Turkey 2013

 

NOTE:  When Sharon adds comments, they will be in {curly brackets}.  Comments added AFTER coming back to San Jose are in [square brackets].

 

Report 0. Day 0.  Thursday, September 26, 2013. Getting There. An Overnight Flight to Istanbul

We know that the weight limit on any checked bag is 50 pounds. After each of us filling our cases, Sharon's weighs 42 and mine weights 57 pounds. I shuffle some weighty items we're carrying for Cihan and Tara to Sharon's bag, and in the end, each bag weighs 49.6 pounds. Nice. But I'm not able to take the stack of magazines Carrie gave me to take.

Friend Bob Ross picks us up in their fine Audi for our luxury trip to San Francisco International, affectionately known to the flying world as SFO. We leave home about 10:15, arrive at SFO about 1l:15. THANKS, BOB!

We check in with American Airlines for the leg to Los Angeles, which leaves about 2:10, a half- hour late, but still gets into LAX nearly on time, about 3:20 pm. Some good news? They check our two big bags all the way to Istanbul so we don't have to manhandle those things from the domestic to the international terminal in LA.

I get a sandwich and Sharon gets a banana and OJ to settle a slightly queasy stomach. We have our leisurely lunch, then pass the security check, make it to our gate with an hour and a half to spare and settle in for some reading and napping, in my case. We love getting there early.

Sharon clicks off a shot of me (you can see how unhappy I am to be leaving home for 39 days), and I get some fine shots out the window as we leave SFO.

Another flight takes off from the runway to our right just seconds before we do. Here they are, banking to the right. We bank to the left, and see oil tankers in the bay with Alameda Island and Oakland in the background.

 

We pass Hunters Point, or the Bayview district, and we get a far view of the new leg of the Bay Bridge, just to the right of Yerba Buena Island. I get a nice view of downtown San Francisco for a few secondso.

 

The Golden Gate bids us farewell, and we pass over Pacifica, where Sharon's son Peter lives with his lovely wife Stacey and kids MaryJane and Charley. Their house is just out of the picture to the right of this shot.

The flight to LAX is uneventful, which is the A Number 1 Best a flight can be.

Upon arrival in Southern California, we leave the domestic terminal and wheel our carry-ons around the corner to the Bradley, or 'B' terminal - the actual name of the international terminal. {We follow a nice airport attendant who is pushing a wheelchair to the intrnational terminal and says to my "where is the international terminal?" "Follow me" We do and it is strange to have to go outside the building to get to the new terminal.} We go in, find the Turkish Airlines check-in area, and I inquire how to upgrade from economy to luxury economy. We are directed to an incredibly-slow moving line, and review our earlier agreement. If it costs $150 each to upgrade, we'll do it, but higher than that, we'll stay in economy. The magic number turns out to be $330 a person, so we nix that, dreaming of what we can buy for $660 instead. You know how that goes.

Our flight to Istanbul doesn't leave till 6:20pm so we've got lots of time. Just the way we like it.

After learning that there are no restaurants past security, we locate a restaurant for Sharon to have a bite to eat, as she has recovered from her queasy tummy syndrome.. I spot a Panda Express and pick up a small Hot and Sour Soup, to take to our table in the restaurant. {I have a bread bowl filled with delicious chili which tastes really good. I was hungry.}

After eating, we clear our second security screening of the day, {My bag is pulled aside and the TSA guy says he needs to open it. "OK", I say always being slightly nervous in these situations Turns out it was the KitchenAid pasta maker that we are bringing for Cihan and which on Xray looks like two large missles in my carry-on. He has to take it out of the box and wipe everything down to test for explosives. I am always glad that they are so careful and am soon on my way again.} We wait for our flight to load, do so into our Boeing 777 with 3, 3 and 3 - 9 across. That is, three seat groupings on the left, center and right, so two aisles. Our home for the next 13 hours or so will be Seats 32 D and E, an aisle and middle seat, in the center section. I keep my light jacket down also, for when and if it gets cold in the plane.

