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Sábado, 26 de Março de 2005
Bordeaux-Paris-Istanbul-Amsterdam-Manila with Air France/KLM

I was not able to have my coat (dry)cleaned because of a simple ... miscommunication. So I had to settle for a dirty one. Thought of not using it...but talked to the receptionist and told me she had been to my destination and at this time of the year (it was March), the weather was cold and snowy. No choice now. I had to bring with me my dirty jacket and protect myself from the cold weather in...

 

ISTANBUL!

 

 

Flight Details

AF7621
Air France

Date: 26 March 2005
Dep: Bordeaux Merignac (BOD)
Gate: 25
Boarding Time: 0615
Dep Time: 0645
Load: 95%
Seat: 04F
Class: Monoclass
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Cloudy
Arr: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Weather during landing: Sunny but cold

 

I had to wake up early in the morning. I have been waiting for this one actually. Though I really hate doing this early but this one, I did not mind. After all, I was a few hours (by flying of course!) away from the city that has been fascinating me all my life!

 

Back in Manila, I planned to go to Copenhagen, Denmark to see my Spanish friend who's married to a Dane and sure to revisit one of my favourite cities as well. This would be possible after my training in France. But on the last minute my friend sent me e-mail informing me that he would not be able to join me in Copenhagen because he'd join the family trip out of the city. I had to change my itinerary fast. I chose Cyprus but ticket conditions would not allow me to. And then there were several other choices.  Finally, I chose Istanbul. This means I would apply for a visa in an almost limited time (same with Cyprus though the Cypriot Consulate is near my home so it would not be that complicated as far as time was concerned). Thank God, after three days I got my Turkish visa and on the same day I got the French one.

 

Anyway, fast track to Bordeaux, me and my colleagues took the same van to go to the airport: destination Paris. Most of them were going to Athens, Greece and two others would stay in Paris. And I was going to Istanbul. That means one group with several destinations.

 

Sad to leave Bordeaux. I have learned to love the city. I spent 2 weeks here and I found it a short stay (if you love the place, staying there for two weeks is not really be enough). 

 

The airport of Bordeaux is small but practical. Nothing to write home about though. Check in was a breeze and after waiting for almost an hour, our plane was ready for take off. It was a cloudy day and it was drizzling. But this condition did not prevent us from having a nice take off. Minutes before arriving in Paris, the weather was wonderful: sunny and cold!

 

 


Flight from Bordeaux with Air France Airbus 319. We were approaching Paris CDG Airport when I took this picture...

 

CHAOS IN PARIS AIRPORT

 

AF1590
Air France

Date: 26 March 2005
Dep: Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG)
Gate: not indicated
Boarding Time: 0925
Dep Time: 1000
Load: 85%
Seat: 02F
Class: Business
Aircraft: Airbus 320
Weather during take off: Sunny
Arr: Istanbul Ataturk International (IST)
Weather during landing: Sunny but cold

 

We have arrived in Paris without any problems. This was a connecting flight to Istanbul. Said bye to my colleagues and since I still had 3 hours to spare, I accompanied my team leader to go buy her ticket  to go to the centre of Paris. Everything seemed fine. Time to say bye bye to her when I noticed I did not have my...guess what...tickets! Not only that, it seemed I did not have my pouch with me! That would mean...no passport as well! And no frequent flyer cards! No visa! WTF!

 

Suddenly, things started to be a bit clear to me...

 

-no visa; no Turkey visit

-secure another passport at the Philippine Embassy in Paris

 

We searched all over the airport. At that time, I felt nothing. Don't get me wrong. I felt nothing simply because opf extreme fear. I honestly thought somebody stole my pouch. Or maybe after some hypnosis I voluntarily handed my stuff to someone!?! Oh my...

 

After 30 minutes of asking people (!?!) and searching from one trash can to another (?!?), my team leader thought of going back to the train ticket centre where we bought her Paris pass. When we were about a few meters to the counter, a lady shouted: "Mr. Gonzales?!?"

 

That was one of the happiest moments of my life! She told me I forgot the pouch on the counter so she had kept it. Her name is Margareth. I thanked her without end. If you read this, Margareth, I thank you so much!

 

Boarding

 

Paris CDG was a mess and there was a long queue at the passport control. I was going to Turkey and it's out of the Schengen zone. We took the bus to board our plane. We were flying on an Airbus 320. This is an opoortunity to do some planespotting but at that time, I was still thinking about my misadventure...

 

I was flying business and I expected a little bit more from the usual. But on the contrary, no pillow for the 4-hour flight.  When I asked for it , the steward told me there's no more pillows. Mediocre service for a biz class and FA's had a difficulty smiling. That's about it.

 



Aboard Air France Airbus 320 with a view of the Austrian Alps.

