Monday, July 1, 2013

First-ish Day

The most important thing about alarms is that you hear them.  They are absolutely useless if you sleep through them.  Or forget to set them.
Today (yesterday? Let’s just be clearer and say Saturday) started out crazy and hectic.  I woke up when I was supposed to be leaving for the airport.  Craziness ensued.  I had to check my bag at least an hour before my departure.  My flight left at 8:45 am.  My bag was tagged at 7:45 am.  Talk about being right on time!
Sunset behind the wing of the airplane

 When I arrived in Newark, I had time to kill.  Which led to wondering around the airport and taking pictures.  When I found my gate, I thought I’d read the departure board wrong—according to the gate screen, the flight boarding was for Rome. The world works in mysterious ways.  Unfortunately, in the time it took for me to get out my camera, the board had changed to announcing the destination of Istanbul. Still, it seemed like the universe knew what was going on. 
Sunrise in the air
        Arriving in Istanbul was met with some confusion.  Customs in the US are rather strict—you have no contact with people in the normal part of the airport.  You get led through hallways until you reach customs, where they ask you questions about your visit, where you staying/stayed, why you are here/why you went there, ex cetera.  In the Istanbul airport, they let you out into a terminal and send you through customs.  When I got to the booth, the officer took my passport, looked over my visa and then stamped everything.  No questions.  I went to collect my baggage and then passed through the exit to find Jeannie, who was patiently waiting with a sign so that I wouldn’t miss her. All around us, families were reuniting, children running to parents and being swung up in the air.

First sight of Istanbul!
            Upon arriving at the hotel, Sanjana, Meaghan and I took naps (although completely inadvertently as we were trying to avoid jet lag… Whoops!)  For dinner, we ventured about a 10-minute walk away from the hotel to a nice little restaurant with a picture menu, which proved to be a savior as we spoke almost no Turkish and the waiters almost no English.  The 20 or so of us at dinner then broke off into smaller groups as we explored the area around the hotel.  Luckily, my group got back before the thunderstorms hit!  Others were not so fortunate. 
            One thing that most of us took notice of was the call to prayer. Many of us had not visited a country where the Muslim call to prayer is publicized.  I found it to be a calming and soothing sound, quite lovely.  All in all, a beautiful first day to our journeys.  
View from the Roof 

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