At 6:30 on the morning of September 13 Eric and I said goodbye to Niza Park Hotel, a place of convenience and luxury in a nice district of Ankara that helped us gradually transition into our Turkish adventure. We were leaving a set although quite steady schedule, full buffets, new friends, English communication, and the directors of our program who knew all the ins and outs and generally had answers to our most obscure questions. We were heading out on our own. Thankfully, although Eric and I just met, we were going at this together. Nevertheless, we were aware we knew very little of what was to come.
Our luggage was loaded into the cab and we sped through parts of town we had never seen before. Before long, we were heading into the mountains. The airport in Ankara, Esenboğa International Airport, is lovely. Arriving after nightfall the first time in, I hadn’t realized what a gorgeous view we had been greeted with, since it had been cloaked in darkness. We had the chance to take it in Thursday morning. Particularly being the capital city airport, I was impressed by how offset it was, in the midst of a mountain range, with very few optical obstructions. Apparently, this was the first airport in Turkey to be recognized as outstanding by Airport Council International-Europe in 2009, and particular attention was paid to its environmental innovation. The airport managed to come up with 25% energy savings by recycling exhaust gases—way to go Ankara!
Upon entering the airport, each person must place all his or her luggage on a conveyer belt and go through round one of security. There was not much hold up in this process besides people struggling to hoist their large suitcases onto the belt. We checked in, paid the overage fee for our excess luggage (done at a different booth), and geared up for round two of security. This requires no shoe removal, no jacket removal, no x-ray machine, so was relatively painless.
Then, we were in! We settled down in a comfortable booth with a glass of tea and an excellent surprisingly uninterrupted view of the mountains. We kept an eye out for our friends traveling twenty minutes later than us whose gate was right next to ours, but never spotted them. Thirty minutes prior to departure, we were in line to board. The entire experience was a breeze.
The flight was only an hour total, and the view was wonderful. We flew over several majestic mountain peaks and Lake Tuz, the second largest lake in Turkey and one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world. It looks like a salt plain but it is a lake! We devoured the cheese and cucumber sandwich we were given and drank up our tea. Pretty soon, we were touching down in Adana.