Traveling to and from Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

I’ve been led to believe that international flights are basically a crap shoot. I should probably count myself lucky that we not only got to Istanbul but made it back home without any serious incidents.

Wait, I think that makes it sound like we were a group with “international incident” written all over us. We behaved ourselves. I mean, we may have gotten a little loud on the flight from Izmir back to Istanbul. But we were exhausted. Everything is hilarious when you’re that tired. Just adding to the stereotype that Americans are loud, obnoxious, and abrasive.

Anyway, our flights over were entirely without incident. Other than my personal issue with really being unable to sleep on a plane. Sleep would have been nice on the overnight flight from Charlotte to London. But, I was able to watch Rogue One, so that was nice.

Let me say this about modern international flights. They’re a bit nicer than they were when I was in college and flew to Brazil. I mean, I know that airlines and plane models differ. But, back in the day, everyone on the plane watched the same movie on screens that dropped down from the ceiling. On our flights to and from London, there were tiny touch screens in the backs of the seats in front of us. And we got to pick from a fairly large selection of films or TV shows. It was like having Netflix wired into the back of the chair.

Anyway, coming back was a bit rougher. And it started with our ride to the airport.

I mentioned in a previous post that traffic was horrendous in Istanbul. It took us a little under an hour to get from our hotel to the airport. As we were about five minutes from the terminal, Erin thought to ask our host, “You brought our passports, right?”

Let me back up…

At the beginning of the week, our host sort of insisted that we let him hold on to our passports at his apartment. Because they would be safer there than in the safes that we had in our hotel rooms? Sure… I guess that’s a good reason. Why not trust this guy? I mean, he’s been in Turkey for a few years. Maybe he knows something about the good people at our four star hotel that we don’t know. And, so, like idiots, we just hand over our passports.

Back to the ride to the airport. “You brought our passports, right?”


I know what you’re thinking… Never let anyone else have your passport! I knew that going in. But if everyone else was doing it, I didn’t want to be the only guy who didn’t trust our host. Lesson learned. From now on, no matter where I go, no matter who you are, if you want my passport, you can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Well, we got him to just leave us at the airport while he made the 45 minute (one way) drive back to his apartment to get the passports. Which means an hour and a half later, we were ready to actually pick up our boarding passes. It was the start of a lovely day of travel.

In London, we boarded our plane on time. But then we sat at the gate for an hour after we were supposed to take off. That wasn’t a good sign. And, because we arrived in Charlotte an hour later than we were supposed to, customs was unprepared for our planeload of people on top of the other seven international flights that had just landed. So we sat on the runway for another hour.

Needless to say, we missed our connecting flight back to Roanoke.

But it turned out okay. We were able to hire someone to drive us from Charlotte to Blacksburg. We were going to rent a car and drive ourselves, but none of the rental dealers had one-way cars. Which is dumb. Why does it matter? A car is a car. And we’ll return it to the Enterprise close to where we live. It’s not like you’re losing your car. But it was actually good that someone else drove us. Because we all fell asleep on the drive back. That would have been a rough night if one of us had been behind the wheel.

But let’s hear it for in-flight entertainment! On the flight back from London, I watched Fist Fight, which, as it turns out, is not a great movie.


5 thoughts on “Traveling to and from Istanbul (Not Constantinople)

  1. My first taste of international flight was back in March when I went to London. From here on out, I expect every plane to have those touch screen monitors 6 inches in front of my face! Those things are the awesome!


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