Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Long Slog Home

Greetings from the Iberia Business Class Lounge (Yay) at the Madrid International Airport. This means I successfully accomplished Stage One of my journey -- Istanbul to Madrid -- and am on to Stage One-Point-Five, which is cooling my heels at the Madrid International Airport for about four hours (which is approximately how long it took me to get here) before Stage Two, my connection to New York.

Having been unable to find ANY official information on how early one has to check in for an international flight out of the Ataturk Airport (Iberia´s website said 45 minutes for flights out of Madrid, but that it might be longer for some of its flights out of other airports -- thanks so much for THAT useful information), I settled on a 4:30 shuttle for my 7:00 a.m. flight. This because the UNOFFICIAL information I´d received -- from the idiot tour guide in Ephesus, from Kagan, from the cruise director before I left the ship, from the hotel, and from random reviews of the airport -- varied between one hour and two hours. The estimates on how long it would take to get the airport that early in the morning began at "around 45 minutes" and went up from there.

Well, ladies and gents, these people hadn´t seen my airport transportation guy drive. Two lanes (going the same direction) down the road and he´d straddle em both, tooling along at a very impressive pace well in excess of the speed limit. (Speed limit said 45, he´s doing 80.) Indeed, the only time he slowed was to gawp at a bunch of police cars by the side of the road, checking to see what all the action was about. The result was that one short hour after I´d left the hotel, I´d: arrived at the airport; had my bags screened; passed passport control; had my carry-ons screened again; found nothing but insanely expensive prices at the Turkish Duty Free shop (pleased, at least, that I paid less at the Grand Bazaar than what Duty Free was charging for my souvenirs); found the lounge; and was about another chapter into the book I´m reading.

I´m still exhausted, though. I know this because I´ve eaten breakfast two and a half times already this morning, and I´m still starving. Clearly, my body is asking for fuel and will take calories in the absence of rest. I got about six hours of sleep last night -- and when the alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. (interrupting a dream in which I was haggling a good price for something and paying for it with an oversized British Underground medallion), I had a good few minutes of "Where the hell am I?" before, "Oh yeah, Istanbul" kicked in.

Contemplated napping in the "rest area" of the lounge -- a dark room with comfy stretch out couches. But they do not supply alarms of any sort, and it´s just my luck I´d sleep through my flight out of here. (Best to wait until I´m on the plane out -- the seat will be less comfy but at least I´ll know I´m moving toward my destination.) And so, I´m off to explore Madrid´s Duty Free shopping, in a last ditch effort to find SOMETHING that isn´t "too gay."

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