The hotel keeper drives us to the airport, I think in part because of the mix-up we had on the way in with his absent-minded driver. Today we backtrack to Izmir and then Istanbul again before arriving at our final destination of the trip: Cappadocia.
The Izmir airport is again empty, and with no trouble at all, we find our plane. For once we’re happy that the plane is late because it give us a chance to buy food. The early morning departures often have no opportunity for coffee or food, which eventually makes us grumpy. But we refuel.
Lily starts singing her usual travel songs, which include “Cool-whip”, Perry the Platypus, “Hamster on a piano” and several we’ve made up including “Decaf, coffee for Lily”, “Bacon Wave”, and a new one about their cousin’s fat cat to the tune of ‘Baby got back”. We’ve been singing these for years, adding a new song or two each trip. I need to record these for posterity…
The flight is shorter than we expected, only about 75 minutes when they annouce we are approaching the airport. Turbulence shakes the airplane pretty hard, causing groans and yelps from the Japanese tour group in back. Fortunately we are on the wing. I tend to put us there when I can because it’s the smoothest ride.
The weather outside is clear, so it’s not a storm. The landscape looks dry, almost deserty. It must be winds. We settle back down, but the plane doesn’t descend. For the next hour, we fly, turning, turning, turning, SHAKE, DIP, turn, turn, turn, RUMBLE. The capitan announces after about 30 minutes that we are being held for landing, which seems strange to me because this is a tiny airport, so it isn’t congestion. It must not be safe to land.
Turkish air has overcome a history of accidents and aircraft problems that gave it a terrible reputation in the 70s to become one of the world’s top airlines. I admit the idea crosses my mind that they might not make the right choices in getting us to the ground, but I’m not much of a worrier. Lily sleeps, which is amazing since she has panic attacks. Emma reminds us that the flight she, Emma and Trish were on in Tanzania was MUCH worse.
My fears are reassured then amplified when we make an approach, get within 500 feet of the ground and abort the landing, shooting fast and high in the sky shaking and plunging with the updrafts and crosswinds. One never knows when an aborted landing happens if smart decisions are being made. Most likely they are. But that’s hard to remember that inside the aircraft where things are now getting worse. The Japanese, getting no information whatsoever and panicking, are also getting sick and vomiting.
Some of them get up from their seats an approach the strapped in attendants yelling Japanese and getting Turkish answers. The plane starts to smell of vomit, which makes more people vomit. Still no announcement or information… As we level off, people rush the bathrooms, one of which becomes a biohazard site. The attendants bring big garbage bags through the asile for the barf-bags. It’s really a mess.
The captain announces we are being diverted to another airport, and ‘The ground crew will assist you on the ground’ with no more detail. We land safely and every claps. The tiny airport we are sent to is actually closer to our destination Goreme (GUR-eh-meh) than our original destination was, and Amanda smartly finds someone to call our hotel so they can send us a shuttle.
Amanda is an amazing companion. She’s very good at getting help – she’s a little sweet (we tease her about her high pitched voice when she asks for things), a little demanding (we tease her about how she somehow always pushes to the front), and always very thankful to the people who help her. She’s had us practicing ‘Thank You’ in Turkish which is quite hard “Tesh-eh-KOOR YEH-der-ehm” the whole trip.
This day wasn’t supposed to be filled with so much adventure. It’s a transition day, and our simplest itinerary of the 10-day trip aside from the long international travel days to and from Turkey.
Our “Kosa” hotel in Goreme is, like most others, carved from the local rock. They call them cave hotels, which is technically true, but it’s It’s a man-made cave. Our rooms are fuly furnished with marble floors, beautiful sinks and furnishings. The hotel in Istanbul and Selcuk were fine, but this is luxurious. Amazingly it’s also the cheapest. We’re here in shoulder season with few other guests, and the Euro has plumetted so much that we pay only $80 a night.
The girls have a completely separate room, which they love. Amanda got me a room with a bathtub because I prefer baths, (so I can play with my submarine and rubber ducky, of course.) We drink some tea to warm up.
It’s cold here, even colder than Istanbul. We can see snow capped peaks in the distance as the sun starts to set. Sam, one of the brothers that runs the place, suggests that they will probably cancel the hot air baloon ride in the morning because of wind or snow. He points us to a peak on the other side of town that has nice views of the little cave town, and afterward we eat at a place that bakes their own bread. I eat a great sun dried tomato spread that I have to learn to make at home.
Fly or not, we get up at 4:30am to do the hot air balloon, so an early bedtime is smart. The wifi is so strong it’s tempting to stay up and write the blog and post pictures, but I’ll have to do that more tomorrow.