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Review: Nish Palas Istanbul (Formerly Hyatt Unbound Collection)

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In a nutshell: The Nish Palas Istanbul is an excellent boutique hotel in the upscale Maçka neighborhood. It offers well-appointed, comfortable rooms, an excellent breakfast, and lovely views of the Bosporus. Unfortunately, the hotel unexpectedly exited the Unbound Collection and World of Hyatt shortly after my stay. 

Call me crazy, but I booked three different hotels for my three nights in Istanbul back at the beginning of September. I considered booking all three at the Park Hyatt, but there were a couple other great options, and one only needs a single night to check off a brand as part of brand explorer. Looking back, I’m glad I chose to “hotel hop” among properties, as the Park Hyatt was in solid last place of the three. My first night at the Nish Palas Istanbul, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt (at the time) was excellent.

Booking the Nish Palas Istanbul

The main selling point of the Nish Palas Istanbul was its award rate. When it was part of the World of Hyatt program, it was only an award Category 2 property. Prices were around €100 per night before taxes, so this is pretty good value for an award stay. Other options included the Grand Hyatt (Category 3) and Park Hyatt (Category 4). Paying just 8,000 points for the night was a steal, especially considering that I would receive 2,000 points back as part of the ongoing Hyatt promotion.

With Globalist status, I’d be able to enjoy free breakfast and hopefully a solid room upgrade. The Nish Palas Istanbul does not offer any suites, but they do offer large rooms with a terrace overlooking the Bosporus.

Arrival and Check-In

The neighborhood surrounding the Nish Palas is very pedestrianized, and my taxi driver had trouble getting me to the front of the hotel. He couldn’t turn and head up the street, so I got out a couple blocks away near the Maçka Democracy Park. Airport taxis do accept credit card, but be aware that some Istanbul taxis do not accept plastic, something I found out later that evening. 

I entered the tiny lobby and front desk area of the Nish Palas. The hotel has a total of just 45 rooms. The other facilities include a first floor restaurant and top floor terrace restaurant. The hotel also offers a fitness center. 

The front desk staff was very friendly and warmly welcomed me to Istanbul. He informed me that they had upgraded me to one of their terrace rooms with a Bosporus view, the nicest room type offered at the Nish Palas. I’d hoped they’d offer this. Generally, I like to see how the hotel handles elite benefits and will only ask for a specific room type or upgrade if I have a real need (usually if traveling with kids).

Nish Palas Istanbul Terrace Room

First impressions are often everything. And the Nish Palas Istanbul certainly delivered. The terrace rooms are reasonably large, with a king bed, sitting area, and lovely bathroom. Plus the outdoor terrace, of course. I was immediately struck by how interesting and unique the lighting fixtures are.

The bed was comfortable, but softer than I like. It didn’t matter. I fell right to sleep that night, exhausted after 14+ hours of flying. The one thing that surprised me about the terrace room is the lack of a desk. It might have been a bit awkward to put a stool under the table to the side of the bed, but it could have worked. However, there would be no easy power outlets.

You can control all the lights in the room from the side of the bed, which is super nice. This, plus motion-activated lighting under the bed (which wasn’t present here), are two of the features I appreciate most in modern upscale/luxury hotels. 

The in-room coffee didn’t work the next morning when I went to make a cup. While I fell asleep quickly, it didn’t last. As is typical when traveling this far, I made it to about 3:30 AM before throwing in the towel and getting up for the day. Coffee would have been nice, as breakfast still didn’t open for hours. This was the only issue I encountered during my stay. 

The room also featured a number of snacks on the table and drinks in the minibar, all for purchase. There were also two water bottles (complimentary) in the corner next to the minibar price list.

I was traveling during a pandemic, and the hotel did offer a hygiene kit that included a mask and antiseptic wipes.

I had to request an adapter from the front desk since the one I’d brought didn’t work. Luckily the Nish Palas had a couple to choose from. I’d grabbed the three-prong European style outlet, but there were no hole for the center ground prong. I’m pretty sure the one I’d brought was from Italy, and I forgot that even though the dual-prongs are the same in most European countries, the ground prong is often different. But the hotel hooked me up with one for the duration of my stay. 

The terrace rooms at the Nish Palas Istanbul have lovely bathrooms. I thoroughly enjoyed the rain shower after a long day of travel.

Then there is the view. This was definitely my favorite feature. You can see the Maçka neighborhood around you, the minarets in the old city off to the south, and across the Bosporus to the Anatolian side of Istanbul. The Princess Islands (center, in the distance) are a favorite option for a day trip from the city. The tall building just to the right of the stadium at the center is the Ritz Carlton. If you’re looking for the best views in Istanbul, it might offer it, considering its placement.

The outdoor terrace included a small table and chairs. I enjoyed the morning watching the morning light creep into the sky. Given that it was the first of September, the lows barely dipped into the 60s.

Overall, I was extremely satisfied by my comfortable and stylish room. It was an absolute bargain at just 8,000 Hyatt points. I guess with cash rates around $100-120 USD, this is the correct pricing. Turkey is an inexpensive country to visit in general, and there are several points hotels in Istanbul that are a real bargain. 

