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TRAPPED IN ISTANBUL

TRAPPED IN ISTANBUL

I had my flight from Paris to Male, with a layover in Istanbul. On the plane, I was just enjoying the movies to kill some time. Few minutes before we land, I decided to take a nap. Right after we landed in Istanbul, we were informed that our next flight was delayed. I was walking to the boarding gate half asleep. I asked the ground crew if flight is still delayed, she said yes. At the back of my mind I was like “that’s perfect, I can still take a nap”.

In front of the boarding gate, I put my stuff, made myself comfortable and started taking a nap. After a couple of minutes, I woke up from the nap as I am surrounded by noises. I saw people are still in the boarding gate, I didn’t bother checking the time, and slept again. I had a dream that I am in the airport and suddenly remembered my flight, I opened my eyes, straightened up and saw no one. I stood up, thinking of where to run. I saw the airline crew having his meal, went up to him and asked where is everybody….where is my plane? “They left” he said.

And I started crying.

He asked me to go to the transfer desk and they will help me. I followed his instruction, and went to the desk. The line was quite long, couple of their flights were delayed that day. I am running out of time, I asked the guys from the line if I can go ahead before them as I missed my flight, with tears in my eyes. They let me. I explained to the airline staff what happened. They asked me to go to the ticket office which was located outside of passport control (this means I need to get a visa and get out from immigration to buy the ticket). I tried begging to the immigration security but an angel came, and guided me back to the transfer desk, next to it is a ticketing office too. He explained to the ticketing guy that I will be needing a visa just to purchase a ticket outside, he understood and assisted me.

My heart was happy, finally I’ll be able to get a ticket and be back in Maldives just in time to catch my next flight. But the happiness didn’t last long, he said “The next available flight going to Male is after 2 days”. I broke down and cry, and said “No, I can’t stay here, please…I need to catch my flight from Male to Philippines” He offered another option, fly to Dubai and from Dubai to Male, but I have to pay $2,000+ . Even if I pay that ticket I will also end up not catching my flight to Philippines. I stayed and waited for 2 days.

Went around the airport, spent a lot of hours in the food court. Asked the lounges if they have shower room and sleeping quarter, all answers were none. I was feeling sticky, went to the toilet and washed my hands on the sink, used the hand soap to partially shower my body. I have planned where to sleep and where to eat in my future 2 days in the airport. I was bored and sad a the same time, I posted my experience in a women traveler group, to my surprise someone from Istanbul messaged me. She was trying to help me get out of the airport, I tried my luck by applying for an e-visa using my current Schengen Visa as my supporting document, and was able to pass the passport control.

“Everything is gonna be okay” my mantra.

I went outside the airport, met with this lady named Gabriella (let’s call her Gabby). Shopped some surviving clothes, had a good dinner and slept nicely in her safe haven.

The next day, we woke up early and she showed me how beautiful this city is. I just wish I came here for a long holiday, so I can cross out Cappadocia in my list.

So yes, I was trapped in beautiful Istanbul. And if I had enough time, I would have chosen to be trapped for few more days. 😍

Shout out to Gabby for making this experience a memorable one. Kisses my dear!

One thing I learned? Sleep some more during your layover and make sure your next ticket are flexible enough to be moved 😜🤣

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