When I was planning my trip I was thinking that I was having a neatly scheduled timetable for a week: flying to Ankara, going to the US embassy on the next day, waiting for my passport to arrive by post on the next three or four days, get a plane ticket to Istanbul and then fly from Istanbul to San Francisco via London on the seventh day for which I had bought the ticket beforehand.
It actually took me the planned seven days to do all this but almost anything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. It started at Imam Khomeini airport when I was checking in my Iran Air flight to Ankara. The Air Iran officer didn't want to issue my boarding pass because I had a one way ticket. Now, my travel agency had told me that I needed to have a ticket to continue my trip if I wanted to buy a one way ticket from Iran Air which I had. I told the officer that I had the ticket from Istanbul to London and then San Fransisco. Then he demanded to see my US visa which wasn't in my passport yet and I was supposed to get in Ankara. I told him that but he still insisted that I would be deported at Turkey's border for some mysterious reason and then the airline would need to pay some $5000 fine. Anyway, after about 15 minutes of talking to the guy and getting nowhere, I decided that the best way was to buy a return ticket and not use it. I asked the guy where I could buy a return ticket and if it was possible that I get a refund for it. And only by asking that he somehow thought that I may be telling the truth and issued me a boarding ticket! Which was both relieving and upsetting at the same time.
Except that my flight to Ankara had two hours delay and I had to change my hotel in Ankara because of a mistake in the reservation, things went quite smooth. I should confess that the second hotel was even better that the first one but the fact that I had to change my hotel two hours before my interview at the US embassy was really annoying.
The interview was short. About one and a half minute! I think it might even be the shortest second interview an Iranian have ever had in the US embassy! Anyway, I left the embassy happily, free to rest and see Ankara till I got my passport which lead me to the worst part of my trip was when my passport did not arrive on Monday. US embassy's website said that it would take 2 or 3 days for Iranian passports to arrive. I was in the US embassy on Thursday. Monday was the last day on which I was expecting my passport. Roozbeh's passport had arrived on the second day after his interview (on Saturday) and I was hopping that mine would take the same time to arrive. Anyway, called the post on Monday and they told me that my passport is still in the embassy which was quite strange. I called the embassy. After going trough lots of pressing this and that number for different processes I found out that they would answer me only between 16:00 and 17:00. So I get myself busy surfing and emailing and called again at 16:05. The officer told me that there was no problem, they had printed my visa that morning and I would get it in a day or two. After I told her about my ticket for two days after, she told me that she would make sure that my passport got to the post that day. She also told me that I could go the embassy and get my passport in person if it didn't arrive the next day. Happily it arrived the next day at 11:40 and I was able to buy a ticket to Istanbul for 5 pm. (I was stuck in an elevator in Istanbul airport. I had never been stuck in an elevator before!)
I had some wonderful time too. Rahmi M. Koc
museum in Ankara is highly recommended. It's mostly private collection of an engineering geek! It includes working models of gas and steam engines, 19th century's toys, medical equipments, cameras and lots of other thing and is presented really nice. my photos at the museum.
The last part of my trip was a long 11 hour flight to San Francisco which I quite enjoyed. There were a French couple sitting beside me and they were really nice and easy going. The husband knew very little English and the wife could talk some. Even though we had a lot of laughs.
The French couple
One of the cabin crew knew French and was mostly attending our part of plane. He was the coolest, funniest cabin crew I'd ever met. I took a picture with him. But what I really wanted to take a picture of was when we were landing and the plane had a turn which put it in a 15 or so degrees horizontal position and he moved like a ballerino to balance himself and made a funny face. (I like to draw a picture of that if I can)
Antonio and me