My trip to Spain materialized so quickly and unexpectedly, that I really didn’t have enough time to contain the excitement of flying business class on Turkish Airlines, revisiting Turkey en route, and losing myself on the cobbled streets of Europe again. The start of the trip felt like I was coming a full circle; my tryst with travel blogging took a serious turn on my first Euro trip a little more than a year ago, and this week-long invitation from Spain Tourism meant everything I had worked so hard for and dreamt of, was finally coming true!
On an early Tuesday morning, with a hastily packed backpack and not a wink of sleep, I made my way to Delhi’s international airport, and quickly surrendered to the pre-travel pampering of business class; priority check-in, escorted security check, breakfast buffet at the airport lounge, untimed Wifi, and most importantly, relaxing sofas to catch a quick nap.
On board the 7.5-hour flight to Instanbul, I tucked in on my fully reclining seat, and slept like a baby cuddled in the lap of luxury, much to the envy of economy travelers whose shoes I’ve filled only too often! As we geared up for landing, I woke up to that stunning glance of the Bosphorus that made me fall in love with Turkey the first time round. The minarets gradually became visible, the blue of the waters faded away in the distance, and with the thud of landing dawned a strange realization. I am coming home.
In the transit area of Istanbul airport, Turkish delights were still on sale and the ice cream mischiefs still entertaining. I could pick out the familiar sounds of merhaba and tehshekuller from the conversations I overheard. I suddenly craved for menemen, gozleme, and kuru fasuliye, the three vegetarian dishes I encountered in many forms on my adventures along Turkey’s Black Sea Coast. I remembered, with a smile, why I was so charmed by Turkish men and equally taken by the beauty of Turkish women. I wondered if a familiar face might pop out, draw a heart on my palm, and hug me, for I am from Hindistan. Not much had changed since I left this airport two months ago; I was still hopelessly in love with Turkey and its people, and unknowingly, I was carrying bits of it around with me.
Other luxuries awaited me in Istanbul, like a 3-hour layover at the dome-shaped business class lounge of Turkish Airlines, before my onward flight to Barcelona. It was a mini carnival of sorts. A darkened theatre room with a big movie screen. A library of interesting multi-lingual books, with a quiet setup conducive to reading. A widespread buffet with mezze platters, breads, soups and veggies. A live counter serving pide. A dessert spread stacked with Turkish delights and chocolate cakes. A drinks counter, an open wending machine, and a table of flavored Turkish Çay. A grilled-snacks stall. A pool table and a piano at the far end. People lounged around, talking, eating, drinking, surfing (using the free Wifi), savoring the greatest luxury, that of time. I indulged myself and my memories of Turkey, and before I knew it, we were boarding for Spain.
On the 2.5 hour flight from Istanbul to Barcelona, I chose to stay awake as we flew over the Bosphorus and up into the clouds, browsing movies on my half inclined seat. I savored the Turkish wine served on board with my nostalgia and some excellent cheese, and perhaps for the first time in the history of flying, I loved the vegetarian food offered; a mezze with breads, hummus, stuffed eggplants, zucchini, and aubergine, followed by a main course of kuru fasuliye (a Turkish dish of chickpeas) and saffron rice.
By the time we were landing on the shores of Barcelona, I was afflicted with an unexplicable craving for Turkey, as much as I was by the excitement of finally arriving in a country I had dreamt about forever. That is the paradox of travelling I suppose; it is only when you leave behind a place you love, that you can fall in love with another. Luckily for me, flying Turkish Airlines meant I could rekindle my love affair with Turkey, even if only for a few fleeting moments.
What about you, have you flown or would you like to fly Turkish Airlines?