|Richard & Stacy's Round the World Trip 2001|
Thursday, May 24, 2001.
And then it was over - we were leaving Turkey. It was a wistful morning, we did have a wonderful time here and agree that we'll have to come back. There's so much more to see in the country - our brief look around the Teksim area last night reminded us that even in Istanbul there's so much more to explore. If the rest of the country is half as fascinating as Istanbul was, we need another month here.
We packed before breakfast, taking full advantage of our new suitcase. The flight from Istanbul to Sydney involves two overnight flights, so we secured two changes of clothes and toiletries and packed them in carry on baggage. After some shuffling, we decided on checking the new bag and Stacy's rollaway. Richard's rollaway and Stacy's suitcase would be carry on, plus our usual carry bags (the laptop case and shoulder bag). To keep the carry on bags trim, we stuffed the check bags with things we wouldn't need during the trip - all the presents we've bought, extra clothes, etc.
Once packing was done, we headed down to breakfast. We said goodbye to Arnot, Denise and the other servers that had taken good care of us for all the meals in the hotel. One last walk around the terrace (which had been closed since the rainfall a few days ago), and then it was time for checkout and a "taksi" to the airport.
The taxi ride was relatively quick, but even on the ride there was a lot to see - ruins we hadn't looked at otherwise during our trip. The road to the airport runs along the coast of the Marmara, which was where the Byzantine-era Great Palace began and stretched all the way to the Hippodrome.
One we arrived at the airport, Singapore Airlines checked our bags all the way through to Sydney, even though we'll have a 12 hour layover in Singapore. There's also a stop in Dubai, but that will be very brief, barely an hour. The Millennium Lounge in the Atatürk Airport was spacious and comfortable. Stacy took the last of the Turkish lira (about 20 million worth) for a bit of last minute shopping before the flight.
Boarding a Singapore Airlines flight is a free-for-all, just like KLM out of Amsterdam. Again, its likely a language issue, but it sure makes us long for the orderly behaviour of North America... especially when you're sitting in first class. The aircraft for the Istanbul-Dubai-Singapore flight was a 777, we were excited because we expected the same awesome seats we had on the way to Amsterdam - but unfortunately, the seating in first class on this aircraft was a bit more ordinary - nice seats, but it doesn't lie out flat. And worse news yet - no laptop power jack (oh, the horrors)! So much for computer work, we were forced to enjoy the service on the aircraft instead.
The first class cabin was all but empty, and our service was excellent - some of the best food we'd had yet. And the main bathroom in first class was down right spacious! Easily twice the width of an ordinary aircraft bathroom, with grooming supplies: combs, razors, shaving cream, soap... everything you need to clean up after an overnight flight, short of an actual shower.
Flying from Istanbul to Dubai, we got great views of Istanbul - the flight took off northeast, back over the city, almost all the way up to the Black Sea, and then turned south. We flew across Turkey, across a bit of the Mediterranean, crossed over Syria and Jordan, then finally over Saudi Arabia. The flight path a couple of twists to avoid Israel and Iraq. We passed over the city of Dhahran on the coast of Saudi Arabia and over the Arabian Gulf on our way to Dubai.
After a three-and-a-half hour flight, we were in Dubai. The layover was only an hour, and we would be reboarding the same aircraft for our flight to Singapore. We took the opportunity to stretch our legs and look around Dubai a bit.
After our short break in Dubai, we were off to Singapore. The flight was almost completely full now, so after a quick meal (the food on Singapore airlines is the best!) we did our best to get some sleep. It wasn't easy, there was a typhoon off the coast of India, right in the path of our flight. The captain took the aircraft well south of the regular route in an effort to avoid the worst of it, but the seatbelt light was on the whole way to Singapore...