MEMORIES OF DELIGHTFUL TURKEY
NEW YORK (July 28, 2010) – After spending a few days in Istanbul, Turkey, last week, I was summoned to Izmir, a 45-minute flight to visit my Turkish roommate Kemal with whom I studied at Lester B. Pearson United World College in Canada more than 20 years ago.
I hadn’t seen Kemal for a decade, so it was great to catch up with him and his new family – Russian wife and seven year-old polyglot son who speaks four languages – English, Russian, Turkish and Ukrainian.
It was awe inspiring to witness the ease with which they seamlessly and creatively interchange language and culture within the family.
Kemal is a successful businessman, no doubt due to his close attention to detail and his gift of planning.
Your humble scribe is quite the opposite when it comes to travels. Having worked on the periphery of the airline and hospitality business for a number of years, I have become the typical last minute traveler and even enjoy the thrill of chasing down 11th hour specials and purchasing airline tickets within hours of departure.
Also, the harsh penalties associated with changing an airline itinerary have contributed to my impulsiveness, and I often fly on one-way tickets to avoid such fees.
Upon arrival in the historic Izmir, Kemal whisked me to the coastal town of Çesme on Turkey’s western-most tip. It is a popular holiday resort which attracts many wealthy families from Istanbul whose licence plates can be spotted as they traverse the quiet streets.
Windsurfing in Turkey.
During my whirlwind visit, we checked out some of Turkey’s quaint boutique hotels, a beautiful windsurfing hotspot, and then enjoyed a Kumru – a warm sandwich, made with a special bread with sesame seeds, Turkish sausage, grilled cheese and tomatoes, forcing me to abandon my red meat fast, but boy was it tasty!
Even our time for relaxation was planned by brother Kemal, and at our next stop, a private beach, we enjoyed a cold beverage and listened to some pulsating music. Enjoying a dip in the chilly, yet refreshing, Aegean Sea conjured surprisingly strong parallels to the Caribbean.
A stop for some typical ice cream cake, check-in to my hotel, one hour of work, and some souvenir shopping were the activities which followed. The evening culminated with an incredible two hour-plus seafood dinner at a local pier.
I awoke the next morning to a full Turkish breakfast of fresh vegetables, cheese and bread before my return to Istanbul and connection to New York.
Turkish Airlines once again did not disappoint and I returned to The Big Apple refreshed, relaxed, rested and ready for another reunion on the planet.