It was a warm beautiful day headed to Batumi Airport. Once there, I treated myself to a shawarma, and then looked for the right bus. I had trouble finding it (obviously), but after a little bit of wondering about, I arrived to the airport. It’s a short flight from Batumi to Istanbul. So short the time zone change made us arrive at the same hour we left. I love it when things like that happen.
When we landed, I first had to get a visa. The visa for Americans to enter Turkey is $20 US dollars, which I didn’t have. But the ATM was close by. The first trouble area came when the ATM gave me a slightly ripped $50. Although the US dollar is usually accepted any and everywhere, if it has the slightest blemish, tear, hole, rip, NO one will receive it. (Except discount money exchangers who will take it for less return.) Well this was my problem at the visa terminal. He made the biggest fuss about it being torn. But after some begging and pleading, he finally stamped my passport. Crisis averted.
I located my bag and passed through the final gate into the airport. I had forgotten people could wait for arrivals at this point. So I begin to anxiously search for my friend. After looking intently at the faces of the people who were intently looking at me, I conceded the fact that my friend was not there. No worries, maybe she was parking the car. So I waited. And waited…. and waited.
During this hour of waiting, my mind started to run various scenarios. Was she in traffic? Was there a wreck? Was she in a wreck? Did she forget me? Was she even going to pick me up? Was I going to have to stay in Istanbul by myself for ten days!?! Do I have enough money for a hostel? Is this how people become homeless?
We usually communicate through the wonderful technology of Viber phone app. But in the airport, there was no service. I asked a couple of people to use their phones… but that didn’t go too well. I was about to enact a couple of other proactive scenarios so as not to have to spend the night in the airport, when I heard my name over the loudspeaker. The greatest sense of relief came over me. She didn’t forget me! But I now had to find our where the voice was telling me to go. I should mention at this point that I know ZERO Turkish. So I was reduced to stopping security guards and pointing to me, then my ear, then pointing up to the speaker, and finally miming the universal sign of ‘I don’t know’. I was finally directed upstairs where I saw my friend.
I was so happy to see her, and she was visibly distressed at not having found me. I think some emotional tears were shed. You would have to ask her to clarify.
After multiple hugs and comparing notes figuring out what happened, I noticed that she had more luggage than I did. “Are you coming from somewhere, or going on a trip?” “Oh”, she responses, “There has been a change of plans. We are going to stay at the Island.” …Okay.
Although it was nice and warm leaving Batumi (which is slightly north), Istanbul was cold and rainy. We got on a charter bus and left the airport. She explained to me that there was a plumbing problem at her house, so we had to switch locations. Fortunately, they had a house on an island.
When I say island, I am referring to one of the four islands, Princess Islands, off the Southern coast of Istanbul in the Marmara Sea.
We boarded a ferry and arrived at Buyukada Island in the cold of night. Debarking the ferry was the most romantic, picturesque scene. The rain was coming down as the surf crashed into the docks. People were scurrying about trying to get home. The ferry landing pours its passengers into the center of the village. The stores and homes were a scene straight from a Hallmark greeting card. There are no cars allowed on the Island. The only transportation are bicycle and wait for it…. horse carriages!
After some false turns, we found the house, unloaded, then went back to town to find dinner. We did some shopping for breakfast as well.
After figuring out the water and heating system, we called it a day.
Welcome to Istanbul!