The Wandering Twins’ Perspective
I loved the plane! Well, you can expect that, as it was me and Nate’s first international flight ever! We were switching from movie to drawing to reading and back again, just in a different order. Me and Nate were so exited, we nearly yelped with joy when we saw that there were video game controllers. The seats were arranged two by two so it was possible that Nate and I wouldn’t argue and bicker over the window seat. There wasn’t much to see because, well, it was an overnight flight. Still, it was cool to look at the sunrise as we landed in Turkey for our layover. Why Turkey? We were riding on Turkish Airlines, where the flight attendants served some Turkish delights every now and then. They served the kind with almonds and pistachios, not the other kinds. When we landed, I forget what time it was but it was time for dinner. I was like, so confused because um.. we didn’t have lunch on the plane. We were only served breakfast on the plane because we had to wake up really early to catch our flight.Wait… we had to wake up at about midnight. I might have fallen asleep during the flight but it was so long ago, I totally forget most of the flight. I was in first grade at the time, and now I’m in fourth grade so I hope you understand why I forgot. Overall, it was fun and I had a good time. When we landed, I was shocked at the size of the airport. I had never been in one this big before! There was even a hotel! Because the layover went overnight, that’s where we slept. We weren’t tired because we were jet lagged so we decided to go and play with each other- like that worked out well! We can barely even being the same room without harassing each other.
The Parental Perspective
There weren’t a lot of airline options for flying to Tbilisi and the route on Turkish Airlines seemed to be the best. We flew from Washington, DC to Istanbul and from there to Tbilisi. Our flight from DC left at 11pm and we arrived in Istanbul at around 4pm local time. I had a few options for the timing of our layover. We could either choose a shorter layover with arrival in Tbilisi in the middle of the night or opt for a longer layover and arrival the following day at mid-morning. While I would usually go for the shortest travel time possible, in this situation it made the most sense to pick the later flight. Thanks to my friend’s guidance, I was aware of the TAV Airport Hotel located inside the international terminal at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul. This hotel allows for reservations to be made in 3-hour blocks of time. It was perfect!
As soon as we landed in Istanbul, we made our way to the airport hotel.
This wasn’t quite as straightforward as I was hoping, but we eventually figured it out. Turns out we had to go through security because our plane disembarked outside and we took a bus to the terminal. We weren’t expecting that and kept thinking the hotel should be before security. Once we sorted ourselves out and dutifully made our way through security, we checked in at the hotel. As you can see from the picture below, our kids promptly scattered their things and my husband happily curled up in bed.
Our plan was to get dinner and then explore the airport before going to sleep. When we told the kids the plan, Catherine’s response was “what happened to lunch?” That clever kiddo doesn’t miss a thing – except our pre-trip discussions of time zone changes.
Speaking of disembarking outside rather than pulled up to a gate, that presented its own challenges. We were pulling up the rear when it came to getting off the plane since we had lots of stuff and tried to be considerate and let others off behind us. The bus taking passengers from the plane to the terminal was tightly packed by the time we got off the plane. Stupidly, we stepped to the side and thought we’d wait for the next bus. After some stilted exchanges with airport personnel we realized that was it. The only bus. And now it was even more of a squish to get on. But we did and it all worked out, though I was holding on tight to my kiddos to make sure we didn’t get separated.
Dinner was a bit difficult, to be honest. We were all tired from our lack of sleep on the overnight flight and we weren’t sure what to make of the restaurant options. In the interest of time, we went to the food court rather than a full-service restaurant. We stumbled our way through the line and ordered food that we thought looked good even if we weren’t sure exactly what it was. In hindsight dinner at a seated restaurant might have been the better option as that would have given us time to consider choices rather than trying to rush through with a line of people behind us.
Once we finished dinner, we then made our way back to the hotel. The food court and the hotel are at opposite ends of the international terminal. As we walked, I’m sure we looked a bit “country mouse goes to the city” which I’m not used to since we don’t exactly live in a rural area. It was bustling with travelers from all over on the world and people from all walks of life. Once again, I was a little stressed about keeping a hold of my kids; I was relieved to get back to our room so I could close the door and not worry about keeping an eye on everyone.
That night everyone slept well but me. Go figure. And it was all my fault. With the time zone changes, I hadn’t done a good job of staying away from caffeine and I probably had a cup of tea too close to the end of the day. But I was in Turkey – I couldn’t resist trying the tea.
Our flight the next morning was around 7am and by the time we landed, got our luggage, and passed through customs, it was right around noon in Tbilisi.
Because we stayed overnight in Istanbul, I think that minimized the jet lag for the kids. When we arrived in Tbilisi the kids and my husband were ready to hit the ground running. I, however, was a hot mess. But I did what moms do and sucked it up.