Snooker in Sheffield

Snooker - not the most popular sport in my home country, but nevertheless one I usually enjoy watching quite a lot (on the rare occasions it is actually shown on German TV). So one day I decided to head up to Sheffield in England to watch a match of the annual Snooker World Championship in the famous Crucible theatre. Tickets are usually sold out quite quickly but I was lucky to get a seat for one of quarter finals.

Of course now I had to find an interesting way to get to and from Sheffield in time for the event. Sheffield/Doncaster airport would be a new airport for me so I wanted at least one take-off or landing there. After some searching I decided to book the Ryanair flight from my home airport Karlsruhe/Baden-Baden to Edinburgh, then continue from there to Dublin on Stobart Air and on the next morning flyBe would take from Dublin over to Sheffield. Didn't find anything suitable back from Sheffield though but since it isn't too far away from Manchester I decided to simply book another Ryanair flight from MAN directly to Stuttgart. This route however got canceled a few weeks before my departure so then instead I had to book British Airways from Manchester to STR with a stop in Heathrow.

Five legs in the end, on the map it looked like this:
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz

Karlsruhe to Edinburgh

 Route  FKB - EDI
 Distance  601 nm / 1113 km
 Departure  29.04.2019 09:30 
 Airline  Ryanair 
 Flight No  FR1047
 Equipment  Boeing 737-800
 Registration     EI-FOT
 Seat  25A

So to start this trip it was just your ordinary standard Ryanair flight. Pretty much on time, almost full, no frills, but they got me to Scotland without any problems. Nothing more to say about this flight, so just some pictures here.

And welcome to Edinburgh after a bit more than one and a half hour in the air:

A short visit to Edinburgh

Enough time to make a short visit to this great city. The tram is quite a convenient way to get into the centre:

Again just a few pictures to share here:

Edinburgh to Dublin

 Route  EDI - DUB
 Distance  182 nm / 338 km
 Departure  29.04.2019 16:15 actual 20:22 
 Airline  Stobart Air 
 Flight No  EI3257
 Equipment  ATR 72-600
 Registration     EI-FSK
 Seat  14F

And then back to the airport in time to catch my first flight with Stobart Air. The tower here is quite distinctive looking:

At this point of time I was in a quite good mood, looking forward to the flight on the ATR, but that changed quickly when I took a look at the FIDS. My flight to Dublin already showed a more than 3 hour delay!

Oh dear, well, I decided to go to an checkin desk to ask for my options, but according to the guy the earlier flights were full and I would just have to wait. Bad weather in Ireland, so apperantly all flights over to Dublin were heavily delayed. He apologized and then handed me a voucher of 3 (yes, three) pounds to get me some refreshment, oh how generous ;-)

Alright so now I had a looooong wait here. Decided to head to the Weatherspoon's at the airport and drown my sorrows with a pint of Guinness:

Still a lot of time to kill, so why not do some plane watching:

In the meantime another hour was added to delay of my flight, but that didn't surprise me at all. Time for something to eat then and to use my three-pound-voucher:

I occasionally checked the flightradar app on my phone and at one point I finally saw that my plane was on its way to Edinburgh. Headed over to the gate then and after some more waiting there it was, the all white ATR 72 that would bring me to Dublin, finally:

EI-FSK had the honors, about three years old and flying for Stobart since. Boarding then started, funnily the later flight to Dublin (also delayed but not as much) was about to board as well from the adjacent gate. Caused a bit of confusion but in the end they managed to get everyone on the correct flight.

Into the plane, now almost 4.5 hours after the scheduled departure time:

The flight was indeed completely full, the Captain was on the speakers then with a nice welcome and a big apology for the long delay, apparently there was heavy fog the morning in Dublin which caused a lot of problems there and the delays just added up the whole day. Anyway I was glad that I was on board now and that I would reach Ireland on this day (had already checked the train schedules to Sheffield, just in case the flight would have been canceled completely).

Engines were started then, a short taxi only and take-off from runway 06. It was already getting dark so not a lot of pictures anymore:

Up to flight level 160, and after exactly one hour in the air we touched down smoothly at Dublin airport. But that wasn't the end of the journey yet as they obviously had problems to get a parking position. We taxied around a lot, stopped for a few minutes somewhere and finally got a spot at a very remote position. Also it took quite a while then for a bus to show up and so in the end I was in the terminal then almost 5 hours after the scheduled arrival time. At least then it worked smoothly and I got the last hotel shuttle of the day to bring me to my place for the night. And after one last pint of Guinness I settled in for a good but short night's sleep.

Dublin to Doncaster/Sheffield

 Route  DUB - DSA
 Distance  189 nm / 350 km
 Departure  30.04.2019 09:05 actual 09:39 
 Airline  flyBe 
 Flight No  BE4472
 Equipment  Embraer 175
 Registration     G-FBJA
 Seat  6A

Next morning again with the shuttle bus back to the airport, flyBe uses Terminal 1 here at Dublin. Weather was still quite nasty, cool, windy and rainy. But at least there were planes to be seen, like this Aer Lingus A321, still in the lovely green livery:

Had a sandwich for breakfast and then headed to the downstairs gate area where my flight would depart from. There was also a Westjet flight to Halifax just boarding, interesting to see a B737 to fly over the pond. My ride for the day was already there, the E175 as scheduled, G-FBJA, built in 2011 and one of 11 planes of this type in flyBe's fleet.

