Saturday, April 12, 2008

Planes, (no) trains, and automobiles

Picking up where I left off in the last post, we were driving to the Adnan Menderes airport outside of Izmir. We got up quite early, and waved goodbye to the storks in their nest and the chef on the rooftop, and drove off into the sunrise. It was fairly straightforward, until we reached our first airport sign. Nothing about it said Adnan Menderes, Izmir, or anything familiar. The only name next the the Turkish word for airport - Havalimani - was what appeared to be a city name, one that we could not find on the map. We assumed that must be a smaller airport, as there were several airplane icons on this region of the map.

We approached a toll plaza, and did our best to ask the toll taker where the airport was, but he answered our same question differently each time we asked. We figured out the reason for the different responses, but only after each subsequent misstep on our part. He was trying to tell us that the airport was behind us (remember that first sign?) but that we could take the next exit and backtrack. We did neither. Instead, we kept going straight until we realized that there was no way a major airport would be anywhere inside of a big city like Izmir. After turning around and taking that first (backtrack) exit, we started seeing airport signs again. Unfortunately, this backtrack route took us right through big city morning rush hour traffic. But I'm not talking freeway traffic, this was city street traffic. Busy, Turkish city, bumper-to-bumper, rush hour traffic. As hectic and crazy as it was though, I'd take driving in Turkey over driving in the U.S. ANY DAY! While on the one hand it seems frenetic and crazy, the Turks all seem very situationally aware of everything around them. Rules be damned, there were no signs of angry drivers, or fender benders, or anything of the like. That said, I'm sure my hair got a little whiter that morning, if for no other reason than feeling anxious about possibly missing our flight.

We eventually found the airport, but then faced another ordeal trying to find the rental car return lot. Suffice it to say, it was as difficult to find as was the airport, for all the same reasons. Once we finally made it into the terminal, right about boarding time, we found out our flight was delayed forty minutes, or an hour if you're on Turkish time. Minus 1 point for Turkish Air.

The brief flight to Istanbul was good though, and we were even served a meal (very tasty!) on a flight so short that American flights wouldn't have bothered with beverage service. Score 2 points for Turkish Air.

The best part is that our bags were the first on the belt! Score 3 points for Turkish Air.

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