Our flight home was supposed to be a pretty straight shot – Istanbul to Frankfurt to Dallas. We had to leave for the airport at 3:15 a.m. Friday and didn’t arrive home from our last dinner to pack until 11:30 p.m. Thursday. So some of us (hello Sarah Jane, Barbara and Pam) stayed up all night. Alp took us to a pedestrian mall near the center of town and we marveled at the crowds – families, couples, groups of teens, having tea or a drink or a meal, strolling, packing the streets at midnight.
It was marvelous. Also a Big Mistake.
That early flight out of Istanbul had mechanical problems, which meant we missed our connection in Frankfurt. Collecting our checked luggage and rebooking 11 people took about six hours. And our big group had to split up. John Lunsford, Ben Fountain, Jamie Baker and I wound up flying to Zurich around 4 in the afternoon. Chatting with Jamie on the plane, I fell asleep for a moment in the middle of a sentence. WE spent the night in Switzerland at the Park Inn, a nicely designed budget hotel. Over drinks and dinner in the bar, John was still going strong, watching for birds in the field outside and regaling us with stories about former teachers (Hattie Hornbeak – what a perfect name) and an annual fourth of July party he and friends used to throw, which involved a parade and other frivolity. “Of course, we had a harpsichord player every year,” he said, sending us over the edge into delirious giggles. Definitely time to crash. Up early Saturday for our leg to New York. And a fabulous 10 hour layover in JFK. Our plane to Dallas was delayed about an hour. We got in after midnight – 8 a.m. on our Istanbul time – more than 50 hours after we got on the bus to the airport. By the end of it, Ben and I were monosyllabic – congratulating ourselves that no one lost his temper or cried on the long trip. But John was still chatting away. I’m convinced the man could have an entertaining and informative conversation in the middle of a hurricane.
Everyone’s back and we’ll be playing catch up this week. I have several guest blogs coming in from my fellow travelers and I’ll be posting slide shows and a few more notes to catch up on parts of the trip I wasn’t able to share while we were on the go.