A Travellerspoint blog

July 2019

Istanbul to Chicago to Zeeland!

Home sweet home!

This morning we got up and had breakfast in our hotel, then took the 45 minute taxi van ride back to the airport. The views of the city were really cool, I especially liked when it just looks like a sea of rooftops. So, of course I couldn’t resist some window pics!


The new Istanbul Airport (I believe opened in April) is pretty amazing. It almost seems more like a high-end shopping mall than an airport. Right now it’s kind of in the middle of nowhere, which I assume is why it took so long both times to get to hotels (in opposite directions), but there’s plenty of room around the airport so I assume hotels will start going in.

Just to enter the airport, you have to go through security just like you normally would to get to a flight gate area. Then you have to go through it again to get in after you have a boarding pass. For this flight to the US, we also had to go through THREE security checkpoints to enter our gate (it was glasses off from. the walkway) - twice our passports and boarding passes were checked, and then all of our luggage was hand searched and we were patted down. Then they checked again as we boarded, and in Chicago, we had to show our passports to get off the plane! Crazy! - we didn’t encounter anything like that anywhere else, or even in Istanbul when we went though for other flights on this trip.

We did find out upon arrival at the airport that our flight was delayed 2 hours, and after we went to our gate it got delayed another 30 minutes. While Turkish Airlines is wonderful in-flight with care packages (slippers, socks, eye mask, earplugs, toothbrush and paste), food (2 full meals the longer flights and sometimes a snack, but even a full meal on a 1.5 hour flight!), and beverages (sodas, juices, beer and wine all included at no charge, and offered frequently); they don’t seem to do so well with on-time flights, being helpful when their delays cause you to miss a flight, or getting all of your luggage to the final destination on time.

We landed in Chicago at about 8pm (9 in Michigan), and by the time we deplaned, got through customs and immigration, and got the shuttle back to the hotel we parked at, it was 10:00/11/00. So we got home a little after 2 and probably weren’t in bed before 3.

Our bodies are all out of whack on time, so we were all up by 7:30! I foresee naps in our future! ;)

Posted by Rowlandfamily 05:13 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Phuket to Istanbul

On our way home!

sunny 83 °F
View Much to Celebrate 2019 on Rowlandfamily's travel map.

Our taxi van picked us up this morning at 8 to take us all to the airport. Nudi will be flying back to Bangok and going to her dorm because, although she is on summer break right now, she’s part of a club that has activities going on, and a group of foreigners coming soon that she will help around. It was really hard to say goodbye to her again, and we really hope to see her again soon!

The Phuket airport is really small - think GR Ford or maybe even smaller.


The rest of us took a 10-hour flight to Istanbul. When I booked it, we were supposed to have a brief layover, then continue right to Chicago, but they changed our flight out of Phuket so that we landed in Istanbul too late, and apparently only one flight/day goes from Istanbul to Chicago. While initially I was less than thrilled with that development, in hindsight it’s kind of nice, breaking up the 10 hour flight and the 11 hour flight, and allowing us to sleep in real beds in between. It also allows us to adjust to the 11-hour time difference we’ve been on in increments, though I’m sure we’ll still be feeling that for a few days.

After we got checked into our hotel, which was NOT right next to the airport, as advertised, since the new airport has opened (it took us 45 min or more), we went and walked around a little. It was 7:30 or 8:00 pm by then, so the temps were in the mid to high 70’s - the coolest we’ve experienced in long time, and it was great. We weren’t terribly hungry - while there are things Turkish airlines could definitely improve on, they are really generous with food and drinks, and fed us full meals twice on our flight. However, we didn’t want to just sit on our hotel room, so we stopped at a place that had semi-outdoor seating and got a small pizza to share and sodas, which came to about $8 total.


Tomorrow we fly out of Istanbul about 2:00pm, but because of the 8-hour time change, will land in Chicago at 5:30pm Chicago time. Excited to be home, but, after 25 days, 3 continents, and 6 countries (including the US), the travel big has bitten, and I am ready to start thinking about our next adventure! :)

Posted by Rowlandfamily 09:25 Archived in Turkey Comments (1)

Last day in Phuket - July 1

Patong Beach

sunny 93 °F
View Much to Celebrate 2019 on Rowlandfamily's travel map.

Today, for our last day in Thailand, we decided to have a beach day. We slept in and walked down the hill to breakfast, the same place we went a couple days ago, which is on our way to the beach. Apparently they have an issue with people using the toilet hose to wash their feet?!


We’ve also seen this one a lot, in public restrooms - I assume due to the squat potty’s?


One thing I haven’t loved about the location of our apartment, besides the steep hill, is the fact that to get anywhere by foot, we have to walk the side of the very busy road, which at times is almost nonexistent, and when there is a real “side”, there are usually cars or motorbikes parked there. Then, we have to cross the road - which is nothing like in Croatia where all the vehicles are you and stop. They just keep going, and you have to remember to look the correct way for traffic before you cross, since they drive on the open side of the road here. It’s a little nerve wracking!


At the beach, we rented 5 chairs, 3 tables, and 3 umbrellas for 500 baht (about $17) and just had a lazy day.


One thing I haven’t been quick enough to get a pic of.. each morning and evening they haul the rental sea doos to and from the beach. Most times, they pull them with this! And have even seen this pulling 2 single place trailers, train-style. If a little truck is pulling, it is often pulling 3, single trailers!


After we got cleaned up, we walked to Bangla street - which is a little like New Orleans on steroids - loud music coming from every direction, all kinds of propositions, etc. The kids were a little bummed they didn’t discover this earlier - time as I were relieved! ;). We ate at a restaurant off a side street, and later took a Tuk Tuk taxi back to our apartment- wow - now THAT is the way to do the hill! :)


Nudi forgot her phone in it when we got out, so she and I walked back down and got to ride up again (for ful price, of course;) ).

We will get picked up at 8am to head to the airport, so didn’t make too late a night of it...so sad to be leaving Nudi and Thailand!

Posted by Rowlandfamily 09:22 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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