Time for Turkey

Trip Start Nov 09, 2006
Trip End Nov 22, 2006

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Saturday, November 11, 2006

Of course, our first day was all about flying. To give us plenty of time to make our 7:35am departure, Amy arranged for a car to pick us up at home at 5am on Thursday. Nathan did more advanced packing prep than usual, and we were both able to catch some sleep before the big journey.

The itinerary showed one flight number from Seattle to Frankfurt, and another to İstanbul. Turns out that the first flight included a 2-hour layover and a plane change (?!) in Washington, D.C. That ain't right...

After a 5-hour flight to D.C., a 2-hour layover, and another 8-hour flight, we found ourselves in the smokey maze of an airport that is Flughafen Frankfurt. We had to go through security again, which meant "no liquids greater than 3 ounces," and Nathan had to throw away the bottled water he bought in D.C.! Once through security, we were in a small area dedicated to four gates, with no bathrooms and nothing to eat or drink since we didn't have any euros to feed the vending machines. Oh, and "smoking kiosks" every 30 feet or so, which had no shortage of takers. Cough! Wheez!

Mercifully, the final flight was almost on time and only about 2.5 hours. We touched down at Atatürk Havalimanı around 1pm the next day. It was a snap to get our visas and go through passport control. Then we just had to get our bags, change some money, and go through customs to find our guide who would take us to the Orsep Royal Otel. A tip for those changing large sums of money in Turkey: ask for small bills! We ended up with a number of 100 and 50 lira bills, and hardly anyone would take them unless we made big purchases. We ended up getting most of them broken down into 20s and 10s at hotels and other change offices.

Between all of the announcements and the constant rounds of meal and beverage services, neither of us had slept much on the planes, so we crashed as soon as we got to the hotel. This despite the adrenaline-boosting shuttle ride from the airport, down impossibly narrow and crowded streets. It took 24 hours of travel across 10 time zones to get from our house to the hotel. Sweeeet!

We managed to rouse ourselves and get freshened up in time for the orientation meeting and dinner, where we met our guide and the rest of the group. After a quick buffet dinner, we headed back to our room and crashed again...

We don't have any pictures to go with this entry, so we included a picture of the mosque we could see from our hotel room in Konya, along with an .mp3 recording of the evening call to prayer we heard while staying there.  The calls to prayer became a sort of punctuation mark for our days.  We often heard them early in the morning before our wake-up calls, and again later as we were settling down after dinner.  Some of them had a lilting beauty to them, and some of them were almost painful to listen to!
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