We find a cool bull in Istanbul

We just spend a few days in the Historical old town section of Istanbul on the European side.

Now we move to the ‘trendy and hip’ European side, but also go and visit the Asian side of Istanbul

And this where …

… We find a cool bull in Istanbul

It was only supposed to be a 15-minute drive across the small bridge to our new hotel.  The GPS didn’t even identify the street, so the hotel had printed a map.  But little did we know about the one-way street system. About 1 and a half hours later, we had managed to drive down a walking only street (at the recommendation of locals insisting it was OK) and stopped to ask directions from a man who proved to be a drunk.  Little did we know we stopped 5 buildings from the hotel, but it was a split street. The hotels were on the pavement, and the road separated to go under a tunnel. Guess what we did? We took the tunnel of course and completely missed it.

We then stopped and asked several hotels. We were sent to the Mamada and not the Armara 2X.  We stopped at a hotel 3 times and asked directions, and in the end, we stopped to ask a taxi and agreed to pay him 10 TL to get us to the hotel. He took us back to the hotel where we had stopped and chatted to the doormen 3 times.  Next, the doorman jumps into the car.  He gets lost too.  Crazy, crazy times.  So he takes us back to the hotel (this is time number 5 going around the same blocks).  He organizes us to follow a taxi.  He charges 10 TL – we never paid the last one as he got it wrong.  We get close and the street is blocked off.  The taxi driver races up to the hotel and they march down and help with the bags.  We then get pointed to a car park. Whew.  By the time we were in the room, it was 3:00 pm and we needed lunch.

Next day we decided to go back to the area we first stayed. We visited the Blue Mosque area. It was prayer time so we didn’t enter the mosque, but being Christians we really didn’t feel that comfortable anyway, but you can go into the courtyard, and we did that. There is nothing very blue about the outside of the mosque, but maybe there is inside. Part of it was also under restoration.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – Blue Mosque

From there we walked to the side of the Palace as there is a street with old wooden houses, but there is also a great few streets to walk around heading toward the water too. Market streets, restaurants, and more shopping areas too.

We made our way to the Armada Terrace rooftop restaurant by the sea, and then we walked about 45 minutes to the train.  By the end, my legs were aching, but at least I’d walked off the calories form lunch.

We took a train to the shopping center with the Turkuazoo Aquarium – see this link for info – Aquarium.  Here we had a great time and saw the staff hand feed stingrays – with their hand inside the stingray’s mouth!

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – Turkuazoo Aquarium – feeding stingrays

It has a great tunnel with sharks, but we loved the interactive side of it.  Here Explorason gets to touch and hold a Horseshoe Crab.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – Turkuazoo Aquarium – very interactive – Horseshoe crab

We also took to the streets – we have been trying to give away things in Istanbul – Random acts of Kindness.
Clothes and food, but not found many poor and beggars. We hit the streets the last two days and found the odd person to bless.
These photos are not as good as we often share and don’t make a big deal, but as this girl was blind, Explorason decided to take a few pics – but they are quick and distant.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – Random Acts of Kindness – giving a blind girl a new cap

I love, love, love when we can do our Random Acts of Kindness.
Later that night, we saw her wearing quite a few things we had given.
We gave her a whole big bag of stuff, and it was so big she had a friend come and help her.
It felt good.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – Random Acts of Kindness – giving a blind girl a large bag of food and good clothes

Next day we meet a traveling family from Families on the Move – a Facebook group I am in for long-term permanent traveling families. She has helped us so much with things to see, and places to stay, and we finally meet!

We take a ferry to the Asia side.

She takes us around the streets, and it is very European. At times we comment we feel like we are in London or New York.  And then before us, we see a brass giant bull.

We find a cool bull in Istanbul

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Exploramum and Explorason – finding a bull in Istanbul

We walk all through the shops. We find one that sells little trinkets and I finally get myself a small red glass pomegranate vase. I’ve seen them everywhere and it is cool.  We also buy some light up little Christmas trees.  We haven’t been feeling very Christmasy at all so this is great.

We then head to walk along the shore, and it is so cold.  Our friend suggests we try hot roasted Chestnuts.  We have smelt the aroma, and now Explorason decides he LOVES them!

I really like it when he tries and enjoys new foods.  The paper bag acts as a hand warmer for him too – bonus.

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Exploramum and Explorason – roasted chestnuts are popular in Istanbul

We have coffee, tea and hot chocolate along the shore and sit in little perspex bubbles. It is cute. I think it is a great idea.

We then walk and walk along the shore.

Next, it is a minibus to the next area.  It is a famous and lovely area and is Bagdad Caddesi (Bagdat Avenue).

We enjoy a beautiful dinner. It has a Mexican food theme which feels weird seeing we are in Istanbul, but it was really good, and the serves were massive.

We then wandered down the main street.  There were over street decorative light banners. But the huge light displays were great.

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Exploramum and Explorason – running through a huge gift in Istanbul

We went further down the street, to a famous store for Christmas – VAKKO.  Here in the front is an Ice-skating Rink.  Explorason gets to have a try. He doesn’t have long, as they are preparing for a professional skating show.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Ice-skating in Istanbul

We love the mirror light reflections that look like snow.  We wander through the beautiful store.  And then we come and have our photo taken.

This is the most we have seen Christmas, and it feels wonderful.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – Vakko store does a different theme each year for Christmas

There are fun stores with windows to jump in and have pics taken. Loads to see and do.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Fun in the store windows in Istanbul

And the light decorations continue down the street.  There are so many.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – giant lit up Christmas characters – Santa

Their son calls Explorason “big brother” in Turkish – it is cute.  He is just adorable!

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – giant lit up Christmas characters – Cookie-man and a warm drink

Explorason says this is his favorite.

We finish the night with lovely desserts at a beautiful cafe.  I was presented a CD of their favorite Turkish band. I’m saving it for a Christmas gift.  Explorason was given a cute Santa felt car/wagon and Santa to hang on the tree, with cookies.  Such kind people.

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Exploramum and Explorason – Istanbul – giant lit up Christmas themed displays – Christmas trees

This ends our time in Istanbul and Turkey.

We have had such an amazing time.  We have been so blessed with the people we have met, the kindness shown to us, and the lovely places we have stayed.  To all of you who helped make our time in Turkey as memorable as it is, we want to say THANK YOU!

And for us … it is beginning to look and feel a lot like Christmas.

Please follow our journey and see where we go to next. We’d love you to share our story with your friends too.

Questions and Comments

  •  What do you make of my visit to Istanbul?
  • Are you a family that travels permanently?
  • What inspired your decision?
  • How has the experience been?
  • Do share your comments with us below.

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2 comments

  1. Hi,i just wanted to say thank you for sharing your incredible journey,to inspire the mothers of the world to get up and make a difference to their life and their child,s is inspirational.

    1. You have made my day. I do hope to inspire others and it is nice to hear when I do – even from afar. It is a precious thing to be a mother and I am so pleased you are sharing the journey with us. Have a blessed and happy Christmas 🙂

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