Travels in Turkey: Final Thoughts

Travels in Turkey, Part 12 of 12

When I started this series of posts on our trip to Turkey, I had no idea I’d be finishing up with it in the last week of the year. But, here it is, just days away form 2011. Needless to say, Turkey was our biggest family trip of 2010. We planned for months, then ended up playing it by ear. The preparation was, of course, useful, but the ability to “go with the flow” was quite necessary when plans didn’t come together quite as we had hoped.

Running down my breakdown for a brief recap, here goes:

Food:
We found plenty of food for vegetarian children. The Turkish version of tapas, called mezes, were to be found at every restaurant. From dolmas, to hummus and bread, and salads, we were set. The girls also ate lots of cheese and bread. The food was a bit heavy on the olive oil, and by the end, my stomach was done with it all. Markets were full of fresh fruit and veggies; we found bakeries for bread. In Ankara, we were not near street markets, but had a huge (huge!) grocery store nearby. Street food was also plentiful, from simit (like sesame covered soft pretzels) to ice cream (dondurma) to corn on the cob.

Zucchini blossoms

Getting Around:
The tram/train system within Istanbul was simple enough to figure out and got us into town from the airport as well as around town. The ferries were fairly simple to ride as well. The overnight train to Ankara and the air flights required a Turkish travel agent in order for us to make reservations. We ended up riding only one dolmus, but that was easy enough, even if we don’t quite know how we did it.

Itstiklal Trolley

Driving:
As pedestrians, watch out! Drivers DO NOT slow down or stop, even if you are crossing in a crosswalk! Driving (outside Istanbul) was not too different than driving here in the US, except that cars start honking for you to go before the light has even turned green. We had other cases of impatient drivers as well.

Selcuk

Attractions/Museums:
We planned ahead to see which days different attractions are closed. It varies widely. The girls and I would have missed the Grand Bazaar if we didn’t go on the first afternoon we were in Istanbul! Some places considered Camille (11) to be an adult; others considered her to be a kid.

Ephesus

Sleeping:
Self-catering apartments are not quite as widespread in Turkey as in other parts of Europe, but we did manage to find ones in the end. The hotel we stayed at in Istanbul was western (Best Western, in fact). It had a huge breakfast buffet of both Turkish and British and and … breakfasts. Plenty to choose from for everyone! As is often the case, it gets complicated to put four people in a hotel room, but we did manage to get a “family” room.

Best Western

Other:
Having never traveled to a Muslim country before, I was not sure what to expect. Turkey, being a “secular country”, really did not feel that different from other places we’ve traveled, other than the head coverings, “house coats” and muezzin calls. We didn’t go very far east in the country, which I suspect is different, and stayed mostly in high tourist areas, so perhaps my view is a bit warped. We had one incident where an old man on the tram wanted Chloe to sit on his lap. Um, no thank you. Other than that, we felt quite at ease.

All in all, a fun, memorable place to travel to with kids!

Chloe at Ephesus

On this blog, I chronicled each and every day of our trip (oops, looks like I missed one):

  • Day 0: Atlanta > JFK > skies
  • Day 1: Arrival