Blog: Letter from Istanbul
Dave Leggett | 20 April 2004
Nice flight out yesterday courtesy of Azerbaijan Airlines. There was something of the no-nonsense Soviet era about the in-flight treatment.
"Would you like wine or vodka with your meal?" I went for vodka, naturally. The flight was very comfortable - Boeing 757 (no, not a DC10 or a creaking Tupolev after all!) only half-full, dropping off at Istanbul on the way to Baku.
It was then into an old yellow Renault taxi at 100 mph to my hotel. Taxi driver said he liked England very much though, which was nice. His English wasn't up to much (better than my Turkish of course!) but he was a game chap. He knew I was here for something to do with Toyota. "Good cars," he said. He added: "Very little....garage!". Yep.
One slightly surreal episode to report though and it occurred even before I'd taken off. David Soul (he of the original Starsky and Hutch circa 1970s TV series) pitched up at the table next to me in the London Gatwick Airport 'Yates's wine lodge'. He sank a pint of lager in about 10 seconds flat and was gone. And I so wanted to be able to say, "I bought that David Soul a drink once". Maybe next time.
I shortly have to go and get a coach for the transfer to the Toyota plant. There's a busy schedule when we get there, including a factory tour. The Turkish prime minister, Mr Erdogan, will be present at the Corolla Verso ceremony so the security presence will be heavy. I understand that there will be no less than 600 security personnel on duty at the plant today.
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