Anyway, we got to the gate with plenty of time to spare, and the flight was to take off at 11pm. We actually took off at midnight, after a crazy boarding scheme which was basically "ok everyone get on the plane." Despite the disordered boarding, it went pretty quickly. We sat next to a young Turkish woman who didn't speak English beyond thank you and please....more than the Turkish I know, for sure. It was boiling hot as the plane boarded -- heat was just pouring out of the vents. As we passed a couple of people on the way to our seats we overheard them saying "it must be 90 degrees in here." They weren't exaggerating.
But we took off, the flight was uneventful (except for all the mothers changing babies' diapers in their seats instead of the bathrooms, and OH MY GOD did those babies have stinky diapers). Food, unremarkable. Movies available, unremarkable. But when we landed, the young Turkish woman next to me said "Welcome to Turkey" and I was thoroughly charmed.
It was simple getting the visa, getting through passport control, getting our luggage, and after a bit of worry, finding the guy who was going to drive us to our hotel. We drove past mile after mile of heavily-tuliped landscaping -- thick, lush tulips, amid other gorgeous flowers -- and got to our darling little hotel, Art City Hotel. It's in the Sultanahmet neighborhood of Istanbul, 3 minutes' walk from the Blue Mosque and the Hagia Sophia (WHICH IS OPEN TOMORROW!!! YAY!!!!). The people at the hotel are sweet and friendly and very welcoming. We have a balcony off our room with a view of the mosque at the end of the street (I think there's a mosque at the end of every street):
|there it is, the mosque at the end of our street, seen from our balcony. i think it's the Sokullu Mehmet Pasa Camii|
|the view from our terrace. real life across the street.|
The first night is always the most difficult because we're exhausted and time-lagged, so we have a restaurant already picked out before we arrive, walking distance from the hotel.
The best news, aside from getting here, is that the Hagia Sophia is open tomorrow. We have information about seeing the Whirling Dervish (oh yeah), taking a cruise on the Bosphorus (oh yeah), and the location of various markets, including the Spice Market. I think we're going to love Istanbul.