An on-time touchdown and a friendly taxi driver from Malatya who cheerfully helped with our bags and wished us a pleasant day with a smile.
Milky blue skies and a gently warming sun. Through our window as we chased dehydration with ice-cold ayran, a sweet breeze with a hint of saltwater and just a lick of coolness. A jetlagged nap -- not too long, just enough.
A sublime lunch: pillowy little meat medallions, lightly crusted from the grill, accompanied by an intriguing dried chili-based sauce hinting at vinegar. "A secret recipe, like Coca Cola," said the kofteci when our companion asked after its ingredients.
A stroll through Karakoy and a ferry ride to Hydarpasa. Tea, because we were determined to stay awake the whole day and there is no better excuse to sit idle and stare at the water, and look at the now-quiet train station. (Sad to see waiting rooms occupied only by cats, the restaurant empty, the barber shop quiet).
A wander along the water to Kadikoy. Tea again, by the water again. A kilo of cherries purchased in the market and eaten in the park as a dog serenaded a shoe shiner, young couples, a group of guys getting lit on Efes, some housewives, and us.
The ferry to Eminonu, the Galata Bridge by foot and the funicular to Tunel. A late afternoon stroll down Istiklal, a spot of grocery shopping down the hill in Cihangir and a stop to say hello to Mehmet, our Istanbul fruit guy. Back at our apartment, artichoke hearts stewed in olive oil with fragrant young garlic, peas tossed with olive oil and slivers of fresh mint. A nectarine sky and the cries of gulls drifting through the window.
A not particularly special day in Istanbul. A perfect first day in Istanbul.
For more on our lunch -- Köfteci Hüseyin: The Cadillac of Meatballs