Review: Turkish Airlines Business Class Lounge at Istanbul

If there is one place I would love to be stranded, it would be here – The Turkish Airlines Business Class lounge at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport.  This place is so colossal and grand, it takes a good day to really enjoy all the amenities this place has to offer. You have everything you need from a bed, a shower, and plenty of food, to make the long journey even better.  Business Class passengers traveling with Turkish Airlines, Miles&Smiles Elite and Elite Plus cardholders traveling in Comfort or Economy Class, Star Alliance Gold and Turkish Airlines Corporate Club members can use Lounge Istanbul and enjoy all its services.  The place is a like a two level mall, with eateries in just about every corner of the space.  We landed about 5 P.M. local time, and our Kuala Lumpur flight was scheduled to depart at 12:40 A.M., so we had some serious time to burn, and eat, and sleep, and eat some more.  I wasted no time, and headed to the pide station.  As usual, there was a long line of people waiting to get the freshly made, Turkish style pizzas.  They were perfectly made, with minced meat, spices, and a crispy crust.  I also enjoyed an ayran (Turkish yogurt drink) with it.

After scarfing down the pide, I needed something sweet to finish it off, so I headed to the dessert section.  There was an array of baklava, Turkish delights, and other pastries, that complemented my cappuccino perfectly!

They also have a kids section, with a small playground, which kept the girls busy for sometime, and let us enjoy a little quiet time, which was nice. While they were playing in the kids section, I went over the the pool hall, to people watch, and enjoy a Turkish coffee.

If you go there, dont forget to try the Thai food station. This was pretty popular as the dishes weren’t that bad, actually.  It was quite spicy, and they did their homework on what Thai food should taste like.

 

Lock up your bags and roam around

 

The place is so huge, with spiral staircases, and cool lighting. One thing I forgot to mention is a massage therapist who walks around and gives you shoulder rubs. I totally forgot to do that, as I as too busy eating my way through the lounge.  Oh well, next time…..I promise !

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Skip That North Korean Trip

The death of Otto Warmbier should be a reminder for us all that traveling to places like North Korea isn’t a great idea.  Honestly, I don’t think we will really know the facts why he was detained, and any statement regarding his detainment from his captors, shouldn’t be taken seriously. This article in The Independent UK highlights some of those points, and is written by a former North Korean, who luckily escaped to South Korea. Check it out as it is very interesting.  I have seen documentaries of people who have sneaked out footage of stores, hotels, and restaurants, and put them on YouTube for everyone to watch, and I cant help wonder what a big risk they took to do that.  They very well could’ve ended up like Otto Warmbier, seriously.  I personally have no ambitions to visit North Korea, or to fly their state carrier Air Koryo, in light of Otto’s death, because they could just apprehend you for no reason, and you really don’t have any rights.  There won’t be a phone call to mom and dad, and you’ll end up in a kangaroo court, and get served the most idiotic definition of justice there probably exists in this world.

Brave Tourists Looking for Instagram Fame

There are several tour companies that arrange North Korean tours. Though I don’t recommend them, you can check out their offerings and get an idea of costs.

The Young Pioneer Tours – this is the company that handled Otto’s trip to North Korea. They have probably the most experience in handling a trip there, but also have come under fire now with the recent event. Therefore, they are no longer offering tours for Americans to North Korea, but still open to other passport holders.

Uri Tours – This is another company that boasts travels to the DPRK. They also take Americans, and also offer packages that include skiing, snowboarding, and even a marathon.  Run for your life!..you may need to.

Koryo Tours – this Beijing based company, founded by two British guys, hosts tours as well. They are a bit smaller, but account for 50% of travels by Westerners to North Korea.

I would take my chances on a trip to Iran before North Korea. If anything, if I do get detained, I know at least the food will be better….or at least I hope.

Happy (and safe) Travels.

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A Great Vegetarian Restaurant in Hong Kong

Visiting Hong Kong, I had one of the toughest times looking for places I could eat vegetarian. I know Hong Kong is a foodies heaven, but with my dietary restrictions, I was looking for something that my palate could accept. Well, it appears one of the best vegetarians places has opened up in Hong Kong—The Herbivores.  This restaurant is on Staunton St, near Soho, in the middle district.  I can’t wait to try this place out. My friend, who came back from from a trip from Singapore, had a Hong Kong stopover, and he tried some of the dishes, that included the garlic pasta with a cilantro dressing, and a vanilla custard tart, which he said was pretty darn good. They have a lot of pictures on their Facebook page of their dishes.  Check it out because I think this is a growing trend in Asia, as people are starting to eat a lil healthier now, and reducing their consumption of non-sustainable seafood.  Recently some restaurants took shark fin soup off the menu.

herbivores

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