Istanbul buzz. July 14th, 2011
Awoke to the sound of the muezzin a calling disciples to prayer to begin the day. I'm not sure of the time, but it is still dark and the sun is likely begging to rise and make the trek through the sky.
I am in full jet lag mode, which is to say that I am simply tired as I'm not much of a jet lagger really. Life seems different in Istanbul this round- round 5 I believe. Even though I've stayed here for months at a time, I always knew i was traveling back to Maui. This round, well I'm a bonafide resident of Turkey-for a year at least.
So with this knowledge I can finally say that my long-term goal has come to full realization: to live in Turkey. This was my reason for graduate school. This was my reason for moving to Tunisia last year. I like my reasoning- even in this state of jet lag ...
Speaking of which, this is the reason for today's entry: how to travel for nearly 40 hours and avoid jet lag. So, listen carefully to my not-so-tall tale, or read my words carefully is more appropriate for a blog I reckon!
It all starts with the 4- day lead-up in my case. This seems like an appropriate amount of time to prepare for a journey more than halfway around the world. Back on Maui I was working up to the last minute. It started Thursday evening (I left on Monday night's "red-eye" flight as it is affectionately known).
Thursday evening 'pau Hana' (quitting time in Hawaiian language) Jimmy, aka "Jimmy pawn" as my iPhone knows him, stopped by the lab to grab me so we could have some drinks at Casanovas Bistro in town. Michelle, "Mimi" was managing that night so I got to kill some birds with stones and multi task! Stephan came, jimmy's co-worker and my "Coffeetalk" replacement on weekday mornings. Nathan showed up, as well as Jordan- or is this the Friday night crew? I'm terribly mixed up right now- likely due to my 'non-existent' jet lag (wink)... So maybe my experiment didn't turn out so positive in the end, but it is still an entertaining read for you guys I believe.
So whichever, Thursday or Friday, we went out (both nights anyway so it's not so far off on my timeline of events)... I had full intentions of returning to the lab to burn some midnite oil, as my co-workers often do. I remember quickly drinking 3 Absolute Mandarin tonics. We know the bartender so they were strong, and we know the manager, so they were likely comped. Oh wait, now I remember! Thursday evening was just Jimmy pawn, David and myself and we were at Casa's. The outcome is still the same: heavily sedated with adult beverages. Yes this was a rather 'tame' evening as far as drunken debauchery goes. I even was able to slink back into the lab and finish up a thing or two and then close up. Friday evening same m.o. really, but with a much larger cast of characters. We started out at Cafe O'Lei just us 3 musketeers, better known as "Coffeetalkers" and Stephan coined it perfectly as we were now "Drinktalkers.". I do recall dazzling the crew, and likely other tables nearby to the bar, with nearly tall tales of the revolution in Tunisia. Well likely these peeps thought the tales tall, but in all respects were in fact true tales. I realize now that it's not often that people living in the middle of the Pacific Ocean are witnesses to a revolution.
Needless to say I held a captive audience and so accounted for question and answers. We moved the party to the Bistro as Stephan was willing to drive - being the only crew member that didn't have a distorted sense of reality at this point. Some peeps dropped outta the fun as they were attending "Chicago" at the Iao Theatre- most notably that hot Hawaiian man. So we we're seated at the round table on full display at the Bistro. It was a lively crew and at some point I recall thinking, "Tonight I am surrounded by good friends & entertainment, so why am I leaving?".
Another late evening that one. I quickly realized that at midnite when Stephan dropped me off at the lab that I would not be burning any 'midnite oil' but rather motor oil so I took off for home with much ado about nothing... It was a long yet stunning drive heading upcountry from Paia town. The night air was moody and infectious with the moon rising and playing hide and seek inside the cotton puff clouds- rather like guiding me safely to my destination.
Now we are at Friday and I'm up early as we have special "Coffeetalk" session- this being my last one. So Jimmy pawn, Stephan (who is a girl BTW) and I are reliving the night(s)/hangover(s). Now these 2 are super interesting and I will dearly miss our morning talks. I love pawn shop talk! I never knew how much an industry such as that could really tell you a lot about the state of economics of a place. Pawn shop peeps, like archaeology peeps, need reality shows. We are underrated professionals for sure. There is much more glory in the profession that one might think.
