Right now, as I’m writing these lines, we are back in Latvia. This time for a few months. Maybe a bit longer, or maybe less. We’ll see. But what a journey it was for me – this whole trip from dusty, loud and busy Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, to Balvi, a typical town in Latvia with a population of less than 10 000.
Last week I was wandering around Dubai? And listening to the sound of a call to prayer while sipping Turkish tea in Istanbul? Really? If not for the photos I wouldn’t believe myself, that all of it really happened. Well, I remember Istanbul very clearly, but the rest of it – not really, ha.
As you probably know (you know – if you are following us on Instagram and Facebook), last month we with Una spent separately. I was hiking in Nepal, but Una was volunteering in Turkey. And we had agreed to meet in Istanbul on our way to Latvia. Una had a direct flight from Antalya to Istanbul, but I had 4 flights with 2 different airlines, all to get from Kathmandu to Istanbul. And then one more to Latvia.
Kathmandu – New Delhi
On Monday morning I woke up in a hostel in Kathmandu. I had my breakfast there. Then I packed my backpack, chatted for few hours with some cool people, that I had met there, and headed to the nearby restaurant (one, that we with my hostel buddies visited, like, twice a day) for an early lunch. My flight was at 3 PM, and I was planning to get to the airport by local bus. Or to walk if I didn’t find one.
An hour later I was on a local bus, heading (as I had assumed) to the airport. I knew the bus, I knew where was its final stop, but I wasn’t sure about its route and will it be driving somewhere near the airport at some moment. So I just followed my location on Google Maps. And at the moment, when bus started to drive in wrong for me direction I got off , 2 kilometers before the airport. OK, not too bad.
I got my boarding pass at the counter as it wasn’t possible online. And headed to the gate. My ticket, passport and belongings were checked several times. Like always with Indians, haha. Sorry, guys, I’m not trying to make anyone look worse than others, but I have had this experience only in Indian airports and now with Air India (Indian airline) in Nepal. Last “luggage screening” happened 5 meters before the airplane. Everyone was asked to open all of their bags and take out “whatever employee checking the bag saw as probably suspicious item”.
Well, why then there is a security control at the airport, where they are screening every bag with a machine? At the airport in Delhi once they explained to me, that this is necessary to check if you haven’t bought in Duty Free shop something that isn’t allowed to be taken on board. And then, after hearing my opinion that it makes no sense,… they didn’t check next passengers after me.
However, flight was pleasant and otherwise my first experience flying with Air India was good. In less than 2 hours I was in New Delhi.
New Delhi – Dubai
At the airport my luggage was screened again, and I could go to the gate. To wait for my next flight to Dubai.
Why I had so many flights at the end? It all started with a plan to go to Latvia. I did a quick research to find the cheapest flights from Kathmandu to Europe. Because direct flights to Latvia seemed too expensive, and I also wanted to have a stopover in some interesting city along the way. There were 2 options – to have a stopover in London or in Istanbul. These flights were by far the cheapest. Even though I had been in Istanbul before and I haven’t been in London, I just couldn’t miss a chance to go to Istanbul one more time. There is something special about this city.
So it was decided – I’m going to Istanbul.
Next step – I tried to buy that flydubai flight ticket. But… I couldn’t. My payment wasn’t going through. I contacted my bank, and they said, that everything should be fine. I would have tried to buy a ticket with another bank card. But I had just cancelled my another card. And for the flights from Kathmandu they don’t allow you to pay with another person’s bank card. I needed to finish my payment in 24 hours.
If you contact flydubai via email they will get back to you within 30 days… That wasn’t an option. If you are curious, I tried to contact them via email. I heard back from them in about 2 weeks.
And I didn’t want to call to UAE. Especially after I read online, that many other people have exactly the same problem with flydubai payment system.
So I ended up looking for other options. All of them were more costlier. But now I wanted to go to Istanbul, and I needed to find the way to get there. What resulted in 4 flights with 2 airlines only to get from Kathmandu to Istanbul. With a layover in Dubai long enough to go out for a walk.
I had my Indian dinner at New Delhi International airport. Then I used internet for 30 minutes. And after my free internet quota was finished I decided to take a nap. Because I knew that it will be a pretty long night in not so comfortable conditions in Dubai. I was arriving at night, my next flight was after 14 hours, and I was planning to spend this time at the airport and/or walking around in Dubai.
I set alarm clock not to miss my flight.
At the time when boarding was about to start I went to the gate. Before that filling up my water bottle with drinking water. To discover… that boarding actually has already finished. Well, almost, because I was still allowed to get on the plane. Why did it start earlier? I don’t know. But it doesn’t matter because I made it in time anyway.
