Getting to Turkey

Saturday morning we woke on time, finished tidying up Bethany’s house, got the cats situated, had breakfast and went out to catch the tram to Dusseldorf Hbf.  Our ICE train – the fast ones – took only 2 hours to get to Frankfurt which was awesome. We bought some wurst and pretzels on the way to the train since Bethany had booked us seats around a table.  The trip was going great!  We had alot of fun on the train watching Germany go by at 300km /hr and eating our food. 

This put us at Frankfurt airport 3 hours prior to our flight, so we checked in early and then went through security.  In security we were pulled over to the ‘family’ line which didn’t move for 20 minutes so we hopped back over to the regular line and breezed through.  Just as we finished getting our coats on, though, they halted security and cleared out the room….everyone still in line after us was rushed out and we were told to hurry.  Seemed dire, but then we got out to the terminal and all was hunky-dory.  The line to stamp out of customs took forever.  In the end it was good we got there with 3 hours to spare since it took about 2 to make our way to the gate.  Of course by this time both kids had had it, were hungry and tired.  We plopped at the gate. Zoe played with another little girl while Avi crawled around.  All was well, then things turned bad.

 They announced they would board, so everyone got in line, then they announced a 15 minute delay so everyone got out of line.  Zoe fell asleep on a chair.  Then they announce the plane needed new tires, and it would be 2-3 hours of delay.  If we wanted to leave the area we should be back by 5 (which would be a 2 hour delay), but to check the board for updates and they would announce any changes in the whole terminal.  So, we borrowed a stroller from luftansa and wandered the duty free, walked the terminal, and then went to mcdonalds for a coffee and I needed to nurse Avi.  We checked the board and it said the flight would board at 4:40 now instead of 5pm…so we packed up and headed down to the gate.  Well, when we got there everyone was gone!!! what!!!! The gate agents said they boarded everyone already – since there was a bus that had to take us out to the plane we couldn’t get on.  The flight still wasn’t gone, but we were SOL.  I freaked out. Then, more people showed up who missed the flight.  The gate agents said they made announcements, but no one heard them.  I did not hear a thing in McDonalds.  Anyway, there were quite a few people who missed the flight, disagreed about the announcements, and it all just sucked.  I felt so sick; you know that pit of your stomach sick. ugh.  felt like I would puke.  Bethany kept it together and asked for solutions..no other flights to central Turkey until Thursday, no options, no help from the gate agents.  Here’s a phone number.  gag.  So Bethany called it.  The phone people weren’t much more help, but she did get alot of our money back.

 After that fiasco we decided to look for the USO to use the internet. – but needed to go back out of customs, out of the security area, and into the main airport.  We found it and it was closed!  ugh. they closed at 3pm, which seems a bit early and inconvenient.  So, we plopped on the floor of the USO and got online the European way – by paying.  Internet is very rarely free in Europe we have discovered, so she bought an hour. Bethany realized we could probably switch our trip around and do central Turkey after Istanbul, so she found a flight that left Sunday and got us a cheap hotel at Frankfurt.  I kept the kids busy; by now they were wild.  We were in the basement of the airport, though, with very few people so I just let them run amok.  Zoe played airplane on a cart while Avi crawl around and squealed at her.  At one point I took Zoe to the bathroom and she asked if I was still sad.  I said yes, that I am responsible for her and Avi and Bethany and can’t stand that we didn’t make our flight and ruined the trip.  (at this point I wasn’t thinking we’d ever get to central turkey or our money back, honestly).  Zoe looked at me and said, “me too, mommy, but lets not be sad anymore.”  she grabbed me and gave me a big hug and then said, “headbutt!”  So we head butted to confirm that we wouldn’t let this keep us down.  What a crazy adventure!  Go team Pteranadon! She is an amazing little girl and lifted my spirits so much I felt less sick to my stomach and more determined to get us back on track. 