Sharon collects our free travel kits with mask, slippers etc. and stows them away. I get our carry-on into the luggage bin right above my head, so it's easy to get to if we need. I put my photography vest on the floor, along with my fanny pack. By the way, don't say fanny pack in the UK.

In summary, quickly, we get dinner and breakfast during the flight. We each have an entertainment center in the back of the seat in front of us. We can watch movies, TV shows, either the front-facing or down-facing view from the cameras in our airplane, an updaitng map showing our flight path and where we are on it. Sharon has her needlepoint and I have a great Jack Reacher book by Lee Child. Sister Shirley told me about this new favorite author of mine now, a few years ago. I also have a new Sudoku book and a Turkish Beginner's Language book. I consult it only once during the trip, say "Oh well," and put it back. {I always have great intentions of studying the Turkish before we go but so many other things intervene. But luckily, the Turkish words come back to us when we are there for a few days. The first time we went, we had flash cards and practiced our Turkish daily before we went.}

Friday September 27, 2013. Arrival

The miles and hours zoom by, we each get some decent sleep, and we arrive in Istanbul an hour or so early, as I have it figured. We buy our 90-day Turkish visas at $20 a pop, then go looking for Passport Control. There is some confusion over which line to get in, but we correctly bypass the Iraqi Passport line. The long line we DO join moves along fairly well, but we figure out that everybody in this line is heading for a security checkpoint.

Wait What?

It turns out that OUR Passport Control line is still further down the way. We finally get there, and there is a huge line. However, a worker sees Sharon's walking stick and puts us into a shortcut, direct route to a passport agent. He stamps us and we zoom out into the meet and greet area. There are approxmately a half-million Turks with signs, but no Tara. We were expecting there to be no Tara since we came in way early. We set up our airport-home, and while Sharon stays with the bags, I go to a bank and change $200 into about 400 TL - Turkish Lira. You know what this, means, doncha? Every time Sharon sees the price of something, she divides by two to get dollars. As she puts it, it's like everything is on a 50% off sale, and how can you pass up a savings like that?

I pocket our new money, and see Tara with Sharon as I'm walking back.

Hugs and pictures, and it's Friday afternoon, so the bridges from the European to the Asian side of Istanbul will be totally stand-still packed with vehicles. {Cihan is at a very important meeting, but keeps checking the traffic for us.} So we do the smart thing. We take a taxi from Ataturk (the main Istanbul airport) to the Ferry. We cross the Bosphorus, or what would be the Bosphorus if we were a half mile further north or so, to the Asian side, then take a taxi from there to Tara and Cihan's apartment.

Here we are waiting for that last taxi.

Tara gets us all through the security gate of the housing complex, directs the driver to her building, and I pay the driver. We unload, muscle our luggage up the short stairs to the elevator level (Yes, I said ELEVATOR!!!. Their fifth floor apartment in Golchuk was a walk-up), and in short order, we are in their apartment. Big hugs with Cihan (that's the only kind there are with Cihan), a tour of the rooms, and we start spreading out in our assigned spots for luggage, computer setup, sleeping quarters etc.

It is GREAT to be here. I don't feel knocked out from the big overseas flights, like I usually am. We stay up till one o'clock talking and enjoying each other's company. Cihan has wrangled us four tickets to a fabulous boat show for tomorrow. We take photos of a couple of the rooms. {Cihan says that this new apartment is smaller than their last one, but it is so light and airy that it doesn't seem like it. A very beautiful place with beautiful terrazo floors in the kitchen and parquet floors throughout the rest.}

Cihan is super-excited because we brought some pasta-making additions to their Kitchen Aid mixer, and says tomorrow he will make angel hair pasta for us.

The kitchen is at left, and the living room aka our bedroom is to the right. I have great, fond memories of these couches, where either makes down into a bed, from our 2008 visit. The sleeping was great, I was totally rested, and ready for each new day, and I expect the same thing here.

So that's it for our today, folks. Have a good one. Iyi Aksamlar (Good night)..


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