Well, here I am in my hotel in Jerusalem. It seems a long way I guess from Central Asia, I connected through the new airport in Istanbul, and so today’s post is, I guess, about this journey.
So back in Ashgabat around 48 hours ago, I prepared for my flight. I say prepared because it was 410am in the morning, and I was told to be at the airport three hours early. So, I checked in to the hotel around 430pm, and tried to sleep from around 630 to 1130pm. And I did get a few hours. At 1140pm I got up, showered and repacked everything. It’s surprising how long this takes. By the agreed 1245am I was ready and the driver from my tour took me to the Ashgabat Airport.
I was there by 1255am, it took five minutes. He liked to drive fast. The airport in Ashgabat fits with the rest of the city. It’s design is that of a white eagle, and it seems pretty big considering there aren’t a lot of flights going through the city. In fact, my flight was the first flight to leave after I arrived.
All this ‘three hours’ stuff was nonsense too. I was at the gate ready to leave by 115am. I’m not sure but like the rest of Ashgabat I suspect white marble was used extensively – Ashgabat has the world’s most marble used in one city. Which, when you’ve been there is not at all hard to believe.
They didn’t start boarding until around 350am, and so we left a tad late. I was on Turkish Airlines and it was pretty cramped. The flight was really rough for the first hour or so before settling down (to be precise it was whilst we were over the Caspian Sea). I did fall asleep for a couple of hours thank goodness.
In fact, when we arrived in Istanbul I was quite awake and able to write in my diary and so on. The new airport is quite large, but still quite chaotic and to be honest, I don’t know what it was, but I didn’t like it. Simple as that. However, it wasn’t the worst place to spend 4 hours, although they did do a security/x-ray check on everyone transferring which a lot of airports do these days.
Then going to the gate for the flight to Tel Aviv we again we put through a security check, all bags were looked through. I guess that’s the reality of flying to Israel – next week I’ll be passing through Istanbul again, I wonder if there will be that kind of scrutiny going to the gate for Minsk. Having said that, the guy barely glanced into my bag, whereas most people (especially women) had bags half pulled apart.
Touching in down in Ben Gurion, suddenly I knew I was in an older airport. It was quite dull, a lot of brown as the feature colour. Passport control was really slow and unorganised, but I saw my bag as I walked towards the baggage claim so that was super fast.
The drive to Jerusalem was in this Nesher Service, 67 shekels and it was in this sort of minivan. Took 45 minutes or so to reach Jerusalem, another 15 minutes to my hotel which is not far from the Herod Gate of the Old City.
I basically stayed in my room yesterday. I was tired and this mild cold I had 48 hours ago is much worse thanks to the travails of yesterday and the lack of sleep. Nevertheless today I tramped the Old City and saw a few sites. It was exhausting, and honestly the Old City is like touring Paris or Rome, or even worse. The throngs of tourists has to be seen to be believed. Suddenly I appreciate Central Asia more where in the whole time I was there I saw maybe 20% of the tourist I saw in 3 hours in the Old City today.
Well folks, more details on what I’m seeing and what it’s like here will follow in the next few days, so keep an eye for new posts! Thanks for reading today – May the Journey Never End!