Going home

Inese writing:

The month has passed quickly. It seems only yesterday, when we were in Istanbul to fly over the ocean on a great trip. Now we are back in Istanbul to fly to Riga already. Transfer bus from the hotel to the airport at 11:00, therefore each of travelers spend the time differently. One part tries to acclimatize according to the time zone – sleeping and going for a late breakfast, but Glebs, Rihards and Dace after early breakfast – go to the Old town of Istanbul.

At the airport: the standard procedure – passport control, security check, last souvenirs, but some of us are sitting in the tavern and relaxing. A few hours flight and we are back in Riga.

The Lost Day

Atis Edvards un Niks Jānis writing:

We are safely boarded an airplane and now we are flying from San Francisco to Istanbul. This could be considered as a lost day since we started the flight yesterday, August 25th. I slept the largest part of the flight, I was up only during one movie and when the flight crew kindly issued a tasty dish. When I woke up my brother was touching his monitor, only 15 minutes were left to fly.

When we arrived, we went through the airport controls and headed for the hotel reservation desk. We waited a little and soon we were heading for an airport shuttle bus. I felt pretty relaxed while driving and when I was looking through a bus window to Istanbul. We went to a somewhat quieter place reaching a beautiful hotel. We checked in and came to our room to get beds ready. We realized that we did not have blanket, so we called reception and asked to bring a blanket to us. At first, it did not come and did not come. After we called again, they brought us the sheets. Then we called reception for the third time and finally they brought a blanket. We were all set up.

We ate our wonderful delicious pizza that we took with us straight from San Francisco Italian Restaurant. We know that at least part of our group went out to see the city. We also wanted to go and look at Istanbul. The view from the hotel balcony was nice. But we realized that we were very tired and went to bed. This was one of the shortest days.

Leaving America

Kristīne writing:

After night spent in Europe Hotel & Hostel modest apartments in San Francisco main drivers are to wake up pretty early to return the rental cars. Also we want to return to Walmart some stuff we bought during our trip. So Agnese, Imants, Salvis, Kristaps, Juris, Ilgonis and Daumants are on their way to Oakland while others may sleep longer this morning.

I use this possibility and wake up indecently late, after 9 a.m. Then packing of bags trying to push in more than there is free space. Luckily Juris has one bag he doesn’t need anymore. So I am finally done with packing all my belongings and souvenirs and snacks that I am going to take to Latvia. Check out is at 11 a.m., but we can leave our bags in one room the hotel provided us for longer. After that we have some free hours till leaving for airport. Me, Niks and Dace decide to go to Chinatown just to walk around and may be buy some (more) souvenirs.

At 2:30 p.m. we all gather to leave for airport. We go to Bart (train) because it’s quite comfortable and pretty cheap way to get straight to the airport. At the Bart station we say goodbye to Agnese. She is staying one more night in San Francisco and going to Riga through Los Angeles and Moscow. Seems to be longer way, but no – Agnese arrives in Riga only two hours later than we do.

In airport there is the usual crowd, luggage checking, passport control and safety control. I occur to be unlucky enough to make safety control officer suspicious that I am trying to bring a knife on board. Finally it turns out that the suspicious item is my flash memory drive. Safety officer kindly offers to pack my bag again, I kindly say no, pack it by myself and it’s done, I’m in.

After some waiting boarding to Istanbul is opened. We fly again with Turkish Airlines. It takes little more than twelve hours from San Francisco to Istanbul. Must admit during this flight I feel much better than in all my previous long flights. I even manage to sleep time to time. There are two meals during flight and free drinks. So everyone tries to spend his time as much comfortable as it possible by eating, drinking, watching films, playing games and of course sleeping. As we fly towards east we will arrive in Istanbul in August 26, little after 5.p.m. And it’s already another day and another story.

As for me August 25 is the day I really feel like my trip has come to its end. I feel little sadness, because no matter how long was the trip, it’s always not enough. But I really enjoyed it. And there will be other trips and new adventures as always.

The Long Day

Imants writing:

Second morning of our journey begins with decent breakfast offered by the Mercure hotel we stay in. Part of the Eclipse Tour team who took a rest last evening before going back to the airport take opportunity to explore hotel neighbourhood. Our shuttle bus arrives with 20 minutes delay but this is not an issue because we have plenty of time before upcoming flight.

After mandatory security checks and passport control procedure we are ready to fly to our point of destination. It is about 45 minutes left till boarding and some of it goes to do routine airport window-shopping. Most of the team lead to a remote gate where additional security checks are expected for people travelling to United States. And there is unpleasant surprise for us – security officer after checking Loreta’s documents announce that previously acquired ESTA is not valid because of passport number mismatch in both documents and she is not allowed to board. An hour remained until the end of the boarding is dedicated to resolve this issue. Unfortunately due to technical reasons Loreta is unable to acquire new ESTA and therefore she and Austris are forced to stay in Istanbul. It is severe loss for our team.

As we are heading to West the Sun is shining in the sky during all the twelve hours long flight. One can say that we have returned to past or had a special long last day of July as when we landed in San Francisco there is still 31 July. After the Customs and border control we meet Agnese who arrived just two hours later from L.A. Afterwards we take a public transport and go by groups to our accommodation sites. Could be that everyone is tired after such a long flight and needs to gain energy for next day when we are going to explore the city of San Francisco.

Agnese comments:
Later it was found out from the US embassy that Turkish Airlines had no right to deny the boarding because of missing ESTA. There always is a chance to acquire ESTA after landing in the US as it’s a very quick process (of course ESTA can be denied and then it’s not a quick process at all)

Riga – Istanbul

Juris writing:

This is the first leg of our journey. We are taking Turkish Airlines to Istanbul, spending the night there, and next morning- boarding our transatlantic flight to SFO.

That is tomorrow. Today we are gathering in RIX, some alone, some with family and kids and friends. Many individual paths coming together for almost a month, for the aim, and for the journey.

We are also leaving our group leader Agnese behind. But not because she has done something wrong. She is following the rest of us by different route through Moscow.

After couple of hours we find ourselves in Istanbul airport. After moderate wait, the airline bus takes us to hotel. For some of us this is it, for the day. Some still opt for a walk to seaside. They return at ~4 a.m., having walked ~20km. But that is already the next day in our blog.

Hello crazy eclipse chasers!

This will be the nr 7 trip, and while I thought it will be easier, feels like it will be not, because of so many people to manage and so long time to spend on the road. Again I wish there was another week between now and the first flight – there’s so much to do still! But then again – if everything will be planned, there will be less surprises, and I think that surprises are those that make memories and adventures the best.
Even though the trip will be long – 4 weeks – some of the travelers think that we should spend more time in some of the places – hence I offered to leave them there and arrange to meet up in the flight home. It looked like there will be at least a handful of places where to leave somebody for longer. Let’s see how it goes in reality. So far they were not too enthusiastic to cross Nevada in the middle of summer on foot :)