Let the Fun Begin
Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
71Trip End Jul 10, 2011
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That was the plan.
Reality sometimes bites, and hard.
The early part of the plan was going swimmingly, that is up until check in. The guy behind the counter, we'll call him Michael, (because that’s his name), was having trouble checking our luggage through from Hong Kong to Istanbul and then on to Izmir where we collect the bike. After several unsuccessful attempts, he hit on the reason. Our travel agent had stuffed up big time!!. She had us staying overnight in Hong Kong and arriving at our destination of Izmir on Monday morning the 28th March, one day later than we requested and as was shown in the itinerary she had prepared for us based on our instructions. This would be disasterous as we had to be in Izmir on Sunday the 27th March at 5.00 pm for a pre-pick up bike briefing by Dave MILLIGAN from Get Routed, our bike shipper. All bikes imported into Turkey are entered into the passport of the owner and unless this was done correctly and the bureacrats satisfied, then the bike goes no where. Dave wanted us all there to on the afternoon of the 27th March to guide us through this minefield so arriving a day late on Monday the 28th just wasn't going to cut the mustard.
Anyway, several hasty mobile phone calls later to our now in the bad books travel agent and it was sorted. Well almost. Plan B was we now fly to Hong Kong (no change from Plan A), collect our luggage (Plan A had it booked through to Izmir), then attend the Turkish Airline counter at Hong Kong airport and have our new tickets re-issued (more Plan B). Of course we had no confirming paper work and only an email from the once beloved travel agent assuring us was all OK (had we heard that before?).
So we duly arrived in Hong Kong and collected our luggage as directed. What the travel agent didn't say in her new Plan B was that after collecting our luggage we found we had to go through customs and this meant leaving the airport, even if it was only out the exit door and then straight back in to the terminal. Because technically we had now been "in" Hong Kong, if only for five minutes, it now meant we also had to pay departure tax of $75 per person! It doesn't end there - because we changed the flight details of our original tickets, they hit us another $75 pp for a fee to manually re-issue our tickets! So $300 poorer, we had tickets to Izmir via Instanbul as we originally requested. Luckily (and just as well) our travel agent has offered to pick up this tab but we'll wait and see.
Sun 27.03.11 - So, after more than 24 hours in the air we arrived tired and weary in Izmir. We collected our hire car,
Izmir is a city of 2.6 million souls and it combines prosperity and poverty remarkedly well.
We had our meeting with Dave from Get Routed at 5.00 pm Sun 27.03.11 on the dot together with about 35 other travellers only to be told that Turkish Bureacracy was alive and well and that there had been a hickup with bike pickup. The Turks thought the bikes were being ridden into the country not coming by sea. How the hell they figured that out is beyond any of use because the shops were at a shipping dock and a shipping port in a harbour city!