Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Room with a View: Istanbul, Turkey

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Business trips can be rather difficult.  Skipping weekends, constantly eating out (hello calories), hectic schedules, leaving your comfort zone and heading out to the unknown.  Above all, it spells WORK - things to do, commitments to accommodate but still you'd get time to check out a new city.  I gave it a serious thought and apparently it is pleasurable in an odd sense. It really depends on how you make it downright enjoyable.  So on my first business travel out of the country, I had constructed this dubious plan in my head to help me survive the trip - embrace the uncertain. 

The itinerary was sent to us a week before the event.  A series of meetings, brainstorming and outdoor activities were to to be expected.  I was just relieved to see that we'd have a few hours of leisure time, enough for a little sight seeing and shopping.  Then during my most dreaded "business hours" in Turkey, I realized it wasn't that bad after all.  My time with the management team taught me a lot of things.  It was quite a diverse group - different nationalities stationed at different regions (Turkey, Middle East and Iran).  It was the first time I met the team from Turkey and Iran and it was such a refreshing experience.  We shared many great conversations including culture, history, experiences, issues, challenges (work/non-work related).  It's a celebration of cultures.  We did not only celebrate our diversity, but our commonality as well.  

I would never have anticipated Turkey to be so green and colorful.  Having lived in the UAE for several years now, the burst of greens and vivid colors of Istanbul really got to me.  It was a-mazing.  When I got out of the airport I was welcomed by a cold breeze, I was happy to escape the intense summer weather of Dubai.

View from my room

So here's my short trip in photos, all captures entrusted to my ever reliable iPhone

DAY 1 - We arrived at around 5 in the afternoon.  Someone picked us up from the airport and took us to the hotel.  I traveled with four guys by the way and you can imagine how I endured boy talks and humor for more than 4 hours.  It was fun though - one of the boys talaga ako. 

Never ending chit chat
He took my bag

Pera Palace hotel - It's known as the "oldest European hotel" in Turkey.  It was built in 1892 and I must say it was beautifully restored.  Famous visitors of this hotel include King Edward VIII, Queen Elizabeth II, Emperor Franz Joseph, as well as Sarah Bernhardt, Alfred Hitchcock, Pierre Loti and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. It was also recognized that world famous thriller writer Agatha Christie  wrote Murder on the Orient Express while she was staying in her favorite room - 411.
Jumeirah Group, the luxury hospitality company based in Dubai that manages the Burj Al Arab, took over the hotel this year.

Anything that has a history and character I pretty much love. No, it wasn't your usual modern hotel but the location was perfect. Easy walking throughout the town. It is in walking distance to the city center (Taksim), five km to the Old City, 3 km to the harbor.

Maybe I should have written a book on this desk too. Chos.
Bed side
Room essentials - nga naman!
Here's where I spend most of my time, making espresso with Nespresso!
Ang aparador ng Shake Rattle and Roll and my Renault Trucks loot
Dramatic ang ilaw, tse!
Kalat kalat ang gamit
Sa laki, puwede akong matulog ng pahalang
Bet na bet to! Pillow Menu!
 We had Traditional Turkish food for dinner at one of the hotel halls. Boss forced me to try everything.  Anything with Eggplant, I loved.  Sarap nila magluto ng talong!
Time to rest. Goodnight Istanbul.

Pera Palace Hotel
Meşrutiyet Caddesi No: 52  34430 Tepebaşı, Beyoğlu Istanbul Turkey
Tel: +90 212 377 4000
Fax: +90 212 377 4077
DAY 2 - I woke up fairly early to get ready for an early meeting and an afternoon of outdoor activities.  I rushed to my room's terrace and the view was hair-raising.  Tagal kong nagmuni-muni dito, chos ulit.
Good morning!
Coffee! Coffee!
We had to sport our Renault Trucks shirt that day.  As usual mine looked like a lab gown sa sobrang laki, had to tuck it in and fold the sleeves. Puwede na ba?
Meeting at the conference room
 Get to know each other better activities
Hindi to serious dapat eh
It's raining men
Our group's ultimate wish, to teleport! Na binara bara nila kasi mawawalan daw kame ng negosyo kung nakakapagteleport lahat ng tao! 

Event Garden - We had lunch and outdoor activities at the Event Garden.  It is located beside a small hill and that stretch was just magnificent.  They were setting up the other side of the venue for a wedding and it looked magical.  Fairy garden wedding ang peg.  We had a set of games and tasks that really ignited the team spirit.  And yeah, I tried archery that day.  Turns out I've potential, bukas na bukas magvo-volunteer ako sa Hunger Games. Hahaha!
Proud na proud si Bernard sa blue and red color block nya.  Outdoor activity daw so dapat super sporty ang look.
Lunch was delish as usual
Nakalimutan ko ang title
Eto rin, nakalimutan ko
MEAT! Jusme, hinde ko talaga to naubos
Winning team checking out their prize (TASA!)
Taken on our way back to the hotel

Event Garden
Tel : (0212) 271 13 22 
E-mail address: 

