April 8, 2010 (Thursday)

Airport taxi. This day was supposed to be an easy day of travel, but instead will be a day of seven major miscues. When you first get up, you do not have a clue what is in store. We get ready in our Berlin hotel and repack suitcases for flights to Turkey. Have a nice breakfast in the very pretty dining room. Pictures of various famous people are on the walls. The hotel originally was a private home (need to get history from brochure). Paid the bill and headed downstairs to get taxi—well, there are two taxis waiting (1st miscue of the day) because the lady at the front desk mistakenly called one when we already had one ordered the night before. So the two taxi drivers, a woman and a man, get into a heated discussion, and the lady from the hotel comes down and talks to them and motions for us to get into the first taxi with the woman driver. We comply but feel badly for two taxis showing up and one not getting the fare.

Tegel Airport. Our taxi driver speaks no English (we are getting used to that now) but gets us to Tegel airport in good time. The flight board at the airport shows our flight at Gate A05. We wait for a little while at Gate A05, but then are told we’re at the wrong gate! (2nd miscue of the day) There’s been a change, and we need to go to Gate B25-28, in other words, right back to the area where we came into the airport! So, off we go rolling our bags. “See them bag rollers rolling they bags . . . “ By this time, a huge line has built up at check in, when we could have been at the beginning if we had gotten in line when we first arrived! Ugh. Since we already have boarding passes that I printed out back at the hotel, I go ask at the passport window if we can proceed, and am told we can go on through, so we do. Security this time, however, is very interested in Jerry’s backpack crammed with electronics, and looks it over carefully, opening up all the zipper pockets, etc. This is the first place Jerry’s backpack has caused any concern to security at all. The backpack gets sent through x-ray several times, wan checked, etc. Finally, they release the bag back to Jerry.

We are glad to clear the intense scrutiny of security, only to learn as we inspect the flight boards that our flight now shows a 45-minute delay! Ugh. We have to fly from Berlin to Istanbul, then clear security and visas with hundreds of other passengers at Istanbul’s International terminal, then find our connecting Turkish flight on down to Adana (near the southern coast) somewhere in the huge complex of the Istanbul International Airport. We are beginning to sense that our Istanbul connection to Adana is becoming iffy. As we are waiting, we discover on the flight boards that, instead of the connecting flight our itinerary scheduled us for in Istanbul, a direct flight from Berlin to Adana at the same gate actually was available—and, just to spite us, the direct flight to Adana takes off on time!! We already could have been in the air directly on the way to our final destination, but we had no knowledge of the flight from existing schedules on the Internet (3rd miscue of the day). So, while we wait, we try to be productive with the dead time in the Berlin terminal by logging picture numbers with their corresponding descriptions into the database I will be typing up for Jerry when we get home. [This database will become a MAJOR project for Jean, as the number of pictures eventually will swell to almost 4000. Wow. She is absolutely incredible.—Jerry]

Finally, we board our Berlin flight to Istanbul! Hooray! However, I am trapped sitting next to the most malodorous woman! (I say again, What is wrong with these Europeans?!!) The odor was truly terrible and nauseating. (I really thought I was going to throw up.) If only she would not have kept moving her arms around, the stench perhaps would have been tolerable. On the flight, we catch a cute 2009 Sandra Bullock movie, “All About Steve” (“convinced that a CCN cameraman is her true love, an eccentric crossword puzzler trails him as he travels all over the country, hoping to convince him that they belong together”), and the laughs are a good diversion.

Istanbul. We finally land in Istanbul, get the shuttle to the gate, and get in the visa line, which is very long. The passport control line is even longer. We now are clear that we definitely are not making the connecting flight to Adana (4th miscue of the day). Our hearts sink. What to do? What a surge of anxiety when you are with no one who speaks your language and you are missing your flight in a foreign country. A little bit of desperation creeps in. Standing in a line of hundreds of people in the Istanbul airport, we have to figure out our options and get something going to get us to Adana. I turn on my iPhone. [Thank God for AT&T 3G good anywhere in the world!—Jerry] and call Regina, our travel agent  at Travel Leaders, for help with our situation. She calls me back and says we have been put on a 10:30 pm flight to Adana, and that the Avis car rental place will wait on us (hopefully). Regina alerts Hilton and Avis about our late arrival. We have to go to the ticket window to get our tickets reissued for the new flight. We get that done and find our gate, then decide we’ll get something to eat.

We find a pub, and while waiting to get served, I was checking over our new tickets and suddenly noticed the departure time on our boarding pass is 6:35 pm, not 10:30 pm—and it’s 6:34 NOW!! (5th miscue of the day). What had happened was, Regina had booked us on the 10:30 pm flight, but when we went to the ticket window to get our new tickets, the lady had bumped us up to an earlier flight, which was nice, but had failed to tell us she had bumped us to an earlier flight since they had open seats on that earlier flight! We rush to the gate, and there is absolutely no activity. OMG, have we missed the plane? I ask an attendant at another desk and am told it’s okay. The plane has not boarded yet. So, we sit and wait and wait and wait and wait—seems Turkish flights are perpetually late. Finally, an attendant shows up, and we all load up on shuttle busses and get taken out onto the tarmac to get on the plane. On the shuttle we talked with a nice Turkish man who used to live in Los Angeles, very fluent in English. Also, about 6 guys from the U. S. military are on the shuttle. Suddenly, we feel a lot safer J. We finally load the plane, and, thankfully, the stinky lady sits by someone else. Yikes! I feel sorry for the poor person sitting by her.

Adana. The flight from Istanbul to Adana is several hours. (Turkey is a huge country.) We finally arrive in Adana about 11:00 pm and load another shuttle from the plane to get to the gate. Unfortunately, our Los Angeles friend told us to get off at the wrong stop, and we had to walk a long way to transfer from the international to the domestic terminal (6th miscue of the day). At the door, we show an attendant our baggage claim ticket and he personally walks us to the domestic gate and to the Avis counter. He’s very nice. We are beginning to experience the Turkish hospitality. The Turkish people really are very helpful. We get all the paperwork done and get the rental car, a grey/silver Renault that runs on diesel. The attendant turns on the car and shows us the switches for the lights and other elements of operation.

Adana Hilton. We head off to the hotel and get there just fine, but then realize we don’t know how to turn this car off and then restart it (7th miscue of the day). So I call the Avis guy back at the airport, and he explains that the key is a black credit card looking thing—not a regular key, and a “stop” button shuts the car off. So we start experimenting with the key/entry card and make sure we can start/stop the car and lock/unlock it. That done, we go inside the Adana Hilton Hotel and check in around midnight. Our trip from the Askanischer Hof hotel in Berlin to the Adana Hilton in Turkey, which was supposed to be about 5–6 hours, has taken us 15 hours. We reviewed the day’s events and realized we had gone through a whole series of about seven major miscues. Well, in any case, we’re fine now. With determination we have pushed our way on through to our final goal of getting to Adana, Turkey and are back on track. The Adana Hilton is very nice—after all, it is a Hilton! We find out they have laundry service, so I get our dirty duds together, and housekeeping picks up the bundle to be returned to our room tomorrow. We shower, bathe, and clean up—feels so good! We record some more pictures, review plans for tomorrow, and off to bed about 1:00 am in a king size bed in a large room—yea!