Today was the big day. After exactly three months of travelling Iran and Central Asia on bicycle, I was travelling back to Switzerland and finally meet up with Ilinca and my family again. I was quite nervous about that day whether everything will go smooth, but in the end I have to admit my worries were unfounded. Apart from a broken helmet that I wanted to replace anyway, all equipment arrived on time and in good condition.
Ride to the airport
The airport of Bishkek named Manas airport is located around a 30 minutes’ drive north of the city center and close to the Kazakh border. As I was travelling with a lot of luggage, Kurmanbek organized a minivan in which I could easily fit my bicycle. Half an hour is not that much, still the driver had the need to optimize the duration of the ride by speeding. While he escaped the first mobile control, in the second one the police officer took him out. There went the time advantage for speeding. After paying the fine, we continued at regular speed to the airport.
The airport is rather small. Check-In, security check and passport control were basically in the same building, and the boarding gates were already in the next hall. Check-In went very smooth, especially considering I had a bicycle with me. I could pay the €90 fee for the bicycle directly with my credit card, and the lady at the check-in asked me if I wanted to change my seat to the emergency row, which I gladly accepted for a six hour flight in a rather small plane for this distance.
Before entering the baggage screening, I realized that I forgot to put my pepper spray into the checked luggage. I did not want to take my chances and run into trouble and therefore threw it in the garbage right before the screening. And it was a good decision, the security officers were extremely interested in my belongings, they were asking me several times about a laser pointer that I did not possess, and looked at every cable and item. After they could not find me guilty, they let me pass to the departure hall.
After that I had a bit more than an hour left until boarding, so I visited to business lounge at the airport (I was not flying business class, but I have a Priority Pass from my credit card package which allows me to go for lounges for free). The food options were very limited, but it was enough to finally eat breakfast.
Flights from Bishkek via Istanbul to Zurich
When the captain said over the speakers in Bishkek that the estimated flight time is almost 6 hours, I realized again how far I was actually away from Switzerland. The flight itself was very nice and the service of Turkish Airlines was very good, and due to the seat at the exit row also comfortable.
Once landed in Istanbul, I visited another business lounge. This time the food offer was very good and I had a nice lunch there. Especially the desserts were way above my expectations for a business lounge with fresh
The second flight from Istanbul to Zurich was also fine, even though I did not have an exit row seat anymore. After 2.5 hours I then finally landed in Zurich. At the baggage claim, I was happy to see that all luggage arrived and apart from the helmet which I packed poorly, everything survived the transport undamaged. After half an hour of reassembling my bicycle I then cycled the last six kilometers from the airport to my home where Ilinca was already waiting for me on the balcony.
I am very happy to be back again in Switzerland. Even though I loved travelling through all these countries and cultures, I always also missed a bit my wife and my family and also the comfort of life here in Europe. I will now enjoy summer here in Switzerland for the next two months, process all the impressions from the past three months, and meet friends and family. Starting September I will then start travelling again with Ilinca for several months. The destination is not clear yet, but we have a preference for South-East Asia and Australia.