Istanbul, a Few Photos a Day – Installment 4

Well, time to add some more photos from Istanbul.   Hopefully, by seeing those images you will develop an interest in visiting this incredible diverse and full of history city. This time around will share with you images from

  • Bomonti (the new part of the city) situated on a hill overlooking the ancient area with Hagia Sophia, Topkapi…
  • Hagia Sophia – just a few images and then will get to a story about this incredible church converted to a mosque – in subsequent posting
  • Topkapi – the sultan’s palace for several centuries – another site that will have its own posting soon enough here

Istanbul-Bomonti

Turkey-Istanbul-Old-City

Church-Mosque-Unesco-HeritageUnesco-Heritage-Church-Mosque

Sultan-Palace-Istanbul

This is a continuation of several previous installments…Enjoy!

Sunsets in Austin – Incredible…

I have lived in Austin for almost 14 years (my family and I were out of the country for a couple of years in the middle of those years)….I think the sunsets of Austin are one of the memorable things about this great city.   Take a look:

Austin-Beautiful-Sunset

Amazing-Austin-Sunset

Amazing-Austin-Sunset-Colors

 

Business Travel and European Hotels

I believe I have always paid attention to cultural differences in various parts of the world.  My career and the nature of my job have been very important factor in allowing me to see various countries (many of them on multiple occasions) and interact and experience their subtle or major differences.  Admittedly, I am not exactly someone with a fixed and stable origins and background – my own life has developed over the years across three continents and in several countries – you can say – major identity crisis – but one thing I have had as a common experience – that has been my last 20+ years in hi-tech companies in the US with occasional long term or short term stints overseas (besides just business trips)

Long introduction to my posting – but I thought it will be important to establish a point of reference.

In my travels, I have stayed in many hotels – many of them chains (Hilton, IHG, Sheraton, Marriott, Hyatt, Shangri-La, La’Meridien….) and many boutique ones.

My latest trip which included hotel stays in both major chains – Hilton (at CDG-Paris) and JW Marriott (Bucharest) – and boutique ones: Auberge Du Pecheur (in Ghent, Belgium),Germany-Boutique-HotelLandaus Am See (in Garbsen, Germany), and Prinzregent (Munich, Germany).

I was very surprised to conclude that while on business the European traveller does not care to conduct business in their respective hotel rooms.   Why do I say that?  Well, empirical evidence from multiple hotels across multiple European countries !   All the hotels that I listed above with the exception of the JW Marriott in Bucharest, Romania, had one MAJOR flaw where business travel is concerned – the only telephone that one could find in the rooms was right next to the bed and with a short cord on top of that.

So here is the scenario – in my multi-year experience – when you are traveling on business there are two things that ALWAY happen:

  1. You have plenty of business related meetings during the day
  2. When you return to your hotel room you inevitably have to check tons of emails (that have accumulated while you were at the business events) and in most days you would have a conference call with the home office or another office of the most likely global company you work with.

Now, what do you do if you have a business related conference call?   Well usually, you would like to

a) have a good work area / desk for your laptop and a comfortable seating – hm….how about the hotel desk and chair…

b) have a phone to use as most likely using your own mobile phone while roaming internationally for a hour or longer conference call could be expensive.

If you agree with the above setup – then guess how many hotels in my recent business trip in Europe offered those simple business related amenities …?   Well, I sort of already stated that – only ONE !!!

Following the train of thought then, what can one conclude – the usual traveller staying in these hotels is either (a) not a business traveller;   or (b) business travelers in Europe enjoy the stay in their hotel room for other purposes and not conducting business calls …

My experience from the stays in these hotels was definitely different – picture this – a person hunched over a telephone (due to its short cord) on a bed by a bedside table trying to balance a laptop with reference material… What an experience…..!   I would help you – not a pleasant one…

On the positive note – JW Marriott obviously cares…..!   Thank you JW Marriott staff…

Brussels-Hannover-plane Interesting-Hotel-Lille Paris-France  Lille-France-Hotel

Hilton Hotel in Paris Resorts to Duct Tape

Have you seen the (I believe) famous Canadian comedy show The Red Green Show?  I liked it a lot (10-15 years ago) – it was shown on PBS…The main character Red (Steve Smith) is the leader of Possum Lodge and a self-proclaimed handyman who is constantly extolling the virtues of duct tape (“the handyman’s secret weapon”).

