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Day #15: Istanbul & London

On this trip, we’ve not always used time most efficiently. Most of this couldn’t be helped… distance and time zones sometimes just conspire against you. That said, I think I could have / should have done better with today. A mid-day flight (leaving Istanbul at 2pm) means that we don’t really have time this morning to do anything in Istanbul, but we also don’t get to London early enough to do anything useful either. The only advantages of this plan are that we’re not at all rushed and are well rested… having “slept in” to our usual 6:30 or so. 

Given that we were here overnight, I think I should have opted for an earlier flight, as we could have effectively left the ship at any time early today. If all went according to plan, we might have enjoyed an extra half day in London. Of course, an earlier flight would have been a lot earlier (like before 9am), which would have had its issues too. Oh well, not the end of the world… just suboptimal. 

The taxi to the airport was a bit of an adventure. I’ve found that some taxi drivers–pretty much the world over–do their best to rip off tourists. This morning we met another one in Istanbul. This guy had a pretty sophisticated scam going… he was very insistent on “using the meter,” but it didn’t seem to be set right to me. It should have been on “Tariff 1,” but it was in some other mode to really run up the price. After asking him, the driver claimed that the taxi ride would cost 150-250 Tl, which struck me as unreasonably high compared to what I paid for a private transfer and knew of taxi rates in the city. We ended up arguing with us finally leaving the taxi without paying any fare. I then picked up another taxi on the street, who charged us an appropriate metered rate that worked out to about 50 Tl. 

In the end, the whole thing was more amusing than disturbing. But, it reminds me that taxis near cruise terminals are likely to be some of the worst (like an idiot driver in Southampton who once laughably tried to convince us to drive to London rather than take a train because there wouldn’t be room on the train!). I might also note that while the dishonest taxi driver was indeed trying to charge us 3-5x the going taxi rate, the transfer with Royal Caribbean at $25 per person was a greater rip-off as that works out to nearly 300 Tl (roughly 6x a taxi). 

The flight to London was uneventful. We breezed through immigration, baggage claim, customs, and then hoped on the Gatwick Express for London Victoria. 

Then the day got interesting again. 

Long story short: I managed to leave my backpack on the Gatwick Express train and only realized it upon arriving at the Marriott. By the time I got back to the station, the train was gone again (for Brighton) and no one had found the backpack, though I have to say the staff was very sincere in their desire to help.

Stupid mistake: I was focused on getting the fam and large pieces of luggage off the train and simply forgot about my backpack in the overhead rack. 

Thankfully, there’s not anything of extreme value in the bag. It mostly had souvenirs in it (i.e., stuff for family and friends, a couple of Starbucks city mugs, and some custome jewelry made of Santorini lava), my already worthless camera (that was getting replaced anyway), a Win8 tablet I only use for travel (and as such doesn’t really have any data), and some non-critical Rx medications. 

The worst is probably losing my car keys, which will leave the biggest mark financially (thanks, Mercedes and Porsche, for $300 keys). And, I may have lost some travel photos from the last year… though I won’t know for sure until I get home. Sigh

Clearly, this is a bummer. But, in the light of a new dawn as I write this the following day, I remember: easy come, easy go. I’ll spend a few dollars and make everything right again (at least for the most part). 

Who knows? Southern Railways might even return my bag to me. I’m assured it happens all the time. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I have a certain degree of cockeyed optimism too. 

Now, off to enjoy London on a sunny, warm summer day! 

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