Posted by: jeanne | February 13, 2018

our winter break adventure

imagine my surprise, in the middle of january, when i realized that both grandkids had the same winter break schedule.  out friday, february 16, back in on monday the 26th.

i opened a private window and brought up a bunch of travel and airlines sites.  where could we all go for 10 days without breaking the bank?  there were no $99 sales at wow airlines, and no domestic specials i particularly wanted to visit in the winter.  i found a website where you can see sample fares, and zoomed out to view the whole world.  we could go to india for $600, but it would take forever.  we could go to orlando for $49, but i’ve sworn off disney products.  we could go to venice for $700.  i know venice.  we love venice.  but avery’s never been there.  and that settled it.


i talked to jim about it as we walked around the block with the dogs.  i’ve spoiled him.  once you live somewhere for months at a time, the idea of spending fewer than ten days sucks.  so he said no right away, and i cooled down.  besides, the costs weren’t negligible, and they would add up fast once cards were plunked down.  however, thru long years of living beneath our means, we had already stashed most of the money i was thinking about spending, and it was just sitting there for just such an ’emergency’.  but, since i’m always sort of planning our next trip, it might be better if we didn’t blow it all in ten days.  so i backed off the idea.

but not for long.  without too much trouble, i convinced myself that i was fully capable of herding two brothers around venice for a few days by myself.  we’d get vaporetto passes, we could find a room near a playground, we could eat pizzas.  no worries.  no art museums, either, but i would hardly notice, because venice.

i decided to sleep on the idea.  oops.  my $700 fare was up fifty dollars when i checked it the next morning.  i already had a range of rooms picked out, and there was still a choice after narrowing our search to the ‘local’ area of sant’elena (where there are still plenty of kids).  but there were very few cheap choices to get to venice, and i had to act fast on the flights.

our artist friend marie came to visit us when we stayed in venice the first time, in 2015, and the second time in 2017, and both times she chose turkish airlines, because it was as cheap as using wow airlines, but they fed you well, and it was a one stop flight (wow airlines to venice took 3 flights and 4 airports).  the plane food was amazing, it was easy to schedule a layover, and istanbul was cheap – she loved it, and recommended the hotel niles.


looking at the schedule, i saw that we could get to venice with one stop, even tho the window to make the connection was only an hour.  but there was a long layover between the flights home, so we would be spending a night in istanbul.  we’d be arriving in late evening, and would need to be back at the airport around noon, which didn’t leave much time.  i searched for one way flights, and added a day to the layover.  that made 4 nights in venice, and 2 in istanbul.


the hotel niles had a junior suite that would hold 3, and it was the low season.  the flat on sant’elena was right around the corner from where we stayed in 2015 (playgrounds), and tho it was only a bedsit with a single/double bunk bed and a hot plate, we didn’t need any more than that.  we’d bring rain gear, and even if it rained all day we’d still only use the room to eat, sleep, and play video games (or write blog posts and manage the day’s photos).


so, after checking with avery’s dad and connor’s mom, i bought tickets and booked rooms.

but is it safe?  weren’t there bombings there during new years?  are you sure nothing bad will happen?  i decided to hire a guide, and all indications are that it’s a big modern city just like atlanta is, and while you can get caught up in crossfire in atlanta, it’s usually on a movie set.  things are usually safer than people fear, the same way that horrible thoughts at 2 am hardly ever happen.

the tickets were bought three weeks ago.  we leave on friday.  in between i found a mistake.  when i got avery’s passport out of the safe deposit box, i remembered that his name is his middle name, and the ticket only said avery.  this is a very big bad.  it has to match exactly, and no oops about it.  so i petitioned for a ticket change, and they said i had to cancel and rebuy with the correct name, so it cost another $200 because the price has continued to climb.  i stuck him in the seat in back of me and connor.  the planes are still  half full.  i also had to change my visa – you need a visa to enter turkey!  i missed putting my middle name on my visa, and the same conditions apply as for ticketing.  that was only $20.

we’re only taking backpacks with our clothes and essentials in them.  the boys are taking one change of clothes and  half a dozen pairs of socks and underwear, and i’m taking my computer and camera gear and wearing all my clothes.  i’m bringing a tiny carryon as well, with our water boots and extra bags in case of shopping.  we’re allowed 2 bags on board.  the plane is half empty, they have great food and lots of entertainment choices, and the flight over is only 10 hours.


the only possible hiccup (aside from document issues) is that we may well miss the flight from istanbul to venice.  in which case we are put up in an airport hotel or given a free city tour, and shipped out first thing next morning.  but this means arriving in venice a day later, and only spending 3 nights there.  and still spending 2 more nights in istanbul.  if we miss our connection, i’m going to see if it’s possible to delay the return flight a day, so we can have our original time in venice.  i have no idea what it would cost, or whether they would do it, but i’ve checked with both places we’re staying, and it’s okay with them if we play fast and loose with the bookings.

it’s tuesday now; we leave friday night.  friday at 2 i’m going down to avery’s house and get him from the bus stop.  that’s a three hour tour.  when we get home, we’ll pack the boys’ stuff in their school backpacks, change clothes, and head for the airport.  i’ll start writing then, because the planes are almost always over an hour late taking off, and i’ll probably have plenty of time.




  1. Sounds exhausting but fun.

    As for Istanbul, read as much history as you can before arrival – fascinating!

    Don’t miss the Topkapi Palace complex (vast), Hagia Sofia (stunning), the amazing Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque (possible resrtictions – in any event, wear clean sox!)., Galata bridge or the nice area of bars at the European end of the Bosphorus bridge (I think). I never made it to the Asian side, but I’m sure there’s plenty to see there too.

    I found most Turkish people friendly and helpful, although a bit over-anxious to hear you say how wonderful their country is.

    Turkish food is delicious! Check out the yoghurt especially.

    As for Venice – you’re almost a Venetian, enjoy!

    I’ve updated my Icelandic account (attached). This version is not for distribution, so I’ve taken the liberty of including your portrait.

    I heard a great BBC review of an Icelandic book called The Blue Fox by Sjon .

    BTW, where will you be this summer?

    Write when you can.



    On 13 February 2018 at 22:24, an irish travel guide wrote:

    > jeanne posted: “imagine my surprise, in the middle of january, when i > realized that both grandkids had the same winter break schedule. out > friday, february 16, back in on monday the 26th. i opened a private window > and brought up a bunch of travel and airlines sites. w” >


    • thanks a bunch. what portrait? send it by email please


  2. OOOps.


  3. Sounds exhausting but fun. Read as much history aas you can before arrival –
    fascinating! Don’t miss Topkapi, Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the covered market, Galata bridge or the nice area of bars at the Euro end of the Bosphorus bridge (I think)


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