Europe 2016 Day 3: Leaving for Barcelona

Day 3… Day 3…

Day 3 began with me going back to Istiklal yet again, in the morning, to try out Istanbul’s McRonald’s to see if they are any different.

Ironically, I just read a blog post today that made fun of old people who prefers this fast food brand when traveling. I guess this sort of “proves” I am getting pretty old myself…

No! Serious! I really wanted to see for myself the difference between Istanbul McRonald’s and Malaysian McRonald’s. And if you read that earlier blog post of mine, you would realize that I did find significant differences, so it was all good.

Other than that… well… today was me packing up and leaving for Barcelona. This means…

Look, I know you guys are tired of airports, but… me leaving for Barcelona means me boarding a plane (or two), which also means… more airport talks. If I don’t write about airports, then there would be nothing else for me to write, there would be no Day 3.

So… you don’t have like it, but I’m going to talk about more airports today. Feel free to close this page and come back tomorrow. 😉

Istanbul Atatürk Airport (Atatürk Havalimani)

I neglected to take pictures when I touched down here, but this time I had time to spare. Too much time, in fact. Thanks to my being fearful of the unpredictable nature of Istanbul’s traffic, I arrived 4 hours before boarding time.

But I was too lazy to whip out my camera from the bag. So today is also all about the powers of my 20.3MP Sony Xperia Z3.

The point is, I managed to take some photos…

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Departure Hall
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Meeting Point

I never noticed this in other airports before. But I think having a Meeting Point in the airport is a pretty good idea. It saves you from having to tell a friend you’re expecting over the phone “Err… I’m at that… in front of Starbucks, you know, then slightly to the left, to the left, err… and then you take 3 steps forward and 5 steps to the right… bla bla bla…“. Instead, just say “I’m at the Meeting Point“. Job done…

Do we have this thing in KLIA? I did not notice it…

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Arrival Hall

To be honest, I did not find anything interesting to see or do or even eat in this airport. But I remember reading from not one, not two, but many travel blogs that rate the Atatürk Airport as one of the best and traveler friendly airport in the world.

Maybe this one is like the Changi Airport, where all the good stuff are beyond Passport Controls…

So I quickly cleared customs and entered the transit area…

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Transit area

Well, I have to admit, looks pretty neat and nice. Since I had time to burn, I settled for wandering around the area looking for interesting things to see.

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Built in Mescit

This is kind of cool. They even have a mosque (Malaysians call it Masjid, Turkish call it Mescit) built into the airport. Not even KLIA has that! I remember the airport staff would have to drive 20 or 30 kilometers away to get to the nearest mosque for their Friday prayers.

Maybe this could be a new project for 1AmDeeBee: building a mosque for KLIA. I’m sure nobody would cry foul if you are building a mosque…

While I was wandering around, I noticed signage pointing me to an interesting place…

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Terrace?

From the looks of the symbol, it appears to be an open air space. Maybe I could get a nice view of planes taking off and landing. Let’s go!

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Signage led me through here

And then… I arrived, only to see…

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A bunch of folks smoking away in here

So now I know, in Turkey, [Terrace] means [Smoking Area]. Ironically, do you notice anything out of place in the picture above?

Anyway, I lost interest and went back the other way immediately…

Now, having shown you all these photos, it is time for me to tell you how I really feel about this airport. Truth is, I fucking hate this airport. Here’s why:

  1. No free wi-fi – There is a wireless internet network which you can connect to, but it charges you for usage. Yeah, it wasn’t that expensive, 1€/24 hours. But still, this is something that we get for free in many other airports. And it was spotty at best and frustratingly slow at worst.
  2. Not enough seats for weary travelers – In most airports, you would at least be able to find lounges where people can sit down and wait for their flights, for free. Not here. Here the only free seats you get are the paltry few chairs by the boarding gates. Other than these, it would be seats in cafes and restaurants. Again, you would have to pay to access these seat. I had to pay 22 TL for a beer to use the chair at the bar, because everywhere else was full!
  3. Expensive food – The cheapest food option here is fast food, and they go for 23 TL or more for a set meal.

