So, it all started Monday morning in Ankara. I woke up around 5:30 a.m. (10:30 p.m. in the States) to get last minute things together before leaving the apartment at 6:30 a.m. My sisters were up still, because they told me they wanted me to Skype them one time before I headed out. While I was talking to my sisters they decided to look up my flight number…what they found out was disappointing!! I heard three words from my sister that I wasn’t expecting, “Flight is canceled”. Up until that point I was so excited!! I had been gone 80 days from home, and was ready to get back in the States to see my family. I didn’t really know what to do to be honest. I knew I had a flight to catch from Ankara to Istanbul, and then from there I would have to figure out what to do next. I looked outside and what do you know, it was pouring down rain! A friend (Ipek) that I have made in Turkey told me that she would take the three (Sha, Linsday, and myself) of us to the airport. Ipek picked us up at 6:30 a.m. Now, let me just tell you that Turkish cars practically have not trunk space. What a blessing, because a taxi ride to the airport costs at least $70.00. I was delayed 30 minutes in Ankara, before heading to Istanbul!
Once in Istanbul, I immediately went to the ticket counter to check the status of my flight. Sha and myself had the same flight to New York and then Lindsay had a flight out of Istanbul to Chicago. When I got to the ticket counter, it was confirmed that my flight was CANCELLED! After talking to Delta they said that there would not be another plane coming in until Wednesday to go to New York. The thing about waiting until Wednesday to fly out though is that the flight for Wednesday was already full, and we would all be put on standby. I knew our chances were not that great to be able to get on that flight, and plus I did not want to have to wait until Wednesday and then hear them say, “Oh, sorry you will have to wait until Friday to fly out (the next flight)”!!
On a side note, Lindsay was able to get out of Istanbul and get to Chicago. I found out that she ended up having a three-hour layover in Chicago because here plane had mechanical issues, but at least she got in Monday night like she was supposed to.
So, then began the long arduous process of trying to figure out what to do next. We asked Delta if we would be put up in a hotel, and they said that they would not provide accommodations since it was not a technical problem. Are you serious? You are telling me we have to campout in the airport for at least 2 days not to mention probably 4 days!! I called my club that I play for and told them the situation. They called me back a few minutes later and said, “I’m sorry there is nothing we can do.” I knew that truthfully, there was something they could do. I next asked Delta if we would get reimbursed for our tickets if we canceled, and they said we would. So, I along with Sha started looking around at different airlines and talked to probably about 10 different travel agencies or airlines to see if we could get to Chicago or New York the next day. Well, it being the time of the year, near Christmas, all of the flights were full L. It seemed like we kept running into one dead end after another. I continued to talk with my team and explain the situation, and each time they said, “We can’t do anything.” I was really getting frustrated about hearing this over and over again from them. I kept explaining to them, that if we stayed with Delta we would not be guaranteed a flight out until Christmas Day!!
I decided to go back up to Delta to see if they would accommodate us. I was thinking maybe that they might change their mind. I was waiting in line for about 30 minutes and saw a guy standing off to the side and so I decided to ask him if he was from America…it turns out that he was! We started talking, and I found out that he was on the same flight as I was supposed to be. He wanted to get home as quickly as possible as well, because he had not been back to the USA for 14 months!! Let me just say, that the Lord provides!! The guy, Zephan, has been all over the place! He used to be in the military, and is now working for the government. We talked for awhile waiting to talk with somebody from Delta, so during that time we talked about all kinds of things. We finally got confirmed that we would not be put up, but would have to pay out of our pocket for the hotel. I heard one guy in front of me demanding that they pay for his accommodations. He kept saying, “I have to stay here at least 2 days to wait for a flight out, and even then I will probably not have a seat. If you cannot confirm my seat you need to pay for my hotel expense!” Well, after running around like a chicken with my head cut off, I decided to get some food. There was not much in the airport, so I went and got a fish sandwich from Burger King. You know how in the States airports jack their prices up…well so does Turkey! I paid 16 lira (12 USD) for a fish sandwich, fries, and water…crazy!
We decided to get on a computer and see if we could look up flights out of Istanbul to get to New York. All of the people that I talked to either had outrageous prices, or said they did not have any seats. We were able to get on a computer and found relatively cheap tickets out of Istanbul the next day. At this point, Zephan decided to tag along, or we (Sha and myself) did LOL. It was nice having someone with a lot of experience traveling. So, the route out of Istanbul to New York first landed in Kiev Ukraine!! All three of us booked the flights, and then decided to get a hotel. Also, I must say that I was corresponding with my agent Susie, which was great! She was very helpful and encouraging to Sha and myself. Zephan had actually had to spend the night before in a hotel, so he knew where to reserve a room. We went and reserved a room with three twin beds. Believe it or not, Zephan paid for the room, and said that his company would reimburse him…another blessing! I would never think about staying with a random stranger in the same room, but overseas, anything is possible…and I mean that!! Honestly, as fellow Americans all wanting to get home for Christmas, I was thankful that Zephan came along. I probably would have never ventured out to get a hotel if it were just me and Sha. The truth of it is, we needed a place to crash and get some sleep. We got to the hotel, and checked in to our room. It was so funny, because Sha was joking around how we looked like we were orphans staying in an orphanage. The accommodations were not fancy by any means, but they got the job done J.
