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Destination Feature

Turkish traveling tales

Bevan Springer, New York Amsterdam News  Aug 03, 2011

ISTANBUL, Turkey - After a few days checking out air fares from New York to Turkey, I grabbed a relatively inexpensive flight from JFK to Istanbul over the weekend.

 I was pleasantly surprised when I boarded a Turkish Airlines' aircraft at Kennedy Airport. The plane appeared relatively new and the in-flight service was outstanding. Truth be told, my Turkish roommate Kemal from Lester Pearson College in Canada did assure me that the national carrier was the preferred option from New York to Istanbul.

 The food was sumptuous, the in-flight crew attentive and after only nine-hours, I landed in the nation where east meets west - part European, part Asian.

Whether on a short trip to Miami, Barbados or Jamaica, the wonders of air travel cease to amaze me; and it is even more evident when after a night's rest, you arrive in a distant land, in another part of the world.

What Kemal did not disclose was that passengers aboard Turkish Airlines would be greeted by a Flying Chef which reminded me of the days when Air Jamaica led the Caribbean's skies with innovation.

Turkish Airlines' Osman Ozdemir is one of about 130 chefs responsible for food temperature and food quality as well as ensuring that passenger palates are sufficiently satisfied throughout the flight.

Istanbul has much to offer - from bargain shopping to encounters with history - and its village tourism sector - in the tourist and historical hub of Sultanahmet - closely mirrors the offerings of the cobbled stone streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Travel is a beautiful experience that shapes worldviews and through it we learn about our fellow man and their localized systems of beliefs and values.

As I have been taught, people are typically opposed to what they do not know. Travel changes this as we learn the simple fact that people are people - created by the same God and facing similar life challenges.

Unknown to many in the west, Turkey is the 17th largest economy in the world and one of the fastest growing economies in Europe with a real GDP growth rate of 8.9 percent last year.

The country is the largest commercial vehicle producer in Europe and the 16th largest automotive manufacturer in the world.

Not surprisingly, it is the seventh most visited holiday destination in the world with more than 27 million tourists who are hosted for the most part, in a spirit of excellence.

With its human, agricultural, technological, and infrastructural attributes, this nation is well worth a study by those executives in charge of moving the Caribbean and its bread and butter tourism industry forward in the years ahead.

Bevan Springer, a New York Amsterdam News columnist who writes frequently on travel and tourism issues as well as the Caribbean Diaspora, is the President of the New Jersey-headquartered Marketplace Excellence - a full service, integrated marketing agency committed to excellence in the fields of public relations, marketing and media coaching. He also produces the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism - CMEx .\

Turkish traveling tales
Flying Chef Osman Ozdemir (Photo by Bevan Springer)

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