Middle East 2
Middle East 2
Cambodia → Thailand → Jordan → Israel → Kuwait → Turkey → Bulgaria → Serbia → Croatia → Bosnia →
Montenegro → Albania → Macedonia → Greece → England → America → Canada
10 APR 14 - 20 APR 14
17 APR 14 - 20 APR 14

Well, I believe I've found my heart city. Istanbul was...well, I thought it was i n c r e d i b l e. It's a historical giant with a bohemian edge. And I couldn't stop marveling at the place. From the miniature tram in Beyoglu, to the hundreds of cobbled walkways running up and down the hills (feats of civil engineering that's for sure), to the charming boutiques, to the millennial Hagia Sophia, to the glittering Bosphorous Strait, to every person we passed looking a perfect combination of boho-chic.

Perhaps our six years in the tropics factored into my perception of the city (my sense of fashion was surely impacted by Cambodia - I haven't seen people wearing leather jackets and boots in half a decade!) Still, Istanbullers carried a sense of creativity and whimsy that I simply adored and was slightly envious of.

We stayed in Beyoglu, a tram ride away from the sights of the Old City, so carting the kids to and fro was exhausting and making plans around nap times just about did us in.

But even still, I loved Istanbul. It was a dream come true to visit this city of ancients after reading so much about it in college, and the creative energy certainly didn't disappoint!


Family in front of Aya Sofia
Aya chasing pigeons in Taksim Square
15 APR 14 - 17 APR 14

It looks like you're walking on snow but it's warm! Hot spring water rich in calcium carbonate has been flowing over this mountain under the ancient Roman city of Hierapolis for centuries and the result is a white mountain with hot streams and terraced pools. Aya enjoyed it the most, finding hot and cold pools and bathing under warm waterfalls.


Visiting Ephesus is surreal. It's like stepping wayyyyy back in time to the Greco-Roman era and getting a bit of a snapshot of what life was like. The magnificent library, the amphitheater, even the public latrines! For some reason I love the ancient monuments with Greek text. I have no clue what they say, but am fascinated by the public displays of art and language.


Arwen swimming at the Cotton Castle
The Library at Ephesus
Aya finding hot pools
Family in Pamukkale
10 APR 14 - 14 APR 14

It’s something out of a fairy tale - all sorts of childhood dreams come true. Like homes etched into sandstone caves, teensy windows perched at the top of fairy chimneys and openings in hoodoos leading into vast inner rooms and carved stone ladders heading into the sky.

Cappadocia was so very enchanting.

We did a lot of walking – dozens of kilometres in total – and each walk was different. Around every curve was a new surprise. Whether it was a hidden Byzantine-era church with well-preserved frescoes, long tunnels carved out of sandstone, or pigeon holes whittled out of the sides of soaring cliffs, we often gasped in awe or did a giddy little dance at what was before us.

It was THAT incredible. We’ve never before experienced something like it!

For thousands of years, Cappadocians have used the natural environment, and built homes, restaurants and hotels into the cliffs (and in a few cases, deep underground! We went to an underground city where thousands of people lived and worked during times of persecution 10-55m below the ground).

It makes me wonder about the possibilities in Drumheller...


Four days in Cappadocia barely grazed the surface of all the experiences to be had. We stayed in a cave hotel and spent the days wandering around fantasy landscapes. The kids had a great time exploring tunnels and caves and the walks through the hills rival any we have ever experienced. This place is hands down my favourite destination of the travels so far.


Family walking through the jagged hills
Steve above a mighty landscape
Amie at an amazing overlook
Uçhisar looming high above the Cappadocia valley
A spectacular mountain pass
Aya and Arwen stopping for a break
03 APR 14 - 08 APR 14

The whole reason we even came to the Middle East or conceived of this trip at all was because of Christie and Chris in Kuwait. We arrived at their place and immediately vegetated. We ended up not even leaving their apartment block that much, instead enjoying the surrounding community, kids toys, washing machine, beer tap fridge, and especially having all the Gosselin grandchildren together for the first time.


I'd only ever thought of Kuwait as an isolated desert sandscape. I didn't expect a bustling and thriving city, or the most gorgeous views of the Arabian Gulf, or beautiful palm-lined walkways, or the most opulent shopping mall I've ever seen, or Kuwaiti men looking nothing short of regal in their dishdashas and head dresses.

I have this vivid picture in my mind of walking into a Starbucks filled with elegant people and thinking, 'my word! where AM I!?!'

But the greatest highlight of course was seeing Chris and Christie again and meeting sweet Kayden for the first time. It was their hospitality, steady flow of coffee and hot water and delicious food and homemade drinks, and evening chats and sweet memories with the cousins that were really special.


Aya, Amie, Steve, Arwen, Kayden, Chris + Christie walking near the Kuwait towers
Cousins Unite!
Family at the sandcastle festival
Aya + Arwen in a big grocery store
03 APR 14 - 08 APR 14