Today was a fine day for brunch at a palace. Yes, a palace. The Çırağan Palace was a waterfront Ottoman palace that was turned into a hotel in the nineties, renovated in 2007 and looks spectacular. Crystal chandeliers and balustrades glitter beneath ornately painted ceilings and outside enormous windows, the Bosphorus sparkles beyond palms.
Brunch was a divine buffet with everything you could hope for— blini and salmon, sushi, stuffed artichokes, cheeses, eggs in every style, pastries, foie gras and oh so much more! I started with a mini spinach eggs benedict, blini with roe and cream, a sushi roll, smoked salmon, a scallop and a delicious piece of raw fish. Then I went back for the stuffed artichokes, potatoes and cheeses of course. My delightful meal was finished off with a strawberry macaron, a mini crème brûlée, a syrupy pastry and a delicately flavoured pudding topped with mint and pomegranates. Heavenly. In between plates I sketched the view from my table of the palace's waterfront gate:
Once home, to my joy, I saw the first white storks returning from their winter migration to Africa. There were around 60 or so of the large graceful birds flying across the Bosphorus from the Asian side, right over my house. They were so close, I could see their eyes and feathers. Soon there will be hundreds riding the thermals over Istanbul. It is truly an impressive sight, mythical even, to see these creatures with such elegant long necks and huge powerful wings float silently by. I've looked forward to the stork migration since childhood, and this is the first time in over a decade that I've been in Istanbul at the right time. Seeing them today brought back a warm feeling of wonder inside me that I haven't felt since I was little.
I had to draw these after the fact— I was to awestruck to pick up a pen.