Arriving in Istanbul * Blue Mosque With Kids

Everything described in this post was paid for at my own expense, and I did not let anyone know in advance that I would be blogging about my experiences.

Lost bags seem to be a way of life for us. At least one bag has been damaged or delayed on every long-haul trip we've taken since E was born. This trip was no exception. Add to that a multi-hour flight delay, the inevitable missed connection that comes with it, and a nearly-lost (but miraculously found) stroller, and, of course 3 kids, and you wonder why we do it at all.

We were so badly delayed that we decided to skip our pre-paid reservation at the Istanbul Airport hotel, and head straight into town. Luckily our room at the darussaade, where we will spend the next two nights, was already available.

Istanbul's Bosphorus River
Istanbul's Bosphorus River

We rolled into Istanbul bleary eyed after almost 24 hours of travel. The sun was just beginning to rise, and the morning mist made the Bosphorus river, and the ships on it hazy, as if we were in a dream. The kids didn't care about the majestic view though, they were busy spotting the playgrounds that line the riverfront one after another. As tired as we all were, I could almost hear them thinking "Istanbul is going to be fun." After a quick round of showers, and clean clothing for those of us who had luggage, it was time to explore on foot.

My husband and I had distinct ideas about what we'd like to see, but as we exited the hotel, the first thing E noticed was the street gutters. Built out of curved tile, they look different than the gutters we are used to seeing at home. He was completely caught up in them, and so we followed the gutters downhill, away from the major sites, and had a morning that I'm sure we'll remember for a long time.

Instead of spending time with touts or in tourist shops waiting for the major attractions to open, our quest took us past a restaurant with its own sheep and chickens. As we visited with the animals, we noticed the ancient unmarked ruins boarded up next door. Then we were off again, surrounded by a stream of children headed to school. We stood outside, alongside their mothers, and watched as they lined up by class in the school yard, passed inspection, and were ushered into the school building. Finally, with the kids laughing and following the gutters, we wound our way uphill and found ourselves where we had planned to be in the first place, in front of the Blue Mosque, just as it was opening for the day.

E, who often has a difficult time trying new things, was hesitant to enter the Mosque's open courtyard, and for a moment I was worried that we were in for a difficult day. Luckily my husband pulled some marbles, given to the kids by one of the hotel staff, out of his pocket. The idea of rolling the marbles on the marble courtyard made E giggle, and we were off again, checking to see which way each of the aged and worn stones sloped.

E and D cannot wait to get inside Istanbul's Blue Mosque
E and D cannot wait to get inside Istanbul's Blue Mosque

We ducked through a narrow tunnel, and then it was time to remove our shoes and enter the Mosque itself. D and E loved the opportunity to walk barefoot on the mosque's soft red carpet, and we sat down in a quiet corner to give ourselves time to take it all in.

E hangs out on the carpet of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul
E hangs out on the carpet of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul

This memory is the one E came back to when he woke up at 3am, jetlagged, and decided to dictate email to his best friend back home.

Istanbul's Blue Mosque
Istanbul's Blue Mosque

With all that adventure, we were positive the kids needed a nap, and headed back to the hotel for some down time. We tried, and tried, and tried, but nobody fell asleep, and finally - realizing that we would topple over ourselves if we didn't get some sunshine, we headed back out for lunch.

Kabob and Turkish Pizza at Doi Doi
Kabob and Turkish Pizza at Doi Doi

Doi Doi, a nearby kabob house fit the bill perfectly - or so we thought. The kids could watch fresh bread being made in the wood fired oven. There was a great selection of Kabob for us, and the offer of traditional Turkish pizza for the kids. The restaurant was casual and bustling - the perfect mask for any fussiness on the part of the kids. But there was none to be masked. D ate two pieces of pizza and then planted her head on my lap and fell asleep. E complained for a few minutes about the food choices before falling asleep sitting up! With the baby asleep in the sling, my husband and I finished up our meal in peace and the struggled to get three sleeping kids back to the hotel room where we all crashed for the night.

E falls asleep sitting up
E falls asleep sitting up
Related Links:
City Guide: Istanbul with Kids

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  1. Lisa @ The World is Calling on April 26, 2010 at 10:07 a.m.

    Good for you for tackling that amazing city with kids in tow! Can't wait to read more...and go myself someday!

  2. Myra on April 26, 2010 at 10:26 a.m.

    I'm a Mom to three kids (5,3,3) and would love to visit Turkey. Reading this is inspiring -- thanks for sharing!

  3. Ben on April 26, 2010 at 11:29 a.m.

    Thanks for posting your take on Istanbul! My wife and I have been there a number of times, but we are taking our (at the time) 22 month old with us in August. It should be very exciting for him and us. I will contribute to the conversation after that trip. It's a beautiful city and I can't wait to experience it from my son's perspective. Thanks!

  4. mehmet can koruyan on April 27, 2010 at 11:38 p.m.

    Great blog, you have seen some nice touristic places, for more info about Istanbul check this out;

  5. Jen Laceda on April 28, 2010 at 6:52 p.m.

    I admire you and DH for being so brave travelling with 3 kids. We were ok travelling with 1, but now we have 2 girls - and we already think that will pose as a challenge for us...since i'll be carrying another baby on my back - my camera. LOL! Can't wait to hear more of your Istanbul adventures with the kids!

  6. emily on June 9, 2010 at 1:11 p.m.

    Great photos. I hope to see Istanbul for myself sometime. Plus, I got a good laugh at the sleeping children, especially E sleeping sitting up!

  7. GSW on March 22, 2013 at 9:56 a.m.

    I really enjoyed reading your posts about visiting Istanbul with kids, and as we prepared for our recent trip there with our 3-year-old, I re-read them and found them to be helpful. We also had a great time in Turkey with our child.

  8. safy on June 19, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.

    Thankyou for such fantastic loving reading them , my husband and I have visited Istanbul.....your blogs bring back so many fun memories such a fab place ...we are planning to take the children now hence the reason for coming across your blogs :)

  9. Rachel on November 12, 2015 at 1:22 p.m.

    I'm thinking of going sightseeing in some famous Istanbul monuments during a long stopover. Only thing is I'm traveling as a lone parent with 2 kids under 9. Did you travel with a tour guide? Would you recommend I get a guide or can I hack it on my own? What is the level of street harassment there? Just wondering because a friend of mine got harassed there as a solo traveller by Turkish men who touched her etc. But another friend went there and was fine, so I'm not sure if I should go by myself - I have no choice though. Either I go alone with my kids or I don't go this time. Always wanted to visit Turkey and I'd be gutted to miss this one on my itinerary.