Journey with Jo

Follow me as I blog about my various journeys across the globe, making budget travel look luxurious!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

On my most recent trip abroad to Egypt, I flew with Turkish Airlines. There were other options that would've gotten me to Cairo, both quicker and a tad bit cheaper, of course, but I specifically scouted an international carrier when doing my research. Reason being is that generally speaking non-American carriers provide a better economy/coach experience (in my adamantly strong opinion).  The reason I decided to fly with Turkish, over others, is because I saw the layover in Istanbul, and figured I could get in two destinations for the price of one.
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After doing further research, I was even more sold on flying Turkish. I found out they do free layover tours in Istanbul, given your layover connects there and it is more than six hours. The caveat to this is that it is 100% F-R-E-E. 
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Say no more! Upon finding this, I was sold! 

Depending on the day you are coming in, they have upwards of five different tours to choose from. And if a tour isn't how you want to spend your layover, you also have the option to book a hotel stay, at no extra cost. Seriously, how awesome is this?!?

Flight Experience
Twenty-four hours before my flight, I checked in via their website to choose my seat. I was pleasantly surprised that there were a plethora of seats to choose from, so I confirmed my selections for my two flights and got my boarding pass sent to my phone.

Everything went smooth in terms of getting through everything at the airport. The only thing is that I was asked to check in my carryon because it was over their weight limit, which I believe is 8 or 10kg. I'm not too sure. But it was free to have it stowed, so I had no less thing for me to carry around.

So fast forward to the flight, and pretty much the reason why I'm writing this. The experience I had was bar none! To be flying in economy class, I felt like royalty from the time I sat down. Now I must be honest, the aircraft was definitely dated. The seats weren't in the greatest condition and could use some TLC, but the service made up for it.
All settled in and ready for the flight
Each seat had their own personal entertainment console in front of them, with a plethora of movies, TV shows, games, music, etc. to choose from. 

Soon after becoming airborne, the attendants came around to pass out hot towels and menus. Hot towels??? Did I miss something? As a semi-frequent (1-4 times a year) first class flier, I always took the hot towels on an airplane to be a first class thing, but in economy? I had no clue.

When it was time for our meal to be served, the attendant said she would come back with my meal, because I had specified my dietary restriction (pescatarian) online, when I initially booked my flight. She came back a few minutes later with is no doubt the best meal I've ever eaten as a coach passenger. Steamed salmon, white rice, veggies, two small salads, and a fruit. The crazy thing is that I wrote in my notes to the airline, on the online portal that I preferred fruit over a traditional dessert and I got it!
My yummy in-flight dinner

I remember so many times filling out dietary restrictions in vain, because most airlines will still only serve the same two meal options for all passengers, but to actually receive what I wanted...I was truly grateful and knew at that exact moment I had to share how dope they were to the masses.

The other major highlight I have to share is how big my eyes got when I finally stood to use the restroom. It was so huge! I could stretch both of my arms out and still have room type-of-huge. I could do a 360 degree turn and not bump into someone type-of-huge. I could pull out my phone, record a video, and not be afraid to drop it down the toilet due to lack of space type-of-huge.

Don't believe me? Check out the video below!

All in all, my experience on Airbus A330-300 was a pleasant one. And after arriving in Cairo, I eagerly anticipated the return flight so that I could take part in the free layover tour in Istanbul.

Layover Tour
As stated above, the airline offers a super free layover tour in Istanbul (Turkey), given you have a connecting flight there over 6 hours. 
Enjoying a cup of tea while waiting for the tour at the airport in Istanbul
After lounging around a couple of hours from landing in Turkey, my friends and I met at the designated spot to leave for the tour. We ended up paying to store our backpacks at the airport, but realized we didn't have to, as the first stop on the tour was to their office, in town, for which to store belongings you didn't want to carry around. Hey, I now know for next time!
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Desk at airport where you go to confirm your tour/hotel stay
The tour was extremely well organized and our tour guide's name was Sunshine, so you should already know we were in good hands, with a name like that. Below is a snapshot of our itinerary.
The itinerary we followed
This was my first time having an organized tour during a long layover, and I will purposely look for opportunities like this in the future, because it truly was like getting another mini-trip without any bit of effort on my behalf.

Our FREE breakfast spread

Keptah, Kiersten, and I

Freshly roasted chestnuts. I just had to give them a try!

Outside the Blue Mosque

In true travel comfort and style!
Topkapi Palace

Ceiling inside of Topkapi Palace

Our lunch restaurant 

Views from the restaurant 
In short, if you're ever flying international and have a choice, I'd highly recommend flying Turkish. You get great service, they will cater to your specific food needs, and if you have a long layover your options expand well beyond the walls of an airport!

