Austria & Istanbul 2016 Day 17 & 18 – Flight to Istanbul then Home Sweet Home

We would be taking our flights back on this day. Baby k woke up at 4am asking for milk but I asked him to go back to sleep and wait for morning instead. He woke up at 8am obediently enough. Then it was rushing time, starting with packing everything into the luggage. Mommy also cooked baby K’s lunch. I brought the luggage down and loaded them into the boot before going to the top floor where breakfast was served, only to find out that we didn’t have breakfast in our booking and misunderstood when the receptionist said that we could have breakfast at the restaurant, but for a cost of 16euros per pax. We didn’t have the money nor more importantly, the time to have buffet breakfast.

View from the top floor of the hotel

915am and we drove towards the airport. Luckily with the data plan we bought the day before, I utilized for the last time with Google map to bring us to the airport. Before arriving at the airport, I topped up the petrol to the required level. A short drive later, we arrived within the airport compound and followed the road signs indicating the directions to rental car return. We entered a shelter car park and parked at the Avis dedicated slot. There weren’t any other instructions so I tried taking the lift up and found the rental car counters there. Returned to the car to retrieve the luggage and with my family, we returned the keys and the vehicle documents at the counter and that was it.

The check in was just a street away which we quickly crossed over to check in as it was already 10am and 1.5hrs away from departure. We quickly went through security and found ourselves at close to the gate already. Went to visit one of the shop there and baby K entertained himself, helping himself with the color pencils on the little desk. We spent the final minutes at the sitting area until the call for boarding. Interestingly, the immigrations was directly before gate and we had our passports stamped just before passing through the gate to board the bus which brought us to our plane.

Salzburg Airport, crossing from the car rental companies
Inside the small Salzburg airport
Gates at Salzburg airport

The place to Istanbul was not full luckily and so we got 3 seats for ourselves. The short 2hrs flight to Istanbul had some turbulence but not too bad. Meals were served, adults first and baby K was hungry while waiting for his and wanted to eat ours. He took some of our rice and then his own porridge that mommy had cooked earlier on. The baby food that was served later came but was the purée that he disliked and ended up not taking any.

Just before we were about to touch down in Istanbul, baby K fell asleep. Then it was about carrying him around the airport while we searched for transfer desk, which caused him to wake up. As our next connecting flight was another 10hrs which qualified us a complimentary stay. However, the room offered was outside the airport and we had to go through immigrations. There would be a hotels desk that would provide the information to to the complimentary hotel. As Istanbul airport had suffered a terrorist attack just months earlier, we weren’t prepared to risk going out into Istanbul. In the end we chose to stay at the TAV airport hotel which required us to go through security scans eventually. During the check, the alert but a little heartless security staff found a pair of scissors in our food container that we used to cut baby K’s food and had it removed and thrown away.  After that, we then proceeded to the TAV airport hotel and checked in. We booked a 9hrs time slot for 194euros, very expensive short stay.

Airport hotel room

We stayed in the room for much of the time after the check in. There was nothing much to do but to watch tv. We also made use of the shower to wash up. I didn’t choose to explore Istanbul as the return trip would take minimum 4hrs by train and it was already 4pm, which was neither here nor there.

Did some shopping of water and beer at the nearby food court and that, went out again for early dinner at the same food court. We got ourselves some Turkish food pide with tomato and cheese and chicken cutlet. I found it difficult to order since there wasn’t a queue that I was used to, and it seemed kinda random picking by the staff on who to serve. Food was ok but costed 22euros in total, for food and 2 canned drinks.

As usual, baby K was having his porridge. One of the clearing staff gave baby K some toys, which was so kind of him. After the meals, we went shopping at duty free.

After dinner, I bathed baby K, drank my beer then went out to buy the toys that mommy saw in the duty free. Had to come and go for 3 times as I made so much blunders. First I had no boarding pass with me, second I brought the wrong boarding pass, one that was for the flight from Singapore to Istanbul. I finally paid the 40euros for Duplo and Hape toys, which was supposedly cheaper.

The time left to departure was spent on sleep till about 10pm. Then I tried to watch online show but the in room Wifi wasn’t supporting and was disruptive. We checked out after baby K woke up before going out to Starbucks for some coffee until it was time for boarding. Unlike the previous Salzburg-Istanbul flight, this was quite a full flight. And being late in boarding, I had space issues with placing my bags in the overhead compartment and had to separate them at different locations.

Day 18

Flight took off late from the busy airport even at that time of the day and K stayed awake fora bit  before falling asleep. Sleeping on me was difficult and we weren’t given any bassinet seat unlike the other 2 babies along the same row. He was a little long and had to curl up his legs. Supper was served and were the same options as the earlier Salzburg Istanbul flight of pasta and chicken but prepared differently. I had the chicken wrap which I thought was nice and wife had the pasta that was hard. Had to eat with one hand with baby K sprawled across my legs.

I tried to make it as comfortable as possible for him. That made me sat in an uncomfortable position but I soon fell asleep as well. Next thing I knew we were already 6hrs into the flight. K woke up after I tried shifting (many times within the sleeping period as well). Made him some milk and he took some time to become the happy energetic baby that he was. Then it was about getting him entertained. Earlier in the hotel, mommy managed to download some series of Pororo and that worked. He was fascinated by the touch screen panel from the inflight entertainment and some games and cartoons took his attention. Overall there weren’t much issues with the flight.

