After a very comfortable flight, we arrived in Istanbul about 75 minutes earlier than expected, always a nice 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 practically 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!
Binnaz and Ergun greeted us with a big welcome and it was good to see them both doing reasonably 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.
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 hair stylist and came back with a renewed look on their head.
On Sunday we went to Ismet Baba restaurant in the Kuzguncuk district. A place that still maintains the old charm of Istanbul with well-maintained older (and not too high) apartments, a market that becomes really alive on Wednesdays, and small shops and restaurants, and friendly people. Ismet Baba restaurant has been there, next to the ferry landing for decades. Although it has gone through renovations, it retains its general character. The weather was a bit blustery but the corner of the small next to the Bosphorus was still a popular photography spot while some braved the big waves splashing on the shore.
The fish varieties we tried were very tasty, 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 soup Ergun made for us, tarhana soup. 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 first hand rather than looking at it from the windows. Stay tuned for more … And, see the photographs below to get a sense of our first few days.