About two weeks ago I had found some inexpensive flights from my home airport CGN to Sofia. For a couple of weeks I had always looked for several destinations in Eastern Europe as I had not travelled to any Eastern European country so far. At the time of booking, both Ryanair and Wizzair served the CGNSOF route and I was happy to find a return flight for only 35€ with Wizzair. Unfortunately, Wizzair stopped this route on May 20, only one flight after my return leg.
For unknown reasons, Wizzair did not accept my creditcard during the booking process and so I had to try out their bank transfer option which worked fine. Initially I was a bit worried because there is only a 24h time slot to transfer the money and I wasn't sure if my bank would transfer the money quickly enough to Wizzair's bank account in the UK, which was the one I had to use. 4 days after the booking I finally received an email confirmation for my flights.
Getting to the airport
From my home city Bonn it is only a short train ride to CGN, however, I managed to make it considerably longer because I missed the tram that would get me to the small Beuel station where the airport trains depart from. The alternative train with one additional transit was delayed so that I also missed the connectin. Eventually I made it to the airport but the 1h spotting time that I had planned was basically used up already. I decided to go straight through security, which wasn't exactly unwise considering the long line that had already built.
Wizzair departs from Terminal 2, like most airlines serving CGN. Terminal 1 is exclusively used by the Lufthansa group (Luftansa, Eurowings, Germanwings). At T2 it seemed to be rush hour. The line at security was pretty long. I several passengers in ice hockey jerseys (mostly Russian) which must have come to Cologne for the world cup, which took place in Cologne and Paris. Most were probably flying back to Moscow with the Pobeda flight that would depart at the same time as my flight to Sofia. I finally made it through security and didn't have to walk long. My gate D40 was exactly opposite to the security check. As Bulgaria is not a Schengen country I went throug the passport/ID check at the gate and waited for my plane to arrive.
Surprisingly fast (about 5 minutes) after the plane had arrived, boarding was announced. It seemed that we were using a jetbridge but for reasons unknown no LCC uses jetbridges in CGN. At the end of the jetbridge, passengers go outside and down a staircase onto the tarmac and walk to the aircraft. Although I find it somewhat odd, it is great to take some pictures :D Next to us was the aformentioned Pobeda 737-800 to VKO.
Although people were let on the jetbridge very early, it wasn't the best idea of mine to join them because we waited for over 30 min in the jetbridge that heated up and didn't offer any sight except of the orange and black SIXT advertisment. I was a bit annoyed by this CGN boarding concept. It just doesn't make much sense to me. Eventually the line moved again and I got out of the jetbridge, down the staircase, and walked towards my Wizzair 321. As I was seated at the rear, my boarding pass suggested to use the rear door. I really like to board via traditional stairs as it just gives a nicer feeling for the size of the aircraft.
At the door I was greeted with a friendy Добър ден by one of the flight attendants in her very nice uniform. The aircraft really showed how new it was. Very light, pleasant colors, and in perfect condition. I quickly stowed my backpack (only a small backpack/bag is free on all flights) in the overhead bin and sat down. The check-in "lotter" had given me a middle seat which wasn't exactly to my liking but I saved the 6€ to select a window seat. On the return flight I was luckier and got a window seat for free.
The seats were not too comfortable although the legroom was slightly better than I had expected. On my recent TAP 319 flight there was less space.
The flight seemed to be full and I am still a bit puzzeled that Wizzair is giving up this route because the return leg was equally full. Maybe the Ryanair competition decreased the prices???
Like basically all LCC and most shorthaul planes in Europe in general, there is no inflight entertainment so I had prepared some amazon prime entertainment for me. After all, looking out the window wasn't much of an option today.
The flight was a bit bumpy for a few minutes after take-off but rather unspectacular in total. The Bulgarian crew was very nice and had a lot to do with selling food, beverages, and perfume. Many passengers bought snacks or sandwiches and I was really surprised to see their buy on board concept to be popular. As I had brought a bakery snack myself I did not try their offers but pricing seemed to be ok. Something I had never experienced was the popularity of buying perfumes among passengers. The crew even had little samples for passengers to try and soon there was a nice perfume smell in the cabin. After about 1:30h we started our decent. Unfortunately, the weather was not as nice as it had been in CGN and we arrived at slightly chilly temperatures but 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Deplaning was with ordinary stairs and I had another good view on my 321.
Terminal 1 in Sofia is the old terminal and it clearly shows its age. Unlike Ryanair, which had switched to T2, Wizzair uses T1 together with EasyJet and Dniproavia. After entering the terminal, there was a passport check and I managed to pick the slowest line. There is this magic that always misguides me ;)
After the passport check point there are the baggage belts and a small duty free shop. Otherwise there is not really anything else except for lavatories. The terminal looks aged and isn't too inviting. In the main arrival "hall" I looked for an ATM and withdrew some levs.
To get to the city center, I had decided to take the cheap metro (1.60 levs/0.80€) from terminal 2. Between T2 and T1 there is a free shuttle bus which runs every 30 minutes. Due to some small traffic jam, the entire bus ride took fairly long but I was in no rush. I just kept this in mind in order to not be too late for my flight back home. The bus dropped me off at T2 and my curiosity obliged me to take a look inside. Quite a difference and pretty nice.
Then it was time to get a metro ticket and head to the Serdika stop in the city center where my Airbnb place would be.
Bonus : Click here displayhide
On the way to my Airbnb I already passed a few nice sights and was very possitively surprised. My first impressions of the city were very possitive and the following day would not disappoint me either. Here are a few impressions.
Palace of Justice
Ruins of Serdika which had been discovered during the builing of the metro
University of Sofia
Thank you so much for reading. I'm looking forward to your questions and comments!
Best wishes, Thomas
P.S. Many greetings from the Bulgarian national symbol the lion and my little Airbnb lion Arslan (Ari)
Cologne - CGN
Sofia - SOF
Considering the price, Wizzair offered an amazing product. It felt much nicer onboard than Ryanair and I would definitely fly Wizzair again. Their buy on board food seems to work very well and I might test it the next time I fly with them. For my short city trip, their carry-on luggage policy is no big deal but for a whole week or so, a small bag just is not enough and you would have to book the bigger bag which would increase the overall price. Terminal one in Sofia is not up to date and should see some renovation but again, considering the price it is totally ok. All in all, I was very satisfied with my first Wizzair experience.
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