It’s 8:40am and thirty-one degrees; and because I’m wearing my heaviest things to avoid excess luggage fees, I am sweltering. The domestic departures building of Istanbul makes my muscles tense. There are constant alarms that no one seems to be attending to, the signage is easy to misunderstand, and there are people everywhere. Polis patrol the entrance with semi-automatics, the announcer’s voice is so thickly accented that whenever she speaks, I concentrate so hard my temple ticks. My second airport transfer confirms that my first driver was hopelessly lost – an hour lost, in fact. I did wonder why it took so long to get to the hotel! And yet I look around, and everything’s getting done. People are getting where they need to go, I have the right ticket, and soon I will have a gate number.
Maybe it’s just chaotic to my eyes.
My tour finished yesterday morning. A few of us met for a final breakfast together, goodbyes were said, then I was a solo traveller again.
I ran into a friend and went on a boat trip along the Bosporus Strait, seeing Istanbul from the water. I visited New Mosque, as beautiful as the Blue Mosque, but with five - yes, five - other people, not five thousand. I took on the Bazaar by myself and haggled like a pro (please note: I am anything but a haggling expert… it’s a long story), and ended up with the most beautiful, most breakable souvenir imaginable. It’s big, it’s cumbersome, and now it’s mine.
So I mailed it home. Which was an experience in itself.
This was my fourth attempt at a post office – the first to third encountered such cultural barriers that I left without success. This time I was ushered into a room that I swear I shouldn’t have been in. There were parcels stacked half-way to the ceiling. On trolleys, on the floor. On counter-tops and under arms. They only accepted cash payments.
I was starting to think I’d never see my stuff again.
Either way, it was taped up to within an inch of its life, stamped and stacked.
This all happened yesterday, and I am still thanking the inventor of bubble wrap.
I packed so much into yesterday, and was in the sun for so long, that I collapsed into bed at 5:00pm. Like an absolute rock star, am I right?
It turns out domestic flights within Turkey have a 15kg checked baggage allowance. This was alarming news, as I had 20kg when I left Australia. I have since bought things. But during a lunch break at a shopping complex the other day, I bought a Mary Poppins bag. It just keeps swallowing stuff, whilst looking near-empty. The thing’s magic, I tell you, and it opens flat!
So here I am, waiting at the airport for the next leg of my fabulous journey. Turkey’s not behind me yet – I’m off to Dalaman, then Fethiye, where I board a wooden gullet boat to cruise the Mediterranean bays and harbours.
I can’t seem to get enough sleep. All this sun’s wiping me out and adrenaline’s only getting me so far, so I can hardly wait for my next tour – a little over a week of relaxing, something I’ve only recently reacquainted myself with.
Bring it on, I say. I’m ready for my biggest worries to be charging my camera and reapplying my sunscreen.