I really want to skip to the part where I talk about my swimtrek in Turkey, but I’m going to be disciplined and do this properly, and chronologically. Here is the first entry of my Turkey travel diary – the journey from Tokyo > Dubai > Istanbul. Friday, September 30, 2011 Worked during the day. After work, headed to Narita airport for my night flight to Turkey via Dubai. The last time I headed to the airport straight from work was the day of the Tohoku earthquake, on my way to Australia. Needless to say, I was a little anxious about my Friday flight. What other possible natural disaster could hold up my flight this time. No direct flights from Tokyo to Istanbul, unfortunately, with most flights stopping over in Dubai. The flight to Dubai was over 8 hours. And then once in Dubai I had a 7-hour stopover. Ugh. A stopover just as long as the flight itself. But not as bad as one would think. Of all airports to stopover in, Dubai would have to be one of the better ones. I arrived in Dubai at 3:50am (local Dubai time) and had 7 hours to kill. Here’s how I made the time fly. I went for a swim at the airport! That’s right, a swim. Albeit, in a very tiny pool. The Dubai Airport hotel located in terminal 1, has it’s own pool and gym. There is also another stand-alone gym within the airport, which is where I originally thought the pool was. It’s on opposite ends of the airport terminal so I trekked there and back. I certainly clocked up some k’s just walking from end to end and back again of the airport. The pool is a tiny hotel pool but I had it all to myself (mind you it was ridiculously early in the morning to be swimming).
I did some laps in the pool (it took 6 of my arm strokes to complete one lap – the pool was that tiny!), and then had a DIY aquaerobics workout. After a day at a work, an 8.5 hour flight, and another 4.5 hour flight to go, it was definitely beneficial to get some exercise in. I walked and jogged up and down the pool, did forward lunges, side lunges, jumping and just kept moving in the water. Also got to have me a nice hot shower which was most welcome after a long day of work and flying. It was nice to freshen up. Shower amenities were very nice. Included soap, shampoo AND conditioner. And yes, they’ll give you a free towel and locker to use. And you can buy a really cheap pair of swimmers (about 5USD) if you don’t have your togs handy. Of course, I had my swimmers, goggles and cap in my carry-on bag though! To use the pool will cost you. But it does include a shower and a great way to kill time. Alternatively, you can use the gym if you prefer (again for a fee). For me, it was worth it. The alternative was to sit on my arse for another 7 hours instead. Use of the airport hotel pool will cost you 16USD per hour. And includes use of the shower. I was lucky to score extra time there for free. The guy let me use the facilities for 1.5 hour – which meant use of the pool for an hour, and a nice 30min shower and freshen up. Jacuzzi also available. The Airport Hotel Pool can be found in terminal 1 (departures). Follow the signs to hotel, and walk around the back of the hotel reception area to the gym and pool area.
There is also another small gym facility and showers located in Terminal 3 (for a fee). You’ll want to follow the Spa and Health Club signs.
Alternatively Dubai airport offers free shower rooms with basic soap. BYO shampoo, conditioner and towel though! After a swim and a refreshing shower, I then scored myself a free meal. A little known fact (no one will ever tell you this) – is that if you have a 4-hour or more stopover in Dubai on an Emirates flight (must have Emirates boarding ticket), is that you’re entitled to a meal voucher – nothing special mind you. It gets you either a free meal at McDonalds, an italian joint or a Thai joint. I went the Thai option. Eating – another way to kill more time. You’ll need to present your Boarding Pass at an information booth within the airport. They’ll then give you a meal voucher that should look like this:
I also did all my currency exchange in Dubai. Funnily enough, they had no Turkish Lira at Narita when I left Tokyo, so I hadn’t been able to change it until I got to Dubai. I got myself some USD (to pay for the Turkey visa and to use at Dubai airport) and a stack of Turkish Lira. Spent some time walking up and down around Dubai Airport. Came across this “special” on the menu:
Can’t get me enough anus, I say. Now, originally I thought that it should have read ‘angus’ as in reference to beef steak – Angus – a breed of cattle, but as it turns out ‘white sturgeon’ is a kind of fish – a species of the ‘transmontanus’. Well, there you go. Who said this blog wasn’t educational!? Lots of shopping to be had if you’re so inclined.
Time for a cup of tea and cake stop at a cafe before getting on the next flight. Not a bad way to make time fly in Dubai. Then onto my next flight – Dubai to Istanbul. I generally hate being short! but one of the advantages of being somewhat vertically challenged…is that flights are generally quite comfortable. I have no problem with legroom. I can often curl up with my legs on the seat. Take that all you tall people of the world! Ahhh…lots of legroom:
I do like flying Emirates. The flight crew wear nice uniforms and they have a great in-flight entertainment system – all on demand. Food wasn’t too bad either. Complimentary alcohol a plus!
Inside the cabin, the roof even had nightlight stars to help provide that nighttime ambience (because you know, I had forgotten we were actually in the SKY!).
On the Saturday afternoon, I finally touched down in Istanbul, whereupon my Turkey journey begins. So far, so good. Had arrived safely and refreshed into Istanbul.