|Checking in at Chicago ORD|
After my 22hr journey from Tulsa to Istanbul via Chicago, I was finally checked into my Hotel! but the journey from Ataturk Airport to the Hotel would prove to be the most worry some of my trip. Upon deplaning from my Turkish Airlines flight, we were directly on the tarmac and were told to go to the shuttles that would take us to the airport... with the buses being about 100ft away, I decided that utilizing my carry-on would greatly benefit me here. So I was first able to use my customized skateboard-longboard literally within the first minute of being in Turkey!! This made all of the passengers smile and was a great way to stretch my legs. It would take roughly an hour to get my single piece of checked bags. After I had reclaimed everything that I brought, it was off to find my friend Özgür Tüfekçi, who said he would be able to guide me through Istanbul's public transit system.
|Waiting for an Hour at Ataturk Airport|
I waited outside of the Airport, where I was expecting to find him, for about an hour. I realized that he had probably been waiting inside for me and I simply missed him. So I rechecked through security and proceeded to re-look for my friend, again. I did one more lap up and down the international arrival entrance... and it was only as I headed back to the exit, after waiting an hour and a half, to grab a taxi that I saw a bright red OU-'13 hat! I had finally found my Turkish Friend, except that he had gotten a haircut since the last time I saw him, so when I was looking for a full head of long dark curly hair it was the OU hat I should have looked for instead. Özgür then escorted me all of the way to my hotel via Metro, Street Car, and Bus and Even helped translate when it came time to check into my Hotel.
|Efes Pilsen (Turkish Pilsner)|
The assistance of Özgür was just a continuation of cool people that I met during my trip; from TUL (Tulsa) to ORD (Chicago) I sat next to an Employee from the TSA, and we discussed religion and politics on our trip, and although our views differed we had a civil and polite conversation. Once in Chicago I met a group of Teachers that were going to Turkey as a group to volunteer. I basically gave them the 'Life Story of Nolan Kraszkiewicz' which left them amazed at what a 20 year-old had already experienced with his World Travels. I regaled them with tails of my studies, trips to Europe and Canada, and showed them my collection of breath taking photos. On the Turkish Airlines flight I sat next to a graduate student from the University of Iowa who was headed to Turkey to work on his Doctoral dissertation about the history of Turkish Migration. He gave me invaluable information about Turkish beer, gave me relevant information concerning my upcoming studies and planned sight seeing, and put up with me asking questions over the 11hr flight. I finally got great people to talk to on my flights, which I was rarely able to experience in the past. It was a good thing I had 1,000 business cards, as everyone took great interest in me and was curious about this website.
Upon Arrival at the Agan Hotel...
|Hookah and Chicken Kebab for Dinner|
My first night in Istanbul was pure Amazing-ness-ticosity! I enjoyed a litre of Efes Beer and hours of Hookah, listening to traditional Turkish music and watching the Bustling streets until 2am. I headed off to bed and didn't wake up until earlier today at 6:30pm! I really didn't realize I was that exhausted, adrenaline is pretty powerful that way. Tomorrow I plan to tour the Old Sultanahmet District and will hopefully take hundreds of breathtaking photos and have thousands of new experiences! Until then, Hoşça Kal!
|The View from My Hotel|
P.S. I would like to Thank My Parents and the OU Study Abroad Faculty, without your help this would still be just a dream! Also, I would like to thank the people I met during my flight. You guys provided great and informative conversations during the layovers and the flights. Thanks to all for making this trip that more amazing!
|My First Picture of Istanbul while Arriving at Ataturk Airport + GIMP|