Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 62 - Europe 2011

Day 62 - Monday, July 25, 2011 - Istanbul to Montreal (by plane) to Ottawa (by car)

I was up at 6:30 and ready to go to b'fast by 7:00. I had re-packed my bags the previous evening and they were ready to be taken downstairs. I went up to the 7th floor for b'fast. Same scenario. The seagulls were on the window ledge waiting to have b'fast. I suppose some tourists must feed them, hence the reason they keep coming back. I returned to my room and finished packing, took my bags down to the lobby and waited for the taxi driver to arrive. While waiting I brought my bike up to the lobby from the basement and fastened my rear trunk bag onto the rear rack. That would make one less bag to carry.
The hotel assistant manager, a young fellow about 30 years old, asked me about my trip. He was amazed at what I had accomplished and asked if he could have his picture taken with me and my bike. I agreed and he sent someone to get a camera. Meanwhile, I was getting all sweaty. It was pretty hot and humid inside the lobby of the hotel. The taxi arrived - a VW van. It was much cooler outside. After putting the back seat down we had no trouble getting my bike into the back along with my two rear panniers. We set off for the airport at 8 ish.
It was about a 30 minute ride to the airport in light traffic. I guess the morning rush hour had not quite started yet. It was bedlam at the arrivals ramp with taxis, buses, cars, etc all dropping off passengers and luggage. The taxi driver managed to find an opening and quickly reversed into it. We unloaded my bike and panniers and the driver took off. Apparently there are two airports in Istanbul and I still wasn't quite sure if I was at the right one. I loaded my panniers on my bike and went inside the terminal only to find out that all passengers had to pass through a metal detector and luggage through an x-ray machine before going to the departure area. I unloaded my panniers and put them on the conveyor belt along with my bike. My bike got stuck in the x-ray machine. It took 2 of us to get it free and pull it through. I then had to re-load my panniers on my bike and went off to look for the Air Transat counter. There was none!!!
While I was looking for Air Transat a Japanese lady approached me and my bike. She spoke excellent English. She wanted to know about my trip and asked for a photo. She was in the Foreign Service and was going off to a posting somewheres in the Middle East. I asked an airport employee for direction to the Air Transat counter. He directed me to the Information desk which was not far off. At the Information desk I was told that Air Transat flight to Montreal would be checking in at C 11. I went over to C 11 but there was no one there yet. It was only 9:00 AM and my flight didn't leave until 1:20 PM. I took the opportunity to go to the W/C and then found a coffee shop where I could sit down and watch for the arrival of the Air Transat ticket agents.
Around 10:00 I noticed some agents at C 11 but they were not wearing Air Transat uniforms. I went over and asked if they were checking in flight AT101 to Montreal. They were Turkish Airlines ticket agents and yes they were but were not yet ready. I asked if I could get a plastic bag in which to wrap up my bike. They gave me an oversize luggage bag. No charge.
I loosened my handle bars and turned them in towards the frame of the bike before re-fastening them. I deflated both front and rear tires. I had already removed my pedals the night before. I started putting the plastic bag on my bike at the rear like a pillow slip cover. It fit pretty snuggly. I had to lower my seat to get it past to the front wheel. The bag was to short by about a foot. I asked for another bag and one of the agents went off to get one for me. This time I started from the front and the agent helped me. I had brought a roll of packing tape with me and was able to tape the two bags together. My bike was ready to be put on the plane and shipped back to Canada.
By this time the check in counter had opened and there were a few people waiting to check in. I was told I could go to the "Club Class" check in counter because of my bike. The agent asked me to place my bike on the scales. It weighed 12 kgs. She then wasn't quite sure how much to charge me. She asked me how much I had paid to ship it over to Europe. I said Air Transat had charged me $30 from Toronto to Amsterdam and that it was the standard charge for shipping a bicycle as stipulated on their website. She asked to see my receipt but it was packed away in one of my rear panniers with all my other receipts. In the end she said there would be no charge for shipping my bike. Wow!!! Free bags and free shipping. Thank you Turkish Airlines staff.
