Second Time in Istanbul Courtesy of Turkish Airline

I have always thought that airport transits and layovers are synonymous to pain, discomfort and boredom.  Sleeping on benches, agonizing people watching and killing time at a dreadful airport is no one’s ideal cup of tea.  I can still recall the throbbing soreness of my skinny butt during my 10-hour transit in Qatar airport when I was on my way home from Morocco in 2009.  But this preconceived idea I have with me about airport transits and layovers has been erased.

Thanks to Turkish Airline which offers free tour of their magnificent city, Istanbul! On my way to Mexico City from Manila, I have a 9-hour layover in Istanbul’s Ataturk International Airport.  Instead of proceeding to the transfer lane after disembarking the plane and wait for my next flight, I instead proceeded to the immigration line to show my Turkish visa and have my passport stamped so as to enter Turkey.

After which, I proceeded to the Turkish Airline’s hotel desk/counter at the airport and told the staff that I would like to join the free tour of the city offered by their airline.  The staff then simply asked for my boarding pass and asked me to wait for my name to be called.

I was sipping my Starbucks coffee when my name was called.  And, viola! Goodbye airport and hello (again) dreamy Istanbul… 

with the other excited passengers who chose not to get bored
turkish airline is teasing me to revisit istanbul…
this is so turkish…
i miss dining at this kind of an eatery
yummy turkish delights 
my personal favorite, hagia sophia 
inside the famous sultan ahmed mosque

No one wants to sit in an airport for so long but almost all wants to see the world’s greatest cities and save some money while doing so.  This free airline stopover tour offered by Turkish Airlines can be considered one of the best money saving idea for a travel enthusiast like me.  Istanbul stopovers can now be considered a great travel trick for it can further expand a traveler’s destination.

And aside from that, I can now boast that I have been to Turkey twice!  The tour was brief yet Turkish Airline is giving me reason to revisit their mesmerizing country…

Nakatipid, nakalibre, nakagala at nag-yabang!

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Two Worthy Travel Tips for Solo Travelers

I am a solo traveler in my recent travel adventure to San Francisco, California. Prior to leaving Manila, I tried to read a couple of blogs and view a number of vlogs on tips of being a solo traveler, which I hope would help me in this first time solo expedition.

There are however two worthy items that all these blogs and vlogs seem to have missed. First, is never to arrive in your destination at night time. This is actually what happened to me when I arrived in SFO.  My flight landed at 10:30 PM and was only able to go out of the airport after about 40 minutes.

waiting for BART train at SFO. looks tired and clueless of what is going to happen…

Arriving in an unexplored location in the middle of the night somehow gave me chills and some dash of fear.  Good thing with my childhood background, I grew up in a slum-like area of Pasay.  Dealing with street weirdos is like something that I am used to. With this rich experience, I know I can handle goons and crooks out in the streets of San Francisco.

But goons and crooks of US are actually not my problem when I arrived super late at night in SFO. It was the rain!

While rolling my humongous luggage and drenched in a very cold rain, there was literally no one in the streets of San Francisco to ask for possible directions and location of my super budget hotel. Even the goons and crooks seem to have gone to some freakin’ dry and warm shelter.

Thus, may you fear lurkers in the night or dread the horrors of unforeseen weather condition, never land to your area of destination at nigh time when you are a solo traveler.

Second, when you have just arrived in your destination and it’s in the middle of the night, drenched with heavy rain and can’t seem to locate your hotel, the thing that you should do is to proceed to the nearest five star hotel. Not the police station, not a hospital neither a 24-hour convenience store. You should run to the concierge of the nearest 5 star hotel.

Concierge of 5 star hotels are more knowledgeable, more efficient and more helpful compared to bellhops and front desk beings of most non-5 star accommodations. They are always there to help, may you be a guest or a mere “tambay” (loiterer) of their establishment.

And this is exactly what I did. Drenched, tired and worried, I run to the nearest hotel concierge that I can find. The obliging concierge pointed that it’s only walking distance from their hotel but since it’s raining he volunteered on calling a cab for me. He summoned a bellman to blow his whistle and automatically a cab arrived. He even helped me with my luggage by putting it inside the trunk. I of course handed the guy some hefty tip for being such an angel towards a co-angel in distress.

still thinking of where to go next…

Though these experiences adds up to the spice of my learnings of being a solo traveler, I hope these two tips would help a lot especially those who plan to go on solo. Good luck, have fun and stay safe!

Basang basa sa ulan sa lugar na di ko alam!