ckblah
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Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:48 pm

Before the flight

This trip report covers my trip in Turkey, passing through Istanbul, Cappadocia, Pamukkale and Selçuk. It starts with the EasyJet flight from Izmir to London Gatwick followed by the sights of the above mentioned places.

Istanbul, with the silhouettes of Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topaki Palace

Ferrying between continents became my new favourite hobby. The sight of domes and minarets soaring into the horizon; an elderly Turk sipping çay (tea) on the ferry boat; seagulls flapping their wings escorting the ferry as it makes its umpteen trip between Asia and Europe is just to die for. Ah, the wonders of Istanbul, Turkey.


Çay

Fast forward 10 days, and I am on the train linking Selçuk and Izmir, passing by the Izmir airport en route. The train wasn't my first choice. How I ended up taking the train perhaps deserve some screen time here.

It started with me getting lost on my way to the Temple of Artemis in Selçuk, Turkey. Only knowing a couple of words in Turkish, I attempted to ask for directions. First person, waved his hand signaling for me to leave him alone as he doesn't speak English. Second person, an elderly Turkish man. 'You're on the wrong road, head back to the previous road and turn right. After you're done, come back here and we'll have a cup of tea.'

After visiting the (ruins of the) Temple of Artemis, I encountered the kind elderly Turkish man again and on his insistence, sat for a cup of tea. Which in retrospect, was perhaps one of my luckiest decision. I asked him what's the best way to get from Selçuk to the Izmir airport, to which he replied the train. I was pretty surprised, as the train ran six times daily, and being the paranoid I am, taking the last train which reaches the airport at 830pm for my 1030pm flight just doesn't make me feel secure. The other train service would reach the airport at 4pm. So I asked about the bus service which runs hourly.

To which he replied, 'The bus doesn't stop at the airport but 2km away. You'll have to take a taxi from the bus stop. Good planning doesn't happen often in Turkey, this is one rare instance, take the train.'

This set all the alarm bells in my head ringing. I was dead set on the taking the bus, but now I guess some asking is in order. Checking with the people at the bus station, it turns out that the bus really doesn't stop at the airport but 2km away. Unsure of how I am going to make my way from that bus stop to the airport, I decided on the train. Best decision on the trip.


Selçuk train station


Selçuk train station

Fast forward 2 days, and I'm at the train station waiting for the train. 1510, and pulled into the platform. Boarded, threw my (dusty and possibly dirty) backpack to the side and got myself a seat. The train sped through the countryside and reached the airport in an hour's time. The train station is linked to the airport by covered walkways and travelators.


Inside the very comfortable train


Train speeding through the countryside


Train speeding through the countryside


Train speeding through the countryside

One has to go through a security check at the entrance of the airport. Izmir's airport has a high ceiling which makes it really airy. There are a few cafes at the check-in area, including Cafe Nerro. I settled down at one of the other cafes and plugged my MacBook into the power supply which entertained me for the next 4 hours before check-in at the EasyJet counter opened.


High ceiling, making it really airy in the Izmir airport


FIDS, Izmir is well connected to the airports in Turkey, with some international departures. Notably, to quite a few cities in Germany (via Sun Express) and of course London Gatwick (via EasyJet)

The check-in counter opened at 810pm with a long queue. The queue moved relatively quickly and in no time, it was my turn to check in. The check-in agent and the subsequent border control officer were evidently flipping through my passport to look for the Turkey tourist visa but quite surprised that my Singapore passport did not require a visa to enter Turkey.

The duty free selection at the airport was decent, and the whole airport gave a very clean and efficient feeling. Pre-flight security checks were conducted at the gate. The holding area was definitely sufficient for a light load.


Right before the security check of the gate
 
ckblah
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RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Sat Mar 31, 2012 1:49 pm

Flight

Apologies for the lack of photos as it's a typical EasyJet flight so I didn't feel the need to take any.

Flight number: EZY8726
Route: Izmir Adnan Menderes Airport - London Gatwick Airport (ADB-LGW)
Departure time: 2225
Arrival time: 0015 (+1)
Flight duration: 3h 50min

http://www.chinkeat.com/trip_report/turkey_tr/map.gif
Flight route, thanks to GCmap

An aerobridge was used to board the plane. Once onboard the plane, the FAs who were very friendly checked boarding passes and directed people to behind the wing. Apparently, the flight load is extremely light. There were close to 130 empty seats which really made me wonder how EasyJet was making money on this route. Perhaps the inbound sector had more passengers. Well, I didn't think too much, was just really happy that I had three exit row seats to myself. SCORE! 

The FAs made quite a few announcements asking passengers to move to the rear of the plane due to safety concerns. They also announced that passengers were free to take the whole row to themselves as there were about 130 empty seats. This has got to be one of flights with the lightest loads I have ever been on.

Boarding was completed and the plane pushbacked for the runway. Taxi was pretty short and soon we were near the runway ready for take off. We were held back as the airport was expecting a few arrivals. Soon after those arrivals, our plane got onto the runway and took off. Lift was pretty strong, due to the light load.

The flight was basically the typical EasyJet flight with BOB service. Flight was pretty smooth with some turbulence over France. Soon, the plane landed at London Gatwick and I began my long journey from the airport back home, which is near St Pancras in central London. The train ride from the airport to London Bridge and replacement bus service between London Bridge to St Pancras cost £9.90 and took about 1.5hrs. Not bad for a midnight service train!

