Our flight to Malta is on Turkish Airlines. We take off from O'Hare's International Terminal on time and are delighted that no one is booked in the middle seat between us. Yeah - more room for us! After we reach altitude the flight attendants come through offering small pieces of lokum (Turkish Delight) and providing a menu card for the evening meal. This is already a definite step up in service from the US carriers for those of us in the economy seats. The flight attendants are pleasant and smiling as they serve the drinks and meals. I settle in to enjoy some wine and the meal along with the first of a couple of movies I'll watch on our 9+ hour flight.
We arrive in Istanbul dead tired a little before 3:00 pm local time. We have a 17 hour layover so we have booked the Marriott Courtyard hotel near the airport. By 4:00 pm we have cleared customs, caught the shuttle and are snuggling into bed for a nap before dinner. The alarm goes off at 5:30 pm. Ouch! It's hard, but we drag ourselves out of bed. This evening's dinner is at the hotel restaurant. It's nothing remarkable, but it is tasty and extremely convenient.
5:15 am Saturday the alarm goes off. We take hot showers, check out, and catch the 6:30 am shuttle to Istanbul airport. There are no offers of lokum this morning, but they do manage to serve breakfast accompanied with fresh warm breads during the 2 1/2 hour flight.
The queue for passport control is a little longer in Malta, but not outrageous. After we claim our bags we walk out the doors and find the driver who will take us to our accommodations. A nice surprise is that Paul, the owner of the flat we are renting, has personally come to pick us up. He greets us warmly, giving us a tour as he drives us to St. Paul's Bay, the area we will be staying in for the next month or so.