Skopje Airport, and not Skopje Alexander the Great Airport, is the equivalent of, say, Leeds Bradford Airport, but without the glamour. It’s functional, no more, no less, but it has the advantage of not being a place you can easily get lost.
The flight to Istanbul was short and uneventful, although Turkish Airlines managed to serve a cooked breakfast which was better than just about anything British Airways have ever served me, and they do this for a flight of just over an hour and a half.
My connection in the new Istanbul Airport was rather less than that, but I bypassed the short connection route and headed into the heart of the airport. And my, is it something, a vast shopping and eating opportunity with convenient parking for aircraft and connections to just about everywhere. Mogadishu? Check. Ulaan Bataar? Certainly, via Almaty. And, unlike Heathrow, it didn’t seem to be particularly stressed, as everyone seemed pretty relaxed. It’s an airport that seems to work, and if there is a flaw, it’s that there aren’t many convenient hotel rooms available.
As an comparison with the fiasco that is Berlin’s new airport, it just shows how ambitious Turkey is, even whilst its government edges ever closer towards authoritarianism.
I made the next flight easily, in fact, so easily that I went for another walk - those steps don’t do themselves, you know.
The Tbilisi flight is another two and a half hours eastwards, and the Turkish meatballs with a vegetable casserole were most welcome. And, unlike most European airlines, business class on Turkish Airlines comes with wider seats, rather more legroom and a fair bit of recline.
Tbilisi. Capital of Georgia. Home to some of the world’s most rapacious taxi drivers. My advice is, do your research first so, when they somehow forget to start the meter, the 90 Lari fare they ask for can be negotiated down to something more like the 30 Lari it should be. It’s a pity, as Georgians seem like a friendly enough bunch, but their Tourism Ministry need to do something about that.
My hotel was within a reasonable walk of the main station so, having settled in, I set off to explore and buy my train ticket for the next day. I found the station, even found the ticket office and managed to find out that they don’t sell tickets in advance on the route I would be taking.
I would have an early start the next morning...