Hi everyone! Welcome to the third of four installments of this series, regarding my "Maturareise" to the Croatian peninsula of Istria. Upon finishing high school, Austrian classes go to some sunny destination to celebrate their graduation and the start of a new chapter in their lives. While most of the rest of the class drove to and from Croatia, I flew, and therefore was able to earn precious miles that I couldn't earn in 2020. For this flight, however, I wasn't alone, as two of my classmates flew on an MUC-PUY roundtrip. Having them with me made the journey even more enjoyable!
I booked these flights as a multi-city itinerary. As I needed to be in Sofia on July 19th, I terminated the trip there. The trip would include 4 flights on 3 different airlines, flying on 4 different aircraft types, and passing through 5 different airports. The routing is as follows:
This leg would also be my first flight aboard a Lufthansa CityLine CRJ, my first time on a CRJ900, and my first CRJ flight since 2015!
the morning of departure
Even though our flight was scheduled to depart at 10:05 AM, my friends and I got to the airport at the ungodly hour of 5:30 AM. Why, you may ask? Well, the rest of the group elected to leave our vacation rental at 5 AM in order to (wisely) avoid a long wait at the Croatian-Slovenian border (without a long wait at the border, the drive from Vodnjan, the town we stayed in, to Innsbruck is 6.5 hours). That meant that we could either sleep in and take a taxi or rise early and be driven to the airport by one of our classmates. Given that my friends were scammed out of 60 Euros by a taxi after arriving in Pula from Munich the Saturday before, we decided to suck it up and get a free ride.
The drive to the airport took us around 25 minutes, and we arrived at Pula Airport just as the clouds above were starting to become blue.
We were unsure if the airport closes at night, but luckily it was open when we arrived, so we didn't need to stay outside in the rain.
pula airport (puy)
We walked inside to find something none of us had ever seen before: a completely empty and dark airport. It was a pretty cool experience, especially because the only thing that could be heard was the sound of rain falling on the metal roof. We took some pictures and audio recording to cherish the experience.
After around 15 minutes, airport staff showed up and turned on the lights. My friends and I no longer had an airport all to ourselves.
Slowly but surely, the passengers of the first flight of the day (a UIA E190 to Kiev) began to show up, and by 7 the airport finally felt alive (well, by small airport standards). The that time, the café opened, and I bought myself a slightly burned chocolate croissant for 10 Kuna (~1.30 Euros).
Our time landside flew by (thanks to hours of fun, face-to-face, discussions - not all youths are addicted to electronics! 😜), and once we got our boarding passes from the Lufthansa counter as soon as it opened, we headed airside.
I should note that, for some reason, online check-in for flights originating from Croatia seems to be a bit of an issue. Lufthansa sent us to check-in with a Croatian site called Niko.hr, which I assume uses the same interface Alaska Airlines used in 1999 when they introduced the world's first online check-in 🙈 All three of us were on different bookings, and none of us were able to check-in - we got error messages every time we tried. Has anyone else had similar experiences in Croatia?
Security and immigration were both super quick, and literally within 60 seconds of queuing in we were airside.
Pula's current airport terminal was completed in 1989. It's small and definitely gives off communist vibes, but it serves its purpose and is pretty comfortable to wait in. My one complaint is that there are barely any power outlets in the terminal - I only saw 1.
Funnily enough, the departure boards don't just show the day's departures, but also the week's departures, all the way up to the following Saturday!
My friends and I ended up sitting on the old aircraft seats, located in a corner off the beaten path. Can anyone tell what airline they are from?
After a week of near constant sunshine, the weather in Pula that morning was sad and rainy. It also reflected our moods - there were a lot of tears in the morning as we said goodbye to our 15 classmates who were driving back.
Fortunately, there was a terrace upstairs, which put a smile on my face!
The terrace was quite nice, but I'd like to be back on a sunny day with a lot of traffic.
Our aircraft was running late, but once I spotted it arrive from the terrace, I went back downstairs to snag a photo of it and then we headed to the gate.
boarding + initial impressions
There was no gate announced, so instead passengers just lined up at the gate closest to the aircraft.
That offered me the chance to take a closer look at our bird before it was time to board. Flying us to Munich was D-ACNG, an 11.9-year-old CRJ900 named 'Rothenburg ob der Tauber', after a picturesque town in Bavaria. November-Golf was delivered to the old Eurowings in October 2009 and transferred to Lufthansa CityLine in February 2016.
So long, Croatia 🥺 we had an unforgettable week!
When it was time to board, the gate agents told us to head over to Gate 3.
Despite how close the aircraft was, we were herded into a bus. Since my flight from Frankfurt was parked farther and we walked upon arrival, I guess it was due to the rain.
The ride was naturally very short. The ground staff was nice enough to only let a few people into the aircraft at a time, so that the rest could wait in the bus as opposed to outside in the rain.
Close-ups of Rothenburg ob der Tauber as it was my turn to head inside.
Looking towards the pointy nose.
A cute small welcome message next to the door. This was my first time flying on an aircraft with the new Lufthansa livery!
A very friendly purser greeted us at the door and passed out a disinfectant wipe as well as chocolates.
Passing the plaque with the coat of arms of Rothenburg.
Making my way past Business Class…
…into coach, and my seat, 11A. My friends were right behind me, in 12A&C.
