April 2015 - Turkey trip - The flight

8 hour wait at Sydney Airport. 

8 hour wait at Sydney Airport. 

8 hour wait at Sydney Airport. 

Today the 4th of April I am heading off to Turkey, it’s a big trip for a whole month with the whole family, Julianne, Robin, Luke, myself and even my mother, (Grandma / Robyn).

A year ago the ballot for the 100-year ANZAC Service opened. As expected there are a lot of New Zealanders & Australians wanting to attend this 100 year anniversary Service. So the Governments decided to run a ballot to see who could attend. First in the queue people were people who were related to soldiers who actually served at Gallipoli; of which Julianne was one. After this initial ballot there was a second one with about 200 tickets, which included all Kiwis who didn’t have family in the battle plus those like Julianne who were in the first ballet. This gave direct family members two chances of getting tickets, but Julianne was not luckily enough to win either – but me who had a lot less of a chance was actually successful.

So about mid 2014 I found out that I had 2 free tickets to attend the 100 year Gallipoli Service at ANZAC Beach in Turkey. This was great news that also brought a whole lot of problems including how to pay for it and what to do with the boys, Robin who is 5 and especially Luke who is only 19 months.

 As Luke is under 2 we are allowed to take him to the Service, through this would be a long challenging night under the stars for a young man.

A number of options were discussed including Robin spending the time with Grandma up at Leigh and just the rest of us going. In the end we went with a great full on option of taking everyone, in that Grandma comes along and spends the holiday with us, and on the night of the Service looks after the boys. This is exciting for her as she has only ever been to Australia and only a couple of times at that so spending four weeks in a Muslim country with a different language and as such is so different from little old New Zealand – will be a real adventure for Grandma.

So after a very busy time booking accommodation and flights we are now off on our way. Everything had to be booked by October 2015 to confirm the ANZAC Service tickets – so it was all booked and arranged months ago now. Also I have not really had a holiday in the 2 years I have been working at Bluebird so I am well deserving of having a real holiday.

Also of all the places I have visited in my four years in Europe; Turkey was the one place I really wanted to get back to as there is so much to see and do plus the food is fantastic and the people so friendly.

So back to today, the morning was a lazy one as the previous day which happened to be Good Friday was spent confirming packing and tiding the house so the day of the flight could be taken easy.

Ivan and Tracey came to pick Julianne, Robin, Luke & myself up in 2 cars and drove us to the airport where we meet my Mum (Grandma) who had spent the night at Alla’s and was drinking tea with Lyn at the airport.  

There were of course dramas during the checking in process as for some reason our flight connection from Sydney to Istanbul was not in the system plus they were only giving us 6 hold bags and we had 7 and were supposed to have room for 10. As it only self-service check in there was no counter to go to which was annoying and quite stressful. Found someone who could help who said the situation was strange so it was not just me. It took him about 10 minutes but we our bags tagged to Istanbul & tickets for us humans to Sydney, we had to get the rest of our flight tickets in Australia but at least our luggage was all booked in.

Eating lunch at Auckland Airport, with Grandma sending final goodbyes & Robin focusing on the planes. 

Eating lunch at Auckland Airport, with Grandma sending final goodbyes & Robin focusing on the planes. 

Grandma was obviously nervous but she was trusting in me and after saying goodbye to everyone we headed through customs. There were no queues and we relaxed on the other side eating a yummy lunch Julianne had made. 

My paperwork from Etihad Airways said we didn’t have meals on the Sydney leg, but it turns out we did! So we didn’t need to buy a meal in Sydney which is good news and we came off the plane in Sydney with full tummies.

Sydney was a bit nerve-racking, as we didn’t have tickets onwards to Istanbul. I first went to the transfer desk but there was no one there, I then tried the phone at the Transfer desk but Etihad Airways only had ‘go to the destination gate’ on it which seemed very vague, so I phoned another random airline and they said, ‘yep just go the destination gate and they can print your boarding pass’. So we headed on through to the departure area. Going through security was not great as Grandma had 2 pairs of small scissors in her hand-luggage which she lost and all her shampoo & moisture. 

We had a long 8 hour wait for our next flight so time was spent reading the lonely planet guide, chasing Luke, working on blogs, reading kindle’s and so on.

Waiting at Sydney

Waiting at Sydney

I also went online and checked in at the Etihad Airway’s website, so even though we didn’t have boarding passes I could confirm we were on the flight and we got seats all together, I was concerned that waiting to getting our boarding passes at the Gate just before the plane left would mean everyone else would have seats allocated and we would be all over the plane.

An hour before the plane was due to leave Etihad Airways staff turned up and there was no drama’s getting boarding passes and they also attached our 7 bags to our seats which was a great relief.

Etihad Airways is a really up market airline and no budget airline, they are the airline of the United Arab Emirates so our next destination was Abu Dhabi, a 14 hour flight. Robin was really good, and Luke was not bad considering he was stuck on laps for 14 hours. Got him to sleep for a lot of time and Julianne walked around the plane in circles for a long time as well. The food was really good though eating with a sleeping Luke on one’s arm is a challenge.

Abu Dhabi was a normal stopover of 4 hours and the airport is new and flash.

Final leg was 5 hours to Istanbul. I had intentionally set my watch to Istanbul time before I left Auckland and made myself sleep were I could when it was night over there and stayed awake during their daylight hours to try and adjust to the 9 hour difference.

Successfully we arrived in Istanbul at 1-30pm and all the normal adventures of a holiday started. Waiting to get our bags was slightly worrying due to the problems earlier in the flight and a lot of people left before our bags finally came out.

And then the one thing I had not thought of came to light, ‘how are we going to carry all our bags to where we are staying?’ We had 3 suitcases, 2 large back packs, 1 baby carrier as well as about 6 pieces of hand luggage and a pram. All the smaller pieces of hand luggage went into backpacks, I had my backpack on my back, my actually heaver day pack on my front and was dragging 2 suitcases along, Julianne was also loaded up with packs with one 1 suitcase and Grandma was dragging her hand luggage and carrying the baby carrier. And Robin was such an amazing big helpful boy as he was pushing Luke in the pram all on his own. There was no way we could have made without Robin, it was amazing to see him pushing Luke on and off trains & trams and along cobblestone streets – it’s really hard to describe how grown up he was – hard to think he is only 5. To get to where we are staying required one train and then one very crowded tram. The tram was so crowded that I ended up on my own with all my bags at one door while all the others were at the next door.

On the train leaving the airport - trains at airports are a must.

On the train leaving the airport - trains at airports are a must.

The walk to the Coskun House where we are staying was so crowded there were people everywhere we had trouble moving with all our bags plus there were trams running past at full speed right beside us with no barrier, scary stuff.

The place we are staying is a great 2 bedroom apartment with a lounge less than 100meters from the amazing Hagia Sofia – talk about being right in the middle of everything. We unloaded then dashed down to a nearby dairy to buy some milk & tea before heading up to find something to eat. It turned out that we had not eaten since food since on the plane at 10am and it was now 5-30pm – so it was very late! And we were all very tired as it was 4am NZ Time. The meal was quick and cheap and Grandma did not like it at all.

Then back to Coskun House for showers and bed – it has been a very long couple of days just to get to Istanbul but at least we are here and settled. 

Adam Weller