Journeys begin at home. My flight to Istanbul left from Chicago. I got there very early as the flight was leaving at 1030pm.
This fellow was also going, but only as a stopover on the way to Tehran. He is Iranian-American, and started his day in Wichita Kansas. Once in Istanbul he would wait another three hours before leaving for Tehran, arriving there at 1am local time. And I thought my trip was long.
I saw others like him, on their way to Tehran, Mumbai, Amman Jordan. My European ancestry was in the minority on this flight.
Eventually, we got on board our plane and I was lucky to score a bulkhead seat with extra leg room. Lousy view, but it was mostly a night flight, so not much of a loss. The Airbus plane did have a couple of new features. The plane has cameras showing what the pilot sees as we take off. Very cool. And there was comprehensive flight info on the little TV screen if you wanted, showing how far and how long and how fast and even maps of what was below. Also very cool.
And ultimately, I was on the ground in Istanbul, riding to my hotel with this fine fellow. One must buy a visa as well as get a passport stamp. Two lines to wait in. But airports are airports in the end, with baggage carousels and people lined up outside with signs. I saw mine, and he led me through a maze that could have been Laguardia or OHare. Only when we left the airport area and entered into the evening traffic rush could I tell I was in someplace very new.
He was not well versed in English, so we made our way slowly in person as well as in traffic.