Our trip to Turkey started with a trip to Moscow, and our trip to Moscow started with something I had always been afraid of: us missing our flight.
As it turned out, it wasn’t the end of the world and was surprisingly easy to do.
I thought I had booked the 6 pm flight, when, in fact, I had booked the 6 a.m. flight. In my defense, it is very confusing when an airline has 2 flights departing at exactly the same time 12 hours apart. So there we were, standing at Departures, holding our tickets and looking from the tickets to the board and back again and then Bam! the realization hit us. Actually, it was my dad, slapping my shoulder as he realized our mistake, not realization, but you get my drift. Anyhow, we rebooked ourselves onto a flight leaving the following morning, and went back to spend one more night with my family and Sharon the sausage dog.
Upon arrival to Moscow, we had to make a mad dash to the Aeroexpress (a train from the Domovedovo airport into the city), leave our things at Paveletskaya train station with a slightly dodgy storage room worker, and then to the Turkish Consulate. At that point we were still not sure if our application for a visa would be accepted, as they haven`t been great at communicating – they never, ever, answered their phones and barely ever answered e-mails. But luckily, we were told to come back by Friday to pick up Mike’s work visa and I was told to enter Turkey without a visa (as is the procedure for Russians) and apply for a residence permit from within the country. Relieved, we left the embassy and walked to the very heart of Moscow – the Kremlin and the Red Square. We had quite a few hours to kill before we had to meet our host in Moscow – a former student of mine and now a good friend, Vika.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A statute of an exhausted tourist…
While in Moscow, we were able to catch up with our friends from Novosibrsk, Marina and Danny, and spent a pleasant day together. As it turned out, on Monday all of us were walking around the Red Square and had almost identical photos.
The view from the apartment we were staying in in Moscow.
Day 3 in Moscow – visiting the Victory Park
Even though we were told to pick up the visa on Friday, we decided to try our luck on Thursday and were rewarded: the visa was ready. Now we could book a taxi to the airport for Friday and relax. We had planned a nice evening out with our host Vika, but towards the evening we realized we both managed to catch a cold, so we had to stay in, miserably imagining the trip ahead made doubly difficult by being ill.
On Friday we arrived to the airport, both looking forward to a flight with Turkish airlines, and we weren’t disappointed. We watched movies and ate delicious food (there was an actual menu printed where you got to choose the main course! and real cutlery!). We were even fed on a very short flight from Istanbul to Kayseri, which took just over an hour. (the photo of a ‘picnic’ box below)
The water was served in very cool containers reminiscent of yoghurt pots
Upon arrival, we found out that our apartments weren’t ready yet and we would be spending the night in Novotel. No complaints from us! By then we would happily stay in a tent on the road side, so tired we were.
No matter how tired we get, we are rarely too tired to eat. So we fully enjoyed the hotel breakfast which served a variety of local dishes as well iniquitous cereals and pastries.
Here is Mike enjoying the awesomeness, particularly the grilled peppers and olives
After breakfast, I took a much needed nap (due to the cold I was on the sleep-eat-sleep schedule) while Mike went out with a few of his colleagues to get the lay of the land.
In the afternoon we were picked up and driven to our new apartment. Mike and his colleagues all got into a mini-bus and I got a car with a driver all for myself, which was great because I got to practice my Turkish! I was very proud of my attempts at communicating and of making myself understood by somebody other than our Turkish teacher.
And then we got to the apartments.
As it often happens, there were good news, and bad news.
The good news was that it is a brand new building, and therefore a brand new, never-lived-in before apartments. It is very spacious, with 4 rooms, 2 balconies and a kitchen.
All the other expat teachers from Mike’s university also live in the same building. Since there are no floor or flat numbers visible anywhere and the apartment layout is identical, we walked into somebody’s apartment by mistake and somebody walked into ours.
Our street (our building is just on the left behind the pink one)
Another view of our street – lots of new houses
And now for the bad news. When the university put us up in the hotel, we were told that there are still a few things missing from the apartments. It tuned out that by ‘a few things’ they meant ‘almost everything’. As we came in, our voices resonated in the empty rooms. Somebody was working in our bedroom, assembling the furniture and the bed, but the living room, the dining room and the study were completely bare. The kitchen was there, with a fridge, a stove and a microwave, but not a cup or a spoon in sight. A man came to connect the gas and set up the stove, and then we were getting various deliveries of kitchen stuff etc late into the night. Our dishwasher got delivered and installed at 10 p.m.
In the meantime, we were too tired to go walk around so we just walked to the nearest store for some snacks and camped out on the living room floor.
The view from our bedroom balcony
The view from our kitchen balcony – Mount Ali
We were just relieved that the bed was ready, and gratefully collapsed into it and fell asleep.