I left Edinburgh on the 24+hour trip to Trapani that I’d booked on my Kiwi.com app.
The schedule was:
08:00 Edinburgh to Dublin
15:55 Dublin to Luxembourg
02:50 Luxembourg to Frankfurt Hahn
06:40 Frankfurt Hahn to Trapani
The journey began at 5 am with a short walk to the bus stop outside Slateford railway station in Edinburgh. I took the 300 bus. It was a quiet journey as it was still early. The bus left at 05:20 and arrived at the airport at 05:55 – in plenty of time for the 8:00 am flight.
On entry to the airport I found it difficult to find the appropriate check-in desk since there were no boards indicating to which desk to go. I found the right one by conducting a physical check of all desks.
After check-in I went up to the departure area where there was a long queue for the security check. I joined one of the queues for the automated boarding card gates but when it was my turn all of the gates were turned off owing to the huge crowds waiting to pass through security.
Once I got to the x-ray area I was obliged to separate my iPad from my bag and to remove my shoes and belt.
After this ordeal was over I walked briskly through the Duty Free shop, ignoring the temptation to buy whisky, and headed to Nero’s were I had a coffee and muffin while waiting for the departure gate number to be advised.
Punctually at 07:00 the electronic notice board informed me to go to gate 29. It was not immediately apparent in which direction to head but I found my way. Edinburgh Airport needs to improve its signage generally. Apart from that it is quite a nice airport.
Is Edinburgh a place worth visiting? Absolutely. But I will write about Edinburgh separately.
Hainan Airlines to Dublin
Hainan Airlines didn’t provide the “luxury” of on-line check-in, but the in-person process was quick and easy. Generic local Swissport check-in staff.
Boarding was orderly and timely. First call for business and parents with children. Then the call for Economy passengers. As I was seated in one of the few seats reserved for old or infirm passengers I was one of the first in the queue.
Hainan Airlines boarding card
On boarding I was welcomed by one cabin crew member who politely checked my boarding card and gave directions to my seat while another handed me a sandwich and a bottle of water.
I had been allocated seat 36G on the 787-9 Dreamliner which was located just forward of the wings. Leg room was ample but storage space was limited. The power-points did not seem to function when I tried to charge my iPhone.
The aircraft, perhaps 15% occupied, left the gate at exactly 08:00 as scheduled.
The flight from EDI to DUB was 50 only minutes so we were obliged to keep our seatbelts on, tray tables closed and seats upright for the duration of the flight.
Adequate leg-room but very little space to store anything apart from a book
Not a full flight – plenty of empty seats. I had a row to myself.
We touched down at 08:50, twenty minutes ahead of the scheduled time. It was raining. The aircraft taxied then stopped and sat on apron for 20 minutes while Air Traffic Control decided where it should park. An announcement was made after 15 minutes to apologise for the delay. In the meantime I found a USB jack under the tv screen that charged my phone a bit. A second announcement was made 35 minutes after landing.
Forty minutes after touching down the plane started to make its way to a vacant bridge and another 10 minutes later the plane was parked. We spent fifty minutes waiting to park after a 50 minute journey! Not good but not Hainan’s fault.
Would I fly with Hainan again? I doubt if there would be a situation in which I would go out of my way to use the airline. However, if there was a need to use Hainan again I wouldn’t complain.
I didn’t have any hold baggage to worry about so I was able to exit quickly. I tried to follow the Connecting Flights trail but the security guy politely explained that Ryanair flights don’t participate in transit arrangements so I had to go back the way I had come, exit the baggage area and reenter the terminal. Very polite and patient guy👍.
Security was not as bad as that at Edinburgh. Thorough but much shorter queues. I bought a small backpack to replace the cumbersome box (Ryanair regulation cabin bag size) that I planned to use for the trip. It is squishable so hopefully will not cause the Ryanair bandits to give me grief at the boarding gates.
It was close enough to lunchtime for me to decide on having some food. I found the Garden Terrace on the upper floor and chose the Full Irish Breakfast (fried egg, two sausages, two rashers of bacon, half a grilled tomato, baked beans, hash briwn potatoes, a couple of slices of toast and what appeared to be two slices of blood pudding. And a mug of black coffee. €12.50)
Full Irish Breakfast (Vegans avert your eyes!)
I had to try this. Full breakfasts can be quite healthy though some possibly count as heart-stoppers! I have had the Full English, Cornish, Scottish, Vegetarian and Vegan breakfasts, and now the Irish version. The best non-English breakfast I have tried so far was the Full Scottish Breakfast served at the Spylaw Tavern, Colington, Edinburgh. More about that at another time. The Irish breakfast was tasty though didn’t score much on presentation.
Full Irish Breakfast at Garden Terrace:
⁃ 2 sausages
⁃ 2 rashers of bacon
⁃ 2 slices of black pudding (?)
⁃ Baked beans
⁃ Fried egg
⁃ Hash brown potatoes
⁃ 2 slices of toast
The fried egg had been sitting for a while. It had a glazed alert look about it, as though it had been freshly fried, but once I cut into it it proved to be tired and dry ie held under a heat source after it had left the pan.
The coffee was good.
Ryanair planes in the rain at Dublin Airport
My next flight, on Ryanair, was scheduled at 15:55 which left me plenty of time to relax.