Breakfast

Breakfast in the morning starts at 7:30 AM. As someone who is nearly always up early and usually at the office working before that time, this is a bit late for me. But this is (still technically) Europe and its part of the lifestyle. Jet lag also throws everything off. 

Breakfast didn’t end up starting until more like 7:45, as the hotel staff did not have the restaurant ready. But they were warm and welcoming once they opened.

The Nish Palas Istanbul breakfast menu offers a variety of choices. There is the Turkish breakfast, continental breakfast, eggs Benedict, scrambled eggs, sausage, pancake, and a few other options. It’s a a bit a la carte, aside from the Turkish breakfast, although a single plate of some of the items might be enough. One chef special is warm dates filled with goat cheese. I’m open to a lot of new foods, but given that neither of those are on my “like” list, I passed this up.

The full Turkish breakfast would do just fine. The waiter made it clear that everything was complimentary as a Hyatt Globalist, and he even suggested that I order some eggs. So I ended up getting the eggs Benedict and the Turkish breakfast. If you’re thinking that this sounds like it would be way too much food, you’d be right. 

The Turkish breakfast spread is fantastic. There were like 27 plates. I felt like a glutton. You have tomato, cucumber, dried fruit, cheese, olives, fruit spread, potatoes, pastries and börek (I think). 

The eggs Benedict came later on a bed of salmon and greens. Everything was absolutely delicious, and I managed to finish the bulk of the food.

The craziest part is that everything I ordered came to just 105 Turkish lira. This is about $16 USD. Add the service charge, and you’re talking $18 USD. Even without status, this is a very good price for what you get. But still relatively expensive, given you can find breakfast for less than 20 lira. 

Other Hotel Facilities

Rather than venture out for dinner after arriving in Istanbul, I decided to eat at the hotel restaurant. I could have found a cheaper restaurant, but it would not have been one with lovely views of the Bosporus and city all around me. Sure, my room had a nearly equal view, but it was nice to enjoy eating on the terrace. The weather in Istanbul during my early September visit was perfect.

I ordered a starter, fish and Turkish wine. Everything was quite good, although it didn’t compare to breakfast the following morning. 

The total came to 209 TL, which is around $30 USD. Hysterically, it was more expensive than my 50-minute taxi ride from the airport. Food prices in Turkey can vary considerably, and this was definitely on the high end. I’d buy a sandwich for lunch the next day for 9 TL (~$1.20 USD). 

Other Notes on the Stay

As the Nish Palas is a boutique hotel, there isn’t a dedicated concierge, business center, pool or other features that you might expect from a 5-star hotel. The property does have a fitness center located on a basement floor.

The front desk bailed me out the first night after I had my first mishap. I headed out after dinner, walking across the Maçka Democracy Park and over to Taksim Square. I enjoyed walking along the Istiklal Caddesi, finding myself at the Galata Tower after a total of 2.5 miles. By this time it was fully dark. Rather than spend an hour heading back on foot, I hailed a taxi. 

The ride was fine, and the driver even made it all the way to the hotel. However, I had failed to withdraw any cash. So far, I’d only used my card for the airport taxi and dinner at the hotel. My plan was to withdraw cash using my SoFi debit card, but I hadn’t yet called to unlock it. I was at the airport when I realized that there was some fraud alert on the card, as it simply refused to work (long story short, I’d entered my PIN wrong too many times trying to withdraw cash back home in California).

I spoke to the front desk, and they covered the taxi fare. I withdrew cash and settled with them the following morning.

Nish Palas Istanbul Review: Final Thoughts

My stay at the Nish Palas Istanbul came to an end after breakfast. I checked out and headed to Park Hyatt, which is just a few blocks away. Dropping my bag, I headed out for my first full day in Turkey’s largest city. The upside of hotel hopping is getting to try new properties. The downside is having to leave behind ones that you really enjoy. 

And the Nish Palas Istanbul is a hotel I really enjoyed. I generally prefer boutique hotels with more character, although I can appreciate solid chain hotels as well for other reasons. With its comfortable and stylish rooms, great views, and excellent breakfast, the Nish Palas is a hotel I’d certainly revisit. The only bummer is that it has since abruptly exited The Unbound Collection by Hyatt and no longer participates in the World of Hyatt program. This is especially sad, as it was the first Unbound Collection property in Turkey, opening in 2018. Still, with cash rates of $100 per night, it’s a bargain for an upscale option.

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Review: Nish Palas Istanbul (Formerly Hyatt Unbound Collection)
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/nish-palas-istanbul-review/
Published Date: Sat, 10 Oct 2020 15:09:27 +0000

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Vacation

What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?

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People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on Airliners.net via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/ansett-airlines-inflight-bar-menu/
Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?

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The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2020/11/18/science/shrimp-parade-thailand.html
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?

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There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.



Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From: travelupdate.com/aer-lingus-manchester/
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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