[Edited 2012-03-31 07:00:37]

[Edited 2012-03-31 07:01:23]
 
ckblah
Topic Author
Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:08 am

RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Sat Mar 31, 2012 2:17 pm

Before I forget, here is a list of my previous trip reports:
CX HKG-SIN Y, Delay After Delay (pics) (by ckblah Aug 1 2010 in Trip Reports)
Air China, Beijing Guilin Shanghai Summer Hols (by ckblah Jul 16 2010 in Trip Reports)
Journey To The Roof Of The World, Tibet. LXA - PEK (by ckblah Oct 11 2010 in Trip Reports)

ISTANBUL

Oh Istanbul, the only city in the world straddling two continents. Separated by the Bosphorus, the city is simply amazing. I simply love traveling by ferry boats from Kadköy to Eminönü. It's on this ferry that the domes and minarets of the mosques would be revealed soaring into the horizon.


Love Istanbul

One of my favourite areas of Istanbul is the Galata bridge which spans the Golden Horn. There would be lots of people fishing and no one cares that you're a tourist. It's where the city comes alive, for me at least.


Galata bridge, with loads of people fishing

Stay tuned, more to follow.
 
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TupolevTu154
Posts: 1931
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RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Sat Mar 31, 2012 6:00 pm

Quoting ckblah (Thread starter):
There were close to 130 empty seats which really made me wonder how EasyJet was making money on this route

If you were on an A320 there would have only been 50 passengers, which certainly is a nice light load on a 180 seat aircraft! It was empty because it was one of the first flights of the season, it's not unusual for first flights of the year to go out and come back almost empty until later on.

What date did you fly?

As for Istanbul, I also love that city! Simply awesome.
 
ckblah
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Posts: 58
Joined: Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:08 am

RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:18 pm

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 3):
If you were on an A320 there would have only been 50 passengers, which certainly is a nice light load on a 180 seat aircraft! It was empty because it was one of the first flights of the season, it's not unusual for first flights of the year to go out and come back almost empty until later on.

What date did you fly?

I flew on the 27th of March, it's either an A320 or A319. Regardless, most individuals had 3 seats to themselves while couples shared the three seats between the two of them. But yea, considering it's the low season, I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise.

Would love to go to Istanbul again!  
 
ckblah
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Posts: 58
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RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Sun Apr 01, 2012 4:18 pm

Post-Istanbul


Map of route

After visiting Istanbul, it was time to head south. The map above shows the essential route I took around Turkey. A: Istanbul; B: Cappadocia; C: Pamukkale; D: Selçuk.

Overnight bus rides were quite the value for money mode of transport between A and B, and B and C. Just hop on, inflated my neck pillow and slept till I reached the destination the next morning, saving both time and money (on a night's accommodation) in the process.

Cappadocia

After an 11hour bus ride from Istanbul, and a 30mins service bus shuttle, I was in Göreme, Cappadocia, Turkey. If you haven't been, please do visit! The rock formations are amazing, and very harsh landscape. It really makes one wonder why and how people lived in this area. The underground cities and the many churches built in the cavities of the rock formations is just amazing.

Weird rock formations

Weird rock formations

Weird rock formations

Pamukkale

After Cappadoccia, it was another overnight bus ride to Pamukkale - the land of the cotton mountains. Don't let the word 'cotton' fool you as the calcium lakes were anything bus soft and fluffy. At Pamukkale, one could actually walk on the calcium lakes, and honestly, my feet were hurting a bit at the beginning as the calcium formations were dry and hard. But as I walked up the hill, which was pretty high imo, the parts which had water in them were pretty soft. Wriggled my toes and saw the calcium sediments floating all around the lake. Fun stuff! The theatre at the Hierapolis was simply HUGE. It was quite a sight.

Calcium lakes

Calcium lakes

Calcium lakes

Theatre of Hierapolis

Selçuk/Ephesus

Selçuk/Ephesus was the very last stop of my Turkey trip. Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor in the Roman empire. Befitting of a capital, huge ruins were left. The Ephesus ruins were simply huge and definitely warrants a visit. Unfortunately, the Temple of Artemis didn't have much left. The Basilica of St John was still quite spectacular as it's perched on a hilltop.

Theatre of Ephesus

Library of Celsus

Street in Ephesus

Basilica of St John

Basilica of St John



This brings me to the end of my trip report. Hope you guys enjoyed reading it as I relived my trip. Feel free to follow me on twitter here.

Cheers,
CK
 
buck3y3nut
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RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:28 pm

You have some amazing pictures... A great eye for photography. Enjoyed the pictures a lot.
Cheers  
 
gabrielchew
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RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:26 pm

Great photos of Turkey - I'd like to go back again sometime. Nice that your U2 flight was so empty, and that the crew suggested taking empty row. I guess on FR the crew would have put all the tray tables down and squshed everyone into a few seats around row 20....
http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights: AMS-RIX-BUD-VDA,ETH-TLV-FCO-LHR,STN-TXL-LCY,LTN-CPH-LTN,LGW-SZG,MUC-LHR
 
ckblah
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Posts: 58
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RE: Post-whirlwind-Turkey-trip: Izmir - London Gatwick

Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:03 pm

Quoting buck3y3nut (Reply 6):
You have some amazing pictures... A great eye for photography. Enjoyed the pictures a lot.

Thank you!

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 7):
Nice that your U2 flight was so empty, and that the crew suggested taking empty row. I guess on FR the crew would have put all the tray tables down and squshed everyone into a few seats around row 20....

I think it was a safety concern so they were really trying to incentivise spreading people around the whole cabin so as to balance the weight distribution. Haha..

Cheers,
CK

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