I can't believe it's already time for another monthly recap post! October absolutely FLEW by, and I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that it's already November.
I basically skipped right past autumn this year; I spent most of October in Italy and Turkey, where it still felt quite summer-like for the most part. And then I came home to a huge wind storm on Halloween that blew most of the remaining leaves off the trees here in Ohio… so no fall color for me this year!
Thankfully my October was filled with so many cool adventures that I've made peace with missing my favorite time of year in Ohio.
Here's what my month looked like:
October: The month in travel
- Countries visited: 4 – The UK, Italy, and Turkey
- Cities visited: Many! – London, UK; Bologna, Venice and Rome, Italy; Istanbul, Goreme, Konya, Antalya, Fethiye, and Canakkale, Turkey
- Flights taken: 6 (including a 3-leg flight home from Istanbul)
- Number of Turkish cats petted: Too many to count
- Days spent on the road: 30
The coolest thing I did: I can't choose just one thing this month. It could be drinking champagne at The Shard in London for my birthday, taking an after-hours tour of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, feeling almost hypnotized by Sufi Whirling Dervishes in Turkey, or watching multiple sunsets into the Mediterranean Sea. It was a good month for cool travel experiences!
The geekiest thing I did: Stayed in a Harry Potter-themed hotel room in London. I also went to the Warner Bros. studio tour, but I think shelling out a couple hundred dollars to sleep in a Hogwarts-style hotel room is slightly geekier. I stayed in one of the “Wizard Chambers” at the Georgian House Hotel as a birthday treat, and it was lovely – I even got a wizard-themed English breakfast in the morning!
The best thing I ate: This is SO FREAKING HARD to narrow down. The gelato I made in a cooking class in Rome? Fresh seafood in Antalya? Baklava in Istanbul? I think I'll actually choose my favorite meal: the one where we stopped at a tiny family-run restaurant on the side of the road in Turkey and had a lunch of gözleme (a thin flatbread-pastry hybrid) and fresh-squeezed pomegranate juice.
My favorite ancient ruin I visited: Even though I loved the ancient city of Ephesus, I think the Aspendos Theater actually wins this one for me. It's a massive and almost perfectly-preserved Roman theater off the main tourist trail in Turkey. Visiting was an unexpected treat, and the fact that there were few other tourists there made it even cooler.
My favorite Turkish cat: Obviously this one. He was born to be an Instagram star.
October travel highlights
Going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London – This actually wasn't my first visit to the studios where the Harry Potter movies were filmed; I went the year it opened in 2012. But they've added a lot since then, and I was SO excited to visit for a second time last month. We spent 4 hours walking through sets and gawking over costumes, props, and models – and it still didn't feel like long enough! This is a must-do for Harry Potter fans.
Visiting St. Mark's Basilica after-hours – St. Mark's Basilica is one of the most popular attractions in Venice, Italy. But if you visit during the day, you're going to wait a long time in line and then be shuttled quickly through the church on a pre-determined path. But you can visit after-hours for a much more relaxed experience. I booked a nighttime tour with Walks of Italy and got to see the basilica sans crowds and beyond the ropes and barriers that usually keep tourists on a predetermined path through the church. It was very cool.
Seeing Venice from above at sunset – Another of my favorite things I did in Venice was go to the top of the St. Mark's bell tower right before sunset. The views were incredible, especially as the golden hour light began to hit all the buildings.
Food tours in Rome – My time in Rome was all about one thing: FOOD! I took a pizza and gelato-making class, and went on two different food tours. My favorite was the “street eats” tour I went on in the hip Trastevere neighborhood.
A day trip to the Amalfi Coast – I had an extra day in Rome, and decided to make my way down to the Amalfi Coast for the day. (Yes, you can do a day trip!) I booked a boat-hopping tour with Walks of Italy, on which I visited Positano and Amalfi, and saw the Amalfi coast from both bus and boat. It was an excellent day trip, and we had perfect weather!
Hiking a valley in Cappadocia – Cappadocia, Turkey, is usually known for its dreamy sunrise hot air balloon rides, but there's more to the area than just balloons. My favorite morning was the one we spent hiking through one of the valleys, surrounding by fairy chimneys and towering cliffs dotted with caves and carved pigeon roosts.
