Passport Control

Dateline: Istanbul, Day 1 – A Delay

Istanbul, Turkey
22 June 2009

I got up extra early this morning, around the the crack of 9am or so to find several messages from Charlie.

I finally left the hostel just before 11 and made my way to the central train station via the metro. My plan was to reverse my route that I took coming in.

Amazing, everything worked out great! I got on the metro, got to the train station, walked back through the entire train station to the other side, found a bus to the Boryspil airport, and all was good. Even better, I had lots of time to kill, which was surprising because I had left later than I planned.

My plane out of Boryspil was a bit late, but we eventually did get off the ground and I slept most of the way, as I usually do on flights less than 3 hours.

Getting through Turkish customs was pretty easy. I bought a visa before going through customs1, picked up my bag, and cleared customs via the green line2

I decided the best plan was to wait for Charlie. His plane was scheduled to land in about three hours and I wasn’t sure he could figure out where to go.

I found a food court and grabbed some lunch, which was an adventure in-and-of itself. In my attempt to eat local foods, I try to stay away from places such as McDonald’s and Burger King. I found a nice little place to eat that had a combo meal for something like 13 liras3.

The picture on the menu looked good, so I said “Combo please with Coca-Cola.” The woman at the register asked what I wanted, so I said, “Combo Meal,” trying to repeat the the words on the menu as close as I could. It was no use though. She waved over another woman who was able to translate for me.

Well, as it turned out, you still had to pick what you wanted for the main course with the combo meal. The titles weren’t very descriptive, so I just asked her what she liked and went with that.

Slightly frustrated, and even more embarrassed, I quickly devoured the entire meal (I didn’t have a chance to get breakfast before I left due to problem solving Charlie’s flight issue).

With at least another 2 hours until Charlie’s flight arrived, and feeling a bit worn out, I decided to seek refuge in the local Starbucks.

Not wanting to miss him, I waited about 30 minutes after Charlie’s plane landed before I headed over to the area where the passengers came out. Unfortunately, it would be another hour until I saw his happy face. When Charlie finally emerged, I’m pretty sure seeing me standing there was the happiest moment in his life.

We made our way down to the metro, up to the tram, and all the way to the hostel with a minimum of fuss. Despite the fact that he had just been traveling for over 24 hours, Charlie still wanted to go out. So we made a quick tour of the surrounding area before going to bed.

18.0 mm || 0.5 || f/4.0 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
İstanbul, İstanbul, Turkey

In summery, I feel like this day exemplifies exactly why traveling by air sucks.

  1. Note: They don’t take Russian Rubles or Estonian Kroons 

  2. I’ve got nothing to declare! (And I don’t know why I’m shouting)  

  3. about $7.75 

Dateline: Kiev, Day 1 – Traveling, Again

Kiev, Ukraine
18 June 2009

Today was a travel day. It was nice not having to travel at nice for once. It was a short bus ride to the airport, which is just a few kilometers outside of Tallinn’s Old Town. The airport was quiet, just like Old Town. There was no line at the security checkpoint, which was good because I had to go through twice.

18.0 mm || 1/1250 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70
Tallinn, Harjumaa, Eesti

I normally don’t travel with my Nalgene. However, on this trip I have. I forgot that I had some water left in it and you’re not supposed to take any liquids through security1. The security lady kindly asked me to empty it out, so I had to walk back to the check-in area to find a place where I could dispose of my ever so dangerous liquid (I opted for the curb outside).

I went back through security, putting my now-empy Nalgene through the x-ray machine. I hurried through the metal detector and it went of this time. I was slightly puzzled as to why the metal detector had gone off this time, and not the last time. I went through the exact same metal detector as I did last time, and I had the exact same items on my person. It took a few seconds before I figured it out; however, I shall leave it as an excersive to you to figure out why (bonus points offered for the proof).

The plane ride out to Latvia was non-eventful. The medium turbo-prop was not even half filled, which was meant that I got an entire row to myself. Once we landed, I passed through Latvian customs, getting a Latvian exit stamp (although not entrance stampt) on my visa2.

Boarding the 737 to Kiev was delayed for unknown reasons, and then delayed again as there was a minor scuffle between a passenger and crew member. There was a of talking, and then the passenger definitively slamed his carry-on bag to the aisle. I don’t have the remotest idea about what the issue was, but I think it had something to do with the guy’s seat…although I can’t imagine what the issue was. The captain was called out to talk with the passenger. The captain was calm and collected and spoke bits of English and Spanish before returning to a less familar language.

18.0 mm || 1/1600 || f/3.5 || ISO200 || NIKON D70

The passenger was still refusing to cooperate though. The captain told the flight attendant to call the police, while the disgruntled passenger made his way to the very back of the airplane.

The police came, the passenger was escorted off, and we were on our way.

Going through Ukrainian customs is relatively easy, and far less stressful than Russian customs. Getting into Kiev and finding my hostel was a bit more tricky though. First, I had to find a bus to the central train station. A rather persistent taxi driver kept asking me if I wanted a ride, and I kept saying no…over and over. The bus ended up being a Grey Hound-style bus with no markings. I used my amazing powers of inference to determine that it may be going to the train station and later confirmed this, more or less, with the bus driver.

Unfortunately, the bus was making two stops this day (I actually suspect it makes two stops every day), and I got off the bus at the first stop. I went to go get my luggage, which was in the underbelly luggage compartment; but that involved basically stepping out into traffic. As soon as I tried to open the luggage compartment, the driver honked at me and explained that this wasn’t my stop…opps.

We get to the main train, my stop, and I go find the metro. It’s a short ride on the metro, which opperates the exact same way as the one in Moscow and St. Petersberg, although far less ornate on the inside.

I finally make it to the hostel around 5 or so, completely exhausted.

Some of the other guys in the hostel went out tonight. I joined them and actually had a pretty decent time. I didn’t get back until 4 in the morning.

  1. We shall save discusioning the absurdity of this rule for another day 

  2. Estonia and Latvia are part of the Schengen Agreement, Ukraine is not