Monday, October 18, 2010

The Journey to Jordan

Oct 16 - After our leisurely walk and late lunch in Istanbul we returned to our hotel to retrieve our bags and board the bus for the airport. Our flight was not until 7pm, but we had to be at the airport several hours early.  Upon entering the Istanbul airport you go through a metal detector, similar to the pre-911 security process in the US.  They spotted Bruce's leatherman in our backpack but simply told us to put it in our checked luggage before we boarded the plane.  Our luggage was also sent through an x-ray machine.

We then moved onto the group check-in where we got our boarding passes and checked our bags.  Then on to passport control to get our exit visas.  Once through the passport control our group scattered.  Bruce and I wandered one of the duty free shops where we picked up a small bottle of Jamesons and an even smaller bottle of Asbach.  We then wandered down to our gate, but there was no one manning it and we couldn't even get to the waiting area because there was another security checkpoint at the entry.  Finally at 6pm they opened the gate.  We queued to have our passports and boarding passes checked and then went through the security.  This was also similar to the pre-911 security in the US.  We did not have to take off our shoes or remove laptops from our bags.  We did have to take off metal things (like belts and watches) but that was it.  We then settled down in the lounge to wait to begin boarding our flight.  In the lounge we met up with the rest of our tour group, including our study leader.  As we waited the lounge filled up.  We looked at the plane at the gate and the number of people in the lounge and wondered if we would all fit.  We did.  But it was a full flight.

Once we boarded the plane they served us a very nice dinner, even though it was only a two hour flight.

Upon arrival in Jordan we were met by our tour guide and, after turning over our passports, where whisked past the passport control and down to the baggage claim area.  After we had our bags we boarded the bus and our passports, with the appropriate stamps, were returned to us.  Upon arrival at the hotel we again had to go through a metal detector.  This is a response to the bombings of three hotels on November 9 (also written 911, as they put the day before the month) in 2005.  Once in the lobby we were given room keys.  Our bags were sent up separately.  The hotel is quite elegant, but the elevators are a bit odd.  They have no control panel in the elevator.  Instead, when you call the elevator you push a button on a key pad that indicates the floor that you want to go to.  A display above the keypad indicates whether you will take elevator A or B.  When the elevator arrives a display indicates which floors it will stop on.  You enter the correct elevator and are taken only to those floors. 

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