Monday, December 24, 2012

Istanbul Diary, Day 1

After arriving 3 hours early for my flight from Dulles to Istanbul Atatürk Airport, I boarded among a crowd of what I guessed were mostly locals returning home. They were still a diverse group, however. The urban cougar in tight fitting jeans and an expensive color job sat next to the veiled mother of three with nary a suspicious glance between them.

As we were seated, the luxury of Turkish Airways service was apparent. A little red zippered bag was waiting on my seat, with all of the essentials for a comfortable, relaxing flight. Whether one is in need of an eye shade, some traction socks, earplugs, or a toothbrush, they've got you covered. Ear buds were included for accessing the video panel in the seatback in front of me, which displayed everything worth looking at (not pictured). 

Not everything was interactive entertainment and complimentary lip balm, however. After an hour or so in the sky and the commencement of meal service, a small Turkish lady a few rows ahead apparently fell ill to some degree. There was a public address request for medical professionals, and soon several people were gathered in the aisles staring at said woman and looking concerned. First, a cup of orange juice was summoned. That being unequal to the job, a small tank of oxygen was also produced. One of the two physicians who answered the call broke out a stethoscope. Several members of the cabin crew and passenger complement continued standing in the aisles looking concerned. This cumulative effort seems to have been sufficient, and after about 20 minutes, dinner service was resumed. I assume she felt better, but it's possible she died with a quiet dignity and was covered with a blanket for the rest of the flight - her seat was too far ahead of mine to tell for sure.

The dinner itself, however, was quite satisfactory. The glory days of Pan Am serving hand-carved chateaubriand in their on-board Galaxy Lounge may be gone, but there is still room for chicken brochettes with potato gratin accompanied by Tavuk göğüs and "cheese cake." Fellow Oregon natives will notice that the fame of Tillamook cheddar cheese extends even to Anatolian-based airline meals serving high above the Atlantic Ocean.

But the food didn't end there. After snoozing back for a few hours over the European landmass, it was time for airborne breakfast.

Bring on the cheese omelette with fried potatoes and mushrooms, fruit salad and (more) cheese with olive, tomato, and cucumber. The strolling steward tong'd me up a piping hot roll and his colleague poured me a cup of hot coffee. Solid work, cabin crew. Being a fan of bold printing and diacritical marks, I decided to take the pre-packaged wet wipe with me as a souvenir. Miles and smiles!

Once the breakfast things were put away, it was finally time to anticipate our landing in Istanbul. Where would I but my visa stamp? How long would the passport line be? Would the customs enforcement officers find the heroin I had strategically hidden?

Thankfully my stash went unmolested and the visa line was directly to the left of the arrival chute. I breezed through the passport line and eventually made my way to the Four Seasons Istanbul at Sultanahmet.  

This is the place, but not my picture; by that point I was done with photos. But there's more to see on Day 2.

No comments: