Almost Home

George Bernard Shaw once said ” A perpetual holiday is a good working definition of Hell” and after 5 months away I am beginning to think he may have a point

I am now sitting in a very rainy Istanbul having landed here at 04.35 hrs from Hong Kong. As the hotel is on the “Europe” side of the Bosphorus and my ” Travels With My Wife” blog was for the trip to South East Asia, I thought I would mark my return almost to Puglia by posting here. Apologies if you dear reader only want to see stuff about Italy but it is just for 2 days.

What seemed a good idea to break the journey back home and have few days sight seeing when sitting in the heat of Penang has turned out to be a bit of a dud. Like so many Mediterranean cities, including every city, town and village in Puglia, Istanbul clearly doesn’t think it gets cold in winter and therefore does nothing to cater for rain and chilly winds. The cafes are open to the elements as are the restaurants and most sightseeing is  outside with the exception of the museums which have no heating .

The Turkish Airlines flight in here was uneventful and thinking 0435hrs would be a quiet time I envisage empty halls and a rapid passage to the hotel though there I feared no room available till say 2 p.m.

In fact 5 flights had arrived within minutes of each other, all of them amazingly from China. It was as if we had never left the Far East. Like the Russians the new Chinese tourists take no prisoners, they will mow you down with trolleys, elbow you out of the way and spend any queue time doing a lot of throat and nose clearing. Not great at 04.30 I can tell you.

The first surprise was that U.K. nationals need a visa to enter Turkey. These are bought at kiosk on arrival and consist of a rather colourful looking postage stamp which for €15 a pop is stuck in your passport. I do hope the UK reciprocates but I doubt it.

The second shock was with some 2,000 arriving passengers and just three immigration officials the lines were enormous. I am old enough to remember when  arriving at London Heathrow one was greeted by two signs, British Nationals and The Rest of the World . I think if Ted Heath had been honest and said that we would need to replace the British signs with EU Nationals he would never have got the yes vote. Well Turkey is still like that. 5 immigration officials sat dozing on one side of the hall tending to the odd Turk who drift through while we ” Others” fought our way to the front of the huge lines in front of the other three officials. It was well over an hour before we arrived in the baggage claim area.

The swimming pool at The Renaissance Hotel suddenly seemed a long time ago

Pool at Renaissance

The Hotel Amira had organised an airport pick up and that worked beautifully though the luggage had almost been taken to lost baggage by the time we collected it. Now the acid test I thought, where will we go till 2 p.m. how will we stay awake. However the night guy at the Amira had laid on a room for us to use till noon when the booked one was ready and gave us breakfast on the house too. If you check the Amira Hotel on Tripadvisor you will see fabulous reviews and I now know why.

Before the deluge I even managed to potter out and do a little sightseeing

Blue Mosque


but it ain’t half chilly and even the Blue Mosque can’t lift the spirits.

Was it just six days since we sat literally in the poolside restaurant in Kuala Lumpur

Pool Bar Tables K.L.

Mind you beers there were a rather eye watering £8 a pint but I always remember the old French proverb ” It is only the first bottle that is expensive” and that adage worked just as successfully in the bar there as well. How quickly you forget the price as the beers slip down.

Like you all I have been following the MH370 saga with interest . We flew Cathay Pacific from Kuala Lumpur to Hong Kong and followed the exact route that the MH370 took. It was a little uncanny to watch the flight progress screen on the aircraft and compare it mentally to the endless route charts for MH370 seen in all the newspapers. The flight was quite bumpy with plenty of unseasonal monsoon activity all around. As the little plane on the progress chart nearer the point where MH370 turned back it became really bumpy and the seat belt signs flashed on and the cabin crew dashed for their seats . It was clear most other passengers were doing what I was doing while watching the flight progress screen and at the turn point for MH370 our Cathay plane was hit by a large bolt of lightening resulting in an huge thump on the fuselage. Boy did some people jump me included !


About hereinpuglia

Retired to Puglia after some 40 years in the travel industry working for P&O Lines, British Airways, Alamo rent-a-car,Abercrombie&Kent, owner of Quest Tours and Travel and finally with Thomas Cook North America. Married to Geraldine we now have a small house with too much land near the town of Martina Franca in Puglia. Two kids one married and living in Hong Kong and the other single and living in London. No dogs, no cats no animals.
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