It was April 10, 2010, and my family and I were off to Turkey to enjoy our spring break. We left from the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, early Saturday morning to arrive in Istanbul later that day. We checked into our hotel and for the next few days we enjoyed sightseeing throughout the city. We visited the Blue Mosque, the Spice Market, the Grand Bazaar, and many other impressive places. After this we went off to Izmir. Here we strolled through the largest outdoor bazaar in the world and took a day trip to Ephesus, an amazing Roman ruin city still being uncovered to this day. It was a good trip, but then it was time to make our way home.
Quarter Finalist 2010 FTF Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
It started smoothly. We got back to Istanbul, and stayed in a hotel close to the airport that night. We heard something about the eruption of some volcano in Iceland, but how could that have possibly affected us? We wake up the next morning, only to learn my mother was sick all night. Nevertheless, we make our way to the shuttle bus to take us to the airport. We arrive at the airport, only to learn that all flights going north have been delayed until further notice. Great. We head straight to our ticket counter to see what’s supposed to happen next. Apparently, we need to wait in line along with hundreds of other stranded people. So, after maybe six hours or so, we’re told, in other words, no one’s leaving this airport until this ash disappears. So my dad pipes up and says, “Hey let’s go to the train station and catch a train to Frankfurt, no one will have thought of that yet!”
So we head back into Istanbul by taxi to the train station. Meanwhile, my mom has opened the moving taxi’s door and is vomiting into the street. Anyway, we make it the train station only to realize that the line of people trying to get out of Turkey is a train itself. Fabulous. We realize we’re not going to begin heading back to Germany that night, so we split up and book a hotel while my dad remains in line.
When we return, it’s apparent that he’s barely moved an inch. He immediately tells us, however, that a group of people have begun chartering a bus that would go to Munich, Germany, and they had offered us seats. We took them, no idea what we were getting ourselves into.
We left at eight the next morning. We were on the bus for a couple of hours when we arrive at the border of Bulgaria. So it should only take a little while to get into the country, right? Try a few hours. Finally we make it through and drive across the bumpy Bulgarian country side. In the middle of the night we cross the border into Romania… eventually we get to Hungary… then Austria… and finally Germany. We get to Munich at about ten Monday night. It was quite the 39-hour bus ride.
Nonetheless, our trip was not yet over. We headed over to the train station and thankfully were able to book tickets that left to Frankfurt at three in the morning. We arrive at the airport at about seven, and were never happier to be home by nine. Except for the making it home part, we had a great time emerging ourselves in the current and ancient cultures of Turkey, and at least we weren’t trying to get back home to Sweden (like the couple sitting next to us on the bus).
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