The morning looked promising— clouds seemed steady on the horizon with plenty of blue above, the Bosphorus was calm, and the IDO website told us our ferry would leave Kabataş for the islands at 10:50. Bacon, eggs and coffee, a quick shower, a packed bag of sketching materials and tamales, and we were out the door. With 10:50 just minutes away, we rushed to the pier only to discover that the ferry was leaving at noon. This was confirmed by a kindly old poğaça vendor, who explained that it was the weekend, in spite of IDO's promise. We decided to retreat to a nearby çaybahçe for some çay.
We claimed our seats on the lower right side of the ferry, next to some enthusiastic North Africans (I want to say Libyans), who would give the roving gulls a thumbs up every time one caught a morsel of simit tossed from their hands. Songs were sung, and peals of Arabic were thrown with the crumbs at the gluttonous birds. Somewhere in the Marmara, the sky turned from blue to grey, and what I initially took for sea spray, turned out to be coming from above.
We set foot on Büyükada in a downpour, walked about ten metres across the street to Mado, and sat down for a coffee and some pudding. While we hoped for a break in the rain, we pulled out our sketchbooks and pencils, and began to search for faces to draw. I was taken by the curve of the nose of a most confusing older gentleman in a green sweater, who quickly approached us, and demanded our menus. It soon became clear by the way he was barking orders at the staff that he was the owner, and I tried to explain in broken Turkish that we hadn't ordered yet. With a huff and some incomprehensible muttering, he set the menus back down on the table and disappeared. The second our waiter ran off to bring us our coffee and pudding, the man reappeared and with a satisfying grunt, took our menus.
I followed his shuffling with my eyes and pencil, trying to capture that nose and his determined expression, and it was just a matter of time before he realised what I was up to, and was looming over my shoulder.
Bu ben değilim! Ouf— şişman!
Apparently I had drawn him fat, and he pretended to be slightly offended, hiding a grin under his white moustache. He disappeared to the corner of the café, and minutes later, a smiling waiter delivered us some tea, compliments of the owner.
The rain did not let up, and we remained in Mado for nearly three hours, drawing and sipping tea until we decided it was time to buy a crappy umbrella from across the street and try to explore a bit. We made it to the awning of a fading Ottoman house, pulled out the tamales and made the picnic I had dreamed of a standing one, watching the horse buggies clop-clop by.
The rain continued all the way to Istanbul.