My flight left Istanbul at 11pm and gave me the most beautiful take-off view of any city I've seen from the air. I saw lights outlining the Bosphorus and the Golden Horn and the bridges that span them. Ships dotted the black waters in the waterway connecting the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. It looked like a game of battleship.
In the distance was an intense thunderstorm. I saw lightning pierce through clouds. It looked just like photos I had seen, long lightning bolts that lit up the gray clouds. Oddly, I couldn't hear the thunder from inside the plane, just the hum of the engines. Fortunately our plane wasn't in the storm. The sky was clear around us, allowing me to see the yellow lights on the ground and the white lightning in the clouds.
The airport was on the Asia side of Istanbul so we crossed into Europe. Then the darkness surrounded us as we flew over Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Poland before landing in Copenhagen.