Our first couple of days in Istanbul started on the right foot! After a wonderfully comfortable flight, we arrived in Istanbul about 75 minutes earlier than expected, always a pleasant surprise! Mustafa met us at the airport, and we left the parking lot to a surprise! The ever crowded and jammed traffic was surprisingly flowing, and the lanes were empty, I saw one or two cars ahead of us. He took us home through the new Eurasia tunnel that connects the two continents and on the Asian side we exited extremely close to home. Yet even another surprise!
A Warm Welcome as Usual
Binnaz and Ergun greeted us with a big welcome and it was good to see them both doing well. After we caught up in conversation, we brought the small mementos we brought for them. The glass-printed photographs, one of Ergun’s and one that I took of Mina were a great hit. You will see Mina’s photograph hanging on the wall in a couple of the photographs. We enjoyed a leisurely dinner and went to bed. It was a good night’s sleep, even though we were comfortable on the plane sleeping is never the same.
Visiting Istanbul, Catching Up
The following day we caught up with our friends and family making plans to see them all. The second day was quiet mostly at home. Binnaz and Jan went to their favorite hairstylist and came back with a renewed look on their head.
Visiting Istanbul is not complete without a trip to Ismet Baba. On Sunday we went to Ismet Baba restaurant in the Kuzguncuk district. The place still maintains the old charm of Istanbul with well-maintained older (and not too high) apartments, a market that becomes alive on Wednesdays, small shops and restaurants, and friendly people.
Ismet Baba restaurant has been there, next to the ferry landing, for decades. It retains its general character despite several renovations. Despite the blustery weather, the corner of the small park on the Bosphorus was a popular photography spot. Some braved the big waves splashing on the shore as they posed next to the guardrails.
We tried were very tasty fish varieties, some of each of bonito, mackerel, and bass. All in season. Some salad and a little wine kept us there for a few hours. We returned home in mid-afternoon, rested, talked to some friends on the phone, and later enjoyed a bowl of tarhana soup Ergun made for us. The soccer fans watched the Besiktas game which ended with a slight disappointment of a tie game, but better than losing it for the fans (no, fanatics!)
Today, the weather seems a little warmer and the sky a bit brighter. We’ll get a chance to go out again sometime soon and enjoy the garden a little bit firsthand rather than looking at it from the windows. More enjoyable days to come … And see the photographs below to get a sense of our first few days.