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How NOT to Starve on Istanbul Airport When Returning Home

There’s no place like home.

Now many people would probably be “upset” with me for making use of this cliché that pretty much everyone is tired of hearing about by now. Well, I understand where that confusion comes from but you have to admit, especially if you are an expat who is moving from place to place in constant intervals, that there is nothing more satisfying at least once in a while, than coming back to a place where you feel you belong to.

And so with that sort of feeling I woke up this morning to get through my “day before departure” routine. Make some breakfast, do groceries so that the people who stay behind when you leave don’t have to starve to death and eventually pay a visit to the German Embassy’s Christmas party where you end up being surrounded by diplomats talking about politics but at least you get to listen to some German Christmas songs, more than half of which you have never heard in your entire life.

And then came the packing.

I love travelling more than any other activity but honestly, packing a suitcase sometimes becomes equivalent to taking an IB Physics test without having studied for it. At least this is how it feels for me and I haven’t taken physics since grade eight.

This time however, there was not much to pack as there are three suitcases waiting for me at home. So I threw in all of the souvenirs that I have “harvested” over the past months, hoping with all my heart that the Hershey’s chocolate won’t melt and the rose water bottle wouldn’t break and ruin not only my favorite sweater but also the several packages of dates.

Shortly after I found myself at the King Khalid International Airport in Riyadh, getting my way to the entrance through an enormous crowd of Paki and Indian passengers.

From that point on I really started to feel like one of the main things that I have developed during my stay in the Kingdom is a sense for patience. The waiting line for the check in was awfully long and the people behind the desks took their sweet, sweet time. Then you have the people that try to squeeze themselves in front of you because there is this TINY little space between you and the person in front of you and pretty much everyone believes that this spot is theirs.

After what seemed like ages even after I tried very hard to keep myself awake on a Snickers bar and a bottle of water (because that is all you can get for 10 Saudi Riyals), I could finally board my flight to Istanbul which I spent in a painful sleep, because plane seats are the least comfortable place to sleep on earth, especially when you wake up in panic because the crew wants to know if there is any doctor on board and all you can think is “Holy floskies, I guess that’s it. We’re all gonna die now…”

And then you arrive in Istanbul and realize that you are about to starve. And so what do you do? You can either go and try to get your money exchanged into the local currency, or you pay a visit to the duty free shop(s) and try some of the Turkish candy there. Because guess what, it’s free to try it.

So I ended up walking up and down the small “bazaar”, trying all sorts of Turkish Lokum, feeling the hunger in me vanish with every single bite. That feeling was so awesome, I couldn’t restrain myself from buying a few packs of that candy.

As I was driving down the streets of Berlin a couple of hours, and a nice breakfast later, I immediately felt like it was only  24 hours ago that I left my second hometown for Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. It really and literally did feel that way.

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