Europe 2016 Day 9 & 10: Back To Istanbul

After that awesomely delicious grilled ahi meal at La Boqueria, I dragged my bloated self back to the hotel, grabbed my luggage, and headed back to Plaça Catalunya to take the bus back to the airport.

[7 MARCH 2016, MONDAY]

Barcelona El Prat Airport

I did not manage to take any pictures of this airport when I arrived, so here’s a couple for you. I actually have more than a couple, but I know you guys hate my airport talks, so…

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Departure hall
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Signboards in Barcelona typically come in 3 languages: Catalan, Spanish and English

I was kind of early, I arrived at 4 PM, and my flight was 8 PM. This means I had time to kill…

Also, I planned to save 100€ of my cash to exchange into Turkish Liras when I got back to Istanbul, and I realized I had quite a bit more than that. I guess I haven’t been splurging as much as I thought I did…

This means I could get dinner in the airport before boarding my flight. And so I did…

fideua
I loved fideua so much that I decided to get it one more time (14€)

Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

I found myself back in Paris CDG on my return flight to Istanbul. No incidents during flight this time.

I’m not going to give you more airport talks here. Instead, I’m going to give you some directions…

If you ever find yourself in Paris CDG and you are booked with one of those hotels nearby, be advised that there are free shuttles that runs between the airport and most of the nearby hotels from early morning till midnight.

To get to the bus, you need to get yourself to Terminal 2, Ground floor. From there, you should follow the signs leading you to Gare TGV (or Gare SNCF). As long as you follow the signs, you will soon find yourself here:

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But no, TGV is the bullet train, that’s not what we want. What we want, is what lies behind this big big TGV billboard: a lift!

Get in the lift, and go up to level 5, and you will find yourself exiting the lift to the outdoors.

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You’ll see this,
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And this

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the bus stop for the free airport-hotels shuttle buses.

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Free shuttle buses
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The buses are color coded, and they serve different hotels. Click to enlarge to see if your hotel is listed here. If yes then great. If no then, well… fuck

Hotel F1, Roissy

I was going to spend the night in the free lounge again like I did previously. But I received an email from Booking.com earlier which said something like “Happy Birthday, here’s a 50% discount code for one night on any hotel booking made with us, valid only on the actual day”.

To make matters worse, my flight from Paris to Istanbul was supposed to be 9 AM, but it got delayed till 1 PM. Meaning I would have to stay in the airport for more than 12 hours. Seemed like a very long time to spend in the airport…

So I decided to make use of that 50% discount code and booked myself into Hotel F1.com. It was supposed to be 30€, so I paid only 15€ (well, 16.20€ to be exact, with all those tax and charges)…

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The room
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The room door is not opened with a key or keycard, but a 6 digit PIN number

Make no mistake, this is a budget hotel. I’ve read the reviews for this hotel and most of them are negative. I don’t know, I think this is probably due to people not reading the details and setting the wrong expectations when they booked into this hotel.

There is no attached bathroom in the rooms here.

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All you get is a basin with facial towel for you to wash your face and brush your teeth

The bathroom is shared and outside, along the corridors. There’s 10 bathrooms and 10 toilets on each floor.

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And they all have indicator lights to tell you whether they are occupied or vacant
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The shower

The shower was quite frustrating though. The shower is not operated by a knob, but a button. You press on the button, and water will flow from the shower head for 10 seconds, and stop. Then you’ll have to press the button again to get another 10 seconds of water. Repeat the process until you’re done.

I can see why they do this. This is a great idea for saving water, because you don’t let the water flow non-stop. But this is also one of the main reasons for the negative feedback that this hotel gets.

[8 MARCH 2016, MONDAY]

But all things considered, I quite like this hotel. The bed was spacious and comfortable, the wi-fi was pretty decent. Thanks to all these, I woke up very refreshed. I did not sleep this well in Barcelona.

The hotel also serves a simple buffet breakfast, but it is not complimentary. You have to pay 3.50€ for it. I gladly paid up…

Now, I wanted to show you the food selection that they have, but as I was snapping away, the hotel staff came rushing towards me, and she said “What you doing?! No! I don’t like it! No pictures! I don’t like it! Why you do this rude thing?! I don’t like it!

O…kay…

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So the only picture I can show you is this.

Interestingly, as I was seated, I saw another guy came and he began to snap photos too. But this time, this lovely lady staff, she went over and helped him re-arrange the food trays and said things like “You take photos? Make sure to take them nicely”.

