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  • Writer's pictureClaire

Stanstead to Istanbul

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

So here we are, phase one of our 5060tour is upon us. We caught the from Newport to Stanstead, changed at Victoria before continuing to . Our new driver from Victoria was a scream and I learnt some

Interesting descriptions for other road users.

The bus deposited us at the arrivals coach terminal and we asked the bus tickety type man where we could find a taxi. English wasn't his first language so it wasn't a huge surprise that we discovered there was no taxi rank where he sent us and the shuttle bus runs from the coach terminal to the hotel. Back down to where we had come from. The shuttle runs every 15 minutes and is currently £4 each. A taxi is £20 for the same journey, therefore it's a no brainer to take the shuttle.

I'd booked the Airport Holiday Inn, which was more than adequate. There is a small menu for dinner, and a free breakfast. Si had burger and chips and I opted for a veggie burger. Schoolgirl error, it was pretty bloody disgusting and contained not one vegetable, it was more of sandwich paste type stuff deep fried 🤢 Breakfast however was excellent, continental from 0400hours til 0600hours and full breakfast until 1000hours. It was worth waiting for the full breakfast and it was substantially better than the evening meal. The shuttle to the airport runs on the hour and the half hour, easily accessible for Mildred with a drop down ramp.

I haven't flown out of Stanstead for a very long time, but given the service we received I now put it at the top of my list of airports to travel from.

We flew with and after failing to check in online rang the help desk and were told we could check in at the airport. For this trip our bag is a 60litre rucksack. Most of the 13kg that it weighs is sunscreen, mosquito repellent and skin so soft dry oil because allegedly the pesky mozzies hate it. As we are away for several months we wanted a bag that is lightweight but holds all we need. I picked it up on eBay allegedly it had been used once . I think that was a big fat fib, because the top carry handle has broken, and the shoulder strap is now tied in a very attractive knot. The upside of it is that it's small enough to balance on my lap should push come to shove. I have no idea if it will last the flight let alone the whole trip. Mildred and the flawed one, as the bag is now named were double tagged, one for flight to Istanbul and the onward one to Bahrain at the check in desk, which meant we wouldn't have to worry about the bags in Istanbul.

Helpfully there is a purple line through the airport for special assistance which takes you through the various check points without having to queue up. I really cannot speak highly enough of the staff they were all happy helpful and couldn't do enough for you. Amazingly we got security cleared in record time, with lots of laughter and banter with the staff. Whilst partaking in a 'breakfast' I received a text from the airline stating the flight was delayed by an hour. Out of our hands, another pint then is it?

The train to the departure gate was adjacent to wetherspoons so when the time came we were close by for it. After boarding a train that is more like a roller coaster, a'lovely' man offered Si his seat, saying, I always like to offer my seat to the elderly!! How bloody rude!

After a short wait at the departure gate in the lovely warm sunshine we were led off to the ambulift to board the plane. Initially we had been allocated seats separately which is a tad unusual, but the staff moved our seats so we were together and we had a row of 3 seats for the two of us... and Bob. Bob is the not so fluffy best friend of one of our little granddaughters and he's along for the adventure. He has his own seat on this flight. Not so fluffy Bob is NOT to be confused with Fluffy Bob who is safely at home with his little human.. a seat to yourself beats being stuffed in a rucksack and stashed in an overhead locker right?

The airline prefer to board disabled passengers before the rest and also seat them at the front of the plane. Usually we find we are right at the back by the toilets. Whilst that's pretty handy for me, it does mean disturbances when other people need to use the loo. In the grand scheme of things it's really not such a big deal. Being seated at the front of the aircraft there is no undignified hauling up the aisle which really is a Bonus, I like this airline! is advertised as a budget airline and it does what it says on the tin. There is an onboard cafe, its airport prices, and you get a 20% discount if you pay with card. You are also able to pre order your food at the time of booking if you prefer. To book your seats it's extra, this didn't apply to us as we pre booked special assistance and the seats are pre allocated.

