I’m sitting in the Istanbul Airport during my layover before I head to Cairo. Boarding the plane from DC and walking around the airport here, I realized I had forgotten some things about the Middle East in the two years since I’ve been here (for the purposes of this post I’m putting Turkey in the Middle East though it felt almost exactly equal-parts Europe and Middle East).
- Everyone dresses better. My Doctor Who chic was not the thing.
- The planes are on time. My boarding started at 15:50 and the signs let me know my gate number at 15:40. It’s a small airport, so this wasn’t a problem but it does speak to their expectations for timeliness.
- Lots of savory food. The breakfast options on my flight included cheese, other cheese, an olive, fruit, and omelet with mushrooms, and whole-wheat bread.
- Everyone walks on the sides of sidewalks, while Americans walk straight down the middle. Texting.
- It’s old. From my glass-and-chrome airport lounge I can see centuries of minarets, worn-down mountains, and red-brick roofs.
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”–G.K. Chesterton