Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by violist, Apr 2, 2014.  |  Print Topic

  1. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    UA 285 BOS IAD 0947 1131 320 21F

    In contrast to previous trips, when I seemed to have hit
    every available snow and thunderstorm, it appeared that I
    dodged pretty well. There was a backlog of passengers
    inconvenienced by previous weather, though, so my upgrade
    didn't even come close to clearing. I was double digits into
    the list. Even on the 320 this seat is decent, with enough
    legroom, and as my butt isn't that big, a 6-across is just
    fine. I leaned against the coldish exit door with its
    stubby armrest and slept a bit. I can't report on the
    quality of the service. I took a side trip to the club to
    get some e-mail and stuff done and then hunted down lili
    at her gate and convinced her to join me at the Lufthansa
    lounge, where Martell VSOP and some red abomination were
    poured freely by a pleasant but quizzical Arabic-looking
    staff. Is it intentional that a lot of these places have
    bartenders who don't drink (this is based not just on
    appearance, but also on inquiry)? Probably.

    Oh, yes, the lounge hadn't opened yet when we had first
    arrived so we went to Five Guys and had the usual, and
    it was the usual.

    Back to the low C concourse, where at boarding time
    nothing was ready, so I had my third club visit of the day.

    Eventually we returned to the gate and were loaded up;
    took off a bit late.

    UA 132 IAD MUC 1715 0740 764 5AB

    Predeparture Champagne wasn't too bad though probably not
    the real thing.

    I'd not tried the 2-1-2 business configuration on the 764
    before. To achieve this arrangement, the seats are angled
    outward (the center ones are angled left, I think), which
    is slightly peculiar though not unpleasant. The seats are
    a little spartan for a supposedly premium product, and as
    usual, the mechanisms are fragile - lili's seat was
    broken, which a FA knew exactly how to fix, so this must
    not be a rare occurrence. They're okay to sleep in, though,
    especially if you can sleep on your side.

    No in-flight audio except for the movie channels.

    Our flight attendants just seemed to be going through the
    motions and were absent pretty much except at mealtime.
    This can partially be excused because it's a redeye, but
    when my water glass hasn't been filled in two hours,
    something can be improved.

    My dinner was a pork chop with green peppercorn sauce,
    sided with shiitake bread pudding and white asparagus and
    broccolini. Other than the meat being trimmed of all fat
    and then cooked to the consistency of floor tile, and the
    sauce being made with some kind of industrial solvent,
    the food did the job and was followed, as food often is,
    by ice cream (vanilla). The starter had been two kinds of
    salmon. bad baked wrapped in okay smoked, with a sad
    little salad next to it. I think lili didn't eat, having
    had that burger and not being an aficionada of plane food.

    The wines were fine for everyday.

    Ch. Argadens 09 Bordeaux was kind of stemmy still but
    softish and okay on the palate. Not a whole lot of fruit,
    but that was fine with me, as big fruit isn't my style;
    I prefer balance, and this had it. Plus I wasn't drinking
    it, my seatmate was.

    I enjoyed the Selbach Riesling kabinett 12, sweetish
    and tartish with a balance of apple and pineapple; sort
    of what a moderately optimistic child might imagine wine
    to be like.

    I slept through the deli plate that came later.

    Even though we came in quite late, there was time for a
    leisurely breakfast at the lounge before our next flight.
    I ate some gummi bears and licorice allsorts; lili dared
    to try the real breakfast offerings, I think. Unfortunately,
    the regular beer was out, and they just had the Franziskaner
    Weiss, which I don't like, so I had nothing.

    It was a bit of a hoof to our next gate, but as it was still
    in the non-Schengen area, we got there in plenty of time to
    find a bunch of disgruntled Turks roaming the area. After a
    couple calming announcements in English and German (not in
    Turkish) we boarded.
  2. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    I had never done the 764 until December, and now having had it on two TATL flights I have to say I don't particularly like it. I suppose the middle seat is fine for a solo traveler, but the space for the feet is very cramped (I don't have giant feet), and I pretty much didn't sleep. And no audio ... when are they going to get that sorted out? I have my own iPod with music, but I sometimes like to listen to other stuff. Not the end of the world, but rather... embarrassing.

    No water bottle delivered to the seat?

    Looking forward to the rest of the trip report, as always!
    Newscience likes this.
  3. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The foot space isn't great, and if you're used to having some room
    to spread out (it's biz class after all) it may be too constricting.