Wow! What just happened? Was it because that dude is white and I’m Asian?

She kept her eye on me throughout breakfast and constantly shook her head. It made me really uncomfortable. I was constantly watching myself and other guests at the breakfast lounge to see if there was something that I did wrong. And when I was done, I even cleaned up, picked up the tray and sent it to the used utensil bins. She thanked me by saying “Why you do this? Leave the tray on the table! I don’t like it! You make me look lazy and not doing my job!

I was really liking this hotel, but after my encounter with this lovely lady staff, hmm… maybe not so much… 🙄

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The hotel

Well, nothing much I can do… Time to head back to the airport to catch my flight back to Istanbul…

Istanbul

I’m going to end this post with my worst frustration of this trip.

You know, I actually bought souvenir. Edible souvenir. Lots of them. I bought chorizo (sausages) and jamón (ham) and chocolates and candies and nuts and paella rice.

But after I touched down in Istanbul and got my check-in luggage, as I was leaving, I was stopped by a few customs officers. They asked me to open my bag, and took all the foodstuff out and told me that I was not allowed to carry any food items into Istanbul.

I was given 2 choices: give up all the food items, or be sent to the police as terrorist suspect and then deported back to Malaysia. There isn’t really a choice for me here, is it? So… as frustrated and angry as I was, bye bye to 100€ worth of edible souvenirs. 🙁

I guess they have their reasons. After the bombing incident in January (and another one weeks after I came back to Malaysia), they are probably justified to be suspicious of all edible items as biological weapons or something.

And, if some of you friends wonder why I came back empty handed in terms of souvenirs, this was why…

34 Comments

  1. Maybe to make you feel better, my friend bought a bottle of liquor at the Tokyo airport before flying off. Then during transit at Singapore, that bottle of liquor is not allowed on board so he has to pour thr whole bottle away into the toilet and bring back only the beautiful empty bottle to put into his display cabinet withthis tale to entertain us with. I guess everyone has their airport losses stories to tell.

      • Liquor = liquid mah. All liquid must only be in 100ml bottles in clear zipped locked bag when handcarry. Since it is a transit he already checked in his luggage from tokyo direct to kl so he can’t check in the bottle of liquor he bought in Tokyo airport inner section near departure gates. I ask him no other way meh and hesaid he thought very hard about other ways but don’t have so sakit hati also need to pour the one liter liquor into the toilet bowl. Ish! Didn’t think of this when buying the bottle that time.

        • Hmm… I thought if you buy anything from the Duty Free in the inner section, the receipt will specify it regardless of which airport in the world, then you will not run into troubles even during transit even if the purchase is liquid based items, PROVIDED you did not go out through the passport controls at your transit airport lah. Hmm… so it doesn’t work in Changi airport huh… 🙁

          • I think Changi airport only trust those liquid sold (secure packaging) in the inner section of its own airport as in if you buy liquid from the inner section of Changi airport and bring on board should be ok but not from the inner section of the Tokyo airport. Hhhhmmmpphh. Next time to play safe, if transit, don’t buy any liquid from the first departing airport.

  2. Omg!!! I would be SOOO mad! I’m really mad just reading about it! All that delicious delicious jamon and chorizo! You know what, I would have walked back out of security and eaten as much of it as I can (though then you’d probably die from salt overload). So sad. 🙁

    • Yeah, I did think of all these scenarios and things I could do, but in the end I had to be rational… I was more worried that they might think I was a terrorist. After all, Malaysian + beard = highly suspicious combo… 🙁

  3. It looks like they gave you a bunk bed at the budget hotel? I don’t like bunk beads. As someone who doesn’t deal well with heights, I always hope to sleep on the bottom bunk. But I also don’t like the bottom bunk because sometimes I toss and turn and hit my head on the top bunk 🙄

    Oh dear, at the end kena all the food stuff confiscated. You could have eaten a bit of the chocolate right in front of them…well, maybe not if you use your common sense 🙁

    • I cannot imagine you hitting your head on this bunk bed. There’s ample headroom for me, so you will most definitely be fine. 😀

      I was threatened with being sent back to Malaysia on the spot, so I was hardly going to do stupid… 🙄

  4. The room looks clean and nice but dont think I could stay there cos I need to go bathroom in the middle of the night.. Old ma! 10 seconds of water coming out every now and then? hahaha… yes, save water no doubt but can be quite inconvenient. That shows we are so blessed over here, endless water in our own homes! Sure is double standard the way you were treated and the other guy the opposite… she must be thinking that you took the pictures to complain or what.. hahaha… And lastly, confiscated food stuff… not sure why candies and chocs cannot be taken home.. ham, sausages, yes, I understand they couldn’t go through but snacks normally can be passed… oh well, next time you know, we know too.. Thanks for sharing!!

    • I don’t even want to guess why she treat me to this dose of double standards. 🙁

      If they didn’t check then can pass lah, but I am sharing info to you all that officially, NO FOOD ITEMS can pass. So if they check, you have to throw everything. And not home lah, Istanbul. I fly from Barcelona to Istanbul, it was Istanbul (Turkey) officials that confiscate my stuff, not those guys from Malaysia…

    • I’ll risk it for coming back to Malaysia, but if I have to go other places then probably not. 😐

  5. If I were you, I’d question the rude lady staff on her double standards! I would have thought that you would have done your “homework” thoroughly before your trip…but somehow you missed one on “bringing food into another country”…so sad :'(

    • I hardly do any “homework” unfortunately, most of my “homework” were done on the spot, when I was on the go. 🙁

  6. Adoi! Adoi! Adoi! So heartache to have those lovely (and expensive) jamon and chorizo confiscated. I’m surprised that even chocolate and candies cannot be brought in 🙁

  7. Nooo! Such bad luck 🙁 We are also not supposed to bring back meat from other countries into China, but, you know, I have been doing it for years…

  8. This reminds that my deodorant spray was confiscated when I travel overseas the other time, this is still understandable as deodorant spray contains chemicals, but food confiscated, I cannot understand

    • Maybe because I have a Malaysian passport and I have a beard, so they were more suspicious of me. Food can be a means of bio weapon too apparently. 🙄

  9. I don’t hate your airport talks.. If all the airport talks are as interesting as the Changi one, I don’t mind reading.. Eh, very interesting when I’m reading about your room, basin and toilet.. Errr, if suddenly lausai, have to run out hor.. The shower button is interesting.. I agree on the water-saving thingy, since it’s a budget hotel.. But 10 seconds not enough for me, since we ladies have to wash hair, etc.. Then have to keep pressing, haha.. Can I press 3 times, then water runs for 30 seconds, haha 😛

    Oh dear, hou sayang wor the souvenirs.. Haizzz.. I bet 101% they brought it back and sendiri makan.. Even though you said they don’t eat oinks, hmm, who knows..

    • Hahaha, cannot. You have to press every 10 seconds, if need 30 seconds then press 3 times, but after 10 seconds each. It is like some of those press type taps you see in public toilets. I wonder if you can just use 1 hand to press it down long long and use the other hand to wash, but that won’t be quite effective I think 🙄 …

      Haih, bottom line is my 100 Euros worth of souvenirs were confiscated lah. 🙁

  10. interesting story of that lovely lady who ‘dun seem to like what u r doing’…I wonder if she is racist?! perhaps she mistakenly thought u r one of those bad-ass Chinese tourist…

  11. Hmmmm, good choice of staying in the hotel to get a good rest instead of the airport. The staff is so terrible. If only you have finished eating when the other man took photos of the spread, you could walk over and take photos too at the same thing. If she scold you again you could say why is he allowed to take photos but I am not? Should ask her name and tell her you are so rude too that I am only to write a complaint about you for having double standards.

    As for bringing in food items, Australia also does not permit food items to be brought into the country, not even food from the plane via transit in Australia airport, not even to enter Australia but just transit in the airport also need to throw away all food.

    • No lah, you know I generally want to avoid trouble as best as I can, I won’t call out her rudeness and double standards since it will not do me any good at all anyway…

      Serious? Oz does not permit any food items even just passing through? That’s… tough… No wonder their Chinatown does great business! 🙄

  12. I was so relaxed reading your holiday rants and had a big shock that all your edible souvenirs got confiscated!! Oh God, that was so much and I believe you bought for me too! Muahahaha I am sure those morons took them home to feed their wives and kids.

    I like that fideua you ate. It has 1001 ingredients that could make me happy.

    • I don’t think so, I don’t think there are many people who eat pork in Istanbul. I can’t even find a place that sells it. My souvenirs were mostly oinks based.

      I super love fideua. Too bad I don’t think I can replicate it in my kitchen. Don’t have saffron 🙁 …

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