After checking my bike and bags I went through pre-boarding security. I had two bottles of water with me and was told I either had to drink them or dump them. I chose to dump them. I found a food court and had an early lunch at the Asian Wok. I went to the departure lounge at Gate 214 but it was announced that AT101 would now be departing from Gate 304. I walked over to the Gate 304 lounge. Thank goodness there was a W/C nearby and a coke machine also selling water. I bought a bottle of water.
Finally, they started boarding passengers on a bus to go out to the aircraft. It was a very new and modern air-conditioned bus. There were several buses so there was no overcrowding. I was amazed. At 2:00 PM we were all boarded and still sitting on the tarmac. Our flight should have left at 1:20? The captain made an announcement that the delay had been caused due to the plane being over-fueled. They had to remove the excess fuel. We finally departed Istanbul at 2:30.
I was worried that it would be to cold on the plane and so I asked one of the stewardess if I could get a blanket. She said that they would be going around later to sell them for $7.00 including a mask, socks, ear plugs and headset. I told her I was having bladder problems and would be making frequent trips to the W/C just so they wouldn't get alarmed at my strange behaviour. I also asked if I could stand at the rear of the plane as I had a very sore back. She said it woudn't be a problem. She then proceeded to tell the whole rear cabin staff about my bladder problem. They were all quite concerned. A steward (former male nurse) offered me some Tylenol to help with the pain.
Thank goodness I had 2 seats to myself. I could get up and go the the W/C as often as I liked without disturbing anyone. I tried to rest. To much pain in my bladder and back. I had purchased a book in the departure lounge earlier and tried to do some reading. I tried to watch a movie but couln't find anything I liked. The others I had already seen. A meal was served which was typical airline food. I managed to eat it all and washed it down with a thimble full of Air Transat's finest red wine.
We arrived in Montreal at 5:30 PM. It was still Monday in Canada. It was announced that passengers going on to Toronto would have to change planes and that they should disembark at the rear of the plane while those getting off in Montreal should disembark at the front. There was a lot of grumbling about having to change planes. There was also a most annoying child who kept pressing the call button throughout the entire flight!!!
I cleared passport control and collected my panniers and my bike which all arrived OK. I then cleared customs. Barrie was waiting for me at arrivals. He took some photos with his new camera. I had loaded my panniers and my bike on a luggage cart. When we got to the elevators to go up to the 3rd deck, where Barrie had parked, there was a big jam up. We decided Barrie should go get the car and I would wait for him. He had to pay and go out and come back in. We had to take the front wheel off to get my bike to fit in the back of the VW Golf. Fortunately, Barrie didn't have to pay for any parking the 2nd time around.
It was now around 6:00 PM and Barrie was hungry so we stopped at a McDs. I just had some of his fries with ketchup and an ice cream cone that Barrie treated me to. We then set off for Ottawa - a two hour drive from Montreal. Rush hour was over so we had no trouble getting out of the city and onto the highway.
About half way home I decided I should go to Emergency as I was in such a great deal of pain. We had to stop twice so I could try and relieve myself. I found some Aleve tablets in the glove compartment and took two of those. I called home to let Lise and Keith know that Barrie was taking me to QCH Emergency and that he would then drop off my bike and bags and I would call again once I was ready to be picked up at the hospital. Barrie dropped me off at QCH around 8:45. I had to wait about an hour before seeing the admitting nurse. I told her my story. She made a note on my "chart" and said I should go directly to the desk in the ER. I was able to hand my chart over to an ER nurse and she started working on me right away. She checked my blood pressure, took some blood, scanned my bladder (it showed over 900 ml of fluid) and asked for a urine sample which I was glad to produce. The nurse then quickly sent the samples off to the lab for analysis. She then found an empty room where I was asked to strip and get into a hospital gown. Of coure I put it on backwards with the opening in the front. The nurse had me turn it around before getting up on the bed. She then inserted a catheter into my penis which was quite painful and proceeded to drain my bladder. Within minutes I had filled a large bag with over 12oo ml of urine. I was starting to feel some relief. The nurse had to go and get another bag. I was then made comfortable and told it would be a while before a doctor would come in to see me. It was now going on 11:00 PM or 6:00 AM Istanbul time. I had been up for 24 hours. I was feeling much better except for the discomfort of the catheter.

This blog was posted at home on Thursday, July 28, 2011

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