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Friday, July 1, 2011

Happy July! Time for a Recap!

I was bored because I have hours before my flight to Greece and the Courtyard Istanbul International Airport hotel (yeah it's a mouthfull) has free internet in the lobby so I decided to get on and write.

First of all my mom left to make her plane home in the middle of the night and I woke up feeling like a scared -year-old in a giant bed, in a giant room, all alone. What a loser! I'm really sad she left; we had a great time albeit with some travel ups and downs. To commemorate our experience I thought I'd write a blog that sums up my travels so far.

First of all, boy did mOcean luck out! You may or may not have noticed that I've being posting pictures in my mOcean T-shirt on their Facebook page For those of you who don't know I worked there before leaving on my Europe trip and I really really miss everyone. So I just wanted to give a shoutout to all the mOceanites!

Next I think I will go ahead and write some more hate-blog about Alitalia and the Milan Linate airport. Yes, I am TWO WEEKS into my trip and do those idiots have any idea where my bag is? NO! I'm pretty much over it although I'm going have some trouble when I come home in two months to a completely empty underwear drawer. Sigh. I strongly recommend two things from this experience: 1) No matter how long you are traveling for just pack a carry-on. No you do not need that third dress - TRUST ME. You will like it a lot less when you have NOTHING. 2) Avoid Milan airport and Alitalia within an inch of your life. The Milan airport lost and found literally doesn't have a phone number so you can't reach them no matter how much you wheel and deal with other departments. You literally have to show up at the Milan airport in order to speak to one of them. As for Alitalia? They are REALLY good at sending meaningless telelexs to the lost baggage department that are completely ignored. Do they step up more than that? No, because once you've booked your ticket they don't give a shit about you.

Ahh I feel better. Now to rip apart my hotels. The Hotel La Colonnina was amazing. Our room, our beds, our shower, our terrace, all amazing. Selene (sorry if I'm spelling that wrong) is hands down the best hotel staffer that I have ever meet in my 26 years of traveling to over 16 different countries. If you are looking for someone to run your company fly to Monterosso and pick her up regardless of the price tag. She will make you rich. She is pleasant, smart, and will do EVERYTHING in her power to help you - including offering up her own mother to stop at the courier service to look for our bags.

Next, the Esans Hotel had the second most amazing hotel staff and I include all of them in this but especially Engin who tireless helped us in our bag search, made sure we were always stuffed with Turkish tea, and that our stay in Istanbul was full of adventure. I highly recommend this hotel although their beds could be softer and their blinds thicker.

As for the Local Cave House hotel, they are luckily it is made from stone or some angry guest is going to burn it down. The owner (Harun I think?) was terrible and his sidekick was scary (for those of you who have been reading along, yes, I refer to Creepy Guy). It was one of the worst run hotels I've ever seen since the disaster hotel in Thailand. They forgot us at the airport (you HAVE to have an airport pickup from Kayseri or you are spending the night there), they forgot our 4am wakeup call for our hot air balloon ride (I still sympathize for the people riding next to me in the balloon who had to smell my morning breath), and later I found out they'd charged us TWICE was everyone else paid for the same balloon. NEVER STAY THERE.

Since Harun's hotel was so awful (I should call it the Horror Hotel instead) we booked everything else in Cappadocia through Rose Tours. You have to haggle with them to get the best price but they are a very reliable tour company with great guides. A small shoutout to Mehmet here - give him a raise and a day off, he rocks!

Moving on to Pamukkale, we have the Melrose House Hotel, which was by far the prettiest, most relaxing hotel so far. I arrived in tears thanks to the angry airport man and my knight in shining armour, Selami, came to my rescue. He was a great host and the hotel was fabulous. One small note here is that they only clean the room every other day unless you specifically ask so keep that in mind. Otherwise, the rooms were very high quality for the price, the location was a little far but walkable to the sites, and we even got a bonus terrace! I would definitely stay here again.

And finally we have the Courtyard Marriot which had by far the softest bed in Turkey (finally!) and free internet although I miss my free breakfast. It was also the most expensive but eh that was expected. Mom is a sneaker and stole the Marriot points but she did have to be at the airport at 3am so I forgave her.

To wrap up, I'll leave you with my overall travel thoughts. I've been traveling Europe for two weeks now and I am hardly satiated even after all the trials I've been put through. Traveling really is in my blood. As Steinbeck would say, "Once a bum always a bum." How true that is. I've been excited by how close my mom and I got on this stint of my trip. I've also found that human beings really can get through anything if you have the right attitude. True losing your bag isn't even in the ballpark of losing a pet, a house or a parent, but losing your bag does strip you of any comfort. You don't realize how much of a comfort your bag is (filled with the clothes, products and memories you know) until it's lost to you. But I've found that living off the land ("hording hotel bathroom products") can be exciting! And you feel like a true travel with only a backpack on your back. If ever you want to truly test yourself I dare you to travel with three outfits and only what the hotel provides in the way of toiletries. It's a whole new way to travel.

And with that I'm off to enjoy the luxurious pool provided by this establishment to see if there is any skin left to burn. See you in Greece!

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