Not a whole lot to report when it comes to the day. Everything went pretty much without a hitch.
I had a half day at work and was very productive for the 4+ hours I was there.
Maneesh, one of my very best friends, happened to have a meeting down at USC today and was headed the same direction as me. I kind of invited myself along for part of the way since he had the day off and it helped us so much with the logistics. Instead of having two cars and having to rush back to Jenn’s office to stash my car for the trip in her work’s parking structure (and all the pain that entails), Maneesh was able to drop me at Sony where she had a meeting. From there we have just one car and a straight shot to LAX with a stop for food.
We arrived with plenty of time to not be overly stressed, but not so much to be waiting around super bored.
When we arrived at the airport though I got a bit of a shock when the Turkish Airlines lady asked if we had our visas printed. Apparently the system changed in April (and we bought our tickets back in March). My face must have been white. Thoughts flashing through my mind of countries like Vietnam where you need the visa sorted out before arriving. How could I miss a change like this?! Well the panic was a bit premature. When I visited before, Turkey had you stand in a line to pay for a visa stamp (like a postage stamp but bigger, similar to Japan) before going through the immigration line. However to speed that up, they now have a slick webpage that lets you pay for the visa beforehand and skip directly to passport control. We just had to go through the process I thought we had to go through instead of getting to take the short cut. On the bright side this makes the line in the airport a whole lot shorter.
Turkish Airlines is pretty upscale. No extra leg room like with Korean, but you get a little candy after takeoff, and the meal comes with a menu and real silverware. Sadly though I think we got seated in the children’s section. We had a kid behind Jenn kicking a seat, and a little girl screaming at the top of her lungs. I feel like parents are so worn down by this point that they just give into the screaming and bad behavior. It really makes the flight so much more painful being crammed into tiny seats in a tin can with a screaming child. We needed to try to fall asleep as soon as we took off to try to get ourselves on Istanbul time since it’s a good 10 timezones east, but because of high pitched screams from a young girl, no sleeping was getting done. Blurry eyed we watched a movie or two and ate before finally passing out. I think I slept for a little less than half the flight, maybe 5hrs total, not too bad considering once we hand it’s just 5 more hours until bed time.
Landing in Istanbul we made it through immigration a lot quicker than I expected and were on our way.
We have a flight the next morning from the other airport in Istanbul, so I booked us an airport hotel there for the night. This meant crossing the Bosporus and all of Istanbul during rush hour. We had two options, take the Havaş bus to Taksim where Istanbul has had protests often this last year before changing onto another to Sabiha Gökçen Airport, or we could take a direct taxi. My dad had lectured me on how I’m now responsible for Jenn’s safety on a trip like this which I take very seriously. That along with the time of day and convenience we took a taxi. Good choice. It took us around 2hours in rush hour traffic to make it across the city. I knew this was going to be a bit of a problem since Sabiha is kind of in the suburbs and I’d read online about the traffic this time of day, but the flights were $300 cheaper each! Still though, it was pretty cool to cross from the European to the Asian continent. The Bosporus was beautiful at sunset.
Our hotel is comfortable, clean, and modern. We get our room upgraded because of a mistake on their end with them only keeping a smoking room with a queen bed, so we get a top floor King room instead.
Dinner was surprisingly affordable in their restaurant given they kind of have you by the collar being this far from everything. The food was pretty good too, very flavorful. The waiter was a bit offended though when we insisted on bottled water, but I’ve learned from experience that even if a place has water as clean as ours, there is always something in it (even in LA), and it takes time for your body to adjust, so I stick to bottle water if I’m not going to be in a country for more than a couple of weeks.
Tomorrow we fly to Dalaman and then bus on to Fethiye to see some Lycian ruins, and enjoy a cute Mediterranean town.