Well, on my recent business trip to Paris I relived my happy memories of watching Mr. Red….but I also had the bad experience with the Hilton at CDG-Paris.

I arrived late (around 10pm) and checked in quickly into a nice room – exec room on the hotel’s 2nd floor.

In the morning though I had rather unpleasant experience when I tried to take a shower – the hotel shower = a handheld shower with a grip bar – turned out to be broken and fixed with….yes! you guessed it DUCT TAPE  (Mr. Red would haven been proud!)

There were two problems with that

a) the shower was broken and fixed by a questionable housekeeping handy person

b) with Duct Tape that would not hold the handshower in place as the water started flowing through it, the grip would release and the shower would fall to the floor….

Hilton -Charles De Gaulle   The Duct Taped Shower You can see the shower setup on these two photos I took with my iPhone – pretty interesting usage of duct tape after all…

I took a shower eventually – gasp! – by holding the handheld shower in one hand…not convenient but, hey, it is only a Hilton!!!  Not..!

Then, later that morning, the second surprise came about – I wanted to get to the airport.  The helpful front desk staff told me “Yes, of course – which airline?”  I told them “British Airways”.   The response was “Sure – terminal 2….please wait for the shuttle”.  I waited for about 20-minutes and finally the shuttle was there.  Well we boarded, and made it to the airport, but to Terminal 2E!!! We were told here you are for your flights….I asked them “Is British airways here?” the response was “yes”

Come to find out – indeed – BA was in Terminal 2 – but Terminal 2A…. A helpful airport employee smiled and said – “you better hurry…you have a bit of a walk ahead of you”

I guess I needed it – indeed, it took quite the walk to make it from 2E to 2A…. But my frustration was with the Hilton staff.   I bet there are plenty of guests who fly BA

Why not drive to the proper terminal to start with?   Hopefully someone from Hilton will see my gripe and do something about it.

British Airways Rude to Disbelief Flight Attendant

Air travel these days is definitely less than glamorous but on top of that it some cases it could be also very disappointing.  There have been many articles highlighting the fact that flight attendants are becoming increasingly frustrated with their jobs, but what happened to me 2 days ago on a British Airways flight BA307 from Charles de Gaulle (Paris) to London Heathrow, was very disappointing – I encountered a very rude flight attendant.

I boarded the plane pretty tired. Before we even took off, I had fallen asleep while also listening to music from my iPhone with noise cancelling headphones on.  Sometime later I woke up – just at the time when a flight attendant was passing small bags of potato chips (crisps) as snacks.  I picked up one and as I noticed that my seat mates had drinks on their seat tables – I asked for a glass of sparkling water.

What happened next was unbelievable – to me, and to my seatmates… The flight attendant – male, his name tag read ‘Alex’ – stared at me and uttered “Well, I asked you what would you like to drink several times a moment ago and you just ignored me…”

Really ? 

I have never heard this is my flying experience – this flight attendant was ready to spank me or worse !  Hate to see this dude if he was really annoyed …!

After he berated me with words – Alex (the flight attendant) just walked away…

I waited for a minute or two and I pressed the call button.   To my second surprise, nothing happened again!   

This is an incredible attitude and lack of service !

Saturday Night Live skit from several years ago is a perfect example of my experience – British Airways flight attendant must have taken a page our of SNL’s skit and applied incredibly successfully!

David spade was the  epitome of the BA flight attendant !!!!

We love to ignore you !  Is the motto for this British Airways crew member…!

Well folks, if you have had similar experience, feel free to post or drop a comment on this blog – I plan to aggregate and let BA know – all in all my experience was something no passenger on any reputable airline should have to experience!