November 28, 2016

Tour Istanbul

Trip to Guangzhou in Turkish Airlines Business Class & Guangzhou to Mumbai in Qatar Airways & Etihad A380 First Class

A few months ago, I came across some tips on Flyertalk about a cheap business class fare from Vilnius to Toronto on Turkish Airlines and since I wanted to earn Elite status in the airlines' Miles & Smiles program by the end of this year, I did not hesitate and booked the flight. Unfortunately, a schedule change forced me to cancel the flight and look for another option. I had some miles left on my American Airlines Advantage account so I thought I could redeem them flying from Guangzhou to Mumbai in first class. Flying from Mumbai to Bangkok was easy since Air India flies direct between these two cities. After thoroughly planning the trip, I ended up buying an open jaw ticket in Turkish Airlines business class, from Stockholm to Guangzhou and back from Bangkok to Stockholm. It actually turned out perfectly well as I was able to fly Qatar Airways A380 first class from Guangzhou to Doha and then to Abu Dhabi. In Abu Dhabi, I was able to visit the newly opened Etihad First Class Lounge & Spa and from Abu Dhabi, I flew on Etihad's A380 to Mumbai. It was 8 flights in 6 days which was really tiring but who cares when you're flying in first and business class ­čśë



Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Stockholm to Istanbul
Review: Turkish Airlines Boeing 777 Business Class, Istanbul to Guangzhou
Review: Hilton Guangzhou Baiyun
24 hours in Guangzhou, China
Review: Premium Lounge, Guangzhou Airport (CAN)
Review: Qatar Airways A380 First Class, Guangzhou to Doha
Review: Qatar Airways First Class, Doha to Abu Dhabi
Review: Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Review: Etihad Airways A380 First Apartment, Abu Dhabi to Mumbai
Review: Loyalty Lounge, Mumbai Airport T2 (BOM)
Review: Thai Royal Silk Lounge Concourse C West, Bangkok (BKK)
Review: Thai Royal Silk Lounge Concourse C East, Bangkok (BKK)
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Bangkok to Istanbul
Tour Istanbul
Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class, Istanbul to Stockholm

Selfie with the Dolmabah├že Mosque

Date of tour: November 6, 2016

Although I have been to Istanbul in the past together with the Singelresor group, I was still interested in taking advantage of this free Istanbul Tour that Turkish Airlines is offering to their transiting passengers. Most of my layovers in the past were either too short or too long to be eligible for the tour so I was really looking forward to this day since my layover was perfect just to take one of the tours. As per their site, this complimentary tour of Istanbul is for those flying with Turkish Airlines, have a layover of not more than 24 hours and have their lay over time matching the schedule of the Istanbul tours. If you are also entitled to a free hotel accommodation, you can either take the free hotel or the complimentary tour, but not both. You have to be at the Hotel Desk, International Arrivals at least 30 minutes before the tour starts.

Tour Istanbul Hotel Desk, International Arrivals

They have tours everyday (even on Saturdays and Sundays) and each tour is accompanied by an English speaking guide. The schedule are as follows:

08:30-11:00 (Sightseeing Tour)
09:00-15:00 (Tour)
09:00-18:00 (Tour)
12:00-18:00 (Tour)
16:00-21:00 (Cultural Walk Tour)

For more info, you can check this link.

As I was arriving early morning and my flight to Stockholm was departing in the afternoon, the only tour I could avail of was the earliest and the shortest of the five tours, and which was actually just a sightseeing tour. We left the airport around 8:30 although it took awhile before we could leave as the buses were not there yet. We had two buses, each having about 30 passengers and each group had its own guide.

One of the two buses

Since we had to be back at the airport by 11am, it was understandable that the sights included were limited. We made two stops, first was at the Galata Bridge where we had a photobreak of 10 minutes, and the second stop was at the Dolmabah├že Palace where we were given 20 minutes free time. On the way, to Galata Bridge, we passed by the following: Yedikule Fortress, Old Samatya Armanian District, Yeni Kap─▒ Harbour, Walls of Constantine and Eminonu District. From Dolmabah├že Palace on the way back to the airport, we passed by Taksim Square, Galata Tower, Golden Horn, Aqueduct Of Valens and Yeni Kap─▒ Harbour. It was hard to see all the sights inside the bus and having two stops with limited time was not that much so if you have a longer lay over, I would definitely recommend taking any of the 4 other tours since you will be able to see the Blue Mosque and the Hippodrome among others. Here are some of the pictures I took during our sightseeing tour.

View from Galata Bridge

It's fishing time in Galata Bridge ­čśë

View from Galata Bridge

Tram

View from Galata Bridge

Two guys fishing

Entrance to the Dolmabah├že Palace

Entrance to the Dolmabah├že Palace

Dolmabah├že Clock Tower

Dolmabah├že Clock Tower with the Dolmabah├že Mosque in the background

Dolmabah├že Mosque

View from Dolmabah├že Palace

A cart selling freshly baked bread near the Dolmabah├že Palace

The Vodafone Arena is located on the other side of the street from where the Dolmabah├že Palace is located.


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