Turkish Airlines increasing flights to SA

Posted on 7 October 2011

Travelling to Turkey gets a whole lot easier next month, thanks to Turkish Airlines increasing the frequency of their flights to and from South Africa. From the end of October, you can fly any day of the week from Cape Town and Johannesburg directly to Istanbul and back – promo fares are from Euro 442 (about R4800) excluding JHB return, including airport taxes.

It’s an easy link to Europe, flying almost directly north and with much shorter flying times than airlines going via the Middle East. I flew Turkish Airlines to Istanbul earlier this year and was pleasantly surprised by the quality of their food, plus the leg space in economy class was better than on most other long-haul flights I’ve tried.

I was there early in their summer and, on a trip into the countryside of the Cappadocia region, found beautiful flowers growing wild in fields beside the road. I also found out that tulips are not from Amsterdam, but Turkey – which is why they occur as a motif in many woven carpets and on pottery items.

Tulips got their name from the Turkish word for turban and were sent to a Dutch botanist by the Netherland’s ambassador after he saw them in the Sultan’s palace garden in the 16th century. The Dutch became so enamoured with these beautiful blooms that they turned them into an industry, exporting them around the world.

Many modern garden favourites grow wild in Turkey. In Cappadocia, I was thrilled to see fields of poppies growing between ploughed fields. There were orange as well as red ones, with extra colour from spikes of what looked like purple larkspurs.
Another surprise were bearded irises growing wild; my mom had had these in her garden in the Eastern Cape and prized them for their hardiness and the delicate beauty of their showy petals.

Blue cornflowers, plus orange and yellow flowers I couldn’t identify, coloured the landscape between the strange outcrops of soft volcanic rock called fairy chimneys. Chamomile grew rampant on roadsides and dog roses clambered up fences.
In gardens, snapdragons, petunias and a particularly deep red rose were favourites – all within view of snowcapped peak of the 3916-metre extinct volcano, Erciyes Dagi, which was responsible for creating Cappadocia’s strange fairy chimneys eons ago.

* Turkish Airlines won ‘Best Airline Europe’ and ‘Best Premium Economy Seats’ at the Skytrax World Airline Awards for 2011. See www.turkishairlines.com for details.

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