 

Arrival in Istanbul. I took this picture while we wait for the airbridge to be connected to the aircraft

 

Istanbul Ataturk International Airport:

Good points:
- not too far from the city centre
- modern and beautiful airport
- plane spotting is possible
- helpful staff
- security is tough


Negative points:
- long lines (re: immigration counter) for foreigners entering and exiting the country
- getting crowded so I think the country should build another international terminal for the growing number of tourists

 

I had earlier arranged with my hostel for a van to pick me up at the airport but it seemed nobody was there to meet me. I had to go to the information counter and requested the staff to make some announcement (Believe me, I did not want to do this but I had to!) that I (stating my complete name) was waiting for someone from the hostel (name of hostel) to pick me up. But the announcement was like this:

 

"Attention Mr. Gonzales, please go to the information section because somebody is waiting for you!".

 

Errrrrr! Of course that's not what I meant! Or maybe I was not clear about it. I went back to the booth and explained that Mr. Gonzales wa actually "me" and that it was "me" who was waiting for the airport pick up service. They did it again, this time, correctly. But still, no hotel representative to pick me up.

 

After half an hour, I decided to go to a phone service booth and bought some phone cards from the guy who was attending to me. I phoned the hostel and finally they sent someone to the airport  and I got to the hostel safe with some joy ride from the airport to the hostel and seeing a bit of the city as well.

 

When we passed by the Aya Sofya, I was so happy. I could not believed that structure was in front of me! It's amazing!

 

I took a shower in the hostel and then went out immediately. I saw some record stores and went in to some. I went to Taksim and walked and walked and walked. I bought two CD's. One is Ismail YK and the other one is Cem Adrian. I played those two CD's while exploring the place. It was fun. I sampled food and some nightlife in Taksim and then went back to Sultanhamet with two Spanish ladies I met. 

 

At night, the Sultanahmet Aquare with the lighted Aya Sofya and Blue Mosque is beautiful. After relaxing on one of the benches, I went to sleep at the hostel because it was already 12 midnight and I still have to wake up early the following morning for a quick ferry ride on the Bosphorous.


Interesting information about Istanbul:

- Istanbul is the only city in the world located on two continents, Europe and Asia, and its name changed from Constantinople in 1453, about 550 years ago.

- Istanbul served as the capital city of the Roman Empire (330–395), the Byzantine Empire(395–1204 and 1261–1453), the Latin Empire (1204–1261), and the Ottoman Empire (1453–1922).

While going around the city, this was one of the songs I'd listen to:

 


Highlights of my trip:

-I've always had good impression of the people and places I have visited and every country has its way of being hospitable to travelers. And Istanbul is not an exemption. Nice, helpful, and hospitable people (at least those that I met during my 24-hour stay but really the Turkish are famous for their hospitality). I got lost how many times on the streets and people were just helpful.

-Beautiful scenery (Istanbul is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen)

-Boat ride from the European side of th city to the Asian side. It's cheap! So I've been to 2 continents in one trip; 2 continents visited in 2 hours!

-Bought some t-shirts and other souvenir items at the Grand Bazaar, the largest covered marketplace in th world

 

 

I took some photos with my disposable camera. Not quite happy with the results but here they are. At least, I've got some souvenirs of this beautiful city!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


KL161
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Date: 27 March 2005
Dep: Istanbul Ataturk International (IST)
Boarding Time: 1614
Dep Time: 1700
Load: 100%
Seat: 02A
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 737
Weather during take off: Sunny but cold
Arr: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Weather during landing: Broken clouds, scattered rain shower

 

During my second day, I woke up early to make the most of my visit. I went to Uskudar on the Asian side and took a ride in the ferry that plied the Bosphorus. But then again I had to hurry because at around 4PM the plane will leave. And because of too much security measures at the airport, I had to be there at least 3 hours before departure. That means I had only 4 hours to go around but I think I saw a lot.

 

I took a taxi to the airport. I had a fast driver...so fast we almost crashed!

 

The flight to Amsterdam with KLM was nice. The staff were more accommodating and friendly.

 

When I arrived in Amsterdam, I met up with my colleague who just flew in from Athens. We would fly together to Manila.

KL0803
KLM Royal Dutch airlines

Date: 27 March 2005
Dep: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Boarding Time: Not indicated
Dep Time: 2030
Load: 95%
Seat: 02A
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Weather during take off: Cold
Arr: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Weather during landing: Hot and humid

 

Nice experience that I'll never forget. Thanks France and Turkey.

 

I felt bad that my first trip to Istanbul was only for 24 hours (though the Turkish Embassy gave me a visa for 15-day stay in Turkey) because it was only a sidetrip so I had to rush back to Manila to work. Istanbul deserves at least a week. But will visit it again...



publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:18
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Sexta-feira, 11 de Março de 2005
My first time with Boeing 777-200 (KLM): Manila-Amsterdam

Flight information:


KL0804
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Date: 11 March 2005
Dep: Manila Ninoy Aquino International (MNL)
Gate: 12
Boarding Time: 2130
Dep Time: 2230
Load: 95%
Seat: 03C
Class: Business
Aircraft: Boeing 777-200
Arr: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Weather during landing: Snowy
----------------------------------

AF3445
Regional

Date: 12 March 2005
Dep: Amsterdam Schiphol (AMS)
Boarding Time: 0815
Dep Time: 0855
Load: 85%
Seat: 07A
Class: Monoclass
Aircraft: Embraer 135
Weather during take off: Freezing and some snow
Arr: Bordeaux Merignac (BOD)
Weather during landing: Chilly



B777-200ER of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (by Marcus Adank of photos.aero)



Embraer 135 of Air France Regional (by Yu Ming of airliners.net)


Our team went to France for a training for almost a month......

Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport

The company provided us a service to and from the airport. I went to the airport reasonably early because I didn't really want to be late. I'm never late when it comes to checking-in but this time there's more reasons not to be late:
 

  • first time to fly business
  • first time to fly on B777-200ER


I have been sort of immersing myself with this flight and I've saved all types of pictures of the B777-200ER in my PC. I even had it as my wallpaper. I love this aircraft. Especially the front view, I love the look of this aircraft! It drives me nuts! And the engines! And we're not yet talking about the longer version which is the B777-300ER and is more sexy actually.

Anyway, when I got to the airport I gave some tip to the driver and went in to the crappy departure hall of NAIA 1. I saw my colleagues at the KLM check-in counter. There was a bit of commotion though. One of them asked if I wanted to be downgraded to economy class but get compensated with a flight voucher or choose to stay in business class. Apparently, the delegates from the French Ministry of Trade or something were on that flight too and sure they were occupying the business class seats so the check-in agents were asking some business class passengers willing to be downgraded. Anyway, to make it short, I did not accept the offer. I stayed in business class. I have not had the chance to fly business before and what if the plane would crash? LOL! At least, I would have had the chance to fly business, hehehehehe.

Alright, here's the thing with flying business. I don't really mind flying business or first class. But if I am the one paying for it? Never. I am quite content as a budget traveler; as economy class passenger. Why do I pay double the price just to experience more legroom and better food and better in-flight entertainment? Flying alone and being inside the aircraft per se are some forms of entertainment for me already: looking at the blue skies, the clouds, the aerial views of cities and countryside...the roar of the engines.......take off...landing......turbulence.....what more can I ask for during the flight?

Anyway, it's a question of choice (and sometimes not even a choice because many companies send their employees abroad and have them fly biz class). I am not complaining, hehehehehe.

After check-in we went to the business class lounge. I don't know the name but I think it was Sampaguita Lounge. We ate something and had some drinks. I don't have point of comparison because it was the first I got into a business class lounge at any airport.

After an hour, we went down to the gate for boarding. The first time I saw the B777-200ER, I did not find it that big, at least in that angle. It was not as huge as I saw in pictures. Actually, the size of an aircraft is tricky depending on the angle. But in reality, the B777 is really huge.

I got an aisle seat. The legroom was abviously ample and in-flight entertainment was apparently cool. The food? I don't remember. No big deal. Then I slept and asked the steward to wake me up for breakfast. I also noticed that in business class, all flight attendants were all male, on that flight at least.

There was some mild turbulence for some minutes above Russia but that was it; only to add some spice to the flight. It was a lovely flight and it landed in Amsterdam smoothly, the smoothest landing I've ever experienced so far.

I was one of the first to get out of the plane. Passed through passport control and went straight to my favourite spot in Schiphol airport. I had some taste of planespotting for a while. I did not waste my time at the lounge.

 

Time to board the plane bound for Bordeaux, in France. A bus took us to the other side of the terminal and it was snowing! And after a couple of minutes there it was, the Embraer 135 waiting for us in all its glory! Afff, going out of the bus was a pain because it was too cold and snowing and there was no airbridge.

The Embraer 135 is configured 3-abreast with 1-2 seat configuration. It's kinda claustrophobic though but it's OK. It was an Embraer jet and I am a fan of Embraer.

I think we used the Polderbaan for take off because the plane taxied for some minutes before the take off roll. Polderbaan is 3,800m long and 75m wide runway. This is located 2,100 north of Zwanenburgbaan, the 01L-19R runway. The northern tip of the runway is approximately 7km from the airport's control tower. The take off was powerful but due to my fear of heights, I was kinda nervous being able to see almost both sides of the plane as it climbed up (it pretty sums up how "thin" the aircraft is).

Landing in Bordeaux was smooth and our luggage and other stuffs were waiting for us when we got to the terminal. Overall, it was a nice journey from Manila to Bordeaux via Amsterdam.


Some photos of Bordeaux and the neighboring towns (taken from websites).

I would love to live in Bordeaux. The people were nice and it's a cool place, not too big but not too small.



Place de la Bourse (by anonymous photographer)



Some street at the centre of the city (by anonymous photographer)



St. Emilion (by anonymous photographer)



St. Emilion (by anonymous photographer)



publicado por Sadiri Gonzales às 17:14
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