    Audio was a big rolleyes.

    No water bottle. As I said, they just seemed to be going through
    the motions. The crew were better on the return.
    Newscience likes this.
  4. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    LH1780 MUC ADB 1105 1435 321 7BC

    We thought we'd have the row to ourselves, but at the last
    minute they boarded some standbys, and a pleasant Indianish
    woman took the window. Desultory conversation revealed that
    she was going to be in town for a conference (my father had
    come here for a conference back in the '70s or '80s and had
    liked it very much, so I envisioned this as New Orleans on
    the Aegean, which it isn't except for maybe the western-
    style shopping and entertainment districts).

    Lunch: pasta that lived up to its pastelike etymology with
    a sauce flavored with a similar industrial solvent to
    Continental's, but with tomatoes. I was hungry and ate it.
    Warsteiner beer; some red ink for her.

    Immigration was a snap, much easier than Istanbul, but
    finding the train station to get downtown not so. You go
    out, past a construction site, turn left and go down an
    unpromising-looking concrete path, and eventually it's
    there. A series of futile gestures and pathetic doggy
    eyes with a fistful of lira got us two tickets (with
    transfer at Hilal) to Basmane Station, five minutes' walk
    from our next destination, the well-reviewed Oglakcioglu
    Park Hotel, which is pleasant in a datedly 19th-century
    European way, small rooms, ornate lobby, and I guess
    you were expected to spend time downstairs.

    We had a cheap rate, so we got a small room with a view
    of a concrete wall. The quarters were too tight - one of
    those places where the twin beds and the double bed are
    the same, only the former are equipped with twin sheets.
    Anyhow, the bathroom was clean and the beds were comfy.

    It was still going to be light for a couple hours, so
    we wandered around town seeing the sights and smelling
    the smells; went to the souk, or whatever they call it,
    and the precincts of the Hisar Mosque (I was wearing my
    many eyeletted lace-up walking shoes so didn't bother
    going in), and then back whence we came but a few blocks
    to the south. The plan was to go out again within the
    neighborhood and find a sitdown restaurant, possibly
    the one at the hotel, which is supposed to have some of
    the best kebabs in town and Efes beer for only twice
    what it would cost out on the economy.

    So off we went, peering in my case very myopically at
    the restaurant menus and poking around the storefronts.
    It was still early, just getting dark, but one stall
    smelled somewhat better owing to having a wood-fired
    oven out front, so we parked there.

    I got the iskander kebab, lamb gyro meat and pita triangles
    smothered in tomato sauce and yogurt, with very fragrant
    (rather smelly) sheep butter poured over, which sort of put
    me off; this came with a small pile of generic pilaf that
    cut the dairy product adequately. lili didn't want lamb
    and so asked for a beef sandwich. This came as similar if
    not the same meat, dragged through the garden, on a hoagie
    roll. I tasted the filling, and it was also lamb, but she
    didn't mind it. After having had several bites she asked me
    if the lettuce was safe to eat. I guessed saying no would
    have caused a crisis, so I said that I thought so. Right
    answer - both reassuring and as it turns out accurate,
    thank the gods. To drink: she wanted a beer, so I asked the
    guy at the counter if they had it. Consternation. Of course
    not. So she got a bottle of water; I had some local soft
    drink, not interesting. The experience had been decent,
    wholesome, and cheap; all we really needed. A slightly
    better and fancier meal, or in fact one that had recently
    been kissed by the smoke of that wood out front, would have
    been welcome, but feeding two people to bursting for US$7
    with drinks, one can't complain.

    We were too tired to go out boozing afterward and turned
    in pretty early.
    Newscience and uggboy like this.
  5. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Breakfast was included. I forget anything about it.

    Though our stay had been perfectly fine, I'd been looking
    forward to a weekend at the Renaissance Izmir, less than a
    mile up the road, so we dragged our bags there and checked
    in. A quite nice circular atrium, polite staff, and a bar
    in what would have been the corner if there had been one.
    This also serves as the club lounge.

    As soon as we entered, some guy grabbed our traps, no ifs
    ands or buts. Though I am but Gold here, we were greeted
    like the king and queen of Spain and given the last room
    on the left on the corner of the seventh floor, a location
    I will long remember.

