite nice. I guess my photo doesn't do it much justice. For once Bulgarians managed to build something that doesn't look depressing.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
I think they have a small one in Cluj but that's not geographically in the Balkans I suppose.

You know how Bulgarian's are. We love to brag about things that are supposedly unique to us. I wouldn't be surprised if there were 100 more Japanese gardens in the Balkans. lol.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
Oh no, that's very sad. Sorry to hear that. Hope it wasn't too serious

He recovered quite quickly, thanks  . He just had to take his medication and take it easy on the rakya for a little bit.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
Don't see that every day. On the other hand I see Bulgarian plates every day in Romania. They get them to escape some sort of tax.

Bulgarians and Romanians. Hand in hand when it comes to scams.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
So if a Bulgarian would see "Ariana Afghan Airlines" would they think "Beer Airlines"? And immediately picture a drunk pilot?

Ha, who knows. I have no idea where the name Ariana came from. This brand used to be called Sofiisko Pivo back in the day.

Quoting dc9northwest (Reply 3):
You sure that's not in Romania? No, I guess it's not, the cart doesn't have specialized horse-cart license plate. It can't be in Romania. LOL.

Haha, you guys have special plates for horse-carts? You're way ahead of us!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):

Once again love your photos of Sofia, and the people, the food, the vibe and above all the octopus dish...I'm not complaining!!

Thanks flightsimboy! Glad to hear that. I'm sure you'd like part II even more (in terms of the destination photos at least).

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Sad TK did not meet up with your expectations...and it would appear TK is starting to overtake DXB as the centre for mulitlingual customers to meet up

Very true. I knew IST would be quite multicultural but it was much more so than I thought!

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 4):
Looking forward to your return journey on TK and above all the photos on the ground.

Thanks! I should have it up in the next couple of days if not sooner  .

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
Wow my friend, this was seriously good stuff. Well, apart from the flights itself that is Written with a good dose of black humour you had me chuckle quite some times! As for TK: I expected (much) better. The only positive thing here seemed to be the catering or am I wrong here?

Thanks so much Nils! Yes, you got it right. TK had a ton of issues with its service but quite a lot of redeeming features too, especially when it came to the food!

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
I can assure you: I don't associate Bulgarians with the Mafia. A slight consolation?

You, my friend, are an exception. Everyone I know teases me about not wanting to piss me off in case I put a dead horse's head in their bed when they sleep...

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
Oh man, that must've been a fantastic sight to see. Where are the pics?

OK, you asked for it:
http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/664289_10151241060964570_713635947_o.jpg

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
The old livery or the fact that the aircraft was hidden behind the jetbridge?

Both! But mainly the jetway. This particular gate was the worse of them all!

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
The Chef as in 'the person who prepares the meals' or as in 'the captain, sitting in the left hand seat upfront'?

The food guy  .

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
Was there truly nothing positive to say about the seating comfort? Your seat btw looks totally misaligned as well

Well, I guess it could be worse. At least there was a seat there...

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
First time flyer

lol, I know, I behaved like a total n00b!

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
What on earth did the cabin designer drink the night before he chose the colours of the plane's interior? Seriously...

I'm suspecting that there was some smoking involved. And not of the tobacco kind...

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
I'm sorry to hear that. I hope he's back to 100% now.

He's much better, thanks!  
Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
Is that actually the brand name of that car? Great!

Those guys are so cute. But they are really noisy and they stink too!

Quoting Sultanils (Reply 5):
No comment

Oh, come on. I wrote this seeking a reaction specifiacally from you. You can't get away with no comment at all! lol



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3372 posts, RR: 12
Reply 7, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 8543 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 6):
You may be right. But what would those carriers be in this case?

Erm, BA/LH/AF/KL?

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 6):
That's quite nice. It's amazing how many different thing we a.netters "collect". .

