We surfed our way across the unbuffeted sky, riding the crest of a 171 mph tailwind from Detroit to Amsterdam and racing the clock at 703 mph.
I tried to sleep on the flight, but mostly found myself shifting and rolling uneasily in my seat until I finally gave up and cracked my window shade somewhere to the west of Ireland. Doing so, I was greeted by the rising sun ahead and the brilliant halo of the engine cowling behind, aglow in the light of the breaking dawn.
We arrived in Amsterdam an hour ahead of schedule, which made for a nice break, as my originally scheduled connection time was only 65 minutes. I picked my way through the crowds to the lounge, where the early arrival afforded me the time to stop in the lounge where the cappuccino machine was sadly not in working order.
I slept better on the next flight, which arrived in Istanbul 25 minutes ahead of schedule, circling once over the city on approach, and giving a view of the complicated dance of ferries on the strait, as well as the massive size of the city, below.
I changed airlines in Istanbul, so had booked myself an extra hour for the connection. Therefore the early arrival was fortuitous. Following a 20 minute wait at passport control, I went directly to the lounge, where I checked in and the agent moved me to the 7 pm flight. I had some momentary anxiety while waiting, because I still hadn’t seen D, who had left from New York just a few hours before me on a different airline. We had been planning to meet in the lounge.
Finally, he replied to my text, indicating that he was elsewhere in the airport, having missed the lounge. The Turkish Air domestic lounge is unique in that you pass through security on entry and then the agents take you by bus directly to your aircraft, so I didn’t finally see D until we were on board the massive 777, oversized for this brief itinerary.
Despite the brevity of this final flight, which lasted a mere 50 minutes, they somehow managed to serve us a hot meal, and it was the best thing I had eaten since leaving Detroit. As the plane bore us south and west at the dying of the day, the fiery band of the setting sun shone through the windows on the far side of the fuselage.
The total flying and connecting time came in at about 16 hours, and after another hour more of driving we were at long last checking in to our hotel in Kusadasi.
So it was with great relief that, sometime after 10 pm, bone tired and sweaty, we finally sat down to our first real meal in Turkey.
And it was perfect.