End of the Orient Express [YQrtw Day 58 Jun 4]

Cagaloglu Hamami ceiling

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

West end of Istanbul tram line
West end of Istanbul tram line

I was listening to one of the podcasts from Rick Steves. One of the callers to the radio program asked if they could take the Orient Express while in Istanbul.

The answer was that any train that went to the east was considered the Orient Express.

For me, my oriental journey is at its end and I’m heading to South America. I actually do not know what to expect, except the cold winters.

This morning, I had the breakfast provided by my hotel. It’s the usual Turkish fare: bread, olives, cheese, fruits, tomato, hard boiled eggs and drinks such as tea, coffee and artificial lime juice.

Turkish breakfast
Turkish breakfast

There is something about hard boiled eggs in Turkey. They are too tasty for their and my own good. I limit myself to only 2 eggs each day but feel like eating another 2 after I finish them.

After breakfast, I still had to pack my backpack. Since it will be winter in South America, I had to make sure that things such as swimsuit are at the bottom of the pack.

Packing seemed a lot easier these days. I managed to tidy up everything before check out time.

Getting scrubbed at a Turkish bath

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I still had Turkish bath on my list of To-do. On Foursquare, I found a hamam near my hotel so I walked to the place after checking out.

I saw the ladies’ entrance to the hammam. The real entrance inside was hidden behind a screen. After I stepped in, I was too embarrassed to step out even though the pricing was higher than what I wanted.

1,000 Places to see before you die
1,000 Places to see before you die

In the end, I reasoned that I was going to take a bath in one of the 1,000 Places to Visit Before You Die. So I paid my 108 lira and steeled myself for an exfoliation session with an attendant who looked very much like Rebel Wilson.

I’ll talk more about the bath in a future post so stay tuned!

Aimless walking, training around

Istanbul post office
Istanbul post office

I didn’t actually cross “Eat Turkish delight” off my list since I didn’t have much cash left in my wallet after the bath. Instead, I took the tram from the west to the east and back to the stop nearest to my hotel.

The train took about 1 hour to reach the west to the east. I didn’t really look out the window all the times since I fell asleep.

Passing the neighborhoods, I felt sad that I was leaving the city where I’ve spent 4 days. Yes, just 4 days but the store signs were already familiar to me.

Of course, my time in Istanbul had to end. I boarded the airport shuttle (6 euro) off to the airport for the third time.

Viagra boxes on the street
Viagra boxes on the street

This day last week…

I was on a hot air balloon in Cappadocia and it was pure awesome.

31 hours of travelling [YQrtw Day 59 Jun 5]

I travelled 31 hours and live to tell the story.

When I first bought my ticket from Istanbul to Buenos Aires, I didn’t know how long it would take. Judging from the times in the different time zones, I guessed it would only take about 12 hours.

I didn’t realize that flying on Day 1’s 7pm and reaching on Day 2’s 7pm probably doesn’t mean 12 hours.

So at the airport at Istanbul, I tried counting how much time I would be travelling. To my horror, the total time, including transit, would take 31 hours.

In this post, I recount what happened at different time milestones.

Hour 0 [Istanbul 17:00]
Reach airport. Airport shuttle bus takes less time than taking the public transport.

Tickets for my 31-hour journey
Tickets for my 31-hour journey

Hour 1 [Istanbul 19:20]

Emirates plane
Emirates plane

Board plane. Sit next to two ajuma (Korean middle aged ladies). Ajuma II said “Annyeong hasseyo” to me.

Find loads of goodies to watch. There’s even Mad Men season 5, all add into favorites list.

Seafood meal is nice. Ajuma does not eat but kept talking and talking.

Mad Men binge on Emirates
Mad Men binge on Emirates

Hour 5 [UAE 00:12]

Watch Mad Men S5E5. Ajuma stole my seat belt and couldn’t figure out how to wear it. She seems to be annoyed at me even though she’s the one who took my seat belt.

Stickers you stick on your seat so the cabin attendant knows to wake you up for food or leave you hungry.
Stickers you stick on your seat so the cabin attendant knows to wake you up for food or leave you hungry.
Electrical plugs on Emirates plane.
I am in heaven!

[UAE 00:32] Plane lands. Frank SInatra song “It’s Nice to Go Travelling” blasts from speakers.

Finally reach Dubai! But I have 7 hours to go before I board my plane to Buenos Aires.

Dubai airport
Dubai airport for transit

Hour 6 [UAE 01:00]
Walk around airport, trying to find bench to sleep. No luck. The facilities here are not as good as Changi Airport.

Hour 7 [UAE 02:12]
Retrieve laptop to type things. Laptop difficult to balance on knees so I keep the laptop again.

Hour 8 [UAE 03:05]
Sit at Costa Coffee with a hot chocolate. Try to connect to Dubai Airport Wi-Fi but fail miserably.

Hot chocolate at Dubai airport
Hot chocolate at Dubai airport

[UAE 03:55] Play a bit of Candy Crush. Still cannot pass that stage I’ve been stuck at for 2 months.

Hour 9 [UAE 04:40]
Use the free shower in the airport. Since I have no towel, I use my pashmina instead. Realize I look like a hobo with my luggage in the trolley.

Hobo in the airport
Hobo in the airport

Hour 10 [UAE 5:30]
Take train to correct terminal. Find a bench near boarding gate which I can lay down horizontally. Set alarm and start snoozing with airplane blanket.

Dubai airport train
Dubai airport train

Hour 11 [UAE 06:30]
Finally able to board the plane. Hurray! Breakfast is served really soon. Sadly, it’s only omelette with unknown seafood.

Emirates omelette
Emirates omelette

Hour 14 [Buenos Aires 02:44]
Finished “Far Away Places” from Mad Men season 5.

Hour 15 [BA 03:32]
Finished “Lady Lazarus” from Mad Men.

Alternate between napping, Mad Men, tiny food.

Starry night on Emirates flight
Starry night on Emirates flight

Hour 21 [BA 09:17]
Watch Hitchcock after season 5 of Mad Men.

Hour 25 [BA 13:28]
Watch Parks & Recreation.

Hour 26 [BA 14:50]
Land in Rio airport. Play a bit of Bejewelled before leaving plane.

Bejewelled on Emirates
Bejewelled on Emirates

Hour 27 [BA 15:00++]
Weather outside of airport looks very warm. Registers onto free Wi-Fi in Rio airport and desperately use my iPhone.

Rio airport
Rio airport

Hour 28 [BA 16:26]
Back on the plane. A socked foot appears at one arm rest away from mine. Korean ajuma behind has her foot stretched.

Cinderella looking for her slipper
Spot the thing that is not supposed to be there. Cinderella looking for her slipper.

Hour 29 [BA 17:00++]
After “lunch”, I find a snug corner and put on my eyemask to sleep.

Hour 30 [BA 18:00++]
ZZZZzzzzz.

Hour 31 [BA 19:30]
Wake up when plane lands with a jolt. Plane finally in Buenos Aires. A lot of people are too eager to go out of the plane even though the door isn’t open.

Immigration officer only gives me 30 days in Argentina. Oh well…

Manuel Tienda Leon shuttle service
Manuel Tienda Leon shuttle service

Hour 32 [BA 20:15]

Bought A$90 shuttle bus ticket to the hostel. Weather isn’t as cold as I thought.

After thoughts…

Even though it took me a long time to get to my destination, I don’t feel that the time is wasted. The biggest reason is that I had the chance to watch season 5 of Mad Men, that alone is priceless.

This day last week…

I was in Turkey. At Pamukkale, I visited the cotton candy castle.

What was the longest time it took for you to get to your next destination?