Would I visit Dublin again? Yes, and would consider an overnight stay so that I could look around the city. But only en route to another destination.
Ryanair to Luxembourg
There aren’t many people that have a good word to say about Ryanair. Jokes abound about the extent of their extra charges – a darker one for example about having to pay for oxygen in the event of cabin depressurisation. I had carry on baggage which meant I had to have the bag under the seat in front of me. Priority passengers get to take a small suitcase and one item of hand baggage.
I was seated next to a window on the right hand side of the plane (seat 14G) but there was cloud most of the way and nothing to see. It was an uneventful flight apart from a bit of turbulence over France on the approach to Luxembourg. The plane was a bit late.
Would I use Ryanair again? It’s a no-frills budget airline. I don’t like their baggage policy but aside from that I will probably use them unless there is a better option available. Leg room is tight – made worse by having hand baggage stored under the seat in front.
Luxembourg airport is not very big, though not surprising considering the diminutive size of The Grand Duchy.
I exited the building with the idea of finding the bus stop for the next leg of my journey and found it right outside. Next plan was to find a way to get into the city. The number 16 bus was the answer. €2 ticket valid for two hours was adequate to take me to the main railway station. The journey took about half an hour. I had a quick look around but the light was fading so no decent opportunity to take pictures other than a couple of record shots on my iPhone.
Luxembourg railway station
I had something to eat at the station (just a granary roll with parma ham and cheese) then caught the bus back to the airport. There seemed to be a few photogenic locations along the bus route that might occupy me in the event of a return visit to Luxembourg, but I doubt that I would come back.
The airport, at 9pm , was pretty well deserted. The silence in the terminal building was broken only by background chatter, the occasional loud phone call (interestingly two separate calls: one, a woman chatting on speaker with her friend in Portuguese; the other a man also on speaker chatting in Portuguese to his wife or I think his lover – she with a Brazilian Portuguese accent – about missing his flight.
Oberweis cafe at Luxembourg Airport
At one point a woman, who appeared to have some problem with the world at large, began talking very loudly in French. She had a good stage voice, catching the attention of the entire terminal but directing her complaints at one woman seated in the cafe! The cafe staff encouraged its patrons to ignore the woman who, it seemed, was a regular visitor. That was the extent of the evening’s entertainment.
The bus to Frankfurt Hahn airport
My bus was scheduled to leave the airport at 02:50. I had somehow managed to keep myself occupied for over 5 hours with just one cup of coffee.
The air outside the terminal was cool, slightly humid and had a pleasant smell reminiscent of woodlands. It had rained lightly for about an hour from midnight. I sat outside the bus stop on a piano stool at 2:30 am. Within a few minutes a bus arrived but it was to another destination. My bus arrived shortly afterwards, driven by a middle aged blond German woman who seemed to like modern rock music.
At the scheduled hour she started the engine and reduced the volume of the music. I settled down with a plan to nap. The first stop on the way to Frankfurt Hahn airport was in the centre of the town of Trier, on the Mosel river, that I remembered from my school German lessons. At 3:30am, after a few minutes waiting, the bus continued its journey. The autobahn was smooth and quiet. We stopped at another town though I was in a sleepy state, taking little notice of the surroundings until the dawn light broke close to Frankfurt. I managed to nap a bit but not nearly as much as I wanted.
Frankfurt Hahn Airport
Frankfurt Hahn, in comparison to the large modern complex of Frankfurt am Main airport is little more than a glorified shed! Considering how Germany is noted for its Teutonic organisation this airport was a bit slapdash.
Frankfurt Hahn airport
It was clearly an old airport and very clearly catered to budget airlines, though it did have a couple of nice cafe/snack bars, a duty free area and a souvenir bookshop.
The departure gates were chaotic! Two lines existed: one for Priority passengers and one for non-Priority. There didn’t seem to be room enough to support a single queue but the two ran in parallel. It seemed to work but I would have relocated some seating to create decent queuing lines.
Once through the boarding process we had to walk a fair distance to the airplane. When I got to the plane there were two long queues snaking away from the fore and aft stairs.
Long queues to board the aircraft at Frankfurt Hahn.
Ryanair to Trapani
The flight was about two hours in duration though scheduled to take 2 hours and twenty minutes. As ever on Ryanair there was applause on landing. I suppose passengers are just grateful to arrive in one piece! Enough said about Ryanair!
The airport at Trapani has been in use for decades. It is a compact airport with a runway shared with the Italian Air Force.
It has a small cafe where one can buy coffee, wine, spirits and snacks. I had an espresso and a cannolo. However, despite the sign indicating that cannoli are prepared on request, I was served with a made up cannolo in which the biscuit had become soft. If you want a cannolo insist the it is freshly filled.
Unfortunately, it seems that local politics have obliged airlines to move to Palermo Airport – an hour away from Trapani – with a consequence that tourism in Erice/Trapani has declined significantly. Ryanair still flies to Trapani but the number of flight options has been severely reduced. Hotels, restaurants and taxis have suffered.
Would I visit Trapani again? Absolutely – though primarily because my mother lives in Erice. I have always liked Trapani and Erice and the surrounding countryside. Lots to see and lots to do.
Long journey. Four legs in each direction but it was the cheapest option available. It also enabled me to review a number of aspects connected with the trip.