FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Kayseri to London

Posted in Turkey by folkestonejack on September 13, 2015

I awoke bright and early to sound of morning prayer from the mosque across the road (the loudest I’ve heard it from any hotel that I have stayed in), grabbed a quick breakfast and then headed to the airport. Security was reassuringly tight with a check on entering the terminal building and then again to go airside.

I had plenty of time to reflect on the trip during a long day of sitting around in airports and on planes. There is no question that the tour has been frustrating at times but a delight when everything came together, which I hope comes across in the best pictures from the trip. In saying that, you have to remember that I am something of a glass half full chap, so I inevitably try and see the positives in everything.

The future of steam tours in Turkey is open to question, although they have not reached a dead end yet. At the moment there is only one operational steam locomotive in the country and talk of restoring more locomotives has not materialised into anything more concrete so far. Meanwhile, Turkey’s heavy investment in the modernisation of the railways is making rapid progress and changing the network rather dramatically, whether upgrading existing lines or building new high speed lines. Inevitably, this revived and refreshed railway is quite unsuited to steam locomotives and not particularly photogenic. Finally, today’s steam locomotive drivers and firemen are not so very far away from retirement. Our tour across the Taurus mountains will not be the last steam tour in Turkey but maybe that day is not so far away now?

Steam sunset

Steam sunset

We landed at Istanbul Atatürk Airport at 10.40am, ten minutes late, after circling the city twice. I didn’t mind for a change as I had plenty of time for my connecting flight. A strange quirk of the booking process had resulted in my unexpectedly holding a business class ticket for this leg so I was able to enjoy the rather experience of an airport lounge for the first (and probably only) time in my life. I suspect the Turkish Airlines offering at Istanbul is not typical of business lounges – offering up a two floor lounge over 6000 square metres, complete with a library, cinema and scalextric set based on the sights of Istanbul! It felt like you were walking in to the lair of a Bond villain rather than a business facility…

My journey home resumed in mid-afternoon as our A321 pushed back from the gate and joined a queue of rather unusual planes, including a Bundesrepublik Deutschland jet and a ‘United States of America’ liveried Boeing (not Air Force One) which were presumably connected with the NATO military conference that had been taking place in the city. After a relatively smooth flight back to London Gatwick I made it home by early evening. Time to relax after a week on the move!

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