I seriously doubt that I have left a big chunk of this airport unexplored. Having said that, I seriously could find no reason why there would be people who would think this is a traveler friendly airport. How can anyone think this is a better airport compared to Changi? Makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever!

By the way, havalimani means airport in Turkish. You will see a lot of Atatürk Havalimani. It means Atatürk Airport. There is no such thing as Atatürk Havalimani Airport.

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

My flight from Istanbul to Barcelona was in the evening, with Air France.

Actually, I booked with Turkish Airlines, but it seems they have some code share stuff going on with Air France for some of their flights to Barcelona. Bottom line is, I paid 120€ for my flight to Barcelona. I think it was pretty cheap. Only problem was, I would have to fly into Paris CDG Airport and spend 1 night there, because my connecting flight was 7 AM the next morning.

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Air France meal

Let me be upfront and admit that although my flight was cheap, this was actually another blunder of mine due to my lack of attentiveness.

I actually thought I would only be having a 3 hours’ transit in Paris. It was after I paid and received my flight itinerary via email that I saw that the connecting flight was really 10 hours away! And because the connecting flight was 7 AM, meaning if I check into any hotel near the airport, I would have to check out before 5 AM. That seemed a very stupid move to me.

So I made the decision to go tramp style and spend the night in the airport itself.

It was a damn good idea in the end, because once we landed and made a short walk through the gates, I saw this vast waiting area with lots of couch-bed hybrids

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They were not soft and fluffy, but surprisingly quite comfortable. And each couch-bed has a power socket next to it for you to recharge your laptop. Clearly this area is prepared with travelers in mind, travelers who might want to spend brief nights in this airport.

Not just that, they also have a free mobile phone charging station, complete with lockers

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So how this thing works is, each locker compartment has connectors to different model of smartphones, so you just connect to the right one to your phone, leave the phone inside, lock it, and then you can go back to sleep at one of them couch-beds.

Not to mention their wi-fi is free and very fast

Now… this is what I call traveler friendly airport. It might not look as fancy as the one in Istanbul, but it ticks all the right boxes. If you ask me to compare which of the two airports here are better, my answer would be: no comparison at all!

I spent 6 hours between relaxing and falling asleep on one of these couch-beds. And I was not alone. There were 3 other individuals, 2 couples, and a mother-and-son who occupied other couch-beds with me. Made the whole experience less awkward, seeing so many people do this…


Now you see why I have to talk about airports for Day 3??

28 Comments

    • I can hardly sleep on the plane myself. Which is why I prefer to fly SQ over United Air for long haul trips, because they have the personal screen to keep me entertained. When I take more long distance trips in the future, I would make sure the plane I fly on would have similar entertainment console sets.

  1. Wow, the couches are amazing… were they free to use?? I’ve spent the night in airports before…. sitting out in the main check-in hall with no sockets to plug in my rapidly dying phone… Yep, not as good of an experience :P.

    • Yup, free. Free wifi, free couches, free power for laptop, free phone charging. Free free free free free!

      I was running low myself at Paris airport. If there was no free charging station, I would’ve been screwed for Barcelona because I needed my phone for Google Maps to find my hotel! 🙄

  2. I thought the no-smoking sign at the terrace was strategically located close enough to the entrance to remind smokers not to bring their ciggies back indoors… 😀

    Tramp style sounds so much fun. Those so-called beds look comfy. Doesn’t look like its cut out for tall people, though 🙄

    • If what you think is true, then the sign should be facing towards those inside, not facing outside hahaha! 😀

      Well, I was able to fit on one of them “bed” comfortably, so I guess it is alright even for tall people. 🙄

  3. You’re right about Istanbul airport, there is not much seating space. There is however one hidden free wifi, but only in a specific part of the airport, close to a boarding gate. I camped there every time! But I haven’t been to that airport in a while, Turkish Airlines got too expensive.

    BTW and talking about unfriendly airports… the worst one is Madrid, at least T1 where I always arrive. You even have to pay for the frigging push carts!!!!