The chocolate and wipe that the purser handed at the door.
Legroom was some of the tightest I've seen on an LH Group aircraft, but for this short flight it was more than manageable.
Stretchy seatback pocket.
In the literature pocket, the safety instructions card and the Onboard Delights menu.
lufthansa 1723 - pula to munich
Once all passengers were onboard and the cargo doors were closed, Captain Daniel welcomed us onboard and promised to fly us to Munich on the quickest route possible in order to make up for the delay.
I was thrilled to hear the cabin door close, as that meant that I had the aisle seat to myself as well. It was one of few empty seats on the flight.
Leaving our parking position.
One last look at the tiny Pula Airport, my home of the past 5 hours!
departure from pula
"Lufthansa 7 X-Ray Victor, Runway 27, cleared for takeoff".
Once the seatbelt sign was switched off, the crew started the service by - you guessed it - passing bottles of water around. I ate my chocolate at the same time.
At our cruising altitude of 34,000ft.
Before descending, I headed to the restroom. I got a kick out of the spacing on the sign under the toilet lid 🤣
Before heading back to my seat, I sat in the last row, 25A. Had I not had company on this flight, I would sat here (as any true AvGeek would), due to its proximity to the engine.
Look at that beautiful CF34! 😍
The cabin looking forward. One of the flight attendants struck up a conversation with one of the passengers, which is nice to see. While I didn't have many interactions with the 2 crew members, they were both professional, kind, and clearly took pride in their job. What else could you ask for on an hour flight?
arrival into munich
Commencing our descent south of Salzburg.
Left turn as soon as we entered German airspace.
A few minutes later, we were on approach for Munich's Runway 26R. Unfortunately, we didn't leave the gloomy weather behind :(
Over the airport.
Very smooth landing at 11:30 AM, 20 minutes late, after being in the air for a mere 43 minutes.
Taxiing to our stand on the other side of the field.
Passing the satellite terminal, which is still closed.
Making a 180 into a stand…
…next to another CL CRJ.
Enter text here…
routing of lh1723
After departing Pula, we initially flew northeast and then a direct track towards Munich, where we arrived via waypoint NAPSA to Runway 26R. Our cruising was 34,000ft.
The bus ride to the terminal was a bit long, and as soon as we made it inside the terminal it was time to bid farewell to my friends, without whom I would not have been able to survive 5 hours at Pula Airport. They headed to immigration and their train to Innsbruck, while I headed upstairs for 4 and half more hours of waiting for yet another Lufthansa flight. Yay! We'll pick up the layover in the next and final installment. I hope you enjoyed this one, and please check out the tourism bonus below! 😃
tourism bonus - exploring istria
Bonus : Click here display hide
I must admit that prior to this trip, I hadn't even heard of Istria, a small peninsula making up the northwestern corner of Croatia. All I had heard about Croatia was Zagreb and the Dalmatian Coast. The history of Istria is quite fascinating - it was an Italian territory and only became a part of Yugoslavia in 1947. If you'd like to learn more about the history of Istria, check out this Wikipedia page. The three main places we explored in Istria were Pula, Rovinj, and Vodnjan.
Because of its Italian history (and the fact that Italian is an official language on the peninsula), each town has an Italian name, too. Pula's Italian name is Pola. With 57,460 residents, Pula is Istria's largest city and the eighth-largest in Croatia.
Pula's most famous attraction is the Pula Arena, which was completed in the year 68!
From slightly above the area, there is always a great view of the Adriatic Sea. Who needs Rome when you have Pula? 😉
The town of Pula provides a cool mix of Italian and Yugoslav vibes.
As is with most (if not all?) European cities, there is a section of the center that is just for foot traffic.
From Pula, you can also take a boat ride around Brijuni National Park, which is where Josip Broz Tito had a summer residence. Our boat ride provided dinner, took 3 hours, and cost 30 Euros per person. We even saw some dolphins!
As mentioned above, we had rented a place in Vodnjan, or Dignano in Italian. Vodnjan is Istria's eighth-largest settlement and is home to 6,119 residents. It's a small town that's not on the water, but it was a lot of fun to walk around the town, as there weren't any other tourists. Vodnjan, unlike Pula, felt 100% Italian to me.
Vodnjan town center.
Even a random street in Vodnjan was interesting, at least to me!
The highlight of the trip for most of us was Rovinj (Rovigno), Istria's third-largest settlement with 14,294 residents. Rovinj also felt completely Italian, and was not overrun with tourists either. Its old town is situated on a beautiful peninsula.
A bunch of quaint, movie-like small side streets all lead to the 'top' of Rovinj, the Church of St. Euphemia.
The views from the top are fabulous.
The entire old town of Rovinj is a pedestrian zone, which is wonderful
And to end this bonus and the report, the unbelievable sunset we saw from Rovinj. If you are ever in Istria during the summer, you absolutely have to experience a sunset from Rovinj!
Pula - PUY
Munich - MUC
Unsurprisingly, it was a very pleasant (and short) flight with Lufthansa CityLine.
+ Professional cabin crew + Free water + No entertainment/WiFi
I wish that LH added some form of entertainment on their CL-operated CRJs, but I highly doubt that'll ever happen. Regardless of that, I had a great flight, especially thanks to the friends I was travelling with.
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