I made it!

After a long and crazy episode of traveling, I’ve finally made it to Ankara. Feeling overwhelmed is an understatement. But, everything has worked out so far, so I can’t complain too much. 

I’ll start with Dulles Airport. This place is crazy and I don’t recommend it for domestic flights. But, I did eat an amazing bison burger with my parents and sister for my “last meal.” We arrived with plenty of time to spare; so early in fact, that Turkish Airlines wasn’t checking bags yet. While we were waiting, I weighed my bags to see exactly how much overweight I’d be…one bag was 51 pounds, and the other 59. Paranoid, I took one pound out of the lighter bag and stuffed it into the heavier one. When it came time to check bags, the man who checked me in made a funny noise at the sight of my heavier bag (now 60 lbs), to which I replied, “I know… I knew it’d be over.” But then he just laughed and threw it on the conveyer belt. Then gave me my boarding pass. In other words… HE DIDN’T MAKE ME PAY!!! I’m not sure if he forgot, or just “ignored” it, but that definitely makes up for stupid American Airlines. 

About and hour and a half before my boarding time, I decided to say my “see ya laters” to my parents and sister and head through security. If I had a repeat of St. Louis, I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time to repack my carry-on bag. Well, I had no problem getting through the actual security part, but it was a 45 min. wait!! There were about 10 security gates, and they were only using one!! One! For hundreds of people! Many had flights boarding soon, and I’m sure there were some that missed their flights. In fact, right before it was my turn to put my stuff on the conveyer belt, a man came up and informed a TSA agent that his mother is in the back of the line and her flight leaves in 15 minutes. The TSA guy said he can’t do anything about it; the only thing the man could do was ask everyone in line if he could cut ahead. So the man makes eye-contact with me and begins pleading with me to let his mother go ahead. I told him I didn’t mind (yea, they probably should have arrived a little bit earlier, but I couldn’t say no), and prayed the 100 or so people behind me didn’t start throwing things. The man directly behind me actually said that I’ll be getting some good karma. 

And I did! I had no major problems the rest of the journey. I even had an empty seat next to me on the first flight!

By the way, Turkish Airlines is the way to go. My flight from Washington to Istanbul was the best I’ve ever experienced. I only want to fly Alaska and Turkish from now on!  On every seat, there was a pillow, blanket, and travel goodie bag. It looked like a pencil case, but was filled with: chapstick, ear plugs, a toothbrush, travel toothpaste, a sleep mask, and socks. REALLY SOFT SOCKS. About 10 minutes in the flight, they passed out Turkish Delight. !!!!!  Then, 15 minutes later, I had grilled chicken with roasted vegetables, two different types of salad, crackers, a roll, and cheesecake.  You definitely don’t go hungry on Turkish Airlines! I actually almost the entire flight, and used my new Bose headphones (expensive, but worth it) to block out the engine noise. And for breakfast, I had eggs, potatoes, and fruit. 

Once in Istanbul, I had no idea where to go. So I followed the crowd, until I found an information desk. I was confused about whether or not I needed to go through customs then, or when I arrived in Ankara. She told me I would there, but after I got my passport stamped. This was a long line, but it went fairly fast. When it was my turn, the passport guy looked at my visa, made a funny face which made my stomach churn, and then said something in Turkish. I replied with, “English?” but then he just stamped my passport and handed it back. So, I have no idea what happened. Once through, I wasn’t sure if I needed to get my bags, and recheck them, so I went and checked the baggage claim. My bags weren’t there, however, and there was a display that said all the bags had arrived. So I figured they were either lost, or did indeed go on to Ankara. I had to go through security again, and luckily had no problems. By this point I was ready to arrive at my hotel and take a shower. I was hungry and had to go to the bathroom, but I was more tired. 

Even on the flight to Ankara (less than an hour), they served a sandwich, chocolate-banana mousse, and eggplant salad. Way better than a packet of pretzels! 

When I arrived in Ankara, the airport was dead. It was the strangest thing. I’m not sure if it was because it was late in the evening, or what, but it was less busy than Fairbanks’ airport! I exchanged my money into Turkish Lira before finding my bags (they were both there!), and then headed toward the customs and exit sign. There was one that said, “nothing to declare / exit” and another that just said “customs.” Well, I had nothing to declare, but I thought I had to go through customs, so I asked one of the customs agents. He just said, “Yes, customs. Yes.” So I asked if he spoke English, and he called another agent over. When I asked him if I needed to bring my bags through customs, he replied that he didn’t understand the question. I didn’t want to make a big deal, so I just asked if I could leave. He said, “Yes, leave,” like I was asking a dumb question. Maybe I was asking a dumb question. I don’t know. But I made it out. And then, another strange thing. There were no taxis! Ok, there was one, but it didn’t have a driver. Even Fairbanks has a million taxis outside, no matter the time! I just stood in the taxi waiting area like a dummy for about 10 min, when a man and his mother came up and asked if I was waiting for a taxi also. Even he thought it was weird. This man went off and found someone, who began making phone calls, and suddenly there were about twenty taxis pulling up. The man with the phone began putting my luggage into one teeny car, and was saying something to me in super fast Turkish. I was too tired to try and communicate, so I just smiled and nodded. Haha. Another worry I had was whether or not the taxi driver would know how to get to my hotel, so I had printed out directions and was ready to help navigate. But when I told him the name, he simply said ok. 

I arrived safe and sound, took a shower, and fell asleep. LOOONG DAY. I think I cashed in my Karma from earlier.

I’m actually not too jet-lagged, and today (Saturday) I was able to get ahold of the real estate company I’ve been in contact with, and got to look at two apartments. Pretty successful day, I think! I’m hoping I’ll have a place by Wednesday. Fingers crossed!

Bison burger with bacon and avocado!
Turkish Airline treats!
Somewhere outside of Zagreb.
First look of Istanbul!
And another!

One thought on “I made it!

  1. That America picture is hilarious! Yikes! This is going to be a daily read for me! I wouldn't have thought Turkish Airlines would be so badass! Good for you with customs, it's a bitch to figure out when nearly everyone speaks English!


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