After hearing many enthusiastic reports of Istanbul, we booked a vacation to Turkey. And, because we booked using United MileagePlus miles (which allows you to have one stopover and one open jaw for free!), we pieced together a three-day stopover in Lisbon, Portugal. We flew from Charleston to Dulles then on to Istanbul.
Our first experience with Turkish Airlines, albeit in economy, was fantastic. Both the service and food were much better quality than any U.S.-based airline’s transatlantic flight. The entertainment did leave a bit to be desired as the “new releases” offerings included “The Man with One Red Shoe”, starring Tom Hanks circa 1985.
After spending several days exploring the unique mix of culture that is Istanbul–from the 4,000 shops at the Grand Bazaar, to experiencing a real Turkish hamam, to passing from Europe to Asia and back again all within an hour–we continued to the Nevsihir region with a destination of the small, stone-cave town of Goreme. The thing to do there is hot air ballooning above the historic caves carved into the stone mountains. It truly was the sight of a lifetime.
After a visit to an underground city, our time in Turkey was over and we hopped back on our award flight to Lisbon, Portugal–a world away from the spices and colors of Turkey–but an equally vivid one, nonetheless. Because Portugal shares the Iberian Peninsula with their (much larger) neighbor, Spain, its nationalism and sense of pride in Portuguese traditions is very, very strong. Lisbon is the smallest European capital city and, because of its small size and nationalistic pride, it’s our favorite European capital we’ve visited. The warm weather, bright colors, streetcars chugging up hilly, cobble-stoned streets and Fado music trickling from every open window made our short time in Lisbon extra enjoyable and we remember it as a city where we’d happily call home one day.
Jeffrey & McCown
FFP miles spent:
Hotel points spent:
0, booked with cash
Airline(s) / Routing:
CHS-IAD [UA], IAD-IST [TK], ASR-IST-LIS [TK], LIS-LHR [TP], LHR-IAD-CHS [UA]
Originally online, then phone.
Type of award(s):
Grand Peninsula Hotel, Istanbul; Kismet Cave House, Goreme; Lisbon Story Guesthouse, Lisbon
Month/year of trip: