It's time to take off again! Come Sunday I head for a whole week of luxurious sojourning in Istanbul, Salzburg and Vienna :) It's my third trip to Vienna, second to Salzburg and the very first to Istanbul, a city that I have longed to see forever.
I have transited in and out of Istanbul a couple of times - on my way back from Venice once and travelling to and from Madrid last year. But this is the first opportunity I have had of exploring the ancient city, which has been the imperial capital of several great empires - from the Roman to the Ottoman. And I am so looking forward to it!
One of the highlights of this trip is going to be the Business Class experience on Turkish Airlines. I have had a taste of it on the Spain trip, and I was mighty impressed. Getting bumped up to Business, especially when you're used to flying Economy, is quite a treat. Having said that, the Economy experience of Turkish Airlines is also far superior than on most other airlines that operate the India-Europe sector.
Back to the Business Class experience with Turkish Airlines.
I loved the chic black reclining seats, which convert to fully flat beds - one of the few times I have had a good nights' sleep on a flight! The storage unit in the front is great for keeping my purse within reaching distance, without having to open the overhead hatch (and troubling my co-passengers).
The entertainment selection is also quite large, and I have spent my flights watching movies I have missed in the cinemas, and reruns of my favourite sitcoms. On one of the flight legs, I had a faulty headpiece, which made the most atrocious noise when I turned on the entertainment system. A quick word with the stewardess and I had a replacement immediately. I have always felt that Turkish Airlines' staff provide impeccable service, and it's reinforced every time I fly with them - another reason I'm looking forward to heading to Istanbul.
Istanbul's Atatürk Airport is quite huge and can be quite chaotic, especially since Turkish Airlines flies to more than 250 destinations, half of which are to various European cities. Pro tip: I have found that Turkish Airlines usually have the best-priced tickets from India to Europe.
I love Istanbul airport's bustling shopping area, especially the shop Old Bazaar, which is designed to look like the Grand Bazaar. Here you can find some good quality souvenirs and, of course, some fabulous lokum (Turkish delight) and baklava to bring back home.
Turkish Airlines' CIP Lounge for Business Class passengers is a haven of tranquility in an otherwise busy airport. It's spread over two floors, with different lounge areas, most of which are awash with natural light from the full-length windowpanes all around.
There are private relaxation lounges, showers (the bathrooms have some fancy toiletries), play area for kids, a billiards table, a simulated golf course, and my favourite of all, a library.
The buffet has a wide selection of hot and cold dishes, and the coffee counter serves an excellent Turkish coffee.
As food writer and blogger, I have always had a grouse with airline food. Many a times the onboard meal is an inedible mess. But on Turkish Airlines, I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of meals. On the Istanbul-Madrid leg we had a 'Flying Chef' who took our orders and served us - it was like being seated in a restaurant; it takes the in-flight meal experience to a whole different level.
We begin with a welcome lokum (a sweet start to the flight) followed by a juice. Then comes the first course, usually a mezze platter with cheese, olives, fruits, a cold salad etc.
The main course is also varied - I had different selections on all my flights - a beautiful fillet of sea bass once, a hot, utterly delicious Shepherd's pie another time... Desserts are the best part of the meal - a chocolate mascarpone bar or perhaps a fruity parfait. There's a large beverage menu as well, and I love having a nice French wine to go with my meal.
Is it any wonder I'm looking forward to my next flight with Turkish Airlines?!
Follow along on my Istanbul-Salzburg-Vienna trip - on Twitter or Instagram - and stay updated as I bring you the best of Turkish & Austrian luxury!
Have you travelled with Turkish Airlines? How has been your experience? Leave us a comment below.
Disclosure: My flights to and from Madrid were courtesy Turkish Airlines. Opinions my own.
Labels: Austria, Ciragan Palace Kempinski, Europe, Hotel Sacher, Istanbul, Italy, Salzburg, Spain, Turkish Airlines, Vienna