Ever heard of an airline named Trade Air? No? Neither have I, until the end of last year, when I checked out some possible flights for my first trip in 2015. Always on the lookout for small airlines flying with rare plane types I stumbled upon this little company offering domestic flights within Croatia, usually operated with the Embraer E120 “Brasilia” turboprop, leased from the Hungarian company Budapest Air Service. In the summer schedule they also operate a couple of charter flights with their own Fokker 100, but during the winter they only have one single route from Zagreb to Osijek, the biggest city in Slavonia which is the easternmost region of Croatia. Sounds interesting, doesn't it? And since that flight also had a reasonable price tag, I couldn't resist to book it.
Now to get to Zagreb was easy, I took advantage of a good offer by germanwings from Stuttgart. But it was way more difficult to figure out how to continue from Osijek, since they only have three possible flights in the winter schedule (that is per week of course, not per day). And all these flights go back to Zagreb and depart at 6 in the morning. No, thank you very much, let's look for alternatives. Well, Osijek is not far from the border to Serbia, so I decided to add this country to my list of visited places as well and booked a return flight with Air Serbia from Belgrade to Stuttgart. I have heard many good things about this airline so I was eager to try them out as well. There are a couple of daily buses from Osijek to Belgrade so it shouldn't be a problem to get to the Serbian capital in time.
All settled then, let's draw some lines on the map:
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.
Flight 1: STR-ZAG
Stuttgart - Zagreb
Distance: 613 km / 331 nm
Airbus A319 (D-AKNQ)
scheduled 10:20 – 11:35
actual 11:06 – 12:14
flight-time 11:09 – 12:09 (60 minutes)
It was a pleasant but cool Sunday morning. My dad took me to the airport and he dropped me of just outside of the terminal:
Let's check the status of my flight on the board, no problem so far with Zagreb from gate 124:
Security was quite busy today in the main terminal, so I walked over to T2 where the line indeed was much shorter. They have however one of the new nudie scanners there, it was my first time through one, and it seems to me that it takes much longer than a normal checkpoint. It's not really complicated (get in, stand still for a second, get out) but it was quite funny to watch how some people just didn't get it. Anyway I made it through with still time to walk around and see what's there to see. Well, airplanes of course. Like this Austrian Fokker:
Or the famous Delta flight to Atlanta, just about ready to depart:
Bus boarding from a downstairs gate today, and boarding was called right on time. But once in the bus nothing happened first, then the agent came back and asked all to return to the terminal, because the plane “wasn't yet ready”. Alright then, back in the gate area, a little later another announcement, technical problems, further delay, more info later. Oh dear I thought, that might take a while. But only about 15 minutes later they were on the speakers again, they found another plane and would start boarding soon. Apparently though a downgrade from the scheduled A320 to an A319 which meant that some of the pax had to get new boarding passes. This was handled quite well in a very professional manner though. Boarding take two started then and this time all went well, the driver brought us to D-AKNQ, a 15 year old airbus, flying for USAirways for a while, before starting its time with germanwings:
A full plane load then, everybody take your seats please:
Aeroflot next to BA parked at the terminal:
And Superman was flying with us today, well, at least on the magazine:
Brotzeit anyone? Not for me today, I just had a fresh bretzel back in the terminal:
The Captain was on the horn then with a friendly 'Moin Moin' and another apology for the delay, but with a rather short flying time today we would be gaining a few minutes back on the way. The route should take us via Salzburg, Klagenfurt in Austria, then over Slovenia directly down to Zagreb. All on flight level 390. Only a short taxi to runway 07 and off we went into the hazy skies:
Crossing the mountains on the way, great views of course over the snowy peaks and valleys:
And only a short time later descent started. Flaps already extended on the way to runway 05 over the Croatian countryside:
Back on terra firma after exactly one hour in the air:
At the parking position just around 40 minutes late, not bad at all considering a last minute unplanned equipment change. Well done here, germanwings! And looks like we are indeed at the desired destination:
Goodbye to the crew, by bus to the terminal. Zagreb airport is not too big and also not the most pleasant place but quite efficient it seems and I was out quickly. The bus stop was easy to find and I made my way into the city center.
I decided to spent a night here in this city to have some time to explore it. I had booked a room in a small bed-and-breakfast in this building. Not too inviting from the outside:
But inside it was absolutely lovely, great staff and the room was nicely decorated with a lot of attention to details. A little on the small side though:
And with a nice inner courtyard:
Tram station just outside with the distinctive blue trams, but only a short walk to the center, so no need to use it:
Alright then, let's see what Zagreb has to offer. The most interesting area for a tourist of course is the old town, and there especially the main city square, the Trg J. Jelačića, with its nice and well preserved buildings:
Not far from away from it, the “Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary”:
And there she is, Mary, standing on a high pillar in front of the Cathedral:
The old town is built on two hills, and so you have occasionally climb up and down long staircases:
Or you can even take the funicular, which takes you up the 30.5 meters:
The St. Marks church on top of one the hills, with the coats of arms of the old kingdom of Croatia and the city of Zagreb on its roof:
Somehow I liked this little balcony window:
The Museum of Broken Relationships? Seriously?
From the top of the hills you have of course nice views over the city, like this one towards the Cathedral:
And into some of the inner courtyards of all the old buildings:
The big marketplace was also interesting:
Had a few pints here in the Tolkien's House the night before, nice little pub all decorated with Lord of the Rings stuff:
I really enjoyed my time in this city, but all too soon it was time to head back to the bus station to catch the bus to the airport.