360 - We headed to 360 for dinner and drinks that evening.  It was a good 10 minute walk from where we were staying.  Again, it was another fantastic view of the Bosphoros from where we were seated. Sa sobrang ganda hinde ako makapagconcentrate sa pagkain. Let me also say that Sea Bass we had for the main course was just perfect.  Marco and I can't stop gushing about how gratifying that dish was. I also enjoyed the "night show".  We all had a great time there.
Eto na, a series of let me take a photo of myself shots
WIM: Pull and Bear dress. Steve Madden pumps, Accessories from American Eagle

Night's surprise
Fiery powder room

360 Istanbul
Address: Istiklal Street, Mısır Apartment
8th Floor No: 163 Beyoglu
+90 212 251 10 42 - 43
DAY 3 - We spent the entire day inside the conference room.  A series of brainstorming for our much needed action plans for the upcoming year.  Can't go into details but it was really tough coming up with realistic plans that would benefit and help the employees of our hub. On the other hand, the disclosures on that session were a real eye opener.  I'm just happy to be given that opportunity to share my thoughts and ideas. 
A break from a 4 hour meeting
Just what we need, a refreshing view, nakakadrain eh
Tuna Nicoise
Management team's souvenir photo from the previous day
Discussion galore
Kanya kanyang opinyon

Reina Night Club - Boss ended that grueling session by saying "Go get dressed kids, it's time to party, you guys deserve it."  And off we went, got all dressed up.  We rode a bus going to the bay area and hopped on a yacht that took us cruising along the Bosphorus.  It's a strait that connects the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. It runs right through the heart of Istanbul, past the Istanbul Modern Art Museum, and several Ottoman palaces

I love everything about Reina - the location under the bridge, the hip ambiance and the VIP treatment of the staff.  It was our last night to bond, so we were switching seats all the time, making sure we finish up our exchange sensible and nonsensical things with each and everyone.  

Wearing a classic LBD from Zara that evening
Hahaha, itsura!
Going to the bay area
Bernard looking too cute with the Pashmina.  They were giving it out on board because it was too windy.
Under the bridge
The link between two continents: Asia and Europe
This has got to be one of my favorite captures.
Serkan, Rami and Matteo
View of the bridge
Salmon for starters
I chose meat that night
Red red wine
Chic interior
Birthday boys Serkan and Rami. They call this shot 69 together. Age daw nila kapag ni-add 69. Hay boys talaga.
Sorbet for dessert
Reina Night Club
Muallim Naci Cad. No:44 ORTAKÖY/İSTANBUL
0212 259 59 19 - 0212 259 59 21

DAY 4 - Finally, free time!  I woke up early had a great long conversation with Kaya.  It was her 6th birthday that day.  She was having lunch with the family at the mall when I called.  Too excited to buy her present, she asked for a bike.  I miss her so much, if I can just fly back home and spend this day with her, I would have.  Since it was rather impossible, we might as well enjoy this special day even when were miles apart.  So after that heartwarming conversation, I did some exploring on my own.  I had a good 10 minute walk to Istiklal Street, one of the most famous avenues in Istanbul.  It is there that I found the most exquisite cafes, restaurants, bookstores, music stores, art galleries, boutiques and street vendors.  

If I had enough time and local currency, I swear bibilhin ko lahat.  This is my kind of shopping arena!  I plan to go back to Turkey with my friends next year and I vow to dedicate and entire day exploring this strip. 

Empty pa, I was too early
My Obsession: Graffiti
The colors!

Church of St. Anthony of Padua, Istanbul - The largest church of the Roman Catholic Church in Istanbul, Turkey. It is located on İstiklal Avenue in the Beyoğlu district.


After going to church, I explored the street some more.  Bought cheap stuff and looked for a nice place to eat brunch.
Guilty pleasure
Street food
Love ko 'to!
Narrow street
Food stands
The Monument of the Republic (1928) on Taksim Square was crafted by the famous Italian sculptor Pietro Canonica.
Picture-an spot
You would notice a lot of flags around town, I even asked kung National Day ba or something hinde naman daw, normal lang daw yan
A photo of someone taking a photo
Mababa ang lipad
Kid selling feeds
Madaming cutie stuff dito
The House Cafe
 Nice fridge magnets
Iced Coffee! Reminds me of someone.
I love those chairs
Sige, picture-an ulit ang sarile
Croissant na maraming dip! YUMMY!
Eggs Royal. Yabang ko bilang marunong na ako gumawa ng hollandaise sauce
My own little private party. I miss you Kaya! SOBRA.
I got company. Sumunod siya sa akin, buti naman.
Happy Happy!
Where's Miejay in this photo?
Wrist bands!
I missed it, sayang!
Nakaka-curious tong TFB na to!
One of the most rewarding challenges of traveling alone...
...befriending strangers.
My favorite shop, parang langit to sa akin.
Those satchels! Waaaah!
Kung anik anik
Pag-ibig to!
Street art
I want them all
Ganda ng shirts dito, the fabric I mean
Yellow cabs!
Simar, our HR manager
Pera Palace hotel
Goodbye Istanbul.

I invaded my first business trip with an unprejudiced approach, discovering that when you carry open-mindedness - trusting yourself and others, beautiful things can happen.  Seems that I should get used to it, just been informed I'll be doing more of these in the upcoming months.  I enjoyed every moment of this vivifying experience.  It's one of those occasions where you soak in the present and just let things blow you away. 

"One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things."- Unknown


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