    • What the… who pays for push carts?! That’s bullshit! Glad that I picked Barcelona instead of Madrid then! (As if an airport is the crucial factor in deciding where to vacation in 🙄 )

  4. I love this funny post! After reading so attentively & closely inside office with a nice hot Kopi-O kau, you suddenly concluded that YOU HATED THE AIRPORT! Muahahahaha It was a very big shock to me lah. So drama aunty you are!! Wakakakaka

    What I loved was that stupid me just learnt that all those ‘cocoon’ seats I have been seeing in Japan, HKG and Taipei airports are suitable for overnight passengers to sleep lah! It looked neat with slight sheds to hide yet could stretch like deck chairs. I thought they were for good short naps. It never struck my head that we could sleep overnight. Haiks!
    Then our KLIA2 should have them as we have plenty of people sleep after midnight esp those flying to Chennai & Dakkar!!!! OMG! They saved taxi fares by taking last buses the night before to catch 7am flights next day and fill up all the floor in the airport. Pandai lah.

    Thanks for sharing these couch beds. They should design them like semi-cocoons to give a bit privacy.

    • Well, if the chair looks comfortable enough to sleep it, then it could be used for sleeping. Although they did not explicitly said can or cannot lah 😛 . Most important is that these chairs are free to use hahaha! And, since they’re free, don’t hiam lah. You can pay up for more privacy anytime. 😉

  5. haha!! teras = smoking area.. well, just like anywhere in most places, outdoor means a “free to smoke” area despite the no smoking sign there..

    • I think they originally intended those places to really be a place for relaxation. But seems like it is by default a smoking room now >.<

  6. It’s not that bad if you try local version of burgers in McDonalds – in Ireland they have McMor, but my father will always stick with big mac. It’s the same EVERYWHERE 😀

    • Hahaha I tried to have local burgers in Istanbul, but they did not want to sell to me, so I was forced to have Breakfast McMuffin 🙁 ..

    • I was able to fall asleep, so I guess yes I slept well. Well, nothing went missing from me when I woke up, and the fact that so many others were sleeping there (boys and girls included) so I guess, as safe as can be… 🙄

  7. 1. The Meeting Point is a good idea, provided you can find it.

    2. Mun’s point 2 makes me think of the plot in Oh My Venus, the male leading actor saved a damsel in distress (the leading actress) on the flight, haha

    3. What a vast difference between Turkey and Paris Airports.

    4. I must say you are an observant person from your detailed write up of the airports

    4 points for today and that is quite many for me, muahaha

    • 1. Easy to find, the signage big big and easily visible from where you enter the airport. 😉

      2. Hahaha not many damsel in distress on flights one lah, already get on board can have what distress? Hot stewardesses then got a lot. 😀

      3. On the surface, not much. But when you want to actually get anything done, then you will notice the differences..

      4. I was forced to be observant, when I want to find something and realized that they are non-existent 🙄 ..

    • I am actually unsure if others will feel the same as me or not. I guess I’m glad that you agree with my assessment of that airport. 😐

  8. 1. You mean the no smoking sign at the terrace?

    2. How was your flight from Istanbul to Paris? How long was it? Anything happen on the flight – did you help any damsel in distress?

    3. What was the food provided by Air France? Bread and ? Can’t see clearly what was in the other box.

    4. Did you sleep with one eye open in the Paris airport and one hand on your luggage?

    5. You did not go around exploring the Paris airport but instead quickly chop a seat-bed?

    6. Oh yes, how did you “check out” of your airbnb place? Did the host inspect the place to ensure that you did not run off with the TV before he lets you go?

    Only 6 points today.

    • 1. Pannai 😉 .

      2. Three and a half hours (if I remember correctly). Where got so many damsel in distress one??? Adoi…

      3. There’s also cheese and chocolate and a cold chicken breast and beans salad. The foil packet was a warm sandwich…

      4. At first yes, totally behaving like a jakun. But then I fell asleep and woke up to find… nothing missing hehehe 😛

      5. It was nightfall already, Europe airports the shops and cafes all closed by 10 PM. Nothing to explore, so better just sit back and relax..

      6. I Whatsapped my host, and he came over to say byebye. He didn’t really do any thorough check. I think he trusted me gua. 🙄

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