(Walking down a street in Izmir, Turkey.)
July 4th, 2019 Turkey
Day 1: izmir
Changing planes in Istanbul's brand new 8.2 billion dollar airport (opened in April) was a destination all its own. To get from the runway to the airport was a 20 minute taxi in the plane. (I wanted to ask the pilots if we could fly to the terminal, as a time saver.) The airport has many customs halls, each with different rules like one of those escape games. People in t-shirts that say "I speak English" directed. I guessed the "visa" hall and a worker assured me I was in the right place. After a 10 minute wait the customs official sent me to the "Other Nationalities" hall and then after waiting I was sent to "Domestic Departure" hall. When people complain about the long walks in this airport, they're not kidding. On my 90 minute layover, I waited for 40 minutes and walked for 45 minutes as fast as I could without ever circling back. Yes I made my connection.
My hotel, Piano Hotel (no piano here, no piano music. So I refer to it as the No Piano Hotel.) greeted me with a warm welcome and an upgrade, yes I have a bathroom and a shower and an air conditioner. I wasn't sure if this was the best hotel room I've ever been in because I was so tired or because it was the best.
I found my way to the port and wandered for hours, too tired to eat dinner or figure out why older woman approached and whispered to me in Turkish. Why? Some black market shenanigans? A travel tip? The recipe for gluten-free baklava? I responded with a "no" and a shrug and walked away.
The time here is 7 hours ahead of NY. I feel like I'm living in the future.