Over the past few days I have received inbox messages from a few of my ardent facebook fans asking me why have I not written or blogged about my recent trip to Turkey. The honest truth is time... I returned from my vacation a few days before Eid, so it was getting ready for Eid and sorting out business issues at month end. I also traveled extensively over an 11 day period and I could not possibly write everything in one article. It was literally a case of 11 days, 4 flights and seven hotels. I have thus decided to break down my journey into days. So over the next few weeks I will try my best to do a weekly blog write up from day 1 to day 11. Hope you enjoy the write ups as much as I enjoyed the experience.
Day 1 and 2 --- Wednesday September 17 and Thursday September 18.
Our flight was at 22:30 at night. As we were four of us with luggage, dad decided that brother Haroon from Centurion Tours should do our transfer to the airport from our home. If you looking for a professional shuttle service in Johannesburg, I definitely recommend Centurion Tours. They are extremely reliable and their prices are definitely competitive. Having arrived at the airport, there was absolute chaos at the Emirates counter. The queues were horrendous. After finally checking in our luggage we all made our way to a restaurant for a sumptuous family dinner. I must be honest I cannot tolerate plane food. The nauseating smell just gets to me. After boarding the flight, we decided to watch a few movies and get some sleep before landing in Dubai at around 8:00am.
Naturally we were hungry when we landed, and so after freshening up we decided to have a meal at the Ocean basket at Dubai airport. It was really busy but the staff were extremely friendly. One of the waiter’s was from Zimbabwe and he worked at many Ocean baskets in South Africa. He was then transferred to Dubai. He told us that the grass is not always greener on the other side as many people believe it to be. In his opinion Dubai is only for the rich and famous whilst the rest of the middle class people are bullied and exploited. He earns a middle class salary which is a lot for him compared to Zimbabwe, but the standard of living in Dubai is high. According to him there is a culture of the high and mighty exploiting the poor and those who are desperately in need of a job.
As we still had some time before we boarded our connecting flight, we decided to do a free makeover at the Mac store located at the Dubai duty free section. Mac has always been one of my favourite cosmetic brands. I find that the makeup blends well into the skin. I love the feel and the texture of the makeup. After browsing through the duty free shops it was time to board our connecting flight. The flight to Turkey is usually three hours from Dubai but due to the war in Syria the flight route had to change thereby increasing the flight time by an hour and half.
It was raining when we arrived at Ataturk International airport. We were all flabbergasted by the huge influx of tourists at the airport. It was absolutely chaotic. Due to the rain and the fact that many flights were all landing at the same time, we waited for over an hour for our luggage. After receiving our baggage we exited the airport. A representative from Insight Vacations was patiently waiting for us. A big thumbs up to the Turkish people for mastering the art of the tourism and hospitality industry. Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of people walking in different directions along with the cacophony of different sounds, our representative and bus driver was there ready to welcome us to their country.
The traffic in Istanbul is horrendous, like all other major cities in the world and hence it took us a good hour to get to the hotel. Whilst we were really tired and exhausted from all the travelling, the sheer opulence and grandeur of the Conrad hotel took our breath away. The staff welcomed us with a smile on their faces trying to make us feel as comfortable as possible. After settling in, in our respective rooms we made our way to the Manzara restaurant where we were allowed to indulge in the snacks and light buffet that was prepared for us. After dinner, we headed straight back to our rooms to call it a night. We needed to get a good night sleep as the next morning the tour began at 8am.