August 14, 2011

Going to Grandmother's House - From Dubai, UAE to Eskesehir, Turkey

On August 9, 2011 we left Dubai and 12 hours later, via taxi, plane, taxi, bus, and car, we made it to Eskesehir, Turkey

When we planned our move to Dubai in Spring 2011, it was our intent to visit with Burak's Turkish family and introduce Rex to them (Born January 2011).  We weren't sure when we were going to be able to do it with Burak's new demanding, travel-intense job.

Burak hadn't been to Turkey since February 2006 when his father passed away.  I hadn't been there since my first visit in June 2004, 7 years! When we last went to Turkey we stayed 2 months before moving to Barcelona for my Rotary Scholarship. We spent that time visiting family, doing tourism like Istanbul, Izmir, Cappadocia, Pamukkale, etc. and applying to law/business school. I studied for the LSAT and Burak wrote business school essays. We had fun but I remember that I was quite stressed about the law school application process and frustrated because I didn't speak Turkish and it appeared almost no one knew English, Spanish or French. A lot of my original impressions are on this blog from 2004.

Fast forward to early August 2011. Burak and I bought plane tickets the day before our flight to Turkey.   Burak starts a new job on August 21st in Dubai so we have some time and some money to travel BUT we were waiting for his passport from UAE immigration which was finalizing his residency visa. The moment we got it, we bought our plane tickets from Dubai to Istanbul on Emirates which was about $450 per person round trip. (Not bad!)

We headed to the airport around 12:30pm for the 2:20pm flight. The flight was about 15% full and we had an entire 4 seater row plus bassinet for Rex to ourselves.  He was a hit with flight attendants and other guests who wanted to hold and kiss him. I love flying Emirates and I love it for children. We pay a little extra (10% of an adult flight) and get a bib, cream, spoon, teething ring/toy, small baby wipes, plastic bags for diapers, and napkins in a small little clear carrier bag plus we get baby food and a one of  collection of 4 or 5 hand puppets. We now have the Jamoul the Camel from the Middle East and the Mouse (?) from North America.
** Side note: Emirates Airlines, you gave all of North America a mouse? Why not Bear, Eagle, or anything but a mouse?

Rex crawled around the row of seats and I walked him up and down the aisles.  With one short nap and lots of toys, fun, and a tired mommy, the 4.5 hour flight went by fast.

We landed in Istanbul around 6:30pm or so. (It is still Ramadan and the fast doesn't break until about 8:20pm) For immigration, Burak took the Turkish national line and Rex and I went in the Other nationalities line. The airlines people as I exited the plane told me to just go without my stroller because it would show up in the baggage claim. Bad idea. After holding the 19 lb Rex for 10 minutes waiting in the immigration line, the immigration office tells me to go 'Visa'. I am like what? Then I realized we had to go into one line and pay $20 per US citizen for a little cheap sticker in our passport and then go back in the even longer line that I had originally started with, with what seemed like a heavier baby, to wait for a stamp in our passport.

I was in line next to some Spaniards who were cute and talking about how slow the line was. They had the same problem that I had (there was no warning or signs!) and had to go to the visa line and return to the long line. The Spaniards had no concept of personal space and were basically touching Rex and I. They were talking about people like no one in the world knows Spanish. It was fun to remember my other favorite country.

When we collected our luggage, converted some money, and walked outside the airport doors I was amazed by a few things:
- I wasn't sweating immediately. The weather was like 70-80F unlike Dubai's 110F.
- There were a lot of smokers!
- Our taxi didn't have the AC on, only opened some windows but is felt Amazing!!
- It was green and there was a lot of color. We drove around and Istanbul was very colorful - buildings, flags, greenery, people's clothing - not just black and white.
- there were no painted lanes on the roads
- some guys were selling water on the highway at a bend where the traffic slowed (really?)
- There was a clear sky - In Dubai, it is hazy during the day in the summer.
I thought I had arrived in the most beautiful place on earth but I realized it was just that I was comparing it to Dubai in August during Ramadan, probably the worst time to ever be there, ever. Thank goodness I had 10 days of not being there while I visited family in Turkey

We took a cab to the OtoGar or Bus Station (literally it takes from the German for car - oto - and French for station - Gare.  I love that about Turkish, there are they little hidden gems of French words spelled phonetically.  Like shower is douche in French is Dus (s with tail) in Turkish, sounds like Dush.  Or Coiffure is hair salon in French is kuaför in Turkish.

We ate OUTSIDE (Amazing!) at a little restaurant quickly eating our meal before our 8pm bus would take off for 5.5 hours.  After downing some water and tea, etc. I made the comment that the bus would have a bathroom, right? Then Burak had hesitation and told me not to count on it. I then told him we should take a bathroom break before getting on.  The atmosphere at the outdoor cafe in a large square, I felt like I was in Europe and some people argue Turkey is Europe but I felt like the memories of Spain, Belgium, France, etc were all coming back to me and I felt very comfortable.

Our bathroom experince, basically you had to pay to use the restroom like 50 cents. I had planned to change Rex but when I realized that there was a turnstyle entry and no changing stations, Burak and I took turns going without Rex and I took care of him in the bus.

The bus ride - we bought 3 seats and Rex played before sleeping in his car seat.  Another baby cried a lot and eventually woke me up around 1:30am. I really try hard not to be like that parent whose baby cried uncontrollaby for minutes.  I know each case is different but having traveled for about 12 hours with a 7month old, I was about to take the baby and try to give him Rex's formula. Anyway...

We arrived in Eskesehr around 1:30am and as we stepped off the bus, Rex met his paternal grandmother and paternal great grandfather for the first time. I almost had a small tear drop in my eye since it had been a while since we saw them and Rex was finally getting to see his other side of the family.

Unfortuntely, 1:30am is feeding time and Rex soon started crying. I made a bottle of formula since it was late and we were at a bus station and let his grandmother bond and feed him.  We soon went to the car and realized it was going to be a 'fun' ride to the house. With our 3 big suitcases, 1 carryone, baby bag, car seat, snap n go stroller, 4 adults and a baby in small sedan car, we drove slowly and got there in one piece.

We arrived and realized that they so sweetly prepared a fold out bed for Rex but since he had aquired crawling skills just a week beforehand, we realized this was a recipe for disaster.  We put all the suitcases around a small rectangle of space and he slept there the first night until we moved him into another suitcase bordered crib in the living room.

Finally, we were at a 'home.' I was surprise they had no AC but after a cold shower (I didn't know how to turn on the hot water heater) and an open window, I fell asleep until Rex woke me up again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi! Nice blog ! Can you tell me how old was your baby when you travelled by emirates airlines and how big was the bassinet?