Monday, November 23, 2015


I'm up ridiculously early, but that's no surprise. Not only are we dealing with jet lag, we forgot that the time had changed while we were away....the clocks don't read the correct time. When you travel, you are aware that it's always a mixed bag of experiences. Getting home was difficult, but worth the price of a great trip.

27 hours after waking up in Dubai, we pulled into our driveway. From the glitz of the Dubai landscape and the barren hot desert only miles from downtown, we arrived to see snow-laden trees and 16 plus inches of snow in our yard. Our thoughtful children tried to find someone to plow the driveway and it was our son, in California, who miraculously found a service available to help.

The day started according to plan. We woke at 4:00 am and arrived at the Dubai airport by 5:20 am. By 6:00 am we were ensconced in the lounge having a light breakfast. Our flight from Dubai to Istanbul left the gate 20 minutes early. I was filled with excitement waiting to be dazzled by the Turkish Air Lounge in Istanbul. I had heard accolades about this spot and my friend had asked me to bring her tea from their lavish buffet. I was psyched, thinking I'd have an extra 20 minutes to enjoy the opulence of the Club.

We were due to arrive early, but alas, nothing at the airport in Turkey was running smoothly. Our two hour layover with a bonus 20 minutes, kept dwindling as we circled endlessly above the patchwork Turkish landscape. Like a whirling dervish, we spun in the sky, and the only “music” I heard was own high anxiety.

With 50 minutes to make our connection, our plane pulled to a stop on some out-of-the way tarmac. No gate! We lumbered off the plane, down stairs with warm air and a strong wind whipping our heart beats into a frenzy. A bus packed with anxious people brought us to a transfer point. Thank goodness we had our boarding passes for the second leg of the trip, but we still needed to go through a security check point before we could even think about finding our gate in the massive airport.

Hoards of people surrounded the departure monitors. We were all suspended in time looking for our flights...which one among the 50 or so that were posted, was ours? Luckily, I spot it...Gate 218...all thoughts of the Club are dashed. No more Turkish Delight or tea for a friend...I need to find the gate which is somewhere far away beyond the endless maze of duty-free shops.

“FINAL BOARDING” the sign flashes. We “dash” (in our heads, it was more like a slow crawl through the check-in process) to the boarding ramp....thoughts of the security of sitting in our seats flash through my mind as we “sprint” (not) toward the plane. A yellow barrier prohibits us from boarding, confused I see stairs to my right and the horror of it all crystallizes ...we need to walk down three flights of stairs to another bus. Barely making it before the doors close, we “speed” off toward the plane, somewhere on the opposite side of the airport on a remote tarmac.

You know how elegant Kate Middleton looks walking up or down the airplane steps when she arrives at an airport? Not I, as I join 350 + traveling companions all anxious to board the aircraft. I have no softly fluttering skirt as the wind lashes at me while moving in unison with hundreds of people.

At this point, I know the plane won't leave without us, but the tension from the “sprint” and the crowd doesn't dissipate until I am seated and given a delicious glass of raspberry juice. I may not have the tea bags, but I am homeward bound.

10.5 hours later, as we fly over Lake Michigan, I see the Chicago city lights twinkling a warm welcome, though it's a brisk 23 degrees outside and there's snow everywhere. No circling this time, just a direct, smooth landing.

I love when things go as they should, but, oh no, we might have landed on time, however, there is an unidentified problem getting luggage to the carousel. We wait....and wait....and wait, until two hours later, our luggage, marked “priority” are the last two pieces to be expelled from the chute and the cute beagle looking for illegal fruit being brought into the country, had long given up on our motley group.

My taxi app was not working, 411 calls for the phone number for American Taxi yield everything but the correct cab company. I spotted a cab outside and asked the driver if he's waiting for a fare. He was, nor did he want to drive 45 minutes to our house, but he had a change of heart and we piled in.

He deposits the luggage on the icy driveway and takes off while Harry falls in the snow trying to get to the door. Thank goodness he didn't lose the key, and like runners in a tag team race, he passes it to me. Success! 

As I open the garage door, I see Harry standing, but his hands are too frozen to bring the luggage inside the dry garage. As he thaws, I wield the huge suitcases inside. Home sweet home!

Our ship is en route to Cape Town without us. Someone is enjoying the crisp sheets on “our” bed and the outstanding service from a wonderful, dedicated crew. It was a delightful journey. I may have been in the Middle East, but people, literally, from all over the world shared this wonderful adventure with me. Thank you!

The chef on Turkish Airlines

Beyond the glitz of Dubai

Who can find what's missing on this map?

Tea service...very elegant!

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