Two Weeks in Istanbul

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We’ve been in Istanbul now for almost 2 weeks so I thought I’d do one of those posts where I tell you about life on the road, what we’re doing, why we’re doing, what’s Istanbul like and what is there to see and do.

Istanbul in snow
Small boys thrilled by snow.

The Istanbul Blog

We love Istanbul. We’ve explored and roamed this city and enjoyed everything about her. This is honestly one of the best cities in the world, dripping with history and beauty. There is so much to do and explore here that our two weeks has been very busy. See some of the highlights of Istanbul we’ve enjoyed below.

Highlights of Istanbul

  • Hagia Sophia
  • The Blue Mosque
  • Topkapi Palace and Museum
  • The Grand Bazaar
  • The Roman Basilica Cistern
  • Galata Tower
  • The Bosphorous – Where East Meets West

Mostly we’ve got around Istanbul on foot, the attractions and sites above are all pretty close together. The trams and tube trains have also been excellent, our lodgings and food are superb.

Istanbul as a Single Woman With Kids

I’ve not had any issues here as a single woman. I’ve had to carry the kids a few times because we have walked a lot and there are some steep hills, but otherwise everything has been great. Turkish men do tend towards the very friendly.

Chef has to be in Australia for a wedding soon, that determined our leaving date for London. Our Richmond flat was costing us around AU$2500 per month, plus bills, plus food, plus spends, it made sense for us to let it go as soon as we could and for the boys and I to go somewhere cheaper while we waited.

Chef is bunking with family while he finishes up with work, he’s worked bloody hard as do all chefs and deserves this break. I think today he’s heading to Amsterdam to catch the plane to Australia.

Hagia Sophia Istanbul
Rome, the Ottomans, Emperors, Sultans, Christians and Muslims, it’s all in Istanbul.

Our original plan was to spend the first part of this year in Sri Lanka and India, that all changed when amazing cruise, an offer that came out of the blue and that totally thrilled us. When the cruise offer came along we’d already booked flights to Turkey because it was the cheapest way to fly to Sri Lanka.

The cruise gig means we have to be in Dubai next week to join the ship. Turkey turned out to be a reasonable place to catch that connection. Istanbul is a bit of a flight hub in this part of the world, in the same way that Kuala Lumpur is in Asia. We flew Turkish airlines, they were cheap and I thought they were great ( we’re not sponsored by them in any way.)

For the record, I hate travelling without Chef (I’m not sponsored by Chef) but sometimes needs must.

Staying in Istanbul.

Turkish hat Tarboosh
We found the perfect hat for Blue Bear II at the Grand Bazaar.

The Gods were smiling on us again, we got invited to stay at a couple of gorgeous hotels, Alilass and Armada, both were superb and both were free.

We’re now in our more usual budget accommodation, paying AU$57/night including breakfast. It’s OK, not good, not bad.  I may have another free stay before we leave, I’ll find out today.

As I said to Chef, I can’t believe that these hotels think we’re any use to them, but they obviously do, so I guess I’d better get used to it. We’ve been on many free familiarisation visits and stays because of Chef’s work, but these are the first free stays of our blogging career (excluding our week in Italy with Our Whole Village, which was more like hanging with friends).

They like that we promote and share the region, stimulating interest and encouraging visitors, as well as sharing images and impressions of their hotel. We had no contract with them, we were free to do and say as much or as little as we wanted. They were good and extremely nice, so I gave them as much as I could and, as always, I was completely honest. The same will apply on the cruise, they haven’t bought my opinion.

You’ll notice I’m putting Google Ads in every post now (below), I make between $40 and $100 per month from them ( now, on 50K PV/month), we have to make money somehow. Sorry if you find them annoying.

We Love Turkey

Exploring the Grand Bazaar

It’s lovely here. We love the food, the people have been kind and helpful, walking around the old town, Sultanahmet, has been easy and there is so much to see and learn. (We’re not sponsored by Turkish Tourism, either)

We’ve taken it really easy, partly because of the weather, it’s been snowing after our first 4 days of warmth and sunshine, so we haven’t been beating ourselves up to do and see everything or explore more of Turkey. We are most certainly coming back to see the rest of this country when it’s warmer.

We’ve been hanging out, I’ve done a bit of work, the boys have been playing Minecraft and reading, we’ve watched movies and old episodes of Doctor Who together. We watched the crash of the Byzantium in Byzantium, which was kinda cool. Boo has started writing blog posts again and we’ve done a tiny bit of “school“.

Khan Academy, my new favourite thing in the world, has been our best friend in Istanbul. We’re following their Crash Course in History series and dipping into the art history and humanities section to learn everything we can about the things we are seeing and places we’re visiting. I’m not sponsored by Khan Academy, we just love it.

This video about Hagia Sophia is great, we watched it together after our visit.

We were pretty studious during our 8 months in London, on top of all those museums and tours I’ve told you about we knocked out a lot of book work. We’re in a good place academically.

We’ve been to all the usual sites in Istanbul, the Blue Mosque, the Basilica Cistern, the Spice Bazaar and Grand Bazaar, we’ve walked and wandered. Istanbul is a cool place.

Onward From Turkey


We fly to Dubai in a few days, we’ll have a bit of time to explore there and then we’re on the ship.

I have internet on board, but satellite connections from ships are notoriously bad, I’ll be in and out of contact.

