After jumping my arriving plane from Hamburg (into a duty-free shop!), it was time to walk over to the B gates, in fact, today's flight to Bilbao would depart from the exact same gate I arrived at just a few days ago.
The pax-bridge between the A and B gates makes a perfect spot for some early morning spotting. Amongst the planes awaiting their departure from DUS is this EW A320, carrying a special Borussia Dortmund livery.
…while this MAD-bound IB A321 promotes the inferior Disneyland.
The B gates are smaller and more cramped than the A gates, and depending on where you are you may have to walk a bit to get to the shops from your gate. Nowhere near as impressive, I'm afraid (although at least the loos are on the same floor).
A walk around the place reveals the remnants of a (recent) better time…
…as well as a feature that has long since disappeared from Spanish airports: a smoking lounge, with ads for a well-known brand of cigarettes featuring a certain mammal commonly found in the Middle East and the Horn of Africa. Germany remains quite lax in terms of cigarette advertising: Billboards for Marlboro and Gauloises could be found all over Hamburg, especially in the industrial complex my hotel was situated in, and you could buy your cancer sticks at supermarkets and train station platform kiosks, kiosks that would be also be covered in those same ads, in a way that would make any Phillip-Morris executive proud. Of course, none of this would be possible in Spain - cigs can only be bought at specialized, government-licensed stores and age-restricted vending machines in bars. Any advertising for Marlboro's recent addition to their lineup of quick ways to the grave can only be done in said stores, otherwise it is verboten. No smoking lounges at airports, but you can smoke freely on open-air train platforms, though!
Having bought what, unfortunately, would be my last bottle of Mezzo Mix, it was time for more spotting.
Here's OK-NFU, an almost 10-year-old ATR 72 new to AZAL, awaiting it's journey back home to Prague.
LGW still operated their Dash-8s in the old AB colours, but not for long - a few weeks later one of them would finally get an EW livery.
PH-EXB gets towed out of the gate on her way to Amsterdam.
"Ludwigsburg" here gets ready for the daily DUS-EWR flight…
…while 18-year-old N177DZ gets moving to her gate after a long journey from ATL.
Sadly, these three won't be going much further today, having been stored for the time being. (D-AIQS, in the middle of the three, would go on to be a crew trainer run by TFC Käufer on behalf of Eurowings, while D-ABFR has since returned to the skies. No idea what happened to the AB bird.)
And right behind the Delta is 4-year-old VQ-BSL, having arrived from St Petersburg.
Boarding and takeoff
While I was busy spotting, my plane for the day had arrived: D-AIZT, 4 and a half years old, new to Lufthansa before being transferred to Eurowings in March 2015. (Notice the old Düsseldorf International logo on the jetway.)
Boarding began at 10:35, but a queue had already appeared well before - such is the magic of the arrival of a gate agent ;)
The cabin is standard Eurowings fare, the cabin was quite clean and the legroom is… alright, not roomy but not extremely tight. Just like on the way in, this plane had the more modern "no electronic devices" advisory installed, right where "no smoking" used to be. You could say it's a sign of the times!
Luckily nobody took the seats left to me, so I decided to move over to the window. As you may have guess, it's not exactly a full flight…
Taxiing to the runway:
Eurowings has this 767 leased from Privatair flying from DUS to sunnier destinations. Wouldn't wanna fly her to Cancun, though - the cabin's pretty outdated and cramped from what I understand.
Takeoff (featuring those parked planes from earlier):
Bye Düsseldorf! Here's hoping the next time I pass by I'll actually leave the airport and head into the city!
There IS such thing as a free lunch!
Not much else happens in the cabin, most everyone is asleep while others are busy chatting with each other. Many more Germans than Spaniards on this flight, surprisingly.
A quick trip to the bathroom - everything's spotless.
Now this is weird. Apparently the extra legroom seats aren't the only ones to receive the lunchbox, so do the rear seats (all the way up to row 25). These seats are standard fare, they cost the usual 10€/8€, so I have no idea why I got something you'd normally pay a tad more for. Maybe they had extra boxes and decided to give them out?
