Well, the time had finally come for me to say goodbye to Istanbul. I had only been there two days I couldn't beleive it was already time to leave. I took a crazy airport ride to the airport and arrived about 3 hours early, which I thought would be plenty of time!
At the International Terminal at the Istanbul airport, you have to go through security just to get IN to the airport. Like if you were coming to see me off, if you wanted to even see me check-in, you have to go through security too. It took forever, but seems like a smart idea when I think about it. Once inside I waited in the check-in line for Turkish airlines for a good hour and a half. I always get super nervous that I am going to miss my flight, so I was pretty jittery. Finally I check-in and then have to go through passport control, which I thought would take another eon but went suprisingly fast. I was happy that everyone at these stops (check-in desk and passport control) spoke English...makes my life easier. Once through passport control I actually had about an hour to spare. BEST part of the day...I saw a STARBUCKS. I hadn't eaten yet that day and of course rushed over to Starbucks! I ordered a Carmel Macchiato and it was divine. Just think, here I used to get Starbucks atleast 3 times a week and I haven't had one since September 9th! While waiting in line to order (in English woo hoo) I checked out all thier Christmas decorations and listened to Christmas music and got suprisingly homesick. I don't know how many people actually celebrate Christmas in Turkey, since a majority of them are Muslim, but I was so excited to hear Christmas tunes. I kind of got choked up seeing all this Christmas stuff and knowing I won't be home with my family, but I sucked it up...no need to have a cryfest in an airport ha.
With my delicious drink I wandered around the airport to check out the duty-free shopping. I had no interest in buying alcohol or expensive perfume, but of course wanted to buy some souviners. Turkey has this thing they call the Evil Eye, and it is immensley popular. They believe that some people, intentionally and unintentionally, can cause you unlucky events if they look at you. As a result, Turkey has these talismans they call nazar which look like the Evil Eye and are meant to ward away harm. They were so popular and could be found in houses, in stores, on bracelets, in cars, etc. Alp said everytime he goes to visit his mother she makes sure to put an Evil Eye in his coat pocket to make sure he is safe. I guess it is kind of like a guardian angel in our culture. I of course bought some trinkets of the Evil Eye to protect myself :D Odd but true, I found NO postcards...shocking.
Once it was time to board I realized I have to go through ANOTHER security just to get to my gate. Everyone lined up at gate 18 and then proceeded through a second security check...I don't get it. Maybe they want to make sure you didn't buy a bomb in a duty-free shop, I have no idea. Got on the HUGE Turkish Airlines flight finally and was pleasantly suprised with the accomdations. They had TV where you could pick to watch a movie, documentaries, or sitcoms. I watched something about this Ice Hotel they build out of snow every winter in Sweeden, random I know, but it looked amazing.
Layover time in Frankfurt, Germany and I was a bit confused because it was SUCH a big airport. I stopped a worker and asked if he spoke English, figuring he would. All of the Germans I have met so far have spoken perfect English. He said he spoke some English so I asked him what passport control I needed to go through to continue to another country in the EU. He found out I was going to Bilbao and immediatley got excited and said, oh do you speak Spanish! I said yes and we continued our conversation in Spanish, pretty silly, but I was thankful I spoke it! I spent a few hours poking around the airport, doing my Spanish homework and reading an English magazine that I found (woo hoo). Atleast the whole airport was decorated Christmasy yay :D Here I am with one of the decorated trees in the airport...obviously bored!
All of the flights were on time and I got home around 1:00am on Monday morning, verrrrry tired. I had a GREAT time in Turkey and hopefully can go back again!!!