We’re stopping in 8 countries so we’ll have plenty to keep us busy for 33 days, including meet-ups with some much missed family and friends around Australia as the ship performs her partial circumnavigation.

Our ship drops us in Perth at the end of March, after that we have no plans, we’ll see how we feel. We think we only have enough money to travel for 6 months this time, but we’ll squeeze every drop of fun out of it that we can.

I’m already sick of saying “we’re not sponsored by…”. There was a recent storm in the blogging world over this stuff,  brought on by one particular blogger jumping to conclusions and throwing dirt in a very nasty way. People got hurt. I feel now that I can’t say anything nice about anyone or anything without adding a disclaimer, which is sad. Absolute painful honesty has always been my policy and always will be, I can’t be bought. So that’s our Istanbul travel blog for now. We’re working on full posts on Things to Do in Istanbul.

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About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

21 thoughts on “Two Weeks in Istanbul”

  1. The post is amazing and the quality of the pictures is awesome. A place that should definitely be on your list. Thanks for the content. I also make a suggestion. Don’t forget to visit Istanbul’s travel portal which has many useful information about life, culture, cuisine, historical places.

  2. We loved Turkey too. So much so that we travelled around it for about 6 weeks with our family of five. So lovely to read your post and see you enjoyed your time there ๐Ÿ™‚

    IMO I personally enjoy the story. I know that is not popular in the travel blogging world. For me it is not the facts, costs details… The story is timeless and stays genuine.

    • Yes, but you will never make a living that way. I aim to have a balance of both types. The facts for the Google traffic, they represent about 150,000 page views per month. This stuff….a few thousand. It’s not about popularity, it’s about knowing how it’s done, it’s a science, creating a successful web site. You need a lot of know how. But the other stuff is fun too.

  3. I only made it to Kusadasi and the surrounds, but that was enough to make me want to see more of Turkey. The little I saw was very appealing.

  4. I’ll be keeping an eye on your Turkish posts as we’re hoping to go to Turkey for a week or so in the summer. I’ve been to Istanbul before, but it was only for 2 days and 1 night and I was on my way to India…!
    Re-being hosted. I don’t think any of us think you’ve been bought or are being unscrupulous. Quite the opposite in fact. We all know how hard you’ve work to get to the level where you are in your life, and it’s only to be admired. ignore the negativity and be yourself. Good luck in Dubai!

  5. It’s great to see how you are funding your travels and that you are so modest about the free hotels and cruises given to you! My husband and three children have bought a 7.5 tonne truck, which we are converting into our future home. We are going to drive to NZ! It’s inspiring reading that others do it (although not many!) That’s why you deserve the publicity you get, we hope to do a similar thing with the blogs, so watch this space!

  6. Alyson, it sounds like you have had a lovely relaxing time – but it is never quite the same if you are not all together. I hope you have a great cruise and it will be interesting to hear what you decide to do afterwards – if you drop in through Sydney please let me know as it would be great to meet!

    • We’re in Sydney harbour for, I think, almost 2 days Anne. Big event, lots of fireworks! I like Sydney but unfortunately my inlaws live there, so I tend to stay away. Not Granny, Granny is cool, she’s Canberra.

  7. No worries about the sponsored post stuff – anyone who’s been reading your blog long enough knows full well that you’ll tell us if your stay was sponsored, and that you have the integrity to tell it like it is.

    I love this post! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Great post. I’d love to take our family to Turkey one day. My brother in law, his wife and 2 very young children chose Turkey as the place to base them selves for 2 months and wait out a nasty Canadian winter before heading to Toronto. They loved it, found the people friendly, accom and food cheap, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Re: disclaimer, put one at the top of the post or the bottom to address this area. That way you don’t have to repeat yourself, the post will flow better, and you’ll feel better that you’ve covered off the ‘business end’ of the blog. I think it is great that you are finally getting some famils and we all know you will give an honest, no holds barred account of your journey. can’t wait to hear about the cruise!

  9. Cool it, Alyson! Sounds like Theodora’s post really got to you – let her write, who cares! I love to follow you and I don’t think you have been bought by all these hotels and boards – because you’d be extremely wealthy by now, which you obviously are not! ;-)) The post on Turkey is REALLY good – personally I prefer the blog to FB – but I’m just an oldfashioned brat, of course!
    Next week thursday we’re off to South Africa — can”t wait to get on the plane! Enjoy Dubai – without Chef (I miss my husband when I travel without him … I really think it’s what we do best…)

    • No, didn’t get to me at all, personally. But I’m upset for those it hurt. It’s a huge big load of crap from a mean spirited person. Bad behaviour and injustice always put my back up. Have a great trip and tell us all about it!

  10. Great post. Love your honesty. And how about you just say whatever you like.

  11. Sigh. We had planned to visit Turkey a couple years ago (my husband has been several times) and then I ended up being too pregnant for our midwife to feel comfortable with that destination and we adjusted to a more western location (Germany and France). Istanbul is definitely one of the first places I’d like to get to, when we get back to traveling again. Sorry for the disclaimer mess, that’s got to be frustrating. I’m excited to follow the next part of your journey!

  12. We love Istanbul too. Just left Dubai three weeks ago after living there for two years. Amazing city so enjoy your time there and the weather.

  13. So excited to see that you are in Turkey, as the girls and I will be traveling throughout the country in May after a bit of time in London.
    Best wishes to you and your family! Looking forward to following along on your journey…


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