LO 613: Warsaw – Zagreb. This weekend trip to Zagreb was spontaneous. I hardly buy an airline ticket in short advance, but this time thanks to a special offer called “NajMILszy poniedziałek” (translated as “Monday sMILEs”), members of Miles and More program can book flights at discounted prices + taxes and charges imposed by the carrier. The cost of the return ticket to Zagreb was 10.000 miles and 232,24 PLN in taxes and charges. The fare is inclusive of an advance seat reservation and 1 piece of checked bag up to 23 kg.
It takes me less than 30 minutes and 1 change to reach the Chopin Airport by public transport. Today is a rather busy day as school holidays started a week ago and many holidaymakers are off for their break. There are some people queuing at the check-in desks, but luckily my check-in went smooth, and I proceed to the security control, which takes approx. 10 minutes. After security control, I advance to gate 1, which is assigned for today’s flight LO613. As Croatia is now fully integrated into the Schengen zone, there is no passport control (yayy!) while travelling between Poland and Croatia.
Boarding for the flight starts at 15:20. Judging by the number of passengers queuing at gate number 1, the flight will be busy. After scanning my boarding pass, I proceed down the jetty. At the aircraft’s entrance, I am greeted by a member of the cabin crew and move down the aisle to my assigned seat of 20D, which is the next-to-last raw. Today’s flight is operated by the 12.7-year-old Embraer E175LR (reg. number SP-LIO) in Star Alliance livery, which already completed 5 segments: 1 domestic (Gdańsk – Warsaw) and 4 international (Warsaw – Prague – Warsaw – Vilnius – Warsaw).
The interior of the aircraft shows some signs of wear and tear, but it is clean and maintained in good conditions. Flight LO613 is busy and only a few seats are unoccupied. To my luck, a seat next to me (20C) is free, so I can enjoy a bit more space throughout the flight.
Boarding is completed and the cabin crew (3 female members including one trainee flight attendant) are conducting safety instructions in Polish then in English followed by a pre-recorded safety summary in Croatian. The taxi to the runway direction 15 takes several minutes.
After the delayed flight LO155 bound for Tel Aviv takes off just ahead of us, we are finally in the air heading for Zagreb.
Shortly after take-off, the cabin crew distributes a sanitizing wipe, then offers a complimentary service: a sweet (a blueberry bun) or savoury (a spinach bun) snack (60 g), still or sparkling water and a hot drink: tea or coffee. After the complimentary service, passengers can purchase additional items from the buy-on-board menu. There are only a few takers for additional paid service, including myself. To celebrate the beginning of my city break, I buy a 187-ml bottle of French Chardonnay for 20 PLN. During the flight, I study a tourist guide and plan my time in Zagreb as well as check the in-flight magazine featuring Rome, which I visited in early June by travelling from Radom (the newest airport in Poland) to Rome Fiumicino.
Today’s flight path takes us over the Polish town of Opoczno, the Polish city of Bielsko-Biala, the Slovak city of Žilina, the Hungarian city of Győr then we enter Croatian airspace near the village of Goričan. After passing Kravarsko, the aircraft makes a U-turn and then approaches Zagreb Airport Franjo Tuđman, where we land at 17:12, which is 8 minutes ahead of schedule. After a short taxi, the aircraft parks in front of the terminal building and I disembark via an air bridge. Then I proceed directly to the baggage reclaim area, where I claim my bag at belt number 4. Surprisingly, the baggage reclaim area is rather quiet, the sight I would not expect on a summer Friday evening. After leaving the terminal building, I am lucky to catch the 17.30 bus to the city centre. SP-LIO returns to Warsaw then completes 3 additional segments: 2 domestic (Warsaw – Zielona Góra – Warsaw) and 1 international (Warsaw – Košice).
LF: 95 %
Distance: 799 kms (431 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 15:40/15:57
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 17:20/17:12
Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 40 min/1h 15 min
Zagreb. The Croatian capital of Zagreb is situated along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain lies the Croatian capital of Zagreb, which is perhaps not the most popular destination for a city break, but it is definitely worth a visit. When I visited Zagreb for the first time and saw the building of the Croatian National Theatre, I incidentally thought, “it is similar to the building of Theatre of Julisz Słowacki in Kraków”. To find out more about both buildings, I made some further research, that revealed both buildings were built around the same time, in 1893 and 1895 respectively. Apart from common construction time of both buildings, they also share the similar fate of both cities, which were then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
While walking to Gornji Grad (the Upper Town), I pass well-formed green areas along the Hrvatske Bratske Zajednice Street occupied by groups of youngsters sitting on the grass, families strolling through parks and elder citizens resting on the park banks. Then after a short walk I reach the Ban Jelačić Square – the main square of the city. By day it is relatively quiet, but it gets busy each evening when most of the people go out to meet their friends at opulent cafés and restaurants located in the nearby Zagreb’s old city cores – Gradec and Kaptol.
