It was the day after dad’s birthday with a big day of travel ahead – but not all together. Dad and I were off to Turkey and mum was heading to the Newcastle area. We would all meet up in Manchester in a few days.
Turkey is perhaps an odd side trip to make in the midst of UK travels. It has been a long time goal of mine to go to Gallipoli because of its significance to NZ’s identity and also because of my interest in military conflict history. I decided to take the opportunity of tacking it to this trip somehow, especially as Mike has already been.
With the way the Scotland/England itinerary was shaping up, I would either have to take an extra week off work and go to Turkey at the beginning or end, or find some way of wedging it into the UK stuff. The latter it was: after St Andrews mum wanted to stay with a friend and this was an opportunity for me to shoot off.
While tossing around these plans, mum mentioned that dad seemed interested about seeing Gallipoli too. Long story short, he and I would ditch mum for five nights to go to Turkey. I would shout him the Gallipoli segment of this adventure for his birthday. Done.
So on May 4th we left St Andrews, initially just for Leuchars not far away. There we turfed out mum at the train station where she would organise to get down to Newcastle. Dad and I continued north in their rental car.
Our Turkey flight was leaving from Manchester later in the day and an internal flight was the best way to get to Manchester. The only workable option for this was to fly from Aberdeen, a bit over two hours away.
I had taken over our TomTom and just on this first day it proved its worth. Dario Franchitti was calling out the directions which was appropriate since he is Scottish.
It all went pretty clockwork. We dropped the car off, caught the first hour-long flight and made it to Manchester with time to kill. Going through the UK airports we twice experienced the drill of removing jackets, shoes, belts, as well as the usual things that go through the security check.
The flight to Istanbul was with Turkish Airlines and took less than four hours.
It was around 11pm when we arrived and walking into the arrivals area was a bit overwhelming: big crowd of people and dozens of cards being held up for people being met. I was looking for one such card and had to walk up and down a couple of times before finding our driver. It seemed a 20-30 minute drive to our hotel and for the time of day it was busy – though it was Friday night. And the city has a population approaching 20 million people. That’s big.
At our hotel, around midnight by now, we found we had to walk over to their sister hotel as we’d been moved due to a group booking or some such. This worked in our favour as it was much nicer.
Finally we were there and four busy days lay ahead.