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Published: March 27th 2018
After just over three hours flying towards a new adventure in Turkey our captain announces it will be twenty minutes to touchdown at Istanbul's Atatürk airport. Five minutes later we hit turbulence and the plane judders and dips alarmingly making the woman next to me clutch the arm rests so tightly it literally becomes a white knuckle ride for her. A few other passengers scream at every big jolt. The captain is back on the intercom telling us that an unexpected tail wind is causing the excessive turbulence and that air traffic control has put us into a holding pattern with other aeroplanes waiting to land. We have to sit out the scary turbulence for an extra 10 minutes. It's vomit inducing being chucked around and I almost have to search the seat pockets for a sick bag it's that bad. Fortunately we do finally get to land, much to the relief of all passengers on board who break out into spontaneous applause and cheering as the wheels hit tarmac.
I'm in Turkey! Just a quick pre-arranged transfer to my hotel and the trip can begin. Ha, spoke too soon. Having negotiated the long snaking lines at passport control, I
pick up my suitcase and start to scan the many names being held up in the arrivals area. Mine isn't there. It still isn't there quarter of an hour later and much traipsing up and down, so I head over to the information desk clutching my 'call this number in case of problems' sheet, and try to get hold of someone to pick me up. I'm told to go and wait by the Vodaphone booth and someone will come and find me, but more turbulent times ahead as half an hour passes and I'm still waiting. I phone them again and this time I'm to wait at the information desk. After another long wait wishing I'd just grabbed any old taxi, someone turns up and nearly two hours after my flight landed I'm unceremoniously dumped into a waiting van feeling like a piece of lost luggage that no-one really wants. I've already missed my group's start meeting so when the van driver asks if it's ok to stop off at a garage I'm beyond caring. Hell yes, let's stop and while we're stopped why don't you pick up some dinner and see a show! Don't mind me.
going again and eventually, after much weaving in and out of many back streets (not convinced matey boy even knew where he was going), the Golden Horn Hotel appears like some beauteous mirage and there in the lobby is my group.
Everyone is lovely and welcoming. It's mostly Aussies and Kiwis but there's also another Brit, a South African, a couple from Denmark and two friends from Canada. Our tour leader, Burak, takes us out for our first group meal to a lovely restaurant where we sit outside on a veranda set up in a little side street. After starters of huge pieces of puffy bread dipped in various sauces I'm soon tucking into a delicious veggie casserole topped with halloumi cheese. We are all given a couple of pieces of complementary baklava washed down with black tea served in tiny glasses. Lots of laughter, lots of talking. What a great start to the tour.
Turbulent times are over. Lottie is Let Loose in Turkey, let the adventures begin.
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