Sunday, October 28, 2012

Goodbye, Istanbul

We were supposed to leave Istanbul tomorrow, but a little storm got in our way. This morning I woke up to these words: OUR FLIGHT TO NEWARK HAS BEEN CANCELLED. We knew about the hurricane, so I can't say I was too surprised to hear this. However, I'll admit that I was secretly hoping the hurricane would delay our return to the USA, not hasten it. I had something like this in my mind: "Oh, well! We can't go back home yet so let's just stay here in Turkey a while longer! Or maybe hop over to Greece! Or perhaps we can head up to Munich or Frankfurt and hang out there for a few days, then fly back directly to Charlotte on Lufthansa!"

We packed our bags, had a quick breakfast, settled our hotel bill, and headed to Atatürk airport. Where we waited. And waited. And waited. I kid you not about the waiting. We got to the airport around 10:15AM and waited in (several) lines for over three hours.

When we finally got to the head of the line, the United Airlines agent strongly encouraged us to take TODAY'S flight to Newark, which was not full. Ah, Newark. Greece or Germany it is not! But if this is what's meant to be, it's what's meant to be. You see, I'm still on Turkish time and accepting things as Insh'Allah.

As I write this now I'm 34,000 feet up in the air, flying over Ireland, with six hours and 37 minutes left until we land in Newark, according to the handy-dandy map and info on the seatback screen. Since the flight's not full, I've got the whole row to myself, and Sandy has one to herself behind me. It's almost as good as business class.

Yet I have to admit: I'm disappointed. I didn't want my vacation to end so abruptly! I needed that one more day! I didn't get to take one last walk past Ayasofya and the Sultanahmet Camii. I didn't get to do the shopping I planned to do today (thinking that today would be my last full day there so I would have plenty of time). I'm sorry to say, there will be several people who will not get souvenirs. Blame it on the hurricane.

But the most disappointing thing is that I didn't get to say a proper goodbye to Istanbul.

I bet you're wondering: why Istanbul? We could have gone anywhere else in the world. Well, it goes like this: Sandy's brother Mike had a "special" birthday this year -- you know, one of those that end in a zero. Since it was indeed a milestone, over a year ago Sandy and I proposed that we go on an interesting trip this year. Turns out, Istanbul was at the top of Mike's list. He's an architect and a big fan of Byzantine and Ottoman history, art, and architecture. So to Istanbul we went.

Although it wasn't high on my list, I'm always up for going some place I've never been before. Turns out, we all fell in love with Istanbul. It exceeded our expectations tenfold! Istanbul is such an amazing, vibrant city, with so much diversity. It's beautiful, too, especially the areas near the water. And the history . . . I still get speechless.

I'm glad I went. And I would recommend for YOU to go if you've never been. Seriously. You must put Istanbul on your list.

Dear Istanbul, thank you for a lovely time. I'm taking you with me in my heart . . . and you'll be in my memory for as long as I have one. Maybe someday I'll visit you again. Until then, I wish you peace. Lots of love from Mariandy. :)