Going from Istanbul to Paris

We came to Paris from Istanbul four days ago. The flight was only a few hours, and as it wasn’t full, Erik and I got the row to ourselves: window, center, and aisle. As we took off from Sabiha Gökçen (the smaller of Istanbul’s two airports), I took photos of our last view of the city and its environs.

Aerial view of lakes near Istanbul


{as always, mouse over photos for notes, or click to enlarge}

Aerial view of Istanbul's coastline


Aerial view of the Bosphorus (I think)


The flight was reasonably comfortable — though there was no free food or drink whatsoever — and since I’d gone to sleep on time the night before, I enjoyed the rare experience of being in-flight and not totally woozy with sleep deprivation!

As we neared Paris, I noticed ice crystals had formed on the windows.

Ice crystals on the airplane window


And the clouds…!!

Puffy white clouds outside the airplane


We hit some weather bumps in the early part of our descent, so I closed my eyes then, and tried not to think. I always think I’m going to die whenever there’s any turbulence. It’s not rational, but there it is. When I dared to look out the window again, I got my first look at France: the areas south/southeast of Paris, around Orly Airport.

Aerial view of fields and forest outside Paris

Aerial view of a lake and woods outside Paris

Aerial view of roads outside Paris


Aerial view of the Seine (I think)


When we landed at Orly, the plane came to a stop, and I peered out the window. “We look kind of far from the building,” I said to Erik. “Do you see a gate?” Indeed, we weren’t at a gate, but were sitting on the runway waiting for space to clear up. Nevertheless, our fellow passengers sprang up as if on cue, and began opening overhead bins and taking out luggage. The flight attendants made polite announcements in Turkish and French, asking everyone to stay put, but these were entirely ignored. A minute later, voices came much more forcibly over the loudspeakers, instructing everyone to remain seated (in Turkish and English, this time). As this, too, was largely disregarded, one of the attendants finally strode up from the back of the plane, scolding individual passengers, until the hubbub subsided. We then remained on the runway for some time, waiting, the overhead bins still open.

Maybe an hour later, after a bus ride and a train ride, Erik and I arrived at Port-Royal station and took to the sidewalk with our luggage to walk the 750 meters to our apartment. Almost the first thing we saw was this restaurant:

Turkish restaurant in Paris


About a block later we spotted a döner place. It’s funny; as foreign as I felt throughout our month in Istanbul, the sight of these Turkish restaurants gives me a comforting feeling of… not home, quite, but something familiar!

After the sounds, smells, and crowds of Istanbul, the calm of the Port-Royal neighborhood is truly welcome. Our apartment is on a little private street (we found out when returning from a late dinner that the street is actually gated at night! fortunately the gatekeeper let us in!), and the windows look out onto a courtyard and the garden of another building, so it’s extremely quiet here. Over the past few days I have felt my burned-out weariness losing its edge, as if I left it behind in Turkey.

Lisa at window of Paris apartment


I don’t know if all of Paris is as pretty and restful as the parts we’ve seen — surely it can’t be? — but the areas we’ve explored have been just lovely. I’m not exactly sure what makes the city so attractive; we’ve seen so many beautiful cities and they are all different, but Paris just feels… gracious. The city has so many reputations and I was expecting a hundred stereotypes to come true, but no, it is at once just as I expected, and nothing like I expected.

Fountain at the Jardin du Luxembourg

Parisian brocante (vintage/flea market)

Parisian apartment building with potted trees on the balcony

No cats, though.

Lisa posing like a statue of a queen