Friday, November 21, 2008

The long road back to Turkey.

I
should have known that it was not going to be an easy affair getting to Turkey when my plane arrived late in to Paris. Originally, I had a two hour layover which is usually sufficient to transfer planes. This time however, I had only about 45 minutes which is barely enough time so I found myself running from one terminal to another, wishing there weren’t so many people walking in front of me and hoping that the security line would be short. Of course, it was not to be my lucky day so in the end, I was just about the last person to board the plane to Istanbul. Squashed in the middle seat, which I hate, I found myself seated next to a man who was obviously battling a bad cold. Thankfully, he knocked himself out with Sudafed but I’m still hoping he did not pass anything along to me. I don’t want to be sick on this trip.

I arrived into Istanbul on time but quickly realized it was not going to be enough time for me to catch my connecting flight to Kayseri unless I ran. Unfortunately, I had to do some stuff along the way – like buy my visa and clear passport control – before figuring out how to run like mad from the International to the Domestic Terminal . The lines were long everywhere. By the time I got my passport stamped, the luggage carousel had already stop spitting out the luggage from the plane. I walked around the carousel once and did not see my suitcase. I walked around again and still did not see my suitcase. Hopes of catching the connecting flight to Kayseri were dimming.

Conveniently, there was a woman standing behind a nearby podium with a big sign on it that read “Lost Luggage”. That would be me I thought and sure enough it was – my name was on the top of the list of about a handful of people whose luggage did not make it from Paris. In retrospect, I should have expected it to happen considering the fact that the plane from DC arrived late into Paris. There was barely time for me to make my connection so the chances were high that my luggage would not make it on the plane with me. I have travelled to umpteen zillion places. This is the first trip ever that my luggage did not arrive. The odds are it was bound to happen.
I was directed to an office to file my lost luggage claim.

I immediately got on the phone with Şahin and he and the woman behind the desk made the arrangements that will hopefully result in my suitcase arriving into Goreme on Monday. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Fortunately, I had packed two days worth of clothing in my carryon bag so I can survive till then. Unfortunately, time spent in the claims office meant I had missed my connecting flight to Kayseri.

My next task at hand was to get onto a later flight. I made my way from the International to the Domestic Terminal and straight to the Turkish Airlines counter where I was redirected to the ticket sales counter. It turned out I needed to shell out another 39 lira extra for the later flight. I now had a boarding pass for the 10:15p flight. I had about 4 hours to kill so I went to several shops and paid way too many lira for some basic toiletries and munchies.

I made it to the departure gate to wait for the plane and there I met a Turkish woman, who emigrated 30 years ago to Australia, but who is originally from Kayseri. We chatted to bide the time. Then, oddly enough some man walks up to this woman, while we’re talking and tells her the departure gate has changed. I checked the monitor and sure enough it had. We headed for the “updated” gate and waited for the boarding announcement. The announcement came on time. The shuttle bus came and left on time. We boarded the plane on time. The plane took off on time. We arrived into Kayser 15 minutes late. :)

Since I had no luggage, I headed straight for the exit and when I did not see Şahin there, I called him on his cellphone. Turned out he was already at the airport so I waited and minutes later, he showed up. By now, it was around midnight. After the travel day that I had had, I was so relieved to see his smiling face – it was truly a welcomed sight!

My bags and I piled into Şahin’s car and we drove for the next hour, arriving into Goreme around 1am. Şahin had made plans for me to stay at the Dream Cave Hotel which is owned and run by one of his cousins. Şahin went and got the room key– I didn’t even have to register and walked me to my room. We chatted for a bit and then we bid each other good night. By the time I settled into my room and slithered my bone tired body into bed, it was close to 2am. As I fell into deep sleep, all I could think of was just how happy I am to be back in Cappadocia –I made it in one piece despite all the travel mishaps that happened along the way!