Happy New Year from Izmir, Turkey! I know it's a week late, but better late than never, right?
The day started out kind of early because Poorna was leaving that morning. Her flight was originally scheduled for 10:30, but when we woke up, it was cancelled. She had a 2pm flight from Istanbul to Boston and when we checked the news and saw reports of a snowstorm in Istanbul, we knew we should get to the airport and figure out what to do.
When we got to the airport, we were able to get her a ticket for another flight that left around the same time as her original flight, which was a huge relief. I left her after a sad goodbye and headed home. Around noon, Mike got a phone call from a random Turkish number and when he answered, it was Poorna! Her new flight to Istanbul had been delayed/cancelled (I don't remember), so they rebooked her entire itinerary for the next day, New Year's Day! I was excited because that meant that she would get to bring in the new year with us.
She braved the metro by herself (it's actually really easy, but I'm always nervous to do things by myself here) and was back at our house by 1:00. We spent the rest of the afternoon grocery shopping and relaxing at our apartment. Entertaining is as exhausting as traveling, so I think all three of us were glad to just lounge around and relax after a busy week of exploration.
That night, Mike's good friend Murat, as well as a couple of his classmates and classmates' friends came over for New Years. I think altogether we had eight people. It was fun to just hang out with them. I pulled up the official time for Istanbul so we could count down and we stood out on the balcony waiting for fireworks. There were other people out on their balconies, as well. Our group began counting down in four different languages (English, French, Arabic, and Turkish), but around five, we noticed no one on the other balconies was counting down yet. We continued since we had to official atomic clock pulled up and, when we got to zero, we wished each other happy new year. Then, about a minute later, we heard the people on the other balcony counting down and just laughed. In typical Turkish fashion, they were late. Or, I guess you could laugh and say in typical American fashion, we had to be first. Either way, it was pretty funny.
Poorna's flight the next morning was at 9:30, so we had to be up early the next morning. We both headed to bed shortly after we brought in the new year and said goodnight to our guests. The next morning, we returned to the airport to find out that her flight was once again delayed, but only for an hour. Once again, I left the airport with the instructions to come back to our house if she couldn't make it on a flight today. I knew she wanted to get home though, so I was hoping that she wouldn't have to come back again.
Once I left, it sounds like things went from bad to worse. She ended up being delayed for about five hours in the Izmir airport with poor customer service, no wifi or way to find out any information on what was going on, and just overall a miserable experience. When she got to Istanbul, she did end up making her flight because that was also delayed, but was once again greeted by grumpy employees and a lot of chaos. I can't imagine what that must have been like. Turkey and it's people are good at a lot of things (food, history, etc.) but organization and logistics are definitely not one of it's strengths, so trying to rebook and reschedule people's flights must have been a mess. She did eventually make it home to Boston and we were able to video chat with her to hear all about her travels, but it definitely wasn't easy.
It was a great trip and I LOVED having a friend here to explore and show around our new home. I love Poorna for her sense of humor and appreciation for culture and I definitely miss her. Mike and I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out at home. We had a busy December and will have an even busier February, so we're trying to relax and enjoy a slower pace to start off the new year. Let's see if that works!