I have a thing for adding to lists.....collecting lounges is one of my newer hobbies!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinelewis From Greece, joined Jul 1999, 3679 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 8534 times:

Very nice trip report. Still haven't tried TK transatlantic but it looks good enough. The food is nice although, again, same complaints about the crew.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A huge IFE box is occupying the best part of my legroom

I don't get why airlines are still installing/keeping those. They are very uncomfortable for long flights. Are they really necessary? Didn't see anything like that on my BA flights but I remember them from OA's A340.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Bulgarian lukanka (semi-dried Bulgarian salami)

Looks good!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Both my friend and I love mountains so we were particularly interested in the mountainous Epirus region of Greece, known for its pristine rivers, forests and breathtaking landscapes.

My place of origin, a beautiful place. Hope you made it to Vikos gorge and the Zagorohoria. The drive up those mountains is pretty amazing but the roads could be a bit better. Waiting to see some pics from there, did you make it to any seaside places like Parga or Syvota?


User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 8394 times:

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7):
BA/LH/AF/KL?

Maybe you're right, even though even these carriers carry some interesting fruits every now and then  
Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7):
I have a thing for adding to lists.....collecting lounges is one of my newer hobbies!

I'm kind of the same but I guess to a lesser degree. I only collect airlines, airports and beers  .

Quoting lewis (Reply 8):

Very nice trip report. Still haven't tried TK transatlantic but it looks good enough. The food is nice although, again, same complaints about the crew.

Hey Lewis, thanks for dropping by.

Quoting lewis (Reply 8):
I don't get why airlines are still installing/keeping those. They are very uncomfortable for long flights. Are they really necessary? Didn't see anything like that on my BA flights but I remember them from OA's A340.

My thoughts exactly! Maybe they day that they stop using these IFE boxes is not that far away... (wishful thinking)

Quoting lewis (Reply 8):
My place of origin, a beautiful place. Hope you made it to Vikos gorge and the Zagorohoria. The drive up those mountains is pretty amazing but the roads could be a bit better. Waiting to see some pics from there, did you make it to any seaside places like Parga or Syvota?

Oh yes we did! Vikos, Zagorohoria, Metsovo, Ioannina, the lot! However we saved the coast for another time. Syvota + Paxoi are part of a future plan  

Stojan



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offline767747 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 1967 posts, RR: 24
Reply 10, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 8231 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Great report! It was really interesting to read and see photos about a place like Sofia! Looks like a really nice city - what good photos you have!

TK looks pretty good; man those Economy Class meals look amazing! I don't care for the International Terminal at O'Hare ... Not one of the better ones around! It was absolutely nuts when we arrived there from Copenhagen last September with SAS.

Best,

Matthew


User currently offlinelewis From Greece, joined Jul 1999, 3679 posts, RR: 5
Reply 11, posted (2 years 4 weeks 1 day ago) and read 8210 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 9):
However we saved the coast for another time. Syvota + Paxoi are part of a future plan

Agreed, more of a summer destination.


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6945 posts, RR: 77
Reply 12, posted (2 years 4 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 7901 times:

Hi Widebodyroga,

nice report with good pictures! TK offers a decent product, but there are certain weaknesses, partly caused by quick expansion.

I was quite impressed by TK last year after I had been forced to rebook due to the QF grounding. I flew on TC-JNE, btw.

QF A380 Grounded, Bags Lost - LHR-SIN, TK A330/340 (by PlaneHunter Jan 30 2012 in Trip Reports)

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
There was hardly anyone in line behind me so the incident went mostly unnoticed (I think).

Who knows. You should check Youtube regularly...  

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The seats on board our A330 are not great to say the least. A huge IFE box is occupying the best part of my legroom, a stupid foot-rest is fighting for the same space as my left knee, the headrest is not adjustable and located incredibly low thus stabbing me between the shoulder-blades, the PTV screen is located rather low too meaning I can't see most of it. I'm not sure what the designers had in mind when they created these seats but sure as hell it wasn't a 6'3'' person. To make things worse the windows on my seat are misaligned.

I found the seats on the A332 and the A343 really comfortable, better than the latest ones on the A333. The IFE box is big, but there are even bigger ones. At least TK has a decent pitch.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Meanwhile behind me an old man is having the coughing fit of a lifetime. Good times.