Of course, we then had to find our checked bag and stroller.  That took more than an hour, since it seemed our stroller was lost in neverland for a while and then appeared over in the bulky items corner.  The final blow to our day that started amazingly was getting on the wrong hotel shuttle.  gag.  it’s a chain and we got the wrong one.  That took time to figure out and fix, so by the time we actually go into the hotel it was 8pm.  We grabbed some, surprisingly cheap and delicious, dinner at the hotel bar/restaurant while I got online to book our flights for the change of plans, contact our hotel in central turkey, and get a hotel in Istanbul.  Needless to say this took longer than the 1/2 hour of free internet that was a perk of the hotel, but the nice lady behind the counter gave me codes for another full hour.  Bethany took the kids to the room and got them to bed while I blitzed reservations and plans.  To bed at 11.

Sunday morning we woke bright and early to catch the shuttle back to the airport where we breezed through security and customs and got some breakfast at McDonalds.  Today we did NOT stay in Mcdonalds where you cannot hear a singal announcement – we tested this theory and proved it.  Instead we waited at the gate to fly Tarom airlines (who’s heard of that?), the cheapest option, into Istanbul via Bucharest.  The flight boarded on time.  We did have to take a bus out to the plane, but it was great.  Our flight was also really nice! The food was great, and it came all packaged in cool little containers with a bag that hooked over the tray table clasp to dump your trash into.  neato.  Zoe got a kick out of it and loved her muffin, brochen, and also had a few carrots.  She didn’t like the baked ziti, but I thought it was good.  Avi also had fun on the flight.  He nursed and fell asleep, played with Bethany, tangled her knitting yarn, stood on the floor and played with stuff on my seat, and went through 2 diapers.

 It was a 2 hour flight to Bucharest, where we got off into a brand-spanking-new terminal that made Frankfurt look like a dungeon.Walked around the gift shop and let the kids run and crawl in the gate area.  There were a couple potted trees that proved to be great kid-attractors.  Zoe collected all the fallen leaves for her collection while Avi played in the dry dirt.  The kids have been so good this trip…I think the variety of transportation – like trains, cabs, trams, airplanes, shuttle buses, etc….is alot of the fun for Zoe.  Well, and Avi too, he enjoys watching vehicles and going up escalators.  When we boarded the flight to Istanbul we realized it was the same plane and we were in the same seats.  too funny. This time Zoe was in the middle instead of the window and got grumpy about it.  This was short lived, though, since she fell asleep as we were taking off.  Avi nursed, too, and passed out.  The flight was super short, but we still got a nice snack with a roll, cheese, and a little cake.  Tarom airlines was pretty nice!  Bethany also fell asleep though I kept bugging her to tell me what the words meant in a few German architectural magazines we grabbed from the free stack yesterday at Luftansa. 

When we landed in Istanbul both kids were asleep so I went out to get the strollers from the gate-check folks and got them setup.  By this time the plane was cleared out, so I got back on to carry out Zoe.  Bethany carried Avi and we had two still-sleeping kids which made for a quick and easy trip through the visa line, the customs line, and onward to baggage claim. I stopped by the Turkish airlines counter to change our flight from central Turkey to Istanbul into a roundtrip, which ended up being very easy and cheap to do.  Bethany and Zoe walked downstairs to the Tourist Information office to get some info and a map. 

We then hopped a taxi to the hotel – the cab ride was great as we drove along the water and got to see alot of the city, the strait, and then the old town from the car.  It was just starting to get dark, so the skyline was quite pretty.  We are staying at Yeni Hotel, which is in the old town just a few blocks from Topkapi Palace. It’s a funny little place with a twisting stairway, teal and yellow paint, mismatched linens, and a bright white neon sign out our window. It’s also a good price, in a great old building, run by a very nice older man, has comfortable beds, and a fun experience.  We’re in a room with three single beds – it’s a corner room with lots of windows.  Avi is in a lounge chair snugged up against the side of my bed.  The bath and shower are down the hall, and there is a bonus asian-style toilet for a little flair.  It’s great.  Tonight we asked the owner where to eat a cheap dinner so he directed us to a place just up the alley and he was right.  The lentil soup was great, the bread unending, the chicken kebabs good, and the meat balls spicy.  Zoe really like the chicken kabab and bread, of course.  cheap.  good. food. yum.  and the guy who ran the place was so nice and helpful.  So far everyone here has been nice and helpful. I’m so glad we’re here!! plans changed a bit, but we’re on our way!  Now, off to bed. I’m beat.

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