Welcome to Day 8 of Janet and Randy's Turkish Adventure 2015
Friday, April 3rd, 2015
Today is the day we travel home. We got up around 8:00am, got ready and went down for one final breakfast buffet. Finished packing and then hung out in the room until our airport transfer arrived at 11:00am. When we checked out the front desk was saying they were just trying to call us as the driver was here and ready to go ! That's great service.
Our driver was right on time, and took us to the airport. Luckily there were no power outages or road closures to bring the city to a standstill. This driver took us on a different route to the airport - closer to the Old Town area, and along the water. It was a fairly scenic route, and quite relaxing (and a lot less traffic).
However, the relaxation ended once we got to the airport. At the Istanbul airport, you can't even get into the airport terminal without putting all your carry-on and checked luggage through an x-ray machine (and walk through a scanner). At least at this security check, you didn't have to take out your liquids. But we did have to take out our laptops (liquids ok, laptops not ? Logic defying yet again).
Then we went to check-in at Turkish Airlines. At the entrance to the queue, a person checked our passports and put a sticker on them (passport check #1). Then when we reached the check-in agent, she checked our passports again, and then took them over to some sort of central computer where another agent did something with our passports (passport check #2). No idea what. We checked our bags, and then were given our boarding pass to Montreal (but not for our Edmonton flight - which is fine, as airlines don't necessarily link up to each other).
Once that was done, we had to go through Passport Control, where we had to show our passport again (passport check #3 - this is getting old). Right after Passport Control was the usual security line where we had to take our liquids and laptops out of our bags again (wasn't my laptop already checked ?).
I located the Mont Blanc store and accidentally found that the Turkish Airlines lounge was right beside it. We managed to find the Turkish Airlines business lounge right away, so went in to wait for our flight, as we had more than 2 hours. This lounge is so massive and big, that they actually have turnstile-type barriers where you have to scan your boarding pass to let yourself in (which is good, as there was a big crowd at the front desk). This lounge was the biggest lounge I've ever been in. It covered 2 levels and had numerous food stations throughout. They had chefs cooking up fresh kebabs and pide (sort of like pizzas), plus various salad and dessert stations all over the place. They had a barista making up Turkish coffee, and 2 baby grand pianos.
As it was around noon, we got some food to eat and relaxed until it was time to head to the gate. I had a Turkish coffee made for me, and although it was good, it wasn't the same calibre that I had on the Photography tour a few days earlier. The main part of the terminal was insanely busy with people everywhere. There obviously weren't enough seats, as I saw people sitting on the floor against pretty much every wall. The gate was in a separate area where only passengers for that flight could enter. At the entrance to the gate our boarding pass and passport were checked again (passport check #4 - Seriously people... really ?). Then, literally 20 feet further into the gate area was a counter with agents where they checked our boarding pass and passport again (passport check #5 - one doesn't get to this point without many people making sure you are who you are). I could not for the life of me understand what the second check was for (the counter was really high - so you couldn't see what exactly they were doing - my thoughts are this is a make work project).
Once past the counter, we had to squeeze our way past the hordes of people trapped in this small space to try to get to the line-up for business class passengers. When we first got in the departure area, there were 2 gate agents at the counter just before you boarded the plane. However, just before we started boarding, both of these agents grabbed their stuff and left, and a single gate agent arrived to do the actual boarding. That seemed...inefficient/stupid. For some reason, boarding was delayed about 30 minutes, but we did eventually get on board.
Once on board, we were given some juice and a Godiva chocolate. After we leveled off in the air, we were given a piece of Turkish Delight, some mixed nuts with champagne, and some canapés. We had a bit of a break, then the appetizer cart came around. We got to select whatever we wanted from the cart, and they would put it on a plate for us. A little while later, the main meal was served. I had eggplant pasta, and Randy had grilled lamb (which was delish - Take note Air Canada). After that, the dessert and cheese cart came around, and again we got to choose what we wanted. Finally, we were offered coffee, tea or hot chocolate, which was served with a little chocolate square. It was a lot of food, but this time I managed to eat most of it.
After the food service, they shut the window blinds and turned out the lights so people could nap. However, as it was the middle of the day, I wasn't that tired, so I just watched some movies.
With about 3 hours left to go, they turned the lights on again, and served another meal. We were given an appetizer dish with cheeses, hummus, grilled chicken and yogurt. I thought that was going to be the end of the food, but then we were given another main course - either chicken or pasta. Randy got the pasta and I got the chicken. Finally I was full enough that I couldn't eat all my food, but I did have a bit of it.
After the meal service, I was tired of watching movies, so I thought I would use the time to work on the journal and organize the photos for the web album. Randy tried to snooze (and was successful too).
We arrived in Montreal about an hour late, but still had an hour and a half to make our next flight. We used our Nexus cards to get through Customs quickly, then had to wait a bit for our checked bags to come up (definitely a shorter wait than what we had in Istanbul). There was a huge line-up to leave the Customs area. Luckily, the Montreal airport has a separate line for Nexus card holders, so we breezed right past the (massive) line (sweet!). So long suckers !
In Istanbul, they weren't able to print a boarding pass for our Edmonton flight, so after coming out of Customs, we went to the Air Canada desk and got our boarding pass, and then checked our bags again. We then had to go back through security and it was off to the Air Canada lounge to fill up our water bottles for the flight home. As I hadn't slept on the flight from Istanbul, I was really starting to fade by this time. We went to our gate and boarded our flight home.
I fell asleep shortly after take-off and slept most of the way home. I was still full from being fed almost constantly on the Turkish Airlines flight, so I didn't have an issue sleeping right through the meal service. I woke up with about an hour left on the flight, but dozed on and off. I definitely needed the sleep.
Once we arrived in Edmonton, Randy went off to get the car while I waited for the checked bags. They came out rather quickly and so we just had a quick drive home - arriving around midnight. We pretty much went straight to bed - thus ending a great vacation.
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