Gökçen Airport: Istanbul

Istanbul
ALWAYS fly into Ataturk!

I’d like to go back to one of the first places I went on my solo European adventure: Turkey. After a glorious 10 days in the South of France, I was set to fly from Marseille to Istanbul at 2pm on a Saturday. Or so I thought. Silly me, I failed to remember that 2:00 in Europe is military time aka 2:00 a.m. So, as I was itching like a rabid dog to get out of Marseille, my least favorite place on the planet aside from Las Vegas and public bathrooms, I showed up to the airport for my flight only to be informed that I had in fact missed it 10 hours prior. Mother f#@$! I thought. Not only could I have left after only one night in that hellhole but I wouldn’t have had to pay for lodging which seems like pennies now  that I’m shelling out for a second plane ticket to Istanbul. It was the first and last time on my trip where I made a big error and had to pay for it, and you know what? It happens. When you’re in charge of every minute detail traveling alone, you’re bound to slip up. In the big picture, a couple hundred dollars doesn’t matter but at the moment it’s utterly aggravating.

So cut to me, pissed, in the airport halfway between Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, a beautiful region I decided to skip because it seemed better to go to with friends, a future spouse, and/or a car. A woman dropping her daughter at the airport not only translated my misery to the people running the disaster known as EasyJet but gave me a ride to Aix to spend the day at least walking around site seeing instead of cooped up in the short bus of airports. Alas, it was a rainy Sunday and everything was closed because the French don’t sit in shops on Gods day, duh. I ended up trolling a street market, eating a coconut macaron, and wrapping my backpack in trashbags so it wouldn’t soak through and kill my MacBook. Then I found a visitor center where I had my first “I’m in a novel from the 1850’s” moment where I asked to simply come in and dry off in a corner. Puddles were gushing from my shoes and my hair was stuck to my face like a drowning horse. I assure you, it was super cute.

Long story short, I made it to the airport, got on the plane at 2am after waiting for hours in what I can only describe as the airport basement with 200 Turkish men, all sporting thick mustaches and halitosis, eagerly staring at me for being the most out of place person since James Franco hosted the Oscars. I did manage to hack into a computer that was allegedly pay-per-use and email my parents before boarding the flight, a major plus. After not sleeping thanks to the cacophony of snoring men, I made it to Istanbul. A long, nauseating bus ride lay ahead of me, followed by the most disorienting culture shock that blossomed rapidly into adoration for the city of 13 million people.

Lesson: You just never know what kind of curveballs you’re going to deal with while trekking around (Han) solo. So get ready to roll with whatever wonderful disaster gets thrown at you. As my dad always said, don’t sweat the small stuff.

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