Sunday, September 6, 2015

Seven Cities in Two Weeks: Amazing Race Manila, Singapore, Istanbul, Athens, Hydra, Mati and KL

If the title of this blog post has sort of made you crazy, just imagine how I feel after surviving all of that, in two weeks no less, with a million stories to tell... but since I don't have time for it now, here's a taste of what happens when play and work collide. Hahaha.

But let me start this post with a caveat. When I initially planned to go on holiday for a little over a week to Turkey and Greece, I had no idea I would be moving to a new role just shortly before my vacation. I also had no idea that it would be a travelling role. Hahaha.

For a while, I even briefly considered giving up my vacation if only I could have my ticket transferred to someone else but since there were also no takers, I'm glad I decided to take it instead.

So here's the condensed version of my amazing race last 2 weeks.

We left Manila on an evening flight to Istanbul via Singapore, so we will start the vacation with our first day in Istanbul.

Day 1 0 The AirBNB Experience from Hell. Seriously.
We arrived at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport with no issues, pick up was smooth, arranged by our AirBNB no-good host, who's is a property manager peddling his flats in AirBNB.
It was only when we got to the flat did we realize (they did NOT tell us)
that they were giving us a smaller flat that what we rented.
The guy in the white shirt was the good for nothing landlord's representative,
After two hours of arguing and a lot of stress, we finally booked ourselves into a nearby hotel. More on this in a separate post. Let's just say, I couldn't believe it was happening to us after all my positive AirBNB experiences.

After that, we did a lot of stress eating. Finding a nice hotel nearby, in a much better location definitely helped energize us. Good thing getting on the Big Bus Istanbul Tour was also very low maintenance.

Day 1 Sightseeing around Old Istanbul
I decided to restart the vacation here. Hahaha.
Hagia Sophia as seen from the Blue Mosque
Bosphorus Bridge connecting Europe (where we were) and Asia
It still thrills me, that you just need to cross the bridge to cross continents.

Day 2 Shopping at the Grand Bazaar
If I were to be honest, my bucket list didn't just say Turkey or Istanbul. It says - Shop at the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul! It's very, very touristy, but nothing that a professional shopaholic like me can't handle - so watch out for my post on Grand Bazaar Shopping Tips!

Day 3 Crossing Over to Asia
While the rest of our group went on a fly in fly out day tour of Cappadocia (which didn't interest me), I decided to cross over and visit Asia through the water instead.
It rained so hard, I got stranded in Asia!
I loved the hustle and bustle of Kadikoy Market. Good shopping too!
Much cheaper for souvenirs than the Grand Bazaar!

Day 4 Fly to Athens where we were welcomed by another AirBNB Nightmare. Seriously. Why?!? Why was this happening to us?
Our scary apartment in the Psyri Area.
Well. If only our landlady welcomed us as agreed, we wouldn't have freaked out.

Day 5 Things were right in my world again. 
The Agora, with shops open was within (far) walking distance.
I finally got a local sim so I had mobile data.
And since I've been to Athens before I was happy enough
to do my sightseeing from the shade.

Day 6 Shopping in Athens Day
Yes, I hoarded the Pink Salt and the sandals.

Day 7 Greek Island - here we come!!! But since we didn't have enough time for Santorini, we decided to take the ferry to Hydra instead... just like a local. (Thanks to friends Thodoris and Sonia for their recommendations)
Even from the Port, you can already see that it's beautiful.
With the sunset glow.
There are no cars allowed so you either walk...
Or ride the pony.
Day 8 We found a private beach off San Nikolas.
Camping out under the rocks is so much better than
paying for a 3Euro beach chair beside 100 other people.
Day 9 Seaside Resort Village of Mati
I honestly thought we were already transiting on our way home, so I just chose a hotel closer to the airport. It was such a pleasant surprise to realize that we were staying at a nice seaside hotel. Perfect day to wind down from the vacation before heading back.

Day 10 Fly back to Singapore via Istanbul 
No highlights, unless you count Melatonin on the plane.

Day 11 Hello Singapore!
Yes, we arrived at 5am, had breakfast at the airport, headed to Ikea, did some shopping, then flew to Manila on the 2pm flight. How's that for efficiency. The sad part is, I was back at Changi less than 24 hrs after I left it.

Touchdown Manila!!!
So happy to have a few hours with this little one!

Day 12 I was on the first flight to Singapore. Seriously. The one you need to get up at 5:00am to catch.
Look at the bright side. Karl had an errand, so I was able
to quickly secure 4 containers of Salted Egg Potato Chips!
After a quick lunch at Aston's, my favorite lunch place at MBC from my
Singapore days, we just went straight to the meeting, then to the airport.
Off to KL! I think at this point I was sleeping more on
the plane than on a bed.
Day 13 Full day meeting and Trade Visits in KL, but glad to have time to meet up with all my KL-based friends for dinner.

Day 14 After a full day session in KL, I flew to Singapore just in time for a late dinner with Tim.
Winner Black Angus RibEye, with Steak Rice, Foie Gras Satay and Foie
Gras with Truffle Poached Egg.

Day 15 Had an early morning meeting at the Singapore Office, then I rushed to the airport to fly home to Manila, got stuck for more than an hour waiting for the traffic to move at the Worst Airport in the World, NINOY AQUINO International Airport, but finally made it in time to dinner at Jipan. Not Japan. Hahaha. Hindi na kaya ng powers ko yun.
Sadly, Sof was too tired to join us.
So after eating I rushed home to her!!!
There you have it! So many more stories to tell. This is just a teaser. I was so tired, but I wouldn't trade my life for anything else. just saying.

No comments:

Post a Comment