    The digs - gorgeous. The bathroom and luggage closet were
    about the size of the whole room at the other place. Then
    there was the bedroom and the semicircular sitting room
    with its view across the street to the park and Love St.;
    I thought lascivious thoughts, but this turned out to be
    just another street, though with nice palm trees - they say
    the most perfect in the city - lining it, so it's considered
    very romantic by the locals. Bathroom with a rain shower and
    a traditional dip bath; separate little toilet room half the
    size of the shower if that.

    lili said she could spend her entire weekend in the room.

    But the city called, and off we went. The chic neighborhood
    Alsancak didn't appeal right then, so we walked southward
    down the seaside Kordon (not the spiffiest part thereof and
    undergoing noisy, dusty renovations); found a place called
    Hayat that had a sandwich board that I seemed to understand
    some of.

    For L10 there was what seemed to be a special of fish and
    beer, and L20 got you a glass of wine and some lamb kebabs.

    So we sat down and had a pretty good and filling though
    unexpected meal. Again using my charm and impeccable
    communication skills I ordered our lunch.

    Salad and bread came first - perfectly respectable, enough
    for a full meal, truth be told.

    It took a long, long time for the food to come out. Not
    sure if they had to wake up the cook or find the ingredients
    or if they were trying to get us to order an extra drink.

    Well. I thought I was ordering fried fish. What came was a
    big pile of lamb liver cubes with French fries, some onions
    tossed in sumac (good) and even more greens. At least I got
    the beer right, and a frosty Efes was just the ticket. The
    liver was delicious, the fries good enough, and I could
    ignore that extra pile of lettuce. More than enough food.

    lili's lamb skewers were tasty, though the first one (of
    5 or 6) she tried was overcooked. The rest were fine. She
    also got those fries and lettuce but in addition was given
    a nondescript pilaf and some grilled hot peppers; she ceded
    me both, for which I was grateful. Her wine was worse than
    the Lufthansa wine.
    After the leisurely meal we walked around randomly, visiting
    the semi-beautiful Konak Square and its clock tower, which
    is impressive enough, but the real gem of the place is the
    little mosque on the east side of the plaza. The nearby
    waterfront has an interesting sculpture that looked to me
    like a whale skeleton but is supposed to be the ribs of a
    ship; any artistic intent is undone by little kids using it
    as a jungle gym and older kids scratching discreet graffiti
    on it. At some point we discovered that the Asansor, a 19th
    century elevator along the lines of and serving the same
    purpose as the ones in hilly Lisbon, was nowhere near where
    Google Maps said it should be, so we abandoned that idea.
    lili said going there was useless anyway, as there would be
    no view, given the clouds, and we didn't need a snack, as we
    had just eaten. So back through the souk and to the Agora,
    which are what remains of ancient Smyrna. The site could be
    a modest tourist attraction but is just being developed
    after millennia of neglect. I believe that one may enter
    for $5, but there was nobody to open the gate, and one can
    see most of the ruins by walking around the perimeter and
    peering through the fences and over the walls.

    We walked through one of the grubbier areas of town on our
    way back to the bustle of Konak and the hotel.

    It was time for a visit to the lobby bar, where we were told
    that only soft drinks, coffee, and tea were on offer until
    5:30, but this news was sweetened with some confectionery,
    a couple kinds of cookies and desserts made with dried fruit
    such as dates; none of the famous Smyrna figs, though.

    Our server was pleasant, and I gave her the standard fiver
    for tip.

    Now that I think of it, we saw no figs for sale in any of
    the markets or stalls in town, so it must not have been fig
    season for either fresh or dried. Lots of apricots, though,
    and mountains of beans, pulses, legumes all over the place.

    We went to our palace for a change and a washup, then back
    down for happy hour, 5:30 to 7, apparently the only time
    drinks are served here. Our cute waitress had been replaced
    by a kid in his early 20s, from whom we ordered an Efes dark
    and a glass of red wine, which was a respectablish
    Cappadocian product I think.

    Some crunchy snacks appeared, including these shriveled
    little pistachios of which the natives seem inordinately
    proud. We were invited to look at the buffet offering and
    have the kid serve us our choice.

    There were various tea sandwiches and canapes, breads,
    and cheese that included a local one that tasted familiar
    to me (I believe from some airplane or other) and that
    our server said was a famous local specialty and one that
    was just like what we call Armenian string cheese.

