I used to love airports. I’m old enough to remember the days when you actually walked across the tarmac to the waiting plane, climbed the gangway, open door beckoning, smart flight attendants greeting you with a welcoming smile. Casting one glance back, then turning your nose into the wind, ready for a new adventure.
I still get a kick out of take off, but otherwise everything that comes before has become a nightmare. When setting off for the airport today, I feel as if I’m preparing for battle. What with the multiple security checks, harassed check in people, being told (not politely asked) what to do and what not to do..it’s no fun. Luckily, there are still a few airlines around, Turkish Airlines and Emirates among them, which treat passengers like cherished customers, but otherwise…
The worst are the so-called low cost airlines. The tickets aren’t that cheap to start with and then they proceed to get as much money out of you as they possibly can. You can’t print out your boarding pass before hand because you don’t have a printer? You pay. Your luggage is one ounce over the limit You pay. You want more leg room? You pay. You fancy a stale, lousy sandwich? You pay, at the price of gold! And on and on it goes. If you total it all up, you end up paying more than you would have for a regular ticket..without all the above rubbish.
But, I digress. Back to airport nostalgia like in the olden times at the private airport in Selcuk. Selcuk is a town close to the famous historical site of Ephesus, so everybody who visits will come through Selcuk. That the town does have an airport is not common knowledge, certainly not among tourists because you don’t land there unless a) you have a private plane or b) you are a dignitary or head of state come to visit Ephesus.
When driving towards Kusadasi or Selcuk itself, I have come past the airfield many times, seeing the gleaming small and not so small planes at a distance. I always wanted to visit, but didn’t know if a Jane Nobody like myself would be allowed even close. The only way to find out was to give it a try.
Yesterday, my friends and I went to visit the Seven Sleepers (which is another story to be told later), the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk and, on our way back, turned into the road towards the airfield. This fabulous old plane sits at the entrance and certainly feeds your curiosity.
Mustafa, our driver, approached the gate and asked nicely and in Turkish, if we could visit. Lo and behold, the gate rose and we drove through. What excitement to see the planes parked around the perimeter up close, the tiny VIP hall with deep leather armchairs and a few people milling around.
But, would we be allowed to leave the car? Thanks to Mustafa, we were. A security guard turned up and was only too happy to accompany us and show us around. Like kids in a toy shop, we rushed from plane to plane, opened doors, glanced into cockpits and posed for each other like lunatics.
The airport has a pilot and parachuting school attached and several of the planes belong to the school. The guard proudly told us about the highlight of his professional life: looking after Bill Clinton when he came to visit Ephesus, flown into Selcuk airport.
A tea in the VIP lounge rounded out a trip down air travel memory lane. If you want to visit, you’ll just have to try and ask nicely. Unless you have business there, it seems to depend on the guard of the day, but it certainly helps if you have a Turkish speaker with you.