It's the time of year when we start to daydream about getting out of town.
Christmas is such a magical time and we had a great one.
We feel pretty thankful to have had a white Christmas since most of our friends and family outside of Alberta did not this year.
Edmonton has some amazing winter attractions going on this year.
We can't wait to check out the Freezeway, Ice Castle and even just ski and skate right here in our neighbourhood.
Having said that we still love to have a trip on the horizon, a little escape waiting for us.
Well, all this has got me thinking of last year's getaway to Istanbul (via Düsseldorf) with the Eichelbergers that I have yet to share.
We got into Istanbul in the evening and walked through the narrow cobblestone streets with four kids, two strollers and all our luggage.
Good thing we pack light.
No doubt that it was worth it for our beautiful apartment with this view.
I just love these guys.
Day one started out with our usual graffiti photo shoot.
New and improved with our fourth member, Adeline.
Next time we'll get her in on the action shot too.
These kids were so happy to see each other and fell right into comfortable play (and, of course, bickering).
Next we got into the heart of Istanbul and loaded up with our first round of Turkish Delight and baklava.
We ate more of these beautiful treats than I care to admit.
We knew there were at least 5 main attractions that we wanted to see but with kids we had to have our strategy down.
Our recipe for success seemed to be a lazy morning, breakfast in, out by 10 or 11, one site/activity, lunch out, second site/activity, back to the apartment, guys go grocery shopping, dinner in, kids to bed, wine.
Something for everyone right?
On day one our morning activity was figuring out transport and wandering (you always need a little wandering in a new city).
So with one site left to see we went to the top of our list and made our way to Hagia Sophia (aka Aya Sofia).
We had been warned that from the outside this almost 1500 year old structure was underwhelming.
I disagreed, seeing beauty immediately.
I understood the statement though when we did enter.
You had the feeling of walking into a different building.
There was so much to take in, all of it over the top.
And then there's these sweeties, a whole other level of beauty.
And this handsome boy.
It was here that we first experienced the fascination that other travellers had with our kids.
Coming from a country where multiculturalism is taken for granted we were not expecting that their blond heads would attract so much attention.
For the most part the kids loved it but this first experience was a little startling.
I mean if a group of 10-20 tourists started furiously snapping pictures of me I would also be taken aback.
As our trip progressed we were able to embrace this cultural difference.
I was particularly touched when young men turned to mush and would do anything for a smile and high five from our littles.
Back to Hagia Sophia though.
I honestly couldn't capture it all, eventually I stopped taking pictures because documenting it all was impossible.
There was much restoration work going on as 1500 years tends to take it's toll.
Hopefully that means this gorgeous structure will be around much longer than it already has.
I would definitely suggest putting Istanbul on your bucket list if it isn't already there.
As I said this was only day one of five, I will attempt to share the rest in a timely manner.
Who am I kidding though, we made this trip in March 2015.
Yep, 10 months ago, nothing timely about that.