    For afters assorted pastries.

    A refill on drinks and snacks.

    A bit later another grumpyish old couple came in, apparently
    regulars; they conversed between themselves and with the
    waiter in sufficiently clear and sufficiently Parisian
    French that I could understand them, so I figured that they
    couldn't be French, but I didn't speculate as to what they
    really were.

    After they left, we were the only ones in the room, and as
    it was close to closing (7) the bartender/waiter pressed
    more food on us and then engaged us in conversation in
    heavily accented English. Also, he offered us last call, a
    nice gesture, but having had two we turned him down.

    He asked where we were from, and lili said California, and
    the kid perked right up and said he had relatives in San
    Diego, and he had been there a bunch of times, which meant
    of course that this conversation could extend itself
    massively if we let it. We asked where else in the US he
    had been, and he named some famous and not-so-famous cities,
    and ... his grandmother lives in Kodiak, and he had spent
    summers there. Of all places. So we told him about our Do
    adventures there last year, and we had a jolly old visit,
    and we kept him beyond quitting time, and he asked us to put
    in a good word for him. Unfortunately, I forget his name,
    but they call him Fiorentino, so I hope that's good enough.

    We didn't need dinner after all, nor any more booze, and
    just fell happily asleep.
  6. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    The Sky Fire restaurant occupies the top floor and boasts
    being the first rooftop dining room and bar in the city -
    kind of odd as the hotel is quite new, just a couple years
    old, and the city is quite old. The much-vaunted view is
    mostly of other hotels, with the sea in the background: I
    suppose that in sunny weather it's pretty nice, and on hot
    days the breeze would be welcome.

    Breakfast there is a buffet with I believe the option of
    a la carte ordering, which we didn't pursue. This is mostly
    of your worldwide standard hotel items, mostly tasty and of
    good quality:

    croissants, muffins, and similar pastries, along with
    regular European-style breads for the unadventurous;

    deli items - salami, olives, and assorted local cheeses;

    an egg product that I didn't even look at; potatoes ditto;

    "sausages" - teeny weenies made of poultry (this being a
    Muslim country with growing tendencies in that direction),
    in tomato sauce a l'anglaise, which I tasted just to confirm
    my guess that they were unpalatable, which they were;

    an assortment of beverages of the usual sort, except that
    the juices included cherry juice (like the fluid inside
    canned cherries), and the orange was of a local variety and
    rather bitter and very aromatic.

    There were also a few local things to amuse me - smoked
    fishy things including trout and salmon (both cold and
    hot smoked) and a "fermented beef sausage," a sour dried
    substance that I couldn't quite place, almost merguez-like;
    also the expected bastirma. A couple pastries that were
    supposed to be unique to the town - I forget their names but
    remember principally that if I ever see them again I should
    refuse them, politely of course.

    [Later found a note to myself: boyoz - not sure if that was
    the baked good that was like a stone or the one that was
    like a wrung-out Handi-Wipe, but I suspect the latter.]

    Our waitress was charming, and we promised her we'd be back
    to check out dinner not that night but the next.

    Another day of wandering around town, including Konak Pier,
    where lili had a lead on the Turkish towels she wanted to
    buy (couldn't find them after all), assorted snacking,
    modest because of the substantial breakfast, and after
    siesta and drinks, back to Alsancak to see what it looked
    like in the dark (to me, nothing).

    There's a beer street, 12 hundred something Sokak. The
    streets are officially numbered, with several in a row in
    consecutive order, then a skip, or else the next one is
    in a different direction to the others, not very helpful
    at all. We found several streets of taverns and were not
    certain if we ever found the famous one. All the places
    were chockfull and very noisy, some compounding the issue
    with singers or guitar players of greater or lesser talent
    but all of greater volume. Beers are all the same price
    at all the places. We decided to forgo these pleasures and
    take a quiet walk back down the waterfront, as we'd not been
    to this part of it. It's both better kept than the part
    near the center of Konak and seemingly a happier place.
    Sculptures and monuments, mostly as far as I could tell to

    We walked until the crowds started thinning and our stomachs
    started rumbling, and we stopped by a restaurant whose owner
    had accosted us on a previous stroll in the neighborhood.
    His menu had looked kind of okay, the prices maybe 10-15%
    less than the neighbors', so we told him we might be back
    later. The awning facing the sea said Meyhane, so I
    remembered that. When we walked in, he indeed recognized us
    and made this minor fuss to his staff in a way that seemed
    to say to our eyes, treat these guys well, but that had that
    undertone of, and charge the suckers extra. Fine, I'm used
    to paying a modest tourist tax.

