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Thursday, 21 July 2011

Istanbul, The Capital of Culture.......And Kebabs (Day 1)

Istanbul, The Capital of Culture.......And Kebabs (Day 1)

Istanbul is a beautiful city with lots of culture, heritage and of course Kebabs. I decided to backpack solo again in November 2009 after my first solo trip to Shanghai back in May 2009. I'm starting to get a hang of it. The feeling of traveling all alone, without any friends, family or even loved ones gives you this sense of adventure into the unknown or i should say, foreign territory. I had to clear my work annual leave as i have more than 7 days left in the past year. So, i applied for 6 days and then booked my flight tickets on Emirates which was having a sale and i only paid S$1,250 economy class return fare to Istanbul, Turkey. My aunts and my late grandfather have all been to Istanbul, as it was part of the Pilgrimage tour package and Istanbul was included in their itinerary.

This trip was also a culinary adventure for me, as i'm getting exposed to authentic Turkish cuisine available in Istanbul and not those copycats that are served back home. The currency was no difference to Singapore dollars at that time. I didn't bring as many cash with me as i have my card on standby for last minute and unnecessary purchase. Only changed about S$500 and that was suffice for my 6 days there. Hotel i booked online from, was Atlantis Hotel. Cheap price, S$25 per night and i was laughing. It included daily breakfast and free in room Wifi. Good deal i must say! Made some necessary arrangements and i was good to go.
Boarding pass and passport ready
Ready for pushback and taxi to runway
Seat number 36K
Menu card distributed
First meal, breakfast of the day.
Inflight progress
2nd meal, a light snack of crossaintwich and chocolate flan.
Audio playlists on I.C.E
My plane took off from Changi  Airport at about 9.45am and the flight time was 7 hours and 10 mins to Dubai International (DXB). The food that was served on board was much much better than the ones i had on Malaysia Airlines. Morning breakfast consists of Noodles with Cod fish fillet, shrimps with teriyaki sauce accompanied by a Danish pastry, fruits, bread roll, Cheese cake and a cup of yoghurt. It was a rather full house meal and managed to stuff it all down. Then watched some GI Joe on Emirates I.C.E which is the best form of Inflight entertainment by far in the skies.  It has over 600 channels of premium entertainment, flight path progress, external aircraft camera views and live news such from BBC. Try topping that SQ. Service of the crew was nothing special but still attentive to passenger demands and needs. Second meal came about 1 and a half hour before landing. It was a Crossaint-wich of thick sliced cheese and Turkey ham and Chocolate Flan and choice of Coffee or Tea. Once landed, i went thru transit and went to my boarding gate for my connecting flight.
Interior of DXB Terminal 3
Plants and mini garden inside of Terminal 3
Loading up and ready for Istanbul
The old I.F.E with AVOD
Flight time to Istanbul was 3 hours and 45 mins and the flight was uneventful with little turbulence during take off. Meals were served after reaching cruising altitude. I chose the Chicken Tikka With green beans, carrots and Tortellini. This was the best main course by far. Chicken Tikka has that smokey flavor and the greens are sauted to perfection. Appetizer was Shrimp Cocktail and dessert, Chocolate Mousse.
Inflight meal from Dubai to Istanbul
Chicken Tikka With green beans, carrots and Tortellini
Shrimp Cocktail
Chocolate Mousse
Sun setting view from plane....Priceless
After my meal, watch a few movies to pass the time and before you know it, we were starting to descent into Istanbul. Crew did all the S.O.P before landing and took their places. Landing was smooth as silk. Once reached the gates, grabbed my sling bag and proceeded out to immigrations. No hassle there as i was cleared within minutes, then went to collect my backpack and off to look for the Havalamani Airport Metro station. Got lost for a minute finding the damn station, so asked the info counter for directions instead. Maybe was the long flight That messes me up in the head. The Metro was located at B2 and you have to buy a token before entering the gantry. My hotel is located in Sultanahmet. The train ride into town was about 40 mins and i stopped at the wrong station and got lost again(must be the long flight). So i took a taxi to my hotel and costs me 35 Turkish Liras. Found my hotel located in an alley, which i find a bit eerie at night as i was arriving at 7pm, it was already dark. Checked into hotel and went to bed after i sorted my things out. 
Welcome to Ataturk Istanbul Internatinal Airport
Walking towards the Metro station
Hafif Metro
My room
                                           Second day in Istanbul in the next part.

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