June 26, 2012
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I can’t say “I’ve always wanted to go to Turkey.” In fact, in thinking back to our trip around the world in 1998-99, it wasn’t even on the radar then and I have no idea why. My interest first peaked back in 2006 and for a while my mother and I were planning a trip there but in the end we chose to go to Central Europe instead.
This year, Turkish Airlines started flying nonstop from Los Angeles and offered some tantalizing deals for a 13 hour flight. I’m a sucker for any flight which will get me to my destination without having to change planes. The timing worked with David’s spring break so we jumped in and bought the tickets.
The positives: Great seatback video on demand system. Decent, edible food. Nonstop flights. Turkish Airlines offers free tours of the city, including lunch, if you are doing a stopover in IST for 24 hours or less. We didn’t do one of those tours but they look great if you are stuck with a long layover anyway.
The negatives: Horribly uncomfortable seats in Economy class, to the point where we upgraded to their version of Premium Economy (Comfort Class) on the way home. The seat pitch is so bad David could not put the tray table fully down onto his lap when the seat in front was reclined. Forget about reaching anything under the seat in front of you. In addition, it took 2.5 months to get United Mileage credit despite given them our FF numbers and there’s a definite lack of English with staff both in LAX and at International airport in Istanbul.
Arrival at Istanbul International was fine though it took quite a while for our luggage to arrive and when it did …
June 16, 2011
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Kyoto; Westin Miyako Hotel Review
We arrive into Kyoto station on the Shinkansen train from Tokyo and head outside to in search of the hotel’s free shuttle bus which turns out not to be clearly marked. It’s located where all the other buses stop on a small traffic island across from the Harvey’s grocery store in the station. The bus leaves the station on the hour and the half hour. Though we did not discover this until our last day, there is a satellite concierge office inside the station which can guide you to the bus stop and store luggage if you need it. The drive to the hotel takes almost ½ an hour in traffic, but the ride can also take as little as 15 minutes. In the opposite direction, from the hotel to the station, the bus makes a stop in Kyoto’s Gion neighborhood, but only to let people off, and does not allow guests back on to go back to the hotel (I never quite understood this).
The Westin Miyako is a Starwood property and I had booked a standard room, using cash plus SPG points ($60 plus 4000 points per night) for 3 nights. I have SPG Gold status and at check-in we ask about getting access to the Club Lounge and are told it is only given to Platinum level guests. When we ask about the cost of an upgrade to a club level room which would give us access to the lounge, we’re told we can have that for an additional 1500 points a night. The upgrade gives access to the lounge for breakfast, coffee throughout the day, and evening cocktails. The lounge has free wifi and in addition, we could use our breakfast vouchers for the buffet breakfast in the main part of the hotel which is substantially better than the lounge’s continental offerings.