Friendly Friday: My latest Airport experience

Zagreb airport

I am joining another Friendly Friday challenge with the theme Airports Experiences. I love airports. I love everything about the airports and I still find flying exhilarating after years of travel. If you want to have a look at some beautiful airplane views check my recent post here. This post is all about my latest airport experience.

I haven’t flown since April 2019 when my husband and I visited Berlin. Coincidentally, my first international trip (excluding two family day trips by car that we took at the end of summer) was a trip to Germany last week. I went to see my best friend who moved to Düsseldorf in Germany. I was anxious about travelling up until the last moment. I worried that my flight might get cancelled or that some new Covid-19 restrictions might be implemented just before my flight or that I could get sick and not be able to actually travel. I have also checked and re-checked obsessively the forms I needed to fill in and whether I have everything I need. I am vaccinated and I have an EU COVID certificate. This was my first flight since the start of the pandemic so I was apprehensive about travelling by plane. At the same time I was also very excited about going to visit my best friend and her family.

Zagreb, Croatia

My husband stayed at home with the kids. I took a bus to Zagreb and then an airport shuttle to Zagreb airport. As soon as I took my seat on the bus I started to experience those familiar yet almost forgotten happy butterflies in my stomach that I get every time I travel somewhere. But then I got a text message from my best friend asking me if I have a FFP2 face mask for my flight. I had an ordinary medical face mask. I frantically searched Ryanair’s site again for more information when I saw that indeed FFP2 masks were required for flights to/from Germany and Austria. How did I miss that before? The pharmacy at the bus station in Zagreb was closed but luckily I have found the required face mask at a kiosk. Phew. In the end nobody asked about or checked the face masks and most people including the crew had regular face masks. I decided to arrive early at the airport expecting extra queuing time at the border check or security check because of Covid-19 measures.

This was my first flight from new Zagreb Airport named after the first Croatian president Dr. Franjo Tuđman. The old airport isn’t really used anymore. It was very foggy when I arrived at the airport so the photo of the airport you see at the top of the post is from my return trip. The new Zagreb airport is spacious and looks interesting from the outside but I was very disappointed with the number of facilities. I expected to see more shops and cafes at the entrance. There weren’t many people at the airport. There was also a mandatory Covid testing center. I soon went upstairs to departure area but I first had to go through security and border control. There were just a few flights that afternoon/evening so I was the only one who passed security check and border control at that particular time. This has never happened to me. And nobody checked my temperature which I thought was obligatory. There were a lot more people in departure area and more facilities than downstairs but all in all don’t expect much of amusement at Zagreb airport. There are a couple of cafes and a big duty free shop and a clothes shop. I love to browse at airport shops.

inside Zagreb airport

I sat at Cafe Nero for a cup of tea and observed the people around me. Most of them didn’t wear their face mask properly and everyone at the cafe besides the waiters was without a mask. They weren’t eating or drinking though. They were either talking to their friends or family or staring at their phones. That made me feel uncomfortable and exposed for some reason.

When the boarding commenced the airline personnel asked the passengers whether they have a digital form required for entry to Germany since Croatia was put on high risk countries list as a result of a rising number of covid-19 cases just prior to my trip. Some passengers didn’t have that so they were given the paper forms. It was still very foggy when the plane took off. The plane was full. There were no empty rows or any divisions between the rows or between the seats. I was the only one in my row but it was foggy so I didn’t take any pictures.

fog at the runway at Zagreb airport

We experienced some light turbulences during the flight. There were even stronger turbulences during my return flight. It wasn’t pleasant at all. As a matter of fact those were the strongest turbulences I have ever had. It wasn’t so bad that it made me scared of flying but I have to say it did make me feel very fragile.

When we landed at Weeze airport it was already night so I didn’t get to see much of the airport. The border control was swift and I had no problems. My friend picked me up at the airport. Weeze airport is some 85 km from Düsseldorf and very close to the Netherlands (some 40km or even less). I had an early return flight so I stayed at the airport hotel the night before my flight because I didn’t want to rely on unreliable and infrequent connections between the airport and Düsseldorf. When I was going through security they put the suitcase of an elderly lady in front of me aside for further inspection and they did the same to my small backpack. The security officer put something that looked like a piece of paper in that lady’s suitcase and in my backpack and then put that paper into some machine. Drug testing? Maybe. I have had my bag searched before but this was the first instance of this kind of a control. As expected both of our bags were returned to us promptly having passed some kind of a test.

The airport seems to be in the middle of nowhere. I took the airport shuttle from the hotel to the terminal even though it is just one stop because I didn’t want to walk for 15 min in the dark. Weeze is quite a small airport. There’s really nothing to do there. There’s only one cafe and one overpriced half empty shop. But if you arrive by day at the airport and have some time to kill maybe you can visit the Royal Air Force Museum on the airport grounds or take a stroll around Weeze.

Dusseldorf, Germany

If you want to read about another airport experience check this post about my flight from London to Madrid. I will blog about Düsseldorf soon but at the moment you can have a look at some pretty doors from Düsseldorf here.

ps. check my blog’s Facebook page for a giveaway 😉

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22 thoughts

  1. I agree with another comment on the airport hotel being a good call! Even just for the sake of comfort, since your flight was early! I usually always arrive super early at airports, too: I guess as travel pros we both know planes won’t wait for anyone! 😄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very interesting to read your experiences of a first flight since Covid, as I will have my first one next week (we’ve been abroad, but by train to France). I’ve just been alerted to the need for those FFP2 masks and have ordered some – best to be prepared even if it proves that they aren’t enforced. It does seem strange to see an airport so quiet. We’ll be flying from London Gatwick so I guess it will be busier than Zagreb but not as much as as pre-pandemic. The architecture of the airport looks interesting, as far as I can see it through the fog!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Glad you’ve made your first post-covid flight! It sounds like it went pretty smoothly other than the bag checks.
    Looking forward to reading your posts on Dusseldorf. Funnily enough I ended up there by accident more than anything, I’d neglected to look at the train times when booking my flights to Germany and had to make a change of plans which resulted in spending a couple of nights in Dusseldorf 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’d read about the need for surgical face masks on flights to Germany but wondered whether it would be enforceable. I’ll buy some for when we travel there to be on the safe side. So pleased you made this first flight after so long, it’s definitely a great feeling to be back in the air and travelling again. Marion

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t been on a plane since July 2019, and I can imagine that your first time back in the air must’ve been so surreal, yet exciting! Despite the full flight and foggy conditions, it’s great you landed safely and got to travel again. I hope to return to flying sometime next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A comprehensive account of your first flight back into international air space, Tanja. Well done. I can well understand the apprehension prior to the flight, the mild panic about the face mask and the exhilaration of flying to a holiday destination again! (except for that turbulence). Glad it all went well. I liked also the foggy photo. We don’t get any fogs here and I miss that atmosphere. Thanks for joining in with the Friendly Friday Challenge!

    Liked by 1 person

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