Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Istanbul, Turkey (DoubleTree by Hilton) Istanbul – Piyalepasa

I arrived in Istanbul today after relaxing in Luxor and Hurghada with Hussein for the past week. It was good to see familiar faces in Luxor, especially at the Hilton. They are very kind to me there and my room had a good view of the Nile.

As we’ve done before, Hussein arranged for a driver to take us from Luxor to Hurghada. Much easier than flying, plus you get to see the diverse countryside along the way. We stopped once to pick up some food. While they ate sandwiches, I had a bag of chips and an apple from the hotel. While I guess it would be more convenient if I enjoyed trying a variety of foods from different venues, I’m doing okay with simple familiar food. Definitely not starving.

When we arrived at the resort in Hurghada, I learned that Hilton sold the property within the past couple of months to another hotel. As a result, they couldn’t find the reservation. In the end (after talking with Hilton and with hotel management), we got a room with a good view of the Red Sea and a over-sized balcony. The weather was only a little cooler than Hurghada (95 – 105F), so the consistent breeze from the Red Sea was very much appreciated.

The days flew by quickly and it was time for me to return to my travels and Hussein back to Luxor. We were up early yesterday so I could catch my flight to Cairo for my connection to Istanbul. (Hussein would take a bus.) Our driver was there at 6:00 a.m. but I was having problems with my credit cards being accepted by the hotel. Finally, the reception guy got one card to work. I couldn’t even get money from an ATM on the way to the airport. This has happened from time to time and it somehow gets cleared up.

The flight from Hurghada was delayed by 45 minutes and we arrived in Cairo about an hour later. I had almost a three-hour layover in Cairo so I didn’t mind the delay. As it turned out, I started to talk to a guy who was also traveling to Istanbul. We first started to talk when we got to the departure gate (early) and it was closed, then again about 15 minutes later when I saw him checking flight times and pointed out to him that our gate is now H-4 and not H-2. And then we talked for the next two hours. He was a doctor from Jordan who also has an interest in travel, so we talked mainly about places we’ve been. He looks forward to traveling with his wife when he retires in about five years. I told him that it was having the opportunity to meeting people like him is what I enjoy most about traveling. Also, it seems that I meet the right people at the right time. I’ve been thinking about traveling to Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel next spring and he gave me some ideas on what to see and do while I’m there.

We both had drivers waiting for us as we entered the departure lobby of the Istanbul airport and said our goodbyes. I had wondered how I was going to fill the nearly three hours in Cairo before the flight to Istanbul.

I rarely engage a driver in advance when I arrive at an airport, but I felt that I should in Istanbul, since the taxi drivers in this city have been known to take advantage of travelers. Lesson Learned: This is a good thing to investigate before landing at an unfamiliar airport.

The DoubleTree received good reviews so I knew that I was going to enjoy my stay. While being taken on a tour of available rooms, I was shown a few rooms, I made a selection, then we went back to the lobby. During our absence, the receptionist said she found the perfect room for me and I asked to see it, just to make sure. It was a suit on the top floor. Large and very quiet with a separate bedroom and bath. And at the same price as a standard room. I quickly registered and moved my belonging in, then took a nap.

I ordered room service, ate, then went to bed soon afterward. I managed to unpack a few items in the evening that I’ll need in the morning. Big bed, comfortable mattress, and large pillows. Perfect!

Tomorrow I’ll find an ATM, since I didn’t get to one at the airport. I’ll also investigate tours that are offered by the hotel. Istanbul is one of those ancient cities, surviving thousands of years, and still going strong. I’d like to learn more.

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