After a lot of off-and-on sleep, we finally woke permanently around 2pm Istanbul time (4am LAX time). So we got a fair amount of sleep, perhaps too much, since we'd need to be back asleep in 12 hours or less. When we got up, we were just finishing crossing the pond, about to head over Northern Ireland. The continuation of our flight path led us across Amsterdam, central Europe (Prague, Budapest among other cities), and finally over Romania before getting to Istanbul. The last few hours on the plane, Crystal listened to podcasts on her iPhone, and Justin watched a good movie, The Adventures of Walter Mitty. The movie was good in its own right, but particularly so for someone just starting a holiday. (No spoilers, but generally the movie relates to a regular guy who has big travel dreams and finally starts to live some of them out.)

We landed in Istanbul around 6pm local time. There was an incredibly long line for domestic transfers, but fortunately our line for international transfers was much shorter. We had to put our carry-ons through security, but our checked bags were checked through to Amman, so at least we didn't have to deal with those. After getting into the main terminal, there were tons of people and tons of stores and restaurants. The clientele was extremely eclectic, to the point where if we didn't know we were in Istanbul, we don't think we could have guessed the airport. There were lots of Western Europeans, lots of Eastern Europeans, lots of North Americans, a good amount of South Asians and Southeast Asians, obviously a lot of Middle Easterners, and some Sub-Saharan Africans as well. Just like the Spice Route times, Istanbul is the crossroads of East and West.

We could see a body of water from the terminal, but not having been to Istanbul before, had no clue whether we were on the European or Asian side, and whether the water we saw was the Bosphorus, the Golden Horn, the Sea of Marmara, the Black Sea, or something else. [After the fact, we determined it was likely the Sea of Marmara.] We walked down to the gate so that we knew where we needed to be, then went back to the center part of the terminal and grabbed some dinner at a Turkish food restaurant. We ate quickly, since we were theoretically boarding at 7:45 (it was 7:10 when we got seated), but we were dubious that we would begin boarding at 7:45 for an 8:45 flight. We got to the gate by about 7:50, and sure enough, it wasn't boarding yet, but better safe than sorry. The plane wasn't very full, but our row was. The plane sat forever on the runway, apparently waiting for approval to take off; meanwhile, we saw nearly a dozen planes take off on the parallel runway.

When we did take off, the flight was non-eventful, but much longer than it needed to be, presumably to prevent it from being "eventful." Instead of taking a direct route from Istanbul to Amman, we flew directly to Cairo (well southwest of Amman), then made a u-turn and flew northeast to Amman. We wondered why this was, then started some critical thinking, and came to the conclusion (hypothesis?) that Turkish airlines had no desire to fly over either A) Syria and/or B) Israel and the West Bank, either of which would have provided a much more direct route to Amman. As it was, our route was more or less the equivalent of flying from San Francisco to Las Vegas without ever flying over California, but instead flying over the Pacific, Mexico, and Arizona. Because of this, the flight probably took an extra hour than it should have, but at least no one shot at us (that we know of).

When we landed, about half the plane stood up and started to grab their bags, nevermind the fact we were still moving down the taxi-way. There was a nice, polite, pre-recorded message telling people that we hadn't gotten to the gate yet - no one cared. They needed something a little bit (actually,a lot bit) more forceful. Finally, after about 5 minutes, the flight attendants finally got up and walked down the aisle, telling people to sit down. We got to the gate about 5-10 minutes later, after a departing plane vacated our gate. The airport was empty, with almost no one there. Having failed to get any Jordanian dinars prior to landing, we got some at an ATM so that we could pay our Visa-on-arrival fee. We had thought about getting our Visa ahead of time, but were told it was unnecessary - having now seen it in real life, we can confirm it is unnecessary. The line for immigration and Visas is the same, so even if we had our Visas, we still would have had to wait in the same immigration line, and would have saved ourselves at most 30-60 seconds.

The line crawled along, but we finally got through there a little after 1am. After getting our Visas, we picked up our checked bags, and were met by our driver Mohammed. The drive from the airport to the city center was fairly long, about 30-40 minutes. It was kind of similar to the drive out of the Nairobi airport, but much longer. Sadly, the first two recognizable businesses we saw on our way into town were an Ikea and then a Monsanto field. We got to the hotel a little before 2am, and there were a number of security measures in place. There were several barricade ramps (i.e., the ramp faces towards you, so that you can't drive in), several concrete pillars, and several spiky tire things. Also, inside the hotel, we had to put our belongings through a metal detector, and had to walk through one ourselves. Once through security, the hotel was really nice. We got checked-in in no time, then got up to our room right around 2am, and then went to sleep as fast as we could.