    I'd hoped that lili would get some delicious grilled thing
    or kofte (meatballs) or kebabs, but all of a sudden her
    tummy didn't want any of that, and she ordered a fruit plate
    instead - this was a bigger portion of what you'd see on the
    airplane (maybe she was nostalgic for the friendly skies
    already?) and of only somewhat better quality, $4.50.

    I might have ordered some fish, as but for the warmth-
    preserving plastic sheeting I could have thrown a baseball
    into the Aegean from where we were, but the word Patlicani
    just jumped right out at me, and who doesn't love Patlican?
    So I ordered the meyhane pilav. This was a peculiar ricelike
    grain (I'm really not sure what it was, maybe a relative of
    regular rice milled in such a way as the grains are broken
    in half) cooked in lamb broth and with substantial doses of
    lamb shoulder meat, eggplant (Patlican), and mushrooms. The
    seasonings: mint, garlic, and a substantial dose of hot
    pepper that gave me additional respect for the tastebuds of
    the Turks. The serving could have been a double one - it
    was the size of my laptop, which is mostly metal and weighs
    2 kg; so I figure this heap of goodness was almost a kilo.

    We were not rushed, even though by the time we left we were
    definitely in the rearguard.

    The bill was high for this town but not for the fashionable
    seaside neighborhood: some huge sum like $30 for both of us
    with beer and a couple glasses of wine including a nice tip.
    It had in fact been completely accurate.

    I later discovered that Meyhane is a generic word for tavern
    - some frantic digging on the Internet revealed that the
    real name of the place was or had been at some date Kordon
  7. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    lili has this thing for breakfast, and I have this thing
    against breakfast, and usually she gets what she wants, but
    once in a while I prevail, which usually has disastrous
    results. This time she agreed that breakfast yesterday
    morning hadn't been all that interesting, and today I could
    have my way for a change. So we lolled around in the sitting
    room reading the newspaper and marvelling at how a big jet
    airliner full of people could have gone missing just like
    that. At some point the weather sort of cleared up, so it
    behooved us to go out and enjoy it.

    Alsancak in the daylight thrilled me even less than it had
    at night. Of course, shopping in general doesn't. It has
    been brought to my attention that lili pretty consistently
    defers to me by refraining from spending much time in stores
    (except food stores, which she enjoys as well as I but
    generally refrains from eating anything that can be bought
    there). This trip she had a bee in her bonnet about Turkish
    towels. We'd poked about a few places in the past couple
    days, and it seemed certain that we'd find some here. We
    didn't, which didn't put her off much, I'm glad to say.

    But presently, towards noontime, fatigue and other disasters
    struck, and someone needed the urge to sit down. Now.
    Luckily, there was a luncheon and coffee place, Zeytinyagli,
    just up the block, so.

    You go to the back, which is a tavola calda arrangement, and
    I was interested, until my unacute eyesight and acute sense
    of smell told me the bad news - this is a vegetarian, and
    possibly even a vegan, place. Argh.

    A coarse brown cake soaked in syrup, tasty and sweet and big
    enough for two, and a pot of tea came to $3. This native
    delicacy, which I would order again if I knew its name, did
    not please lili, though, and she soon turned up her little
    nose at it, so soon I had another pound of food in my tum.

    I should have done this half a decade ago and might have if
    I'd owned a camera, but a collection of photos of lili
    strolling into a McDonald's in every city in the world might
    have been a cute thing. There of course is a McDonald's in
    Izmir: she went in; I didn't. Ask no questions.

