Friday, 29 July 2016

Crossroads of the World - Day 1

Blue Mosque

Istanbul                                                                         Turkey

Thursday 9th October 2014

I woke up quite early due to the excitement and thought of being in Istanbul within the day. However I came down with sickness through the night so I was not at my best which also played on my mind about taking the trip altogether. I had a loss of appetite too so I hardly had any breakfast but despite this, my excitement drove me forward. My Grandfather arrived at 8:15am and we soon set off for Newcastle airport after saying my goodbyes to the parents. I could see the worry on their faces but also joy as I was going to a unique city at the edge of Europe. Along the way we were chatting away and had soon arrived at the airport so I grabbed my luggage and said goodbye as my grandfather wished me safe travels. 

I headed straight to the check in point where I would receive my boarding pass. Once that was sorted I soon entered the departure lounge familiarising myself with the place. It didn’t seem like 5 minutes since I was last there departing for Rome. Even though I was still a bit nauseous I still admired the planes taking off and landing knowing that it will soon be my turn. However, my nerves got the better of me again realising how far I would be going and knowing that I’ll be flying twice to get to my destination. Time passed and eventually my plane was ready for boarding. I caught sight of my plane and I was amazed with how peculiar the Avroliner RJ100 Cityjet looked. The wings were above the windows and it had 4 small engines and as I found my seat in the cabin I was sitting right next to the engines with the wing above me. I strapped myself in with the anxiety and the anticipation building up as we made our way to the other side of the runway for take off. All of a sudden, we gained speed and we were soon flying in the air. 

My flight to Paris
My View

It was a great feeling to watch the ground become distant as we climbed above the clouds gaining altitude. I shed a tear as we were leaving Newcastle which I didn’t really know why but in a way it felt right. I knew this flight was going to be a short trip as it only took an hour and 40 minutes to arrive at my first destination which was Paris. The journey was quite smooth despite being in a smaller plane and then we landed with a bit of a rough landing feeling happy to be on the ground. As we headed towards a gate from the runway I couldn’t help but realise the shear size of some of the planes. It was a great feeling getting off the plane but from here on I would have to put my thinking cap on. I needed to find out how to be at the next gate for my connecting flight. 

 I quickly had my answer as there was a large board with connecting flights on it. I found mine straight away and was soon heading to the gate. Then I realised how large the airport in Paris was at that moment as I had to board a monorail to get to my terminal and gate. After a short trip I eventually arrived at my destination. I knew exactly where my gate was and I could relax for a while. As I walked along the huge terminal I noticed that along the way there were things to help keep people relaxed and occupied such as Playstation 3 games room and therapy rooms. However, just near my gate I came across some laid back red leather chairs which I could lie on. I headed straight for that and relaxed as I was still quite ill. 

Yet again a very long time of waiting passed as it neared my time to board. At my gate was a great view of the runways and I was constantly watching the planes taking off and landing yet again amazed by the size of them. The largest one I seen had to be Korean airs massive jumbo jet. As I looked out into the distance as the sun was beginning to set, I saw a familiar shape of the Eiffel tower. It was really far away but it was a wonder to see even from the airport. Eventually it was time to board the plane and was soon sitting in my seat. I was second row from the back which was a first as I would usually be at the central part. It was time to leave and we soon took off knowing that I had over 3 hours of flying ahead of me. It was a great feeling knowing we were taking off in the direction of central Paris. 

Paris at Night

At the time we had taken off the sky was dark so I looked out of my window and there it was, the Eiffel tower below me lit up like a Christmas tree. It was beautiful to see as we left Paris heading for Istanbul. This flight was a hell of a lot smoother than my first plane and I was soon relaxed forgetting the length of time of the flight. A small time passed and I got a nice surprise when I received a tray of food courtesy of Air France. The down side was due to my illness; I didn’t and couldn’t eat the whole lot like I usually would have. However, I did have a full apple tart and half a Panini so I was impressed I managed that. I was very relaxed on the plane whilst looking out my window and playing my music as hundreds of lit up cities and towns went by me and then I noticed a gleam of light bouncing on the wing of the plane. I soon realised it was the moon beaming bright and at its fullest. It was quite mesmerising for the next 30 minutes and then finally it was time to land and I couldn’t believe it. Yet again I had my thinking cap on when we landed and approaching the gate. As our plane turned for the gate, I was amazed to see the sight of lights in the air of planes queuing to land. 

Off the plane I got and my initial response was to follow everybody else. After a bit of a walk I came to passport control so I had my passport and visa ready to show the security officer. As I got seen to I immediately realised how miserable the guard looked. It took him a good long while to look at my passport and visa and I thought I wasn’t going to get through as he was pulling confusing faces. He eventually stamped my passport and I was soon heading for the baggage reclaim. I decided to ring my parents to give them a peace of mind. My mother answered and she sounded very relieved to hear from me. I told them highlights of my flight and experiences and then said my goodbyes informing them I would ring again when I was in my room. I arrived at the conveyor belt where my rucksack would be. My mind was playing overtime as I was worried that my bag would not be there as the last time I seen it was at Newcastle airport. However, it eventually showed up and I was happy when I picked it up. I headed straight for the exit and my next concern was finding my transport to the hotel. 

At the arrivals there was a flood of Turkish men holding up pieces of paper with names on them but I couldn’t find mine. I passed through them again and there was my name. I was relieved yet again as I followed my driver to the van. We soon set off at racing speed and I couldn’t believe how quick it was arriving within the outskirts of Istanbul. All of a sudden I was amazed to see the first familiar sight of Valens aqueduct as we drove through it. From here on in I was overwhelmed with all the sights I had waited for such as the Galata tower, Blue Mosque, the Golden horn, etc. The final quick glimpse of the Hagia Sophia was in front of me which was beautifully lit up in the dark and I knew I was nearing my destination. 

After turning a few narrow streets the hotel was right in front of me. I said my goodbyes to the driver and walked into the reception area. I showed the receptionist my accommodation voucher and immediately he said that this was not the right hotel; I was completely shocked as he explained the situation. I didn’t know whether I was angry or upset but my immediate response was to find the right place. The receptionist called a taxi for me and when the driver showed up, the receptionist explained the problem to the driver who didn’t speak a word of English. A short drive in the yellow taxi brought us to the taxi rank where the driver got out and asked for directions. I immediately realised he was coming back to the car laughing. He got back in and pointed to a building on the right of us showing me that that was the place I was after. Unsure about the place I asked the driver to wait with hand gestures while I could confirm it was the right one. I was relieved to find out it was so I paid the taxi driver and thanked him in Turkish heading back into the building. 

After copying my passport the receptionist took me across the street and showed me where I would be stopping for the night as my actual room was not ready until tomorrow. We entered into the other building and got into a very small elevator heading up to the sixth floor. We arrived at my apartment and I kept thinking about what it would actually look like inside. We entered and I was quite impressed with it. It had a nice living area, big TV and a double bed which was fine enough for me. After the man gave me my keys and left, I got curious and had a look out of my small balcony. As it was dark I couldn’t see much but from what I could see was impressive. A large boat passed the view I was looking at and I could immediately tell I was looking at the beginning of the Bosphorous. I also could make out a mosque and a minaret but couldn’t tell which one it was. 

I rang my parents once again and told them what had happened but I reassured them that everything was perfectly fine. I made sure everything was shut and covered before finally lying down to sleep. I was still a bit upset that it wasn’t the hotel I thought it was but I was happy I found the right place and thinking about the sights I would see for my week in Istanbul.

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