Give me a crying baby over a sick passenger any day...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
OK, perhaps I have complained too much. Let's talk about the food. TK is known for its excellent catering and it certainly did not disappoint me on that front:

TK's catering is good in general, quantity in particular is impressive. But sometimes it lacks quality (dry meat, soaked salad etc.) and variety.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Checking out some info about our aircraft

Ha, that's an A330-300 image...

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
I'm surprised to find out that instead of a jet-bridge we are heading to a remote location from where we would be bused to the terminal.

Not surprising - there's simply not enough space at IST. It's getting worse and worse.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
IST is a very interesting place. Extremely crowded and with a demographic that resembles the exaggerated portrayals of international airports in Hollywood movies: People with turbans, ladies in traditional Asian dresses, people in shiny African clothes and some even in Mongol-style outfits,. Had I seen anyone wearing a lederhosen I would have thought the whole airport was set up to prank me. There was no place to sit so I simply walked around, manoeuvring around people sitting on the floor. In the restrooms I saw an African guy (in an arab outfit) in a gymnastics posture washing his feet on the sink, most likely in preparation for visiting the airport mosque. I mean, seriously?

It's totally crowded, there's a lack of seats everywhere - and even a lack of toilets. IST is not a good transfer point if you are a Y Class passenger without lounge access.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 13, posted (2 years 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 7779 times:

Thanks for the additional comments guys!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 10):
Great report! It was really interesting to read and see photos about a place like Sofia! Looks like a really nice city - what good photos you have!

Hey Matthew, thanks! Sofia seems to be quite a hit so far with my readers.  . Glad you liked the photos.

Quoting 767747 (Reply 10):
TK looks pretty good; man those Economy Class meals look amazing! I don't care for the International Terminal at O'Hare ... Not one of the better ones around! It was absolutely nuts when we arrived there from Copenhagen last September with SAS.

Oh, I know what you mean. T5 of ORD is not a fun place to be by any means!

Quoting lewis (Reply 11):
Agreed, more of a summer destination.

Yeah. Actually I had never heard of Syvota before but the hotel owner at Ioannina suggested that we should go there and use it as our base for daytrips to other coastal towns and the islands (especially Paxoi). What part of Epirus are you from, by the way?

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
I was quite impressed by TK last year after I had been forced to rebook due to the QF grounding. I flew on TC-JNE, btw.

Hey PH! Yeah, I remember when TK came to your rescue and you were very happy with them. Overall most people seem to be happy with TK's overall service despite their occasional shortcomings.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
Who knows. You should check Youtube regularly...

Oh no. I didn't think of that!  .

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
Give me a crying baby over a sick passenger any day...

I'm with you on this one! As long as the baby is not crying because it's sick!

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
TK's catering is good in general, quantity in particular is impressive. But sometimes it lacks quality (dry meat, soaked salad etc.) and variety.

Perhaps you're right. I guess I'm easy to please when it comes to food. Often, if the quantity is large, I start ignoring the quality  .

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
Ha, that's an A330-300 image...

Is it really? I'm terrible at identifying subtypes...

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
Not surprising - there's simply not enough space at IST. It's getting worse and worse.
Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):
It's totally crowded, there's a lack of seats everywhere - and even a lack of toilets. IST is not a good transfer point if you are a Y Class passenger without lounge access.

So very true. No wonder they've been trying to come up with plans for a new airport. They'll definitely need it!

Stojan



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6945 posts, RR: 77
Reply 14, posted (2 years 4 weeks 14 hours ago) and read 7750 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 13):
I'm with you on this one! As long as the baby is not crying because it's sick!

Very good point!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 13):
Is it really? I'm terrible at identifying subtypes...

Yes, the A332's forward section is shorter. It's relatively easy to notice when you compare pics of the two versions.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 13):
No wonder they've been trying to come up with plans for a new airport. They'll definitely need it!

Unfortunately, that won't be ready for another five years or so - I'm wondering how TK can keep expanding until then.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinelewis From Greece, joined Jul 1999, 3679 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (2 years 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 7582 times:

Quoting Widebodyroga (Reply 13):
What part of Epirus are you from, by the way?

My family is from a village called Doliana, north of Ioannina. Haven't been up there in ages.