The flight passed uneventfully , at least i presume it did, i inflated my neckpillow, pulled up its attached hood and went to sleep for the duration. The hop to Istanbul is just 3 hours, and the passengers are disembarked swiftly by the staff. Airport assistance at Istanbul airport is something else. I was taken off the plane on the usual Aisle chair and then transfered to what i can only describe as a "whegway" . There is a comfortable wheelchair seat that is easy to transfer into and the assistant hops on the back and drives it , at speed with a joy stick! I dont exagerate when I say it goes at speed, Si had to proceed at a fast trot to keep up!

The Istanbul Airport special assistance Whegway.

We flew through passport checks and controls (quite literally) to the special assistance desk whereupon we were told that we had missed our connecting flight to Bahrain. They'd booked us onto the same flight the following day and organised a hotel overnight. Our luggage was being transfered automatically, although we shall wait and see if this is the case when we finally get to Bahrain. We needed Mildred obviously, I mean we couldnt leave her there all alone in the airport overnight could we? Whilst waiting for her we were escorted downstairs to the desk dealing with our transport to the hotel, the bloody whegway driver parked me in the oversized baggage section. Twat. I know I've packed on some timber, but really?? Thats just bloody RUDE!!

Our assistant was fluent in google translate which has to be said is probably one of googles best features, and used it to tell us the minibus would take us to the hotel and bring us back the following day for our flight. Mildred arrived and we were directed to the lift told to meet them on the next floor, which we tried to do. When we pressed the lift button all the lights went out and it was pitch black, cue a case of the giggles. Turns out we pressed the wrong button and we needed a different floor. That sorted we trundled off to the minibus which transferred us to the hotel, the hotel had provided with a packed supper, after we checked in, something hot in a polystyrene carton that smelt pretty good. Breakfast and lunch were also provided, all on the airlines tab.

The lift was situated around the corner from reception and we got into one that someone had just come down in. We were on floor 8 so pressed the button and got as far as floor 5 and the lift declined to take us further and indeed started to beep violently. Our version of a lift reboot was to go back down to reception and try again. A man got in with us pressed 5 , we pressed 8 and off we went ... again. The man got at at floor 5 we tried to carry on to floor 8 ... the lift didn't move and beeped again. Back down to reception. Changed lifts, pressed number 8 to recieve more violent beeping WTAF is this beeping all about?! We rolled out again with me declaring loudly ' it's broken' to anyone who cared to listen. However there were two helpful gents who showed us that we had to flash our room card in front of the reader to access our floorHurrumph, would have liked to have known that before making utter tits of ourselves. Our room was just down from the lift and the door was of the heavy variety that opened inwards, trying to stop said door from shutting on us was something of a challenge so we took it at speed... right into a substantial lip which caused us to come to a rather sudden stop. This was when the bags that were piled up on my lap went flying onto the floor, closely followed by Bob and our picnic supper. The lids opened up and rice spewed out over the floor. Splendid, just bloody splendid. Good job I was buckled up or I would have been on the floor with Bob (been there done that) , the bags and the spewed out rice.

By now we are laughing like a pair of lunatics, still trying to get into the room and trying to avoid wheeling the rice everywhere. Finally we managed to get in, inhaled our food and stretched out. Not having any clean clothes with us I utilised the bathroom sink and washed out the smalls and gave them a blow dry with the hair dryer which worked particularly well. Note to self, pack a clean pair of knickers in hand luggage incase of emergency. It had crossed my mind but I thought, nah, that won't happen! Doh!! Should have just done it when the thought popped into my head. We tend to take a toothbrush and toothpaste in hand luggage anyway so we were all good for that. A furry mouth is most unpleasant! On our way down to the bar, I noticed a sign in the lift that instructed passengers on how to use it. Missed that on the way wonder the two men looked at us like we were stupid. It was in braille too. Not that I can read braille but I guess it's helpful for those who can.

So we had bonus night in Istanbul, with hotel and 3 meals thrown in courtesy of the airline. I was a bit excited when I though the room had a microwave in it, turned out it was a safe. Aside from that minor disappointment it was a great room and my body had time to recover before the next leg of the trip, so everything really does happen for a reason.

We are estimated to arrive in Bahrain at 0100hours Sunday... who knows! Whatever happens its all part of the adventure. Much love Flairey. X

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