Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Unexpected billiards 001 - Istanbul Airport!

About 3 days ago I started my journey to Ethiopia. This involved leaving Istanbul on a noon flight to Cairo, followed by an 11-hour layover before the Cairo to Addis Ababa flight.
I arrived to Istanbul Airport with about two hours to spare, and the check-in and security procedures were a breeze. Thanks to my Star Alliance Gold status, I had access to the Turkish Airlines business lounge - I was expecting it to be nice, but I was actually blown away by the luxury.
As in most business lounges, all you can drink. As in some lounges, there was food available. As is almost no lounges, the food was varied and excellent (I am more used to the potato chip stands and free saltines lounge variety).

TV room from the future

Olive bar from Heaven

All you can drink, all you can eat, free pool.
Piano that plays itself

And now for the icing on the cake - there was a pool table. 8-footer in great condition, with sticks and chalk. It could have used a leveling, but otherwise a nice table. The setting is perfect - in a library!

The mortal nuts of billiard travel

Can you believe this place?

Pool table in a library - the dream

I only had about an hour to enjoy the lounge, which I spent eating 3 bowls of lentil soup and ravaging the olive bar. I also played a couple of unremarkable racks of 8-ball with a dude from Chechnya who was heading back to Grozny.

Landing in Cairo, I learned that Egyptair had included a 5-star hotel, dinner, and transportation to and from the airport because of my unusually long layover. They had not mentioned this to me when I reserved, so I had to make sure I wasn't getting conned - turned out legit. I decided to hire a cab for a couple of hours and head out to Gizeh to see the pyramids. The cab driver knew a guy, so I also rented a horse and went out to the lookout point for sunset. I can now add "seeing the pyramids" to my awesome layover list (also see previous post where "playing Preacher Ron a couple racks of one pocket at Kolby's" was scratched off the layover bucketlist). Then, back to the hotel, buffet dinner annihilation followed by two hours of happy sleep before heading back to Cairo airport, home of the most incredibly stressful check-in of my traveling life. But I made it to Ethiopia! I hope to be posting more from here, there are some promising billiard leads so far...

Oh and btw I rode a horse out to the pyramids at sunset on a layover :)

Sunset over the desert. That's Lybia in the back (pretty far though)