Spending a day on a boat on the Turquoise Coast – My favorite day of my Turkey tour was the one we spent on a local family's boat on the Mediterranean Sea. This area is known as the Turquoise Coast, and I couldn't stop exclaiming about the color of the water. We spent the day swimming, climbing to castle ruins, and napping in the sun. It was amazing.
Visiting the travertine terraces in Pamukkale – One of the most famous tourist attractions in Turkey, the travertine terraces in Pamukkale could have easily been a bust. They WERE crowded the afternoon we visited, but a bit of patience and willingness to walk further than most other people meant I still got some of this otherworldly landscape basically to myself!
Being the first ones into the ruins of Ephesus – Our Turkish guide convinced us to get up extra early the day we were meant to visit the ruins of Ephesus. This, combined with us visiting during shoulder season, paid off in us being the very first group into to ruins when the gates opened. We had the famous Library of Celsus all to ourselves as the sun rose high enough to paint it gold.
October travel lowlights
Missing out on ballooning in Cappadocia – One thing you truly have no control over when you travel is the weather. And the weather did not cooperate in Cappadocia, Turkey. The region is famous for its sunrise balloon rides, but it was too windy both days I was there, and all flights were cancelled. This was a major disappointment since it was one of the things I was most looking forward to in Turkey. I guess it just means I'll need to go back!
October on the blog
After a fairly productive September, I fell off the blogging bandwagon again in October – but cut me some slack, I was traveling the entire month! Despite not publishing a ton, my traffic was up quite a bit thanks to some seasonal content starting to kick in.
October traffic: 213,232 unique visitors and 298,500 pageviews
Most popular post: Get to Know the Quirky Side of Ann Arbor, Michigan – Ann Arbor is a funky little city, and this post highlights some of the quirky things I loved there.
Other posts published in October:
- Things to Do on Senja: A Guide to Norway’s Underrated Island Destination
- September 2019 Travel and Blogging Recap
October on social media
Most popular Instagram post: My husband and I celebrated our second wedding anniversary on separate continents this year, but the day didn't go uncelebrated! I'm glad you liked this photo as much as I do!
View this post on Instagram
I have to deviate from my regularly scheduled Instagram posts today to wish a happy anniversary to this guy! Two years of marriage have flown by. And even though I missed both our birthdays AND am traveling on our anniversary this year, he’s still so supportive of this crazy career I’ve carved out for myself. I’ve definitely found a keeper, and I remind myself how lucky I am often – most especially when I’m on a different continent on days like this! Many people are surprised to learn that I’m married after they hear about what I do for a living. But I think it’s important to have individual interests even when you’re sharing things like a home and bills; it’s healthy to go and do things separately sometimes! Though, yes, I take this to the extreme sometimes when I go halfway around the world without him! But, in all seriousness, being away for a while just makes the time we are together even better. Happy anniversary, Elliot, and here’s to many more adventures together! Photo 📸 taken in Scotland at Bow Fiddle Rock earlier this summer. Taken using a rock for a tripod and the timer on my camera – and yes, he humored me and let me take this multiple times! A keeper, I tell you. ❤️
October business update
While my October wasn't quite as great as my September, it was still a very good month income-wise.
- Advertising: $6,565.61
- Affiliates: $2,925.10
- Paid campaigns: $5,150.00
- Other: $80.25
(Note that this is my income before deductions and taxes.)
Getting asked to speak again at TravelCon – It's not happening until May 2020, but I'm already on the schedule to speak at TravelCon in New Orleans! I'll be speaking (as usual) about affiliate marketing, and am looking forward to another trip to NOLA. Tickets are already on sale (guys, Pico Iyer is one of the keynote speakers!!), and I hope to see some of you there!
Affiliate income hit – Because of a glitch in one of the affiliate programs I'm in, a bunch of commission reversals hit my account this month, resulting in a lower total than I was hoping for after a strong summer of affiliate sales. But the good news is that my income is diversified enough that the blow was minimal in the end.
Upcoming in November
I have NOTHING planned in November! And I'm pretty excited about it.
I'll be staying home getting a ton of work done, and checking some things off my Cleveland to-do list.
And it'll be time to start planning some of my 2020 travel soon! Is there anywhere in the world you'd love to see me write about?
And remember that you can follow along in real-time with all of my adventures through my IG Stories on Instagram!