    After our fill of what struck me as another giant slightly
    picturesque urban mall, we walked eastward, planning to
    cut south intersecting the Culture Park. I guess we were a
    little too enthusiastic and walked a couple blocks too far.
    No problem, there was a sign for Basmane, and I could get my
    bearings based on that, only it was pointed in the opposite
    direction from where I thought it should. So we stopped
    across from a little old Christian church (not the oldest in
    the city, which is St. Polycarp's next door to the Ren but
    not open to the public), and as we puzzled over the map, an
    old retired professorish guy came up to us and asked in
    impeccable English, the first we had heard, even from hotel
    staff, whether we were lost, so we explained our problem. He
    looked up with some surprise at the sign I pointed out and
    allowed that one could get to Basmane by going in that
    direction, but that wouldn't have been his choice. He said
    something about maybe traffic patterns and pointed in almost
    the direction we were going to try next. The Culture Park
    was over there, he informed us. And walked us a block out of
    his way to make sure the idiot tourists were headed in the
    right direction. So we got there, it was a couple hundred
    meters away, so we weren't totally off; looked wistfully at
    the dry fountains (too early in the season, but there were
    mooning couples sitting there, rambunctious families nearby,
    and so on, as if the water had been dancing); marveled at
    the parachute tower, which apparently until recently was
    an attraction for the adventurous young and old alike; and
    determined that the museum was closed for renovations. So
    lengthily down the park to Love St. and back to the hotel.

    I think also it was today we watched the Women's Day parade,
    an event that was almost official looking, orderly and with
    a brass band in uniform leading it, but also with a slightly
    naughty and seditious aroma at the same time. In the
    background you could hear people angrily shouting through
    bullhorns, probably celebrating anti-Women's Day.

    More drinks and snacks at the lobby bar. I'd hoped for the
    same guy as previous, as I had tipped him only averagely;
    instead we got a taciturn 30-something who was perfectly
    adequate and sort of warmed up to us only when he decided
    that we weren't going to walk out and stiff him with the
    bill. Of course we wouldn't - this was the club lounge,
    and everything was free anyway, not that we'd ever try to
    pull any such trick.

    An Efes light was a mistake, pallid and tasteless compared
    to the dark (though okay enough without that context), so
    I switched to the other. lili had the same okay red wine.
    More pistachios, refilled as before but with less alacrity.

    I sort of felt for the guy, as if I were a bartender (not
    being cut out for that kind of people work) I'd probably be
    equally unbartenderly. I gave him an above-average tip.
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  8. violist
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    violist Gold Member

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    Sky Fire appears to be a destination restaurant at night.
    We'd asked at breakfast yesterday if we needed reservations,
    and we were asked when, and upon hearing the time, 7, the
    hostess said no problem, but if we were going to be any
    later, then ask now or forever you hold your peace.

    We actually got there right around 7, and the place was dead
    dead dead. By the time we left, around 9, a DJ was getting
    ready to spin his stuff, and the place was getting ready to
    hop hop hop.

    After turning her nose up at lamb a few days before, lili
    surprised me by ordering lamb chops, when beefsteak was on
    the menu for about the same price. These came scottaditi,
    hotter than Hades, one okay, one good, one perfect. She was
    pleased by her choice, as was I, as I got to gnaw on the
    bones and get the little bits of fat and stuff off them.

    My dinner was just three appetizers: fried squid, lahmacun,
    and fried eggplant, all things I could have gotten for a
    third the price on the street, but no less authentic and
    just as good in this de luxe setting. They were pristine and
    delicious. The squid could have been fished out of the water
    outside an hour before, the eggplant plucked from gardens
    down the way this morning, and the lahmacun, uh, well, the
    dough was tender, and the stuff on top, lamb bits and onions
    and a sour tomato sauce, delicious, but I suspect they had
    been made fresh last year and then stuck in the deep freeze
    until wanted, which was now. But good.

    There were a couple shining bargains on the wine list.
    Aloxe-Corton 07 (Jadot) at approximately what I'd pay for
    it retail at Zachy's or Total Beverage was one. Okay, it's
    not Charlemagne, and the year was sketchy, and the wine is
    chaptalized, but, hey, we had been drinking Okuzgogu and
    stuff like that for several days. It was a little brothy
    and unconcentrated but was the first real French Pinot Noir
    I'd had this year, the plumminess giving way to the spice
    that is what I really like about this kind of wine. The
    thin body, though, meant that the alcohol was too prominent.

    After drinks in the lounge and the bottle in the restaurant,
    it's a good thing we were just an elevator ride home, one
    floor at that.
    Newscience likes this.
  9. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    I forget why we didn't have breakfast. Maybe we overslept
    it. Anyhow, our tummies were empty, which they shouldn't
    have been, and as often happens we were convinced by the
    hotel staff to take the bus an hour before we needed to.