User currently offlineadamspotter From Netherlands, joined Feb 2011, 1177 posts, RR: 12
Reply 16, posted (2 years 3 weeks 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 7229 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi Stojan,

Fantastic first part of your trip back to Bulgaria/Greece! Very entertaining with some great pictures you made there  
Will be flying TK longhaul in March so it sure is nice to get an insight. TKs catering looks fantastic on both flights but I cant see myself in such a seat on an overnight flight as I am even a bit taller than you are  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
side-note: Despite not being a fan of anything that has to do with New York my favorite NFL team is the New York Jets. Can anyone guess why? ).

No idea why? They aren't that good this year though 
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Boarding was something out of a horror movie. When pre-boarding was called for pax with babies or in need of special assistance the awful sound quality of the announcement combined with the apparent poor English skills of the majority of the pax led to the instantaneous and en-masse gathering of literally hundreds of people in front of the gate. To my surprise the gate agents allowed boarding to take place in this way, ignoring the group numbers we had been assigned at check in. Not cool.

WOW, dont you hate it when that happens, especiallt when the gate agents dont even do anything about it

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The seats on board our A330 are not great to say the least. A huge IFE box is occupying the best part of my legroom

Had the same experience on KLMs A330 a couple weeks ago, very irritating especially on an overnight flight!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Nice view of ORD soon after takeoff

Great catch!

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
By the time I'm collecting my stuff off the belt on the other side he is still spurting out names of Bulgarian soccer players in quick succession. I'm impressed.

Haha crazy man 
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
To cut a long story short, my father felt really sick that afternoon and had to be taken to a hospital. He had driven to Sofia earlier that day with a friend of mine and after getting to Sofia he collapsed. Not the way I wanted to be greeted back in Bulgaria.

Thats very unfortunate, hope all is well with him now  
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
HOW TO SEE SOFIA IN LESS THAN 3 HOURS

Wow all of that in just 3 hours, very nice and great/interesting pictures you made there!

Pretty funny how we "exchanged" continents for a couple of days  Shame we weren't able to meet in Chicago..

Hope to read part 2 sometime this weekend  

cheers,

Brendan


User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 17, posted (2 years 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 7123 times:

Hi Stojan

Amazing report, thanks for taking the time and sharing it with us!
Turkish Airlines looks great. TK actually had deals this christmas on AMS-IST-JFK but opted for SN direct to JFK instead.
Quite interesting to know that TK serves in Y what others would get in J class.
I did enjoy the Bulgarian pics as well, it looks very nice and interesting.

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineglobalflyer From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 956 posts, RR: 3
Reply 18, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 6854 times:

Hi Stojan. It has taken me quite a while to read some Trip Reports so I knew that this one would be good. OK first of all the blue jeans were not that bad!   You are spot on with TK. The flights and food were top notch but the crew/service were just cold and average. I really do not get it? TK could really be another EK/EY/QR but with its local Turkish service flair. So sorry to hear about your Dad and hope he is now all well. Bulgaria looks like a bit of a time warp and back in time which is priceless. So much beauty that has not yet been commercialized to death! I cannot wait to finally catch up in person and hear all about growing up there! Now off to reading the next report! Cheers, Will


Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
User currently offlineOA260 From Ireland, joined Nov 2006, 27342 posts, RR: 60
Reply 19, posted (2 years 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 6821 times:

Hey Stojan  

Great report and photos . Yes "The Family" are very important to me hence the capital F lol...

Regards

Philip  


User currently offlineroberts87 From Netherlands, joined Dec 2011, 1037 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 6665 times:

Excellent report Stojan!
TK seems fine as usual, great catering as always, too bad about the crews though on this leg.
Nice destination pictures as well, from an off the beaten path place from my perspective. I'm gonna skip the octopussy though, you predicted very nicely that some might object  


User currently offlineAleksandar From Serbia, joined Jul 2000, 3238 posts, RR: 32
Reply 21, posted (2 years 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 6603 times:

Hello! I just loved your TR and this is my first comment in ages here. I have mixed emotions about Bulgaria, mostly because of some job problems there, not because of people, but I liked the country and went there about ten times in a matter of a month. The biggest problem was that I mostly saw coastal area and travelled through Sofia in the middle of the night, so, your pictures helped me see some bits and pieces and how they look in daylight.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
This is seriously old-school

Great! I love it.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Our hotel from the outside

The hotel looks very interesting. I actually like that old style architecture and saw some of the nice examples in Sunny Beach and Varna.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):

The Japanese Garden inside the hotel premises:

really unusual

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
An adorable Zaporozhets ZAZ 968M

Once popular, but now they are so rare. I guess the owner must be a true enthusiast.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Some typical local architecture

I think I drove near that building.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
The National Palace of Culture (known as En-De-Ka) square with a total DPRK-esque absence of people at this time of the morning,

Getting ready for arirang? 
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Sveta Petka church and TsUM in the background.

One of the most popular saints among women across the Balkans.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
A stop by a roadside restaurant for some food and one of my favorite Bulgarian beers: Kamenitza

Oh boy, now I am thirsty.

Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Pirinsko Pivo is the local beer of southwestern Bulgaria (made in Blagoevgrad).
Quoting Widebodyroga (Thread starter):
Enjoying some Sofia-made Ariana beer too

I haven't tried these two, but I liked Shumensko and Zagorka, too.  


Thank you for all those nice pics from Bulgaria.



R-E-S-P-E-C-T
User currently offlineWidebodyroga From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 613 posts, RR: 16
Reply 22, posted (2 years 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 6461 times:

Thank you so much for the additional comments guys.

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 14):
Yes, the A332's forward section is shorter. It's relatively easy to notice when you compare pics of the two versions.

I see. I totally suck at distinguishing subtypes. I really do. For me however the worse part is trying to tell MD-80s, B717s and DC-9s apart. What a nightmare  .

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 14):
Unfortunately, that won't be ready for another five years or so - I'm wondering how TK can keep expanding until then.

That's still pretty fast. It will be interesting to see how the new airport would look like. Given the extravagance of Turkish architecture lately I'm sure they will come up with something quite nice.

Quoting lewis (Reply 15):
My family is from a village called Doliana, north of Ioannina. Haven't been up there in ages.

I think my friend and I passed really close to it before we turned east to head towards Aristi. Lovely region. You must be very proud to be coming from such a beautiful place.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
Fantastic first part of your trip back to Bulgaria/Greece! Very entertaining with some great pictures you made there
Will be flying TK longhaul in March so it sure is nice to get an insight. TKs catering looks fantastic on both flights but I cant see myself in such a seat on an overnight flight as I am even a bit taller than you are

Hey Brendan. Thanks for your kind words. I hope your experience with TK is good. All it takes apparently is a half-decent crew. All the rest will be fine  .

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
No idea why? They aren't that good this year though

I have a tendency to cheer for teams that suck. No idea why I like them so much (apart from their name). They come from a city I dislike (NYC), they have Tebow (who let's say I'm not a big fan of and leave it at that), their coach is a moron... Sometimes you simply cannot explain some things... I've been a fan of the Jets since I started watching football and I still can't tell why. Maybe because I hate the Patriots so much I have defaulted to cheer for one their arch-rivals...

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
WOW, dont you hate it when that happens, especiallt when the gate agents dont even do anything about it

It's like rewarding bad behavior. I hate unruly boardings with a passion...

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
Had the same experience on KLMs A330 a couple weeks ago, very irritating especially on an overnight flight!

I know, right? Hopefully all IFE boxes will be really small in the not so distant future.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
Great catch!

Yeah, this is the only time I got to shoot ORD from this particular angle at night.

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
Haha crazy man

Yeah, he seemed a bit "out there"  .

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
Thats very unfortunate, hope all is well with him now

He's doing much better, thanks!  .

Quoting adamspotter (Reply 16):
Wow all of that in just 3 hours, very nice and great/interesting pictures you made there!

Pretty funny how we "exchanged" continents for a couple of days Shame we weren't able to meet in Chicago..

Yeah, our timing was unbelievable. Maybe next time we'll make it work  .

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 17):
Amazing report, thanks for taking the time and sharing it with us!
Turkish Airlines looks great. TK actually had deals this christmas on AMS-IST-JFK but opted for SN direct to JFK instead.
Quite interesting to know that TK serves in Y what others would get in J class.
I did enjoy the Bulgarian pics as well, it looks very nice and interesting.

Thanks Marc. Yeah TK comes up with a ton of deals all the time. Sooner or later you'll fly with them, no doubt.

Quoting globalflyer (Reply 18):
Hi Stojan. It has taken me quite a while to read some Trip Reports so I knew that this one would be good. OK first of all the blue jeans were not that bad! You are spot on with TK. The flights and food were top notch but the crew/service were just cold and average. I really do not get it? TK could really be another EK/EY/QR but with its local Turkish service flair. So sorry to hear about your Dad and hope he is now all well. Bulgaria looks like a bit of a time warp and back in time which is priceless. So much beauty that has not yet been commercialized to death! I cannot wait to finally catch up in person and hear all about growing up there! Now off to reading the next report! Cheers, Will

Hey Will! Yeah, maybe the photo wasn't doing justice to the extent of the tear on my jeans. Maybe the hole in the jeans doesn't look all that big but the draft I felt certainly was strong, lol. I remember reading about your TK experiences and they do sound very similar to mine (even though we were flying in different classes). If anything TK seems to be consistent  .

I'm glad you liked the Sofia photos. It's an interesting place to visit. As long as you can deal with the lack of general organization and some folk's attitude it's a fun place to be. I'll be waiting to hear from you when you next come to Chicago. Our meeting is long overdue!  .

Quoting OA260 (Reply 19):
Hey Stojan

Great report and photos . Yes "The Family" are very important to me hence the capital F lol...

Regards

Hey Philip, thank for dropping by. Just wanted to tease you a little bit with that. I'm aware of how important your family is to you  . I hope you are having fun with them while you're in Athens.

Quoting roberts87 (Reply 20):

Excellent report Stojan!
TK seems fine as usual, great catering as always, too bad about the crews though on this leg.
Nice destination pictures as well, from an off the beaten path place from my perspective. I'm gonna skip the octopussy though, you predicted very nicely that some might object

Thanks Robert! Ah, the octopus... Such a sensitive issue for you northerners, hehe. It's OK, that means more octopus for me  .

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 21):
Hello! I just loved your TR and this is my first comment in ages here. I have mixed emotions about Bulgaria, mostly because of some job problems there, not because of people, but I liked the country and went there about ten times in a matter of a month. The biggest problem was that I mostly saw coastal area and travelled through Sofia in the middle of the night, so, your pictures helped me see some bits and pieces and how they look in daylight.

Hey Aleksandar. I'm honored that my TR brought you out of your hiatus  . I'm sorry to hear about the problems you encountered in Bulgaria. Are you sure it wasn't because of the people? We DO tend to cause problems wherever we are, haha. Sofia is definitely worth a visit during the day. As I mentioned in recent years I've only been in Sofia during the night so I really missed the things you can do/see during the day. Funnily enough I've only been to the coastal areas once, and that was back when I was 15 or something.

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 21):
The hotel looks very interesting. I actually like that old style architecture and saw some of the nice examples in Sunny Beach and Varna.

Yeah, quite a few of those over there...

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 21):
Once popular, but now they are so rare. I guess the owner must be a true enthusiast.

True. Nowadays only really old people or enthusiasts keep driving these. Just like whatever Warburgs, Volgas and Moskvitchs are still out there...

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 21):
Getting ready for arirang?

Hehe, probably just recovering from all the rakya from the night before...

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 21):
I haven't tried these two, but I liked Shumensko and Zagorka, too.

Needless to say I had some of those too during this trip. Na Zdrave!

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/615377_10151246423344570_1290314175_o.jpg

http://i409.photobucket.com/albums/pp176/JCNadal_x/169485_10151243169169570_1469219090_o.jpg

Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 21):
Thank you for all those nice pics from Bulgaria.

You're very welcome!



Visit my aviation page: http://widebodyroga.weebly.com/
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