Jun 17, 2004

Amman Trip '04, Part II, Terminal - the reality show!!

And the immigration officer in Amsterdam told me that he will
send me back to where I came from - US - because I don't have an EU visa. Well,
the US won't let me in either because I gave my I-94 card when I left the
airport and I need to get another one from the US embassy in Amman. I could
imagine myself setting a tent in the Airport - right between the escalators
from the plane and the immigration desks - an unrecognizable human being who
fell throw the cracks between the buracrecies of the two most advanced
continents on Earth.

I guess I've got ahead of myself. Let me explain how I got in
that situation.

I boarded the airplane from Seattle to Amsterdam thinking that
my trip to Amman has been all sit by now and it's just a matter of time. Well,
apparently the trip refused to be any less mischief. The 8 hours over the
pacific were not bad. The food was OK. The guy sitting next to me turned out to
be the VP of a ship-making research center in Norway coming back from Alaska!
The movies were average - first 50 dates was funny at times. The other movie
was way too boring - about that president who runs as the Mayer against his

(The lands of ice northern Canada - picture from the airplane)

Amsterdam ... surprize!

Anyways, I reach Amsterdam in awe. the airport there is really
nice. I follow the signs leading to gate B to board my connection to Paris when
... I had to go through Immigration. When the immigration officer did not find
my EU visa, he called his boss and told me you are in trouble... KLM/NWA in US
reserved a connection for me in Europe knowing that I don't have visa.
Apparently, this is something very stupid that the KML/NWA did before and the
Dutch immigration authorities fined them for it. The officer told me I was
"lucky today" (note the quotes!) because he won't insist on sending me back to
US, but he will nicely direct me to the KLM ticketing desk to get a direct
flight to Amman!!! This would have been all fine if there WAS A FLIGHT TO AMMAN
that day. There was NOT!

The earliest flight to Amman was not until Wednesday - and it
was only Monday at the time!! Thanks to Hussein Kanji, I knew previously that
there's a flight to Amman through Istanbul on the Turkish airways. The KLM
officer found it, and while cussing in Dutch at the US NWA/KLM office in US, he
got my ticket all done. The plane to Amman leaves at 11:40pm from Istanbul -
thus giving me a whole day to waste. I changed my ticket yet a fourth time to
leave to Istanbul as soon as possible - instead of getting stuck in Amsterdam

(Amsterdam airport - the stereotypical cosmopolitan airport "see, buy, fly"!! ya sure)

Waiting to go to Istanbul - I started laughing. All along I
wanted to stop in Istanbul in transit to see the city - but I couldn't find a
reservation that goers through there. Things were so bad few hours earlier - I
could have had to cancel my whole trip because of the Visa issue, and then I
was about to get stuck between borders, and then ... somehow ... alhamdulillah,
as if it was all planned so accurately, I end up getting KLM to pay to send me
for a day in transit to Istanbul - while still paying less than what the
cheapest agency wanted to charge me. I truly feel I'm blessed at times. The sun
shines when the storm is at its bleakest point.

(Masjid Sultanahmet - the Blue mosque, in Istanbul)

I arrived at Istanbul and went to the city and ... WOW. The Blue
mosque - masjid of Sultanehmet was a piece of divine beauty. I arrived there
for Asr prayers - and I felt I was praying 500 years ago with the Caliphs of
the Ottoman empires. Words fall short of describing the feeling of awe inside
that mosque, hearing the muazzin's voice, the smell of the old wood, and the
huge 6 minarets, ... it was truly an experience.

(inside Masjid Sultanahmet)

(the Bazaar - the ancient market. It's a HUGE place, full with
little paths like this one)

And then I continued to the Bazaar where I looked for a small restaurant in a
small pathway that had only Turks in it - no tourists. Who better to trust for
the authentic traditional cuisine than the people of the land themselves? I got
a delicious plate of Shish Kabaabs Mix - enough for 2 people, for only $8 (12
million TK!! I can say now that I've lived as a millionaire - at least for half
a day). That stuff was delicious - with a strong dark cup of Turkish black tea.


Then I walked around, entering every mosque I found (and there
were plenty of those ancient mosques in the downtown area in Istanbul). I
bought couple of items from the traditions Bazaar (which is a museum like
covered market). I bought a very funny pipe of the shape of a turbaned face. I
also bought a small glass model of the Aya Sophia mosque.

(Aya Sophia, a church, a mosque, and now a Museum -
closes on Mondays, so take note)

Now I'm back in the airport waiting for my midnight trip to
Amman ... inshallah finally I'll see my family. TBC with the latests
adventures. Jordanian lost in space... Muhammad Arrabi


  1. Oh my! Hope your trip is a lot less eventful from now on


  2. You're going to need a vacation from this vacation!

    Don't keep us in suspense -- did you actually make it to Jordan?


  3. Hehehe ... I made it to Amman, but I still sense an adventure in the making. Stay tuned

  4. My favorite mosque is Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet.