However carefully you plan your trip, it’s still possible that things go wrong that nobody could help. We’ve been pretty lucky that most of our travels involved uneventful flights, and everything usually went as it should be. But on our trip to Istanbul last October, I guess the stars were not so much in our favour and even before we left the house things were already going rather worrying. And it didn’t stop there.
What went wrong:
- The taxi we booked to go to the airport didn’t show up. After waiting close to 20 minutes, we knew we just needed to call another one.
- We were supposed to fly to Istanbul via Munich, but the Munich flight was cancelled. Luckily, we got a direct flight with no extra cost, which cut our travel time by half. So in the end, that went better than expected.
- The Kid had never had ear infection in her life, and she got her first in Istanbul. We lost 1 full day out of the 3 we got in Istanbul getting her to the hospital, and monitor that she’s getting better. It was a worry because we’re supposed to fly to Kayseri the following day and she risked getting her eardrum burst by flying. Turkey, being outside the EU, didn’t recognise our health insurance, and we had to pay everything in cash. Until this day, the only Turkish word my daughter remembers is ‘hastanesi’ (hospital).
- At the airport on the way to Kayseri, where we booked a car to rent, Hubby realised that he forgot his driver’s license at home, and I’ve got none myself. What happened then? Continue here.
- Back from Cappadocia (where everything went smoothly), the airport was so packed and it was impossible to get a taxi or a place at the shuttle bus back to the European side of Istanbul. With all our luggage, we went on a run around trip by bus, and then the ferry, and once we got to the other side of the Bosphorus, finally a taxi to our hotel.
- At the hotel, we were placed in a room next to a big group of family with at least 5 children. They arrived after midnight. The parents went on to shout at each other for hours while the kids ran around the corridor. In the morning, the same family all got up at 5 and continued the routine (when did they even sleep?)
- The police closed off the highway to the airport, creating a massive traffic jam, with the result that we missed our flight. All other flights to Amsterdam were fully booked, and we just managed to get the last 3 seats back to Amsterdam via Zurich after Swiss Air could confirm at last minute that some people didn’t show up (they probably got stuck in traffic like we did). That set us back 900 Euros, but at least we got home on the same day instead of getting stranded somewhere for the night.
- To wrap things up, we lost one of our luggages back in Amsterdam. We eventually got it back 5 days later.
But, it wasn’t all bad things. We did have nice time and experience in Istanbul. It was a great bustling city with great people with lots of interesting things to see and do (which we didn’t get to do because the Kid got ill).
What went great:
- We got a city-center apartment with a stunning view of Istanbul skyline and the Golden Horn, and a really wonderful and helpful host.
- The public transport system is well connected and convenient. With only one travel card, maximum of 5 people can use the same card to take all forms of public transport in Istanbul. The card is pre-paid and easily rechargeable on metro/ferry stations.
- I ate the best tasting grilled octopus in my life. That octopus was one of the food highlights of 2013 for me.
Despite it all, I think I would love to come back to Istanbul, and catch up with all the things I didn’t get to do on our last trip. If anything, I would just plan it even more air-tight: take direct flights, research that my hotel has proper sound insulation, and prepare better for Istanbul’s frequent traffic jams.