Home Again

Turkish Airlines has figured it out, why can't other airlines? I've never had so much leg room on a plane, except for the one time I flew first class.
If my chair could move, I would have scooted it closer to my tray table.
OK, so I don't have the arms of a basketball player. Still, sitting straight up and back against my chair I could extend my arm with fingers out.
Well, they aren't open in this shot but the overhead bins were the roomisest I've ever seen.
The most impressive part of the whole ride was that Turkish Airlines FED US! OK, sounds impressive at all these days but, wait, there's more. The flight from Izmir to Istanbul is under an hour! The plane is barely in the air and the attendants are wheeling the carts down the aisle, plying us with beverages. No sooner does everyone have a drink, and the they roll out the food. And I have to say the food wasn't bad at all. A small sandwich (turkey, of course) on a hoagie roll, Mediterranean style salad with dressing, a packet of cookies, a piece of apple cake, and water. Oh, and the there was a thick, yogurt-style herbed cheese spread. You can see it in the foreground. I assumed it was for the sandwich. No matter how you used it, it was really tasty.

The food cart is still passing out grub in the back of the plane when an attendant comes from the front of the plane with the garbage bag for your trash. No slow eaters allowed. The flight attendants must have had military training. Get 'em in, feed and water 'em, get 'em out.
Our last night in Istanbul was spent at a large, conference center type of hotel, the Marriott Polat Renaissance, just a couple miles from the airport. In fact, our room had a direct view of the runway which was just beyond a swank neighborhood where people actually walked dogs.

This was a really nice hotel. Security checks the trunk of the cab as soon as you pull in. You walk through a metal detector on your way in. The hotel bell-hop dude brings your bags up to the room several minutes after you get up there. For all I know they x-rayed the bags. When I booked this room online months ago, I had no idea it would be this nice. I just wanted something close to the airport. But it was swank. Giant bed, three dozen pillows, wet bar (which was locked and we couldn't figure out how it opened but we didn't want the crazy-priced booze or junk food or toothpaste any way), and a large, flat-screen TV that greeted me personally, like the airport ATM on the first day of the trip.
Here is a video of the same peaceful scene.

The hotel is full of high-end shopping opps, a gym, a spa, a few resteraunts, and a huge pool. We walked out to the pool for one last look at the Sea of Marmara. It was a peaceful scene. Gulls and cormorants enjoying the evening, the sun setting, a slight breeze.
Here is a video clip of the same.

Dinner options in the hotel were limited to over-priced and way too expensive. But from what we could see of the neighborhood, it wasn't crawling with little places to eat. This was a quieter part of Istanbul. We opted for the very over-priced Chinese place. The food was decent. It did its job. The decor was better. Breakfast was amazing, like Vegas but with Turkish food. I didn't have my camera - one of the few times I didn't have it with me for two whole weeks. I missed shots of the sunrise, one of the best I've seen ever. And I missed recording the fabulous breakfast buffet.

The cool glassed-in elevators.
Looking down twelve stories to the lobby from just outside our door.
We jump immediately to the plane ride. But there was plenty that happened in between. A shuttle ride to the airport. Buying a few items at a small duty-free shop. The big duty free shop is enormous, the biggest I've ever seen. That's why we grabbed a couple extra boxes of Turkish Delight in a smaller version decked out like a bazaar.

We thought we'd have a chance to buy snacks and such but it was limited. At Starbucks we bought small bottles of water. No where was there a large bottle for sale. This was frustrating since we had an 11 hour flight ahead of us. We walked and walked to find the gate, thinking we'd locate it, then shop around. But when we approached our gate, we encountered a second gate to actually enter the waiting area. No water allowed past the x-ray and metal detector?! I was pissed. We sat down to drink our water before going through the additional security check and they called out flight for boarding. ??? Our flight wasn't scheduled to leave for some time. So we chugged the water (now we have zero for the plane ride) and got through security. On the other side is a bathroom and a "snack" counter with nothing but a few offerings of crap.

We board, we fly, we fly some more, we fly alot. Luckily and again, we have two seats on the side to ourselves. We settle in and make our way home.

The plane made quite an arc up and over Eastern Europe and the Netherlands the began its decent over the Southern tip of Greenland (according to the in-flight map). This was the first time either of us had flown over Greenland so I was excited.
We proceed to fly over Eastern Canada and down the East coast of America. Look closely and you will see the long arm of the Cape Cod peninsula arching to the left at the top of the photo. It hugs Cape Cod Bay.
Look again and you will see Boston.
Finally, JFK! It's such a busy airport that taxiing might take 30 minutes, according to the pilot. Instead, he "drove" us to an alternative gate where we streamed off the plane from the front and the back directly onto people carriers that rise up to the height of the plane's door. Then the vehicle lowers down in order to drive us to the our gate.

We slogged through passport control, customs, luggage re-check, then hustled our butts to the last gate in the world just in time to have ice-cream before we boarded the flight to Seattle. We were already brain dead and moving in a fog. A mere 5.5 hours later, we landed at Sea-Tac. We arrived in Seattle on Sunday, around 11 pm (PST). Sally's watch, still on Istanbul time, read 8 am - Monday. Keep in mind we woke at 5 am on Sunday in Istanbul (Istanbul turned back the clocks a week early and we forgot so we thought we had slept in until 6 am). We had been up 27 hours. We barely waited for our luggage - woo hoo! And Michael had already called me as the plane was taxiing to tell us he was on his way to pick us up. He arrived in Seattle earlier that day to stay a couple days with us. We left him keys to the house and car and he picked us up. How nice to have a ride from a friendly face. As exhausted as we were, we also wound up. No one saw a bed until about 1 am.

And there you have it - Turkey. No big ending. I think it's clear from reading this blog how cool it all was. Where to next? Considering France or Scandinavia or Scotland. Care to weigh in? Suggestions?

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