Let the Fun Begin

Trip Start Jan 31, 2011
Trip End Jul 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Alican Hotek, Izmir

Flag of Turkey  , Turkish Aegean Coast,
Sunday, March 27, 2011

Sat 26.03.11 - The best laid plans…… You know how it goes. You plan everything to the nth degree; you get up early; have the dutiful brother in law, Michael REILLY, pick us up four hours before departure knowing it takes only 45-50 minutes to get to the airport. Everything is going smoothly, you arrive at the airport on time, no pressure, plan on a leisurely check in of your luggage at the Cathay Pacific desk, then through security, find a newspaper shop to buy the obligatory motorcycle magazine to devour on flight , have a coffee, wait until boarding is called etc, etc, etc.

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, set the GPS (known as "Tom" because its a Tom Tom) and headed for the Alican hotel, a comfortable hotel at the right price in down town Izmir. Fortunately the hotel allows you to book in after 9.30 am in the morning, which was great because we were both in need of a shower and a change of clothes. We then headed off, with Kerrie driving a manual car (no worries she owns one) but with the steering wheel on the left and traffic on the "wrong side of the road", it didn't do Greg's nerves any good at all.

Izmir is a city of 2.6 million souls and it combines prosperity and poverty remarkedly well.  It has the usual upmarket shopping areas we expect of western cities but it then has kilometre after kilometre of what can only be described as shanty town shacks, just off the freeway and clearly visible to all. Turkey is in an earthquake zone and it looks like one good shake and most of the city would come down like a deck of cards. Of course our hotel put us in the top floor, room 709 so its only one way to go if the shaking starts.

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! Anyway, wait another day and hopefully they will be available on Tue 29th March. We'll see!

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Chris on

What a start to your holiday!!!!!!!!!! How devastating. Good to see that you made it even though Plan A failed. Love the photos. BFN.

Stacey Schneider on

WOW!! William and TJ have made sure they moved your picture to Turkey on their "Where in the world are Grams and Grampy now?" map.

Bren and Nick on

It can only get better from here on in!!!! Its all part of the adventure though - stressful as it may be. Loving the blog entries and the photos btw.

Mick Reilly on

Well I suppose the upside is the travel agent got the right country.Hope the pickup happens on Tuesday and you get down to serious travel.

Christopher on

Hope my travel agent does better otherwise you may have an enforced stay at Heathrow

grade 6L on

Love you Mrs Lane from James and Kye. Hope no more disasters strike. -Victoria. Don't forget we want turkish souvenirs -Miguel. Have you had any chance to shop?- Tori. Have you seen any school children? Have you had any turkey yet?- Ethan. We miss you, especially Mrs Wilson, have a great time. We can't wait to read your next adventure. love 6L

delma on

Stressful at the time but all part of the adventure. Will make a great first chapter in your coffee table book. Continue to update us all and stay safe!

Debbie on

We know a fantastic Travel Agency. Enjoy the countryside it is beautiful and the tourist sites are great.
Sit back and enjoy yourselves now.
Bye Deb x

Mike and Jo on

We keep telling you that planning is the enemy! If you don't have a plan then there is nothing to go wrong.
Judging by the photos the weather is ok. We hope it goes well from here and we look forward to hearing more abuse of travel agents over one of those greasy burgers at the Ace Cafe, London on 20 May.

Bean on

Ultimately the travel ageny got it right.

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