Back to the story... So the day progresses into evening and, I believe goes off without a hitch and without a drink as well strangely enough. But, I know that Friday night is the only night I have to organize as the weekend is to be spent lounging at the Makena Prince Hotel in Makena on the south shore. This is going to be affectionately known as "Holly's Second Annual Going Away Party" with co-workers, friends & family. Even without alcohol tonight I still manage to catch a buzz... It was a very productive evening indeed of last minute catch-up.
Saturday mid-morning I was totally absolved of all responsibilities so headed off to the south shore knowing it was time to relax and par-Tay. I headed to 'Lil D's and Rochelle-La-Bell's place in Maui Meadows and started drinking Coronas while D attended to packing and her green thumb. We headed out about 3pm to check-in. Of course we are staying in swank digs and arrived at the hotel at valet parking with a case of Coronas. Our room was not yet ready (1st strike against them) so we simply walked over to the valet area where our luggage (more beer and food) was waiting to be delivered to our room, and opened up the case and cracked beers right there in the lobby! Haha! We wandered around on the grounds outside to visit friends that worked there at the activities rental kiosk and lamented about how the pool was under construction and that threatening clouds were out in the distance. Par for the course, right?
The afternoon continues and morphs into a blurry evening. Everybody starts showing up for pre-sunset festivities, first at our room and then we take the party to the grounds outside to an open massage tent area bordering the shoreline, anticipating an epic sunset. We end up having a local style luau (Rochelle & Cody are so smart to realize we need this food to help the beer)! Outside from being harassed by hotel security (we apparently didn't resemble distinguished guests of the 5-star hotel). I can't imagine why not as we had coolers and huge trays of food, and they staff could smell something 'funny' wafting through the air... Haha. Anyway, after we set them straight during that uneasy confrontation, the rest of the evening was full of merriment and, once again, nearly tall tales!
Sunday, my last "free" day on maui, was spent entirely in the hotel room. I was so hung over that I couldn't even walk outside to the lobby to get my coffee. Lil'D had to get it for me. We sat around, drinking beer, and watching movies and telling more nearly tall tales- all day! It was perfect. I couldn't even muster enough energy to walk out a few steps onto the beach to properly watch sunset, but it was a spectacular sunset anyway.
Monday was a full day of more errands. I was finally free at 5:30 and met Katie in town for drinks at the Bistro. Mimi was working as well! The idea was to drop off luggage at the airport early and then drink and eat in anticipation of a very long flight ahead of me. Of course katie & I get turned away at the Delta Airlines desk as they don't open until 7pm... Now this is 3 pieces of 70 pounds of luggage (each) we hauled in, as well as an overly heavy carry-on bag and a ukulele... Haha we trudged back to the truck and threw everything inside and headed out to drink. Jimmy and Nathan met us there and we proceeds to drink copious amounts of red wine and, fortunately for me, eat some heavy pasta.
The goodbyes were hard-as they always are. Enough said there. I made it onto the airplane with my supply: Valium (1), muscle relaxant (1) and ibuprofen 800 (2). Now this information is important kids so listen to my words carefully. This is the proper concoction needed to have a successful 24 hour flight- not including airport transfer times).
The lack of sleep for 4 days, paired with alcoholic debauchery (which is not normally part of my life m.o.), and some light meds is the magic trio needed to pull this off successfully. Now, we need to look at in-flight necessities as well. A half full plane nearly always ensures you will rest but this was not the case for my 1st 2 legs of the journey. You definitely need: ear plugs, a eye mask thingy to keep light out (I've tried sunglasses and they just fall off). Also you need chapstick. Keep it in your pocket, not purse, etc. It needs to be on your person for maximum effectiveness. Also you need to be really nice to all check-in peeps no matter what. They are key to getting you things even if you aren't a Silver Medallion status member.
The ukulele scored MANY points I'm telling you right now. It's a good thing I didn't have to play it for anyone though- haha. It's like pulling out the 'archaeologist' card -it almost always assures you that you will get your drinks bought for you, etc likely this is due to peeps realizing that not only do you play in dirt, but you make dirt.