Our plane finally landed in Changi airport at 6pm and we decided to feed K some milk in the airport before getting through immigrations and going back home.

I felt this trip to Europe was comparatively much easier than the one last year. A lot had to do with baby K being easier to manage as he had grown more logical to deal with and that we didn’t had to spend as much time in preparations of milk and cleaning of bottles as last year (no longer needed to sterilise bottles with tablets or boiling water or wait for breast milk to warm up or wait for mommy to express milk, etc). Also we have planned the route such that it wasn’t so rushed (such as not moving from town to town daily) and that gave us more time to rest during the trip and more time to explore the places. However we still didn’t do as much touring as I would have preferred such as getting a guide to tell us more about the history of the places instead of aimlessly roaming and walking around the ancient attractions.

Croatia was a much more affordable place to visit compared to the other places of Europe and everything was pretty much the same costs in Singapore. The tolls were pretty hefty though as there were many of them when using the highway and with fuel costing 1.8sgd/l, it didn’t help with costs aspects. Getting to places were quite easy but parking and driving closer to towns were difficult especially if you have a big car and you would require one with a kid. Croatia may not have the same appeal like the other popular European spots but I liked it nonetheless, probably because it was relatively safe and easy to get around.

Slovenia was a little more expensive and more “European” than Croatia. Working hours less but more orderly in matters of business. However, the medieval cities and beautiful natural scenery that it offered was definitely worth the visit.

We didn’t get much time in Salzburg and Istanbul and these cities were worth a revisit, when we come back to Europe and if the security situation in Turkey improved.

Croatia and Slovenia 2016 Day 0 – Flight to Istanbul

10pm flight to Istanbul and we left our house at 745pm on a Hyundai i40 cab that had problems fitting 2×28″ luggage. Thankfully traffic was smooth, much contributed to the 1 week school holidays and we arrived at 820pm. There weren’t any queues and we checked in quickly.
We found out that for the flight, there weren’t any baby meals because I didn’t call in to arrange for it (which I thought I did when I call in for seats allocation and I thought I made the same mistake in the previous flight ). Made arrangements for the return flights at the service counter and took the sky train to T1 NTUC (took forever to get to this ulu NTUC) to get some cereals for baby K before heading back to T2 to go through the departure.

We had only 15 mins left and made the necessary toilet trips and diapers change out before heading to the gate. Upon arriving, we found that we were the last passengers to board. So we boarded the plane and settled down rather quickly. The flight took off only slightly after 10pm. Baby K ate some bread and was feeling tired. Soon after taking off, he fell asleep in Mommy’s arms without drinking milk. Bassinet was set up and we put him into it, and found that this 22month old toddler couldn’t fit and had his legs sticking out. How fast our baby had grown. We try to get some sleep whenever we can.

There was definitely a certain space advantage in having the bassinet seats, where we could stretch our legs in comfort comparing to the other economy seats. Furthermore, these were located near the doorway to the airport allowing for quick exit to the immigrations upon arrival. The con however was the inflight pantry where the food carts were stored and where the air service staff do some work was just there, separated by a thin curtain blocking the view, not the noise. And for some reason, it was particularly noisy as supper was prepared, too much clanging of porcelain. Luckily enough K just slept through it all.

Food was served finally and I was liked the visual presentation of the its dish and utensils, thought it looked classy. We had our first western dish Ratatouille and Kung Bai chicken which was ok. As sleep memory hit, we soon fell asleep (as a parent, normal sleeping time became 10pm instead of the usual 12midnight pre-baby!). Normally the food trays were be cleared a short time after everyone was done with their food but in this long flight, it took unusually long to do so. I was locked in that space between the tray table and the seat for some time which made sleeping uncomfortable. Didn’t realized when it was done though, only so when I woke to find 2 packs of inflight amenities Chopard pouches with sitting on it. Tiredness got the better of interest and I went back to sleep.

K awoke but didn’t cry uncontrollably as we thought it would thankfully. Brought down the haversack placed at the overhead compartment some rows behind and prepare the milk using sample packs that we got from the PD visits. He happily drank his milk and with the total lack of activity (as his parents were also not moving much), he slowly returned to dreamland.

It was rather uncomfortable to be sleeping on this flight even with the extra leg space. There was this huge screen placed on the wall just above the bassinet that showed the flight route and some other information. It shone bright as day right in our faces. The occasional loud snoring from sleeping passengers also added to the annoyance. Encountered a slight period of turbulence but overall a smooth journey. Then baby K decided that I was a better bed than mom and had to sleep on me. We constantly made adjustments to get more comfortable and I couldn’t get a good sleep.

Early breakfast was served at around 7am and again it was challenging to have breakfast as baby K was laying across the seat with his legs across the armrest where the folded tables were hidden. We had to move him slowly and have the 2 trays placed on one table and I had to eat with one hand. The food was nice but the tray return took eternity.
Almost 2-3hrs before landing, baby K woke up. We had to start the entertainment for fear that he would become a nightmare. Thankfully he was well behaved once he got past the grumpiness of waking up from a sleep. With the free inflight kid’s book and entertainment system, the flight landed without crying, much to our relief (and some pride that our toddler was well behaved and grown up!). We had to wait for most passengers to disembark first since our overhead luggage were spread all over the plane having no space since we were late to board 12hrs ago. It’s ok we weren’t in a rush.