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  • Writer's pictureKristin

We're Off to Turkey! Via London

Updated: Jan 26, 2021

Turkey has been a place that has peaked our interest for some time - it’s like no other place we have traveled before. A true mix between Asia and Europe. A few weeks prior to the start of our trip, President Trump started to butt heads against the Turkish president and we thought it might be the start of another U.S. Visa ban by Turkey. As a U.S. passport holder we quickly got my visa, as in the past it was only new visas that were banned. However, there ended up not being any type of visa ban, and both of our kids were also able to get their Turkish visas with their U.S. passports. It was almost $40 cheaper to get a visa for a U.S. passport than a Canadian passport, so we decided save some money that way. (It was $20 USD for a U.S. passport visa and $60 USD for a Canadian passport).

Our flight over to Turkey consisted of a flight from Calgary to Vancouver, Vancouver to London and then finally London to Antalya, Turkey, which is at the southern part of the Turkish Riviera. We had a little bit over a 24 hour layover in London before we got our flight to Antalya.

The flight over to London actually went fairly well. Our son (almost 23 months) didn’t have a nap that afternoon, so within the first hour of the 9 hour flight he fell asleep, and then woke up with about 2 hours to go. We decided to give our daughter some children’s melatonin, just so she would get some decent sleep and she also slept about 6 hours. It was quite a puzzle to have them all sleeping in the same area within our 3-seat section.

Once we arrived at Gatwick and got through customs, we grabbed our backpacks and strollers to head into the city to the London Bridge area.

This trip we really tried to minimize our ‘stuff’ as much as possible, as it gets hard carrying kids and bags. We reverted back to our backpacker days and used our backpacks for the kids’ and our clothing and then just brought along our backpack for a day pack and a collapsible cooler bag for some food on the planes. It is also extremely useful while we are in country for lunches while we are out and about. In addition, we brought along 2 umbrella strollers. The addition of the 2nd stroller was a decision within the last month or so leading up to our trip. It seemed like whenever we did bring a stroller for our son, Connor, our 4.5 year old daughter, Clara, would also want to use it. Then she would end up riding in it and Connor would end up being carried by me! So in order to save my back and shoulders, we added an additional umbrella stroller to our fleet. It was well worth it - even if just for the airport portion of the trip!

The train ride was fun for the kids - especially for Connor who is really into trains. Every time one would approach at the station or while we were riding, he would shout ‘choo choo.’ We checked into our hotel the Novotel not far from the London Tower Bridge. We quickly dropped off our bags and then went off to explore, even though we all just wanted to lay down in the bed. The kids did quite well with the little sleep and were in relatively good spirits as we headed to walk across the London Tower Bridge. The bagpiper at the base also helped us wake up as we headed to the start - no sleeping with that loud sound! I found it interesting that the London Tower Bridge and the compound that is part of it, was actually the holder of the crowned jewels and at one point had lions to guard it!

The only bad part about the 2 strollers in London was on our walk along the river, there wasn’t a lot of ramps to get the strollers up. So with it being a 1:1 ratio of adults to strollers, we each took a stroller/child and hauled them up the stairs! Workout for the day completed!

The kids were starting to get cranky so we grabbed some food on our way back to our room and had a quick picnic our our hotel bed. As soon as the food was cleaned up, we 'Jammied' up and went to bed. As we shut our eyes, it was only 5:45 p.m. London time!!

However, 15 hours later the kids woke up (pretty much on their own) we celebrated that win! Due to sleeping-in we didn’t have much more time to explore, so we got some breakfast at a café and stopped at a grocery store to get a couple of items before catching the train back to Gatwick.

Most of our second day was either spent in the airport, or on the 3 hour 40 minute flight to Antalya. We arrived in Antalya at 10 p.m. local time, which was 2 hours ahead of London time. We were quite amazed that even though we were one of the last passengers to de-board the plane there was no line up at customs. We just presented our passports and no questions, and we were through! However, the second portion wasn’t as easy.

We had rented a car from Antalya to facilitate our journey to Istanbul, as we have found having a car makes it a little easier to travel with young kids. In the terminal we had arrived, there wasn’t anyone at the Avis car rental desk. So we called the number posted and someone came from the other terminal to pick us up in the car. We got to the second terminal and had to go inside to the car rental office to register. However, they had security screening right as you enter the building so we had to go through the security check again....and later when my daughter had to use the washroom.

The kids and I entertained ourselves outside the car rental office, but it seemed to take forever while Alex was sorting out things with the people inside. As it turns out, Alex had pre-reserved 2 car seats (also in an effort to make travel lighter) and they didn’t have them; and they said they didn’t have a way to get anymore. They said we needed to talk to the representative in the car rental location.

We went back out to the office where the actual cars were located, but the Avis representative was busy with some others. So we started to ask some of the other companies what they had available - most of the other companies also didn’t have any car seats available. However, we did find one company that had 2 car seats on location, as well as a car available for the dates we needed with drop-off in Istanbul. We went back to the Avis representative to share this news, and then all of a sudden they seemed to know where to find some car seats. The representative left, saying he had to go to a place down the road, and then about 15 minutes later he came back with 5 or so car seats. It seems like they were at some cleaning facility - I’m not sure ours were cleaned prior to use, but at that point we were just happy to see car seats. By now it was 12:15 a.m. local time and the kids were pretty much running off of fumes.

However, in hindsight, I think we would have probably been better to bring our own car seats; at least it would have avoided this huge hassle. Plus, this isn’t the only time where they don’t have a car seat in stock when we have pre-ordered it. Originally I also thought the car seat might not be up to code on safety as our car seats in North America, as they didn’t have the clip across the chest. However, I went to look online and it looks like chest clips are illegal in Europe, which is why there isn’t one on these car seats. European law dictates that the car seat needs to be released with a single motion; a chest clip would require an extra step. Instead the straps have large rigid covers with grippy backing to keep them in place.

However, as we started to drive around we saw car seat laws aren’t in existence, or at least enforced. We saw one baby/toddler sitting in the driver’s seat with dad and some other families riding on motorbikes with no helmets on. One little girl was not much bigger than Clara, was sitting behind her dad holding onto his waist. Just one of those things that is a cultural difference and I am sure they mean no harm to their children. It is just interesting to see things in a different perspective.

We installed the car seats and then headed off to our accommodation.



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