Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Panic stations

Unfortunately all good things must come to an end, and it was my last day in Turkey. I had a terrible sense of foreboding all day which I couldn't understand as I am a very seasoned traveller and I like flying. The only time this happened to me before was the time I was flying to Rotterdam and when I got to the airport  discovered that I had left the ticket at home!!! So this did not make me feel anymore relaxed.
I was leaving for the airport at 02.45.
See, I have things organised like a military operation.
The airport is about a two hour drive away, an hour and 45 minutes if you get a mad driver who breaks traffic lights and weaves in and out of the lanes. I  booked a transfer taxi through Foley's Bar.
So there I was waiting with my suitcases in the car park of my apartment at 2.40 am. I like to be early!
5 minutes, 10, 15 passed. No sign of my taxi, which was very unusual as they are usually early. I was beginning to panic as I didn't have a number for him because I didn't book him myself. The caretaker was pacing up and down outside the complex waiting to direct the taxi in.
Still no sign.
Right, I raced down the street to Foleys, praying that there was still someone there. Of course there was!
They rang the driver to discover.
"Big problem. He went to the wrong place but he is on the way now."
Okay. Hopefully he will be there by the time I get back to the apartment.
No such luck.
I waited another 5, 10, 15 minutes. By now I was sweating and it wasn't the humidity. Even if someone went to the wrong place, they should be at the right place by now. Mahmutlar is not that big.
I needed another taxi. My caretaker didn't have the number of a transfer so I rang the person who I knew could help.
Paula, who was back in Ireland!
"Hello"said a very sleepy voice from her Irish bed. Well it was only 01.15.
"Paula, I'm really sorry", I screeched in panic. "I need the number of your taxi driver here in Turkey."
"No problem. I'll send it on."
Sure enough, one "bing" later and I had it.
Now I was in a bit of a dilemma. What if  the other taxi arrived after I had called the new one? Another two minutes passed and my decision was made.
I rang the new number.
"Hello", said a sleepy voice from his Turkish bed.
I quickly explained my problem and he reassured me.
"I will call one of my drivers. I will let you know in two minutes."
Two minutes of further agony.
Call back.
"I am sorry but all my drivers are busy."
"WHAT????", I wailed.
"But no problem. I will drive you in my own car."
"Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!"
"I will be there in five minutes."
More passing minutes of blind panic.
A taxi pulled up. I didn't know which one it was, the one who was 50 minutes late or the one who had dragged himself out of his bed to rescue a damsel in distress. I hoped it was the latter....and it was!
I threw my cases in the boot and off we sped.
He was one of the nicest taxi drivers I ever encountered. He saw the state I was in and reassured me that we would get there on time. As I was flying into Istanbul first, it was counted as a domestic flight and you only
have to check in an hour before departure. Having a touch of OCD I had given myself two hours to check in, in case they counted it as an international  flight seeing as I was going on to Dublin.
I have never done so much mental maths in my life. Every sign post that we pasted that said Antalya 130km, I started working out.
If a driver is going at 120km per hour and the airport is 130 km away, what time will it reach the airport and will the deranged passenger make her flight?
We got to the airport in 1 hour 30 minutes, so you can guess how many red light we went through.
I was on time. I could have hugged the driver but instead I threw all the euro I had at him. I'm sure he was much happier with that!
I queued up to check in. The two girls in front of me were missing something and kept checking in the bags , cases and showing the attendant something on their phones but she was having none of it.
Tick, tick, tick.
Thankfully the guy at the adjoining counter beckoned me over.
Eventually, I was checked onto my flight, with about 4 minutes to spare.
As I sat on my seat I said to myself
"I'm never going to Turkey again."

I landed in Dublin to teeming rain. As I got drenched I said to myself
"I want to go back to Turkey NOW."
See how fickle I am.