It is our day to say goodby to the exciting but somewhat overwhelming world of Istanbul and head to (what I dearly, dearly, dearly hope) some much more relaxed travel on the isle of Malta in the central Mediterranean. We discuss more on Malta in a later post.
I have been absolutely convinced that the leg of our trip from Istanbul to Malta would be hell. I made the reservation on Air Malta (yes there is an Air Malta) but it turned out that the flight was a code share with Turkish Airlines. For weeks and weeks prior to our trip, I had called Turkish Airlines trying to get a seat assignment with no luck. Then just before we left, I called Air Malta and they told me there was a separate locator code for my reservation in the Turkish Airlines system. Hence I was able to get my seat assignments and put in my frequent flyer number from United as Turkish and United are both in the Star Alliance system of airlines.
I'd tried checking in on line but it showed that nothing was there. That didn't bode well. Our flight was scheduled for 8:50 AM and our hotel told us we needed to get going at 5:30 AM because of the notorious Istanbul traffic. I'm fully prepared for a terrible flight experience. They won't have our reservation, it will take too long to get to the airport, they'll bitch about the weight of our luggage, etc, etc, etc.
Maybe there the Magical Unicorn God of Travel has this perverse sense of humor that has here focus on doing the opposite of what people expect? I don't know but here's what happened.
We are up when we need to be and down when we need to be but our hotel calls and the shuttle evidently doesn't think it needs to be there until 6 AM. Our hotel night guy is a bit confused as 5:30 seemed too early to him. The shuttle arrives around 5:50. There is no traffic. We get to Istanbul Ataturk Airport. The system is a bit different. You go through security before you can even enter the terminal. This seems like a bitch like we anticipated with the ride but it turns out to not be. It goes fast. We find the area where we are to check in with no problem. The line is long but it goes fast. They have our reservation and seats. No problem. Through passport control and a second level of security. No problem. What's going on Unicorn Pony God? Are you mocking me?
We've tons of time so we eat a little something and spend the last of our Turkish lira on water. We get to our gate. Because of the Star Alliance system and my status, we will get to board with the first group. Sweet. We're upgraded to business class!!! Who knew. Really nice big seats with lots of leg room. Way better than US domestic First Class. We get this huge two course meal for breakfast. We totally are chilled and relaxed.
Arrive at Malta. It's so tiny. We're the only plane that's arriving. Get our bags and meet our hostess who owns the apartment with no problems. We spend the afternoon just relaxing and settling in.
I totally expected the worse and got smooth as glass. I think the Unicorn Juvenile Equine Godlet is setting me up.