Binnaz, Ergun, and I left Istanbul on May 29, 2012 at 8:55 AM. Quite early by my standards and Ergun would have preferred a later flight too. But we had the tickets so we got up early in the morning, I got up around 5:00 AM, they got up around 3:30 AM. We had coffee and light munchies and the friend Ergun had arranged to drive us to the airport arrived around 5:45 AM. He loaded the car and we took off around 6:15 AM, the traffic was pleasantly sparse. When we arrived and went through the initial security screening it was about 7:00 AM and the porter took our luggage to the British Air counter. There was already a line and we waited about 20 minutes or so for our turn. After the check in they brought a wheel chair for me and we proceeded to passport control. Since they did not allow the wheelchairs from the regular lines the transport guy took me to the other entry and then to the gate. By that time we had found out that the plane was not at the bellows and there was a need to climb the stairs. I told them that would not happen, so they called the “MedCar”, a truck with a lift. In the end all worked out and the plane took off on time.
As we approached London and the plane started its descent I was able to see the buildings, the Thames, the bridges but nothing looked familiar to me. After all, I was returning to London after 46 years and my memory of the place was more like a faded dream. At the gate a transport guy pushed my wheelchair to a transport car and we drove to the passport control. I told the man that I would have to wait for my sister and brother-in-law after the passport control. He said they would wait too long on the regular queue and went and fetched them to the car and we all went to the passport control. It was quick and at the luggage belt our suitcases were waiting for us. We were out in record time.
The taxi took us to Cheval Phoenix House near Sloane Square. The suite was being set up and we would have to wait quite a bit. Ergun suggested that we go to the Chelsea Physic Garden nearby and have lunch there. Another taxi ride, a short hop actually, took us to the charming garden. It was established in 1673 and still operates at the same place. We had lunch there, served by volunteers, and enjoyed the surroundings. After lunch Binnaz and I strolled around the garden and enjoyed the many beautiful plants. A women was working in a flower bed and a blackbird was on the ground waiting for earthworms to appear and having a nice lunch too.
We returned to the Phoenix House and the suite was ready. A very nice set up with two bedrooms, a living room, a small kitchen, a bathroom, and a small lavette. We settled in our rooms, rested a little, and then went out for dinner. It was a good start for a very pleasant stay in London. After dinner we were all ready for a good sleep.