    Conveniently enough, the Havas bus leaves from right across
    the road. Various sources give the stop as "opposite the
    Turkish Airlines office," which is true, and "at the Grand
    Efes Hotel," which is a block off, which might put off some.
    Hourly on the half hour, $5. The trip is comfy, about 40
    minutes, and takes one past parts of town one would not
    normally see.

    We got there an hour before the Lufthansa counter opened.
    No problem, we were getting hungry, and according to the
    Star Website, we weren't entitled to lounge access. So it
    was up to the food court to check out what was what. The
    Izmir airport has a reputation for the most overpriced food
    in Turkey; on seeing the posted menus at the two places, I
    might be inclined to believe that. There was a doner and
    kofte stall that looked to soak you for what a fashionable
    sitdown restaurant in the US might charge, and that coupled
    with the less than wonderful smells coming out of it made
    me steer away and to the only other place open, which was
    Burger King. Triumph, lili food. It was only later that I
    discovered that she hates Burger King, whereas I see little
    difference between the chains, in quality at least. After
    several rounds of I don't want anything, you have to eat,
    you're shaking, et cetera, and one of I won't eat if you
    don't, we came to a truce that consisted of a Whopper Jr.
    for her and an order of chicken wings for me. I didn't hear
    any further complaints, but I can report that the wings
    were mediocre and very salty, and the soft drinks were no
    refill and at a price we both balked at, so we went dry.
    Speaking of which, the sandwich cost what it would in the
    US, and the wings were about a buck a segment, extortionate.

    After that somewhat distressing meal, we went downstairs to
    find a long line and the desks just opening. We just waltzed
    over to the queue-free Star Gold podium, earning us envious
    glances from the polloi over there, where a cheery young
    fellow processed us in jig time and handed over a pair of
    lounge invitations!

    So we had an hour to enjoy the Millennium lounge, a square
    and spare but not ugly room with snacks and alcohol and a
    pretty nice picture window over the taxiway.

    Assorted pastries, cheese boerek, and sweet puddings, of
    which I tried a pretty deep dark chocolate and a most
    ordinary rice one with chopped pistachios. Other snacks
    were not investigated.

    Booze included Yeni raki for me (I could pour a water glass
    of it and pretend I was hydrating, whereas in reality the
    opposite was happening), Ballantine's Scotch for her, and
    various fruit liqueurs for the infantile in all of us.

    LH1781 ADB MUC 1540 1730 321 7BC

    This time we got an empty seat next to us so we could spread
    out. lili pointed out that a guy on the other side had row
    6 all to himself, so I wasn't so special as I thought.

    The snack was some kind of sandwich that I didn't eat much
    of and can't remember, but there was Warsteiner again.

    Landed right on time, passed formalities in a jiffy, and
    took the train to our hotel (one quick and easy transfer).

    Google was way off again. The directions said that if we got
    out of the S-Bahn stop we would be within 150 m of the hotel
    but the U-Bahn was 290 m away. So of course I decided we'd
    take the S-Bahn, which worked swimmingly, only as we turned
    in the direction I thought the hotel was in, we encountered
    the U-Bahn stop. As 150 is less than 290, that meant that
    the hotel was the other way. So back that way, where it
    wasn't. The Google directions were completely backwards,
    something I should have allowed for but inexplicably didn't.

    I'd been to the Sheraton Munich Westpark a few years before
    with VPescado, so I had some idea of what to expect. I
    anticipated Heineken at the lounge and was heartened to find
    it had been replaced by Furstenburg, so after our missteps
    out of the Bahnnetz, and the ingestion of medicinal waters
    here, we were quite a bit behind schedule getting dinner,
    where my plan was to get the supposedly abundant and
    reasonably priced pork platter at Augustiner Bergheim, the
    closest beer hall to the hotel. We walked there, it took ten
    minutes, and we were seated at the front of an emptying
    dining room, where an otherwise agreeable waitress informed
    us that there was no more roast pork, upon which I switched
    from my rehearsed ordering dialogue in halting German back
    to English, which she spoke well and understood better.
    lili had to make do with a burger; I got the
    Zwiebelschnitzel, which was two smallish unbreaded pork
    cutlets totally engulfed in softened onions, on the side a
    large quantity of roast potatoes. lili's burger was okay,
    even though it could not be served rare, the waitress said,
    because of the laws, you know. Her fries were better than
    my roasted, so when we were done, her plate was respectably
    emptied. The pork, nude as it had been, was a little tough
    though tasty. For beverages we had a light, a dark, and a
    Maximator and were only minimally tipsy heading the half
    mile back.
  10. violist
    Original Member

