Friday, June 15, 2012

Arriving in Istanbul

We're off on another adventure, and I'm actually blogging from the "living room" of the Neorion hotel in Istanbul. This is a 3-day weekend for us in UAE to celebrate the Prophet's ascension, so like all good airline employees, we took advantage of my discount and flew to Istanbul.

Actually, we had a few minutes of panic yesterday when I realised that the tickets I thought were confirmed, were actually standby - which means we could have gotten bumped at the last minute. I think we both slept with our fingers crossed hoping we'd get on the flight.

Well, we did and had another lovely time in Etihad business class. We'll see if the luck holds for the return trip!

Arriving at the Istanbul airport, we got in line for passport control and then realised we hadn't yet gotten our visas. Off to the visa counter where we were allowed to line jump due to our 'preferred' status as Etihad business class (have I mentioned how much I love my employee benefits?!) Then through passport control which was also painless due to fast track status.

We were supposed to then meet our hotel representative, and while there seemed to be hundreds of people standing with placards at the exit, none of them seemed to have our names on them. Eventually, we had to find a tourist info center and ask them to call the hotel for us (our UAE phones don't work here and the SIM card Brian purchased needs an hour or so to become activated). Anyway, we got everything sorted and hopped in the van with another couple, newly arrived from London, to head out.

Our first impression of Istanbul driving was a good one and I think Brian must have jinxed us by saying so because a few minutes later we hit terrible traffic and some of the narrowest streets I've ever seen. Thank goodness we hadn't considered a rental car!

We arrived at the Neorion hotel where I'm sitting now, enjoying a nice glass of red wine, which is our welcome drink and watching these two at a near table laughing and playing backgammon.

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