We began our long-anticipated trip to Turkey this morning. As proof that our registration with the U.S. State Department STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) is working, we received the following email on our way to the airport:
Demonstrations and rallies are expected this evening from 5 PM onward in the vicinity of Galatasaray/Tarlabasi /Tunel/Istiklal/Taksim Square mourning the victims of last night’s bomb attack in Gaziantep. Similar and spontaneous gatherings may occur with little or no warning elsewhere throughout Istanbul. The U.S. Consulate General reminds U.S. citizens that demonstrations and large events intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational. We advise U.S. citizens to monitor local media, avoid large political gatherings, protests, and demonstrations, and exercise caution if you are in the vicinity.
Fortunately, we’re planning to spend little time in Istanbul. And given our introverted natures, avoiding crowds comes quite naturally.
I had to giggle at the art installation at PDX that was based on the airport carpet:
…but after touring all 4 SFO terminals, I have a deeper appreciation for the attention that PDX gives to the carpet designs.
When I originally made our reservations, I did not include our middle names, which appear on our passports. After doing some reading, I learned that this might cause our tickets to be rejected at check-in. The only solution was to cancel the tickets and buy new ones (unfortunately at a higher price). Turkish Airlines issued a refund for the original tickets very promptly.
I wasn’t sure that the new tickets were really required — it was hard to get a definitive answer — but I decided that the additional cost was the price for peace of mind. Well, as we were checking in at the Turkish Airlines counter, the couple next to us were being told that they could not board today, because their tickets and passports did not match. They had to buy new tickets, too. Expensive lesson learned.