By the way, this Air India flight was even better. Our plane was bigger. And takeoff and landing were the best I have experienced.
Layover in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Few hours in the air, and we arrived in Dubai. It was almost midnight, and I had no plans about heading to the city. Not during the night at least. If I’ll feel like that, and if they will let me exchange just 10 USD (3 USD is enough for return journey on a metro to city center) – then in the morning I’ll go to the city for few hours – that’s how I decided to do.
At 6 AM, after night spent sitting on the bench, I had my breakfast & headed to the city center (Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall). As I already had Dubai public transport card (Nol Silver Card) I only needed to top it up. If you don’t have one, then the cheapest option is Nol Silver Card. It costs 25 AED, and you have a credit of 19 AED on it. A ride from Dubai International Airport (DXB) to Burj Khalifa / Dubai Mall costs only 5 AED or a little bit more than 1 EUR/USD.
Despite the early hour few stops from the airport metro train was completely full. People couldn’t get on the train anymore. Similar like, for example, in Kuala Lumpur, in Dubai a lot of people are going to work before 7 AM. However afterwards, walking around, I felt like I’m the only one in Dubai. I saw people on construction sites, and there were occasional cars passing by, but otherwise city was empty. Until 8-9 AM, when more cars appeared on the streets. But still there were only few people walking on the streets.
Few hours and some 10+ kilometers of walking later I returned to the airport for my next flight. To the capital of Azerbaijan – Baku.
What I realized this time – 6+ hour layover in Dubai is enough also to go to the beach. If you fancy to have a swim between your flights. It takes about 1 hour to get there, you can spend 1 hour on the beach (metro stop – Dubai Marina), and in 1 hour you will definitely get back to the airport by metro.
Baku – Istanbul
Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport surprised me as one of the most stylish airports I have ever seen. At least the part of it, where I was waiting for my flight to Istanbul. What else – I was surprised to hear Russian language everywhere around me. Airport employee, who was checking my passport, seemed so happy to learn, that I know Russian. He started to smile immediately and wished me a pleasant journey.
Another surprise here – our plane was the dirtiest plane, that I have ever seen. Not because of the airline. Actually flying with Azerbaijan Airlines I felt the same like flying with Lufthansa or Turkish Airlines. But because of people. They were eating a lot (well, that’s normal) and throwing all the food wrappings and such on the floor… What! Why? Who knows.
2 full days in Istanbul, Turkey
What we did in Istanbul? We walked around a lot, for more than 20 kilometers on the first day. We ate a lot and we drank a lot of Turkish tea. In short – we had a very good time.
Last time’s trip to Istanbul was also one of the first trips abroad for us with Una. So it was interesting to compare, how we saw Istanbul then and now. If before it seemed like a very exotic, chaotic and crowded city, then now – just an interesting and quite relaxing city with its own, special atmosphere. Especially when you come straight from dusty and loud Kathmandu. Funny, huh? We told that to local girl, whose reaction was – relaxing city? Not too crowded? Istanbul? Are you joking? Haha!
From Istanbul we had an early morning flight to Riga.
Getting to Istanbul Ataturk Airport almost became an adventure itself. We had the last 8,25 Turkish Lira left. And we knew – 2 tickets cost only 8 Lira. Then ticket vending machine decided to “swallow” my 0,5 Lira, and not giving it back. Now we had only 7,75 Lira left. But we needed to hurry. 10 minutes later one girl gave us 1 Lira, and we both bought tickets to the airport.
What can I say, it was one very interesting week
Very tiring, yes, but also very interesting and eventful week. I really enjoyed that movement from a place to place, and to the next place, and to the next. I definitely wouldn’t want to do it every or every another week. I just like to spend more time in every place I visit. Especially if it’s a place I like. Like Istanbul. But once in a while it’s cool.
Now it’s time for some rest in one place and work. We have a few ideas, and now we want to work on them. You can also expect quite a few new articles on We Are From Latvia in the following weeks. It’s just the first week since we are back, but we are already dreaming about, where the road will take us next. It might be Asia again, but it might be something completely new as well. There are just so many places, where we want to travel to as well as where we want to live for some time, and so many experiences that we want to have.
See you somewhere in the world, guys!
Author: Kaspars Misins
Kaspars is a long term traveler and a travel blogger from Latvia. He loves going on long walks, reading non fiction books and spending time outdoors. Together with his girlfriend Una they have been traveling – volunteering – working abroad since 2013. On We Are From Latvia they share their experience and things learned along the way.