After we got settled into the hotel, we decided to get some supper. We got to the hotel about 5:00 p.m. Sha and I arrived in Istanbul around 10:30 a.m. so we were ready to relax and get some food.
I had never been to Ukraine before, but now I can say that I have been. It was a pretty interesting landing. Ukraine has very cold winters, thus when it snows, the snow stays for a long time. Flying in, it looked like a winter wonderland. Some of the roads could not be seen very well, and all of the fields were covered with snow. As we landed the airway looked like it was all snow, and then we finally say some half way clear pavement to land on! I was wondering how the plane was going to be able to stop, but it was able too…praise the Lord J! By the time we landed and went through a couple security checkpoints, we pretty much went right to boarding.
After a 10-hour flight from Ukraine to New York, I was finally in the USA J!!
The rest of this blog entry I wrote this evening!
From New York I flew to Boston and spent about 8 hours overnight in the airport then flew to DC and then from DC finally to Dayton, OH. So, what should have been a trip that took about 24 hours, ended up taking me close to 3 days!! Through it all though I can say the LORD is good J.
December 23rd: When I arrived in Dayton, my parents, siblings, and brother’s wife was there to pick me up! It had been such a long trip, that when I saw my family I teared up! I was so glad to see them after quite the ordeal that I had been through. My bag did not show up in Dayton, but was delivered the next day to my grandparent’s house. I was also excited to get to eat lunch with a long time friend, Emma! She met up with us near the airport and we ate lunch together at Steak and Shake J. It was my first American meal back in the States, and boy did it hit the spot. Dayton, OH is about 15 minutes from where I grew up in Xenia, OH so we decided to drive back to Xenia just to see things that had changed and stuff. We did not have a lot of time, because we were going to my Uncle Jerry’s house later to celebrate his birthday!! It was fun getting to see Xenia again. From Xenia, we went to College Corner, Indiana where my Grandma and Grandpa Frazee live. I had not taken a shower since the beginning of my trip, so I was ever so glad to take a hot shower and finally feel clean J. I was pretty tired at this point, but adrenaline was still keeping me going. Around 5:00 we headed out to my Dad’s brother, Jerry’s house to eat supper and celebrate his birthday. It was so great getting to see my Aunt and Uncle along with my cousins and their families. After a couple of hours there, I was getting pretty tired, so I actually went back to a bedroom at my Uncle’s and slept for a few hours. I felt bad not being able to stay up, but by then my body was telling me it was time to sleep!! When I got back to my Gparents, I went right to sleep!
December 24th: I slept great and woke up around 8:30 a.m. I spent today at the McNally’s…my Mom’s parents! On Christmas Eve we celebrate Christmas at the McNally’s and then on Christmas Day we celebrate Christmas at the Frazee’s. We arrived to the McNally’s around 10:00 a.m. My brother and his wife were leaving in the afternoon, so we decided to celebrate our family’s Christmas, as well as the McNally’s Christmas all in one right after lunch. Grandma fixed some pork (ham) for lunch and then for supper we had spaghetti! It was such a great time of food, fun, and fellowship. I have come to cherish time with my family so much!!! I was just thankful to be able to be with family J. Grandma and Grandpa, it was so good getting to see you again!! I love you!!
December 25th: Today we headed back to the Frazee’s to celebrate Christmas on the Frazee side. My grandparents live a half-hour apart from one another, so it makes it very convenient to travel back and forth. I woke up early this morning and visited with my Grandma and Grandpa McNally for a while. Everyone else in my family was asleep ;) The whole Frazee clan arrived around 12:00 p.m. to eat lunch. Grandpa Frazee made some delicious ribs to eat! I thought it was pretty funny that both of my grandparent served pork. I had not had pork in a while, so it was nice to be able to get some. After lunch, we had a family gift exchange. It was a lot of FUN and something that we enjoy doing every year J. The evening consisted of relaxing and continuing to enjoy time with my family. I want to give a shout out to Kathy Frazee’s (Uncle Larry’s wife) dad!! I enjoyed talking with you J and getting to see you!!
December 26th: Today I woke up early once again J. My family and I headed out around 8:00 a.m. to meet up with some friends in Cincinnati for breakfast. Dan Bullen and his wife are great friends of ours! I was supposed to meet up with his daughter on Tuesday afternoon, but was not able to due to my flight troubles. Cleo, I was really bummed that I was not able to see you!! I was super excited to come to your game and then catch up with you after.
Breakfast was a great time of fellowship and of course great food J. So great seeing you Dan and Carol!!!!! After the pit stop in Cincinnati, we drove the rest of the day back to Virginia! We ate pretty big at Bob Evan’s, so we just decided to not eat until we got home. When we got home Dad ordered in some Chinese…yummy food!!!
Let me just say, it is SO SO SO SO good to be HOME J!!!!!! This evening I went with my sisters to visit Gary and Jo. They are some friends that we got to know at Liberty. They were always faithful fans at our Liberty Women’s Basketball games. I just want to say, it was so great visiting with you both. I love you, and you both are in my prayers!
Well, I am off to bed J. I am looking forward to church in the morning!!!