I spent Tuesday in Chicago with my buddy Gerad, who graciously offered to drop me off for my flight in Chicago, but since it was an evening flight, we decided to leave in the morning and hang out in Chicago all day. We hung out with some Chicago friends in the afternoon, and topped it off with some barbecue for dinner at Weber Grill Restaurant where I used to work. I had to be at the airport at 8:15 PM so we left a little after seven. However shortly after getting on the 90/94 freeway, we hit a sharp groove in the road and the right front end started making a scary, loud, wobbling noise. Sure enough, it was flat. Gerad pulled off into one of those little triangular areas between the freeway and where an exit begins, butted right up against the concrete divider. I started to get out to help, but he was like “don’t get out” so I just sat in the car and prayed that none of the cars whizzing by us would hit him as he took the flat off and put the ‘doughnut’ on. (Doughnut = slang for a small spare tire which is just meant to get you to the repair shop so you can get the tire patched.) So in less than 10 minutes he managed to get the old tire off, and the new one on. We were back on the road and still got to the airport by 8:00.
I had decided to go with Turkish Airlines since it was the best price I could find. The first flight from Chicago to Istanbul went fine for the most part. I got a little sleep, and did the two hour layover. Then I got on my plane from Istanbul to Hamburg. I boarded early, but then it was delayed one hour, then two hours, then three hours, with the pilot repeatedly mentioning they were waiting on some “information” from Germany before they could take off. Finally they told us that the flight had been cancelled for security reasons. Later I could see that all of the flights from Turkey to difference places in Germany had been cancelled.
They brought every passenger back outside the plane, went through everyone’s carry on luggage, and we all got thoroughly frisked. Then they put us on a bus and we waited for about an hour before finally getting carted back to the airport. Unfortunately, during this time we didn’t receive any direction as to how to catch the next flight. Everyone went straight to the ticket transfer desk and almost mobbed the Turkish Airline staff with questions and complaints. It was actually kind of funny cause there were like 15 people behind the desk and it seemed like none of them knew what to do, and they were just nervously talking to each other until one guy got up and stood on the desk, very much George Bailey style, and answered everyone’s questions, one by one. However, it was all in Turkish and I had no idea what they were saying. I asked several other staff what was going on, and they tried to respond, but it was clear they didn’t know enough English to explain.
If you’ve ever seen The Terminal (with Tom Hanks) it felt a lot like that for a couple hours. It really would have helped if I’d known German. I kept asking people, both staff and passengers, what to do and how to just get on the next flight, but kept having people tell me that they didn’t speak English, or speaking English that didn’t make sense, or giving me ‘directions’ that weren’t there when I got there. I figured out that I could get a free hotel room and sleep for four hours before coming back to catch my flight. But if I wanted to do that I would need to get a Visa at the airport, since I would be leaving the airport and entering the country, and I didn’t feel like doing that. By this time I hadn’t eaten for over 8 hours and wasn’t feeling good, but all the food places were on the other side of airport security and I still didn’t know how to get to the right place. I did find an apple juice vending machine, but it only took euros. I tried to withdraw some money at a nearby ATM with both my credit and debit card but it gave me an error message in Turkish, probably about my type of card not being accepted. Finally after asking more people and walking around, by process of elimination I figured out how to re-enter the departure area, got searched and scanned for the third time for that flight, ran into a Starbucks and ate a bunch of food, and killed time wandering around the airport, buying water, defragging my hard drive, and writing this. So in end, the flight which was supposed to leave at 7:10 PM left at 4:00 AM the next morning. (This morning.) (Thursday morning.) (I think.)
Now I’m safe and sound in my apartment in Bremen. I took a much needed nap, went grocery shopping, and got an internet stick. Below is a picture of the kitchen I’m sitting in. It has posters on the walls of all the previous tours and detailed notes by many of the musicians and bands on what the venues and fans were like in different places, how many CDs sold, etc. The other band I’ll be playing with will be arriving in a couple hours.
I didn’t have the best experience with Turkish Airlines but the food on the plane was actually pretty good, and I was able to sleep enough at least to avoid going mentally insane. Also, at the beginning of the flight out of Chicago, I had my first taste of the notoriously delicious Turkish Delight.