    violist Gold Member

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    lili got us the suite directly across from the club lounge.
    The keys didn't work to access the private area, but the
    attendant buzzed us in. We got that taken care of before
    bedtime. It's an odd floor plan: you go in, and directly to
    the right is the bathroom, and directly ahead is the closet,
    and you go left into a separate dining area and kitchenette,
    then right into the living room. The bedroom is another
    right after that, and we had some discussion as to who was
    going to have to make all those turns to get to the toilet
    in the middle of the night. Didn't much matter, as I hardly
    slept anyway and pounded the computer much of the time.

    We looked at breakfast and passed, deciding that the Senator
    Lounge food would be slightly better, so off we went quite
    early. Getting to the airport was a snap despite two S1s
    coming into Donnersbergerbrucke at around the same time and
    me directing us onto the wrong one. No biggie, we just
    changed someplace to the S8 and went on our merry way. The
    trains are very crowded at rush hour, but after Ostbahnhof
    seats opened up.

    Emigration and security were efficient and almost friendly.

    The lounge was really crowded, but we found places at the
    work cubicles in back; not a big deal as after eating there
    wasn't much time left.

    As many may know, there's a second security before flights
    to the US. Premium passengers are directed to a separate
    line where the inspection is truly pro forma, and you go
    through a detector that is either off or set to a very high
    threshold. I don't know what happens if you look suspicious.

    UA 133 MUC IAD 1140 1630 764 4AB

    This crew was much more attentive and focused than the
    outbound one had been. Of course, it was the difference
    between the Bright and Early Show and the Dull and Late
    Show. Did you know that there really is a Hoople, North
    Dakota? No WOOF radio station, though, I fear. Anyhow,
    these gals and one guy kept us fed, watered, and amused

    No in-flight audio except for the movie channels.
    Someone informed us that this was due to a computer
    glitch that affected all 767-400s in the fleet.

    Predeparture Champagne was a decent Sekt if not the real

    Hot smoked salmon and grilled prawn with mango salsa

    Okay, though cold-smoked salmon would have been better.
    The salsa was actually pretty decent, and I ate it by

    Fresh seasonal greens, tomato, dried fruit, mini apple
    and croutons with your choice of creamy tropical fruit
    dressing or balsamic vinaigrette

    The fruit dressing is new, so I tried it - a sort of
    ranchy thing with vaguely fruity undertones, surprisingly
    not sweet at all. It got me to eat my salad. The mini
    apple, if you were curious, was a pickled crabapple.

    Tandoori breast of chicken, coriander tomato sauce, saffron
    rice pilaf and curried spinach

    A surprise winner, the chicken reasonably tender but not
    overbrined, actually tasting like chicken; the sauce was
    uninteresting and could be pushed off to one side. Rice,
    what can you expect from an airplane? What must have been
    close to half a pound of spinach stuffed into one of those
    molds and blopped onto the dish; unfortunately the kitchen
    seemed to have forgotten the seasoning, but there's little
    that butter and pepper can't remedy.

    Tenderloin of beef, red wine sauce, chanterelle mushroom
    onion medley, potatoes, broccoli and carrots

    lili claimed that the potatoes were the best thing on her
    tray and shoved one into my gob. It was okay. The beef as
    usual could have been Fiberglas insulation with sulfuric
    acid sauce, so it went mostly uneaten.

    Finca La Escondida Malbec 12 was well mellowed out by the
    food pairing and showed very well by comparison.

    Ice cream again. She had hers with fudge sauce; I had a
    small scoop with a Courvoisier.

    Prior to arrival: chicken and mozzarella cheese sandwich,
    fresh fruit appetizer, Mediterranean-style salad, dill-
    cucumber yogurt and chocolate

    The sandwich was actually palatable, if one ignored the
    cheese. The chocolate, Lily O'Brien's truffles, was
    unbearably sweet and didn't taste like much (one was
    orange and the other some caramelly thing).

    As usual, the better flight was too short just as the less
    good one had been too long, and we got in almost an hour
    early. The cabin crew gave what seemed to be genuine smiles
    when we left (not happy-to-see-us-go smiles, you know what
    I meant).

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