Istanbul, early evening…it is raining and the streets are wet and slippery. Even so, the streets are crowded with people bundled up against the cold winter chill and the shops and restaurants are doing a brisk business. I return to the hotel after an early dinner consisting of a small borek and a glass of red wine. My borek tonight was vegetarian by choice, filled with lightly sautéed mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes; the wine a fruity Turkish red of some unknown varietals…it was a simple meal, but satisfying. My first day alone in the center of Istanbul has ended and it went well; a return to the Grand Bazaar, a peak into the Blue Mosque with its dazzling mosaics, a lovely cup of coffee shared with an elderly English gentleman I met along the way. I have overcome my fears; the culture, the language, the transit, and made peace with this city of minarets. Tomorrow holds infinite promise…I await the call of the muezzin.