But hey, free food is free food. Just like on the BIO-DUS flight I chose the salami option, dry but tasty nonetheless. Also included: juice-box water(?) and a teeny tiny bag of plane-shaped Haribo gummies.
Still, I wanted something that could fill me up just a bit more, so I got myself a teriyaki chicken sandwich from the BOB menu. The teriyaki sauce and tomato added a nice taste, but the shredded chicken tasted odd. Each BOB menu product comes with a pack of wet wipes.
Basque aerial town tour and landing
We begin descending over the French Atlantic coast, immediately after meal service, and as such the stewardesses are unable to bring out the duty-free cart. A pity, as I wanted to buy a model EW A320.
Vieux-Boucau-les-Bains and its odd lake with a nice little isle in the middle - must be Landes.
We skip the Spanish/French border, as well as the French-influenced city of San Sebastian and head over the surfer town of Zarautz.
The even-smaller town of Getaria, right next to it, features a nice little lighthouse at its sea-facing end.
Zumaia. Notice the brown commieblocks on the other side of the river - it wasn't just our northern friends who took an itching for architectural eyesores.
Heading inland, we pass over Elgoibar, which lies not far from Biscay's borders.
Gernika, infmaous for being bombed by Nazi troops during the Spanish Civil War - the first instance of an aerial bombing against civilians. Said bombings were the inspiration of a painting by some random artist you've probably never heard of, a certain Picasso fellow.
The Hotel Seminario Bilbao, which as its name implies used to be a Diocesan Seminary (although it had been constructed to be used as a psychiatric hospital). Not much abstinence from sin and devotion around these parts anymore, though (except for money I suppose).
Alas, the pack of gum I'd bought in Hamburg was of no use in this flight, as I ended up with the same nasty headache I had on the two previous flights. Gotta love sinus infections!
We park right next to this Vueling A320, carrying an ad for the province of Cantabria - just a half-hour drive from Bilbao!
D-AIZT, getting ready for her inminent flight back to colder, yet *A -friendlier lands:
Having picked up my bag, I headed back home - in the most counter-intuitive way possible. Instead of grabbing the (rather expensive) direct bus to San Sebastian, I decided to hop onboard an already-parked and cheaper intercity bus to Bilbao's makeshift bus terminal and then connect to another (also quite cheap and smart card-friendly). Wouldn't be a big deal, wasn't really that sleepy. And it would have been a nicer bus ride had I not had to share the journey with a bunch of grumpy, whiny old farts who had just arrived from a senior trip from Benidorm, as well as a bunch of kids wanting to listen to the latest reggaeton hits with no headphones whatsoever. Needless to say my headache got worse.
The next bus to San Sebastian from said bus terminal didn't arrive until an hour later, so I had to wait for it in the smelly ticket area just above where the buses park (the bathrooms, while new, are already in poor shape and reek of urine and other nastiness. They also happen to be open all the time…). Once I got on the bus I realized my jet-lag tolerance was way lower than I thought, quickly falling half-asleep throught the entire ride.
Tired, sweaty, with a splitting headache and really wishing I'd caught the direct bus (especially since this scheme of mine wasn't really any cheaper than just getting it, not to mention I would've got here faster), I decided to just shell out 40€ on a taxi ride from San Sebastian's bus terminal to Irun. Even the taxi driver found it quite ironic I'd try my best at saving some money only to waste it all away on an expensive taxi ride!
Düsseldorf - DUS
Bilbao - BIO
Thank you all for reading the last of these tripreports! I'll be heading back to Japan next may, but I highly doubt I'll report on it. If everything goes well, however, I'll probably visit some more European destinations in the future, some a bit more exotic than others.
EW: Clean, modern cabin, friendly, helpful staff and surprise free food I was certainly NOT expecting! Just wish they'd lower their prices on their Wi-Fi, gets a tad boring up there... DUS: Spotless and with a no-nonsense flight connections system - definitely one of my favorite airports so far! BIO: Wish they'd improve on the whole "getting there" aspect, whether by building a metro station nearby or lowering the prices on their direct bus to San Sebastian, otherwise no complaints.
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