Boarding time came and went, then a delay was announced, no new departure time yet, no reason given, more info later. That didn't sound good but fortunately the delay didn't turn out to be very long and they called for boarding just around half an hour after the schedule. Only a few people at the gate, so a very light load and I entered the plane:

Had an empty seat next to me, nice. Saw one of the grounded B737-MAX from Norwegian then in the distance:

Engines were started, the Captain was on the speakers and apologized for the delay. Reason was fog in Doncaster but it should have lifted up by the time of our arrival. On our way then. The control tower and its little brother:

After the departure of a Ryanair plane it was then our turn to line up on runway 10:

And up in the air and into the clouds:

Another uneventful short flight followed, mostly over the clouds, up to flight level 250.

During approach visibility was indeed not the best, but good enough for a landing here in Doncaster/Sheffield:

And oh, what happened to this Jetstream 31?

This plane had a landing accident here already in 2014 after a flight from Belfast, fortunately nobody was injured, but the plane suffered severe damage, more details here:

Anyway our flight made it to the parking position in one piece:

A short walk to the building, a quick passport control and out into the arrivals hall of Doncaster/Sheffield airport:

And yes, the airport is named after this guy, of course it is Robin Hood:

Visiting Sheffield and the Snooker World Championship

I took the bus to Sheffield, quite a long ride as the airport is actually a lot closer to Doncaster than to Sheffield. But after a bit more than an hour I arrived at the terminal station in Sheffield. My snooker ticket was only for the next day so after checking in into the hotel I had the whole afternoon to explore the city now. Weather was on my side then and I must say that the city is quite pleasant.

I started the next day with a generous Full English Breakfast:

After that I headed over to the famous Crucible theatre where the Snooker championship took place:

Let's go to the cue zone in the winter garden first, where a BBC studio is located during the championship:

Nice here, everything is in the open, you can see the former champions Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis during the interviews between the matches:

And they have a big screen in front of the theatre where the matches from the inside are shown live. You can get yourself a beer from the pub behind and watch snooker here, nice:

Then finally it was time for me to enter the holy halls as well:

Tables were already set up as the spectators are slowly filling the ranks:

Then of course it was cameras and phones off, so no more pictures. I watched the second session of the match between the later champion Judd Trump and Stephen Maguire. Unfortunately it wasn't the most exciting match since Trump already led by 7 to 1 from the first session. At least I witnessed one century break. Still the whole atmosphere was great and I really enjoyed it.

After that I finished the day with a nice cold ale from Camden Town:

Manchester to Stuttgart via Heathrow

To get back home the next day I had to travel first by train to Manchester airport. It is just about a one hour direct train ride from Sheffield main station:

It was a nice train ride through the Peaks district in a lovely morning atmosphere, no pictures though. And so I arrived at Manchester airport and made my way to terminal 3 where the BA flights depart:

 Route  MAN - LHR
 Distance  131 nm / 243 km
 Departure  02.05.2019 12:10 
 Airline  British Airways
 Flight No  BA1391
 Equipment  Airbus 321
 Registration     G-EUXE
 Seat  22F

Terminal 3 here is certainly not a very pleasant place, security was crowded and slow, inside very busy and only limited seating. At least some views outside on the apron:

As soon as the gate was announced I made my way there, but it wasn't even a proper gate, just a long corridor where people already formed a long queue. Still took a few minutes before they allowed us to enter the plane. G-EUXE was waiting, this was only my second time in an A321 from BA, but guess what, the first time I got the same reg, oh well. I made myself comfortable in my window seat with typical English weather outside:

This one just arrived from Dubai:

If I remember correctly this flight is the shortest flight in BAs network, and therefore not so long after take-off we were already on the approach towards Heathrow. I was lucky this time to get the scenic tour over London, awesome views:

And so I arrived to London Heathrow Airport.

About 2 hours here now, I had a quick snack and relaxed the rest of the time with some plane watching:

 Route  LHR - STR
 Distance  410 nm / 758 km
 Departure  02.05.2019 15:30 
 Airline  British Airways 
 Flight No  BA 920
 Equipment  Airbus 320 NEO
 Registration     G-TTNJ
 Seat  22F

Last leg of the journey. I was happy to see that it was with an A320 NEO, only my second flight with the Neo. G-TTNJ was less than two months old by the time of the flight:

Departure on time, but a long taxi towards runway 27R, spotted a few interesting planes on the way:

Departure and cruise was quite smooth and uneventful, we went up to flight level 390.

Approach was then rather interesting, with a few thunderstorms around Stuttgart the pilots had to do quite a few turns to avoid the nasty weather. But no problem in the end, we arrived in STR almost on time and parked next to this Iberia Airbus under dark clouds:

It was a wonderful trip. This time the highlight was not a special flight or airport, but something completely different with the snooker championship in Sheffield. What a great experience to see some of the best players of this sport live!

Thanks for reading!