Have you ever flown with Turkish Airlines?
If so, what was your experience like?

Never flown with Turkish? Do you think you'd want to give it a try? 

Flown with any other international carrier that you fell in love with?

Let me know your thoughts below!


Saturday, May 12, 2018

Last month I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Egypt for six days with the best sister-friends a girl could ask for. 

I remember way back in August 2017, when I initially booked the flight it started off as a solo trip, but as time went on, and I started letting more and more of my circle know my travel plans, there ended up being four of us on the itinerary, and it couldn't have worked out better.

Being a frequent solo traveler, I'm very particular with whom I travel with, when others do come along with me. I've heard horror stories of many that traveled with large groups or many "friends" and it go awry. I never want to have that issue or for it to be a lingering thought in my head that I'm not going to enjoy myself with the company I'm with, so for that reason I only advertise trips to close friends.

I digress a bit from the title of the post, but I would be remiss to not share that a major reason why my trip was as great as it was, was due the three other women I shared the experience. There's something to be said about being with true friends that you can laugh, cry, encourage, and truly be yourself around that makes these moments in life all the greater. 

Keptah, Kierra, and Kiersten, thank you for your friendship and thank you for your presence. Egypt wouldn't have been the same without you ladies. So this post, I dedicate to you :)

OK, OK, OK... On to the reason for this post!!

Reasons Why You Need to Visit Egypt

4. The Architecture & Views
The title says it all. I have nothing more to elaborate on this so take a look for yourself!

3. The Historical Sights
It's one thing to see read, hear, and see things on paper or in pictures, but it is truly a whole other thing to experience it in person.

One of the reasons why my wanderlust is at such a heightened point at this time in my life is because hearing about things no longer suffices. I need to have my five senses engaged, up and personal, with the real things.

Being able to stand underneath the massive pyramids, see hieroglyphics with my naked eye, walk inside of tombs where ancient royalty were buried, and to even stand on the same grounds as Jesus and his parents were all things I can now make those cross connections with having learned about them previously, but now got to experience it in person. 

2. To Demystify Islamofobia
Prior to going to Egypt, I was very aware that I was going to an Islamic country. This didn't mean much to me, in terms of deterring me from going, but I did receive the side eye and third-degree questioning from a few friends and family members upon telling them of my pending destination. 

Egypt as a country has been in world news in recent years for cases of bombings/attacks. If you know anything about the way news is reported in the U.S.A., then you know that any news about a country that isn't it's own or especially is an Islamic country, isn't presented in the best light. It's always reported with an underlying tone that these places are dangerous and that the people in these places are inherently inferior.

Me, always being a skeptic to anything that comes from media here in this country, have always known better than to take what the news says as accurate. There is a clear agenda they have to push and this I am aware of.

Many people fear going to Egypt, wondering if it safe or if there would be any problem traveling as a woman there and I'm here to tell you that it is totally fine


The people there were very respectful and not ever, not even once did I feel unsafe. Even in the midst of the busy streets and the cars weaving in and out of each other, there was just an feeling of peace in the air that made me feel at peace the entire time. 
Our AMAZING tour guide, Mohamed

1. To Reaffirm Black Excellence
Being in this country, seeing the pyramids, tombs, and hieroglyphics up close and person simply added to my laundry list of reasons why I am proud to be black. It is one thing to read and see pictures of these places, but to see it in person honestly brought tears to my eyes at one point.

The artifacts I was privy to witness were literally thousands of years old and knowing that my ancestors were the ones to create these things just proved how advanced ancient Egyptians were. From the golden caskets, to symmetrical pyramids, and intricately etched symbols in the wall, I was astounded by how much talent was displayed at every historical site we visited. 

It was very clear that the ingenuity they possessed was bar none and it made me proud to know that my African ancestors were the reason behind this. Their resources were super limited but they relied on the universe and the strength of the spirits of those that came before them to create a lasting dynasty, that still to this day leaves many questions unanswered. 

Tomb made of pure gold

Sandals...yeah, we did that first!

But one thing that cannot be denied is the excellence that was portrayed by these dynamic people and we are so fortunate to have these artifacts still here that give us a glimpse into how innovative and well beyond there time they were. Black excellence, indeed!

I highly suggest you add Egypt to your travel plans soon!

Is Egypt on your places to visit? If so, what would you want to see or do there?

Been to Egypt already? What were your favorite experiences?

Let me know below!