To get to Gornji Grad (the Upper Town) you can go on foot through Kamenita vrata (the Stone Gate) or take a 66-meter-long ride by Zagrebačka uspinjača (Zagreb Funicular), which is believed to be one of the shortest pubic-transport funiculars in the world. The fare is 0.66 EUR and takes 64 seconds to travel. The upper station provides panoramic views of the rooftops of Zagreb and its mixture of classical and modern architecture represented by distant high rises of Yugoslav-style’s district of Novi Zagreb and more contemporary establishments. The Gornji Grad is now a local government unit and many buildings host various governmental institutions. Charming by day, it gets even more intriguing by night when the gas lanterns are lit up to produce a soft and warm glow and add a unique allure to the streets of Gornji Grad.
Karlovac is just a one-hour train ride from the Croatian capital. Although the vicinity of the Karlovac Centar train station may not be too inspirational, it is worth to visit the city that is situated on the confluence of four rivers Kupa, Korana, Mrežnica and Dobra. Due to extensive renovation work currently taking place in the city centre, I gave up sightseeing of the star-shaped Old Town, that emerged around a star-shaped Renaissance fortress built by the Austrians against the Ottomans. My next stop is the Aquatika Center, located on the embankment of the river Korana. The freshwater aquarium tells a story of freshwater ecosystems and fish, that can be found in Croatia. After learning more about Croatian ichthyofauna I spend some hours on the Foginovo bath before I head back to Zagreb.
LO614: Zagreb – Warsaw. A shuttle bus departs the main bus station on time. It takes approx. 25 minutes to reach the airport. The route passes the residential district of Novi Zagreb, which consists of typical Yugoslav-style block of flats, then the settlement of Veliko Polje and Pleso, the latter one located in the proximity of the old terminal building. When I arrived in Zagreb for the first time several years ago, the old terminal building was like a time capsule, that catapulted me to the late 60s of the last century. While observing the distant old terminal, I wonder if it will ever be renovated or perhaps converted into an aviation museum? Soon, the bus stop in the front of the new terminal building.
Inside a bizarrely empty terminal for a late Sunday afternoon, I check the check-in information. Two desks have been assigned for today’s flight of LO614: C10 and C11. There is no queue for check-in. It takes a few minutes to complete check-in procedures. My bag is tagged for WAW and I receive my boarding pass. Then I proceed to the security check area, which is located on level +2. After scanning my boarding pass, I move to the security screening area, where there is virtually no queue. The security check is smooth and takes no more than 5 minutes. As I still have almost 50 minutes before boarding starts, I browse through shops and through the terminal building, which underwent re-organization after Croatia entered the Schengen zone. At a café, located near gate 21, I buy a cup of latte (4.00 EUR) and take a seat, waiting for boarding of flight LO614.
Today’s flight is operated by the 11.4-years-old Embraer E175-STD (reg. number SP-LIP), which has already completed 5 segments: a rotation Warsaw – Budapest, Warsaw – Vilnius and inbound flight Warsaw – Zagreb. In general, LOT offers 11 weekly flights between the Croatian and Polish capital. There are two daily flights (09:45 and 18:00) to Warsaw on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and a single flight on Mondays (09:45) and on Tuesdays and Saturdays (18:00). The timetable is suited for those (who like me) would like to go for a city break, either to Zagreb or to Warsaw.
At 17: 38 the ground staff announces boarding for flight LO614 at gate 22. After scanning my boarding pass, I walk down an air bridge to the aircraft, where I take my assigned seat of 21A (17:48), which again is located in the next-to-last row. At the entrance, I am greeted by a member of the cabin crew, who distributes sanitizing wipes. The flight is not as busy as the previous one and there are several unoccupied seats thought the cabin, including neighbouring seat of 21B. The cabin interior is like the interior of the previous flight, and legroom is OK by my standards.
At 17:51 pushback procedure commences and the cabin crew (2 female flight attendants) stand-by to do a safety instruction in Polish and in English. After 3 minutes (17:54), we start 5-minute taxi to the runway passing the old terminal, arriving at the runway at 17:59. One minute later, we finally take off, which is exactly at the scheduled departure time.
At 18:05 the captain switches off the “fasten seatbelt” sign and the cabin crew announces the commencement of the on-board service, both complimentary and paid one. From the complimentary service, I take a savoury snack (60g), a glass of sparkling water, a cup of tea with lemon and in addition I purchase a 187-ml bottle of Spanish Cabernet Sauvignon Rose for 20 PLN, which helps me (lol) to focus on repetition of some German phrases.
Today’s flight path crosses over the Slovenian town of Murska Sobota, Vienna, the Czech town of Břeclav and the city of Ostrava, entering Polish airspace near the village of Skrbeńsko. At 18:53 the captain provides basic flight information and announces landing in 25 minutes. After the announcement, the cabin crew prepares the cabin for landing. At the same time, we pass over the city of Katowice, the town of Grójec and after two turns, first right then left, we approach the runway in direction of 33. We land at 19:18 and after a short taxi we park in front of the terminal of Warsaw airport. Disembarkation is done via a jetty, then I move to the baggage reclaim area and at 19:42 I collect my bag at belt 3.
LF: 75 %
Distance: 799 kms (431 nm)
Departure time (scheduled/actual): 18:00/18:00
Arrival time (scheduled/actual): 19:35/19:18Flight duration (scheduled/actual): 1h 35 min/1h 18 min
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