Next is the crying thing. Katie-girl had just dropped me off and I was still teary-eyed. Everybody was asking me if I was alright, and upon telling them yes & that I was moving off island (again) after 20+ years on Maui, well let's just say this is gold status. Oh, again the archaeologist thing, always plays golden into any conversation- except conversations about income and retirement plans anyway... Archaeology and retirement nest eggs never mix together properly really. Archaeology and Jack Daniels conversations are effortless though.
So I'm teary eyed, moving from paradise and very tipsy. Inside the plane I immediately brush teeth and take half a Valium. At this time i don the earplugs and eye mask and cocoon myself in a blanket Poof I'm sleeping like a baby. Dear elizabeth gave me the eye mask thing for Christmas last year and is shaped like a frog so I'm sure this appeared a bit strange to all passengers on the plane. Oh yea, it's 10:30 at night so perfect timing. Mind you it's crowded and we are packed like sardines. 5 hours later in Los Angeles same routine once onboard but instead of then other half of Valium it's half a muscle relaxant and an ibuprofen (the Ibe because my wine hangover set in, unknowingly to me, during the Maui- Los angeles flight). Bingo, I hit the magic number once again and sleep the entire way to Minneapolis- minus a few moments of looking out of the window to see the scenery. This was a 4 hour flight maybe, I can't remember. It might have been 5.
This next flight is key as it's the 1st international leg of the journey. This means free booze! As an added bonus the flight is nearly empty! Here is my concoction: the other half of Valium and 2 coronas from the start. Slept the entire 8 hours, or maybe 7 as the Swiss Alps were so incredibly dizzying and amazing that I couldn't keep my eyes off of them. Oh wait that was the last leg. Scratch that. I slept all the way to Paris from Minneapolis like a really comfortable baby, so 8 hours.
The last leg was Paris to Istanbul - a 3 hour journey. Now I took the 2nd ibuprofen and that was it. No beer, just coffee and orange juice and great food they served. Oh yes I'm now on Air France so it is much more comfortable as well even though a full flight. Oh I forgot to mention that tomato juice is essential to drink during all flights so those rare moments when I was conscious, I drank tomato juice. Since this flight was a morning flight I knew I needed to think it was morning so no sleeping this leg, which wasn't necessary as I previously mentioned the Swiss Alps. It was amazing is all i can say.
So because I was so rested up and feeling my time zone, the realization that none of my luggage made it with me to Istanbul wasn't so hard to deal with really. I had forgotten that my Minneapolis to Paris flight was more than an hour delayed, so that would only give me a half hour at Charles de Gaulle (Paris) to catch my flight to Istanbul. So when arrived to CDG, I fully expected to miss my flight but miraculously I didn't. Those Europeans are so efficient and helpful at the flight counters... And because of their efficiency I made it!
Now it's good to mention that since I am moving to turkey, I had all my possessions with me- hence the 3 pieces of overweight luggage... So it should be a big deal to not have any of it, and not speak the language with the lost and found staff. But, once again, my travel angel, or "wingman" haha get it? Angel. Wingman. With wings. Angels have wings. Anyway, as I said previously it is ESSENTIAL to be nice to all staff. My good friends reading this know how I can be when talking to people, granted mostly computers, on the phone when I am trying to get things one... I am thinking bout the ASH lab rats that I worked with that had to suffer through listening to many phone conversations I had of this nature! I will say though, I generally always got what I needed to get. I do know when to hold back, and when to rage. Normally it was the computer speaker robot people that I raged to.
So the office of lost luggage was conveniently located next to the baggage claim area. Everything went so soothly! Lots of forms to fill out, but damn if those bags were not tracked fully and 1 even came during all this. As expected at 10 pm last night a dude showed up at Elizabeths with my 2 bags, and he carried them up the 3 flights of precarious looking stairs ( so steep and narrow). I gave him water and we laughed as he spoke some english, and it all ended with a marriage proposal. I know what you guys are thinking, "Oh Holly is telling a 'nearly tall tale' again, but am I? My friends that know me well know the answer to this.
This brings us up to date: an overcast morning in Ortakoy and i woke up before sunrise... Maybe this jet lag remedy I rave about isn't so good after all: my body reverted back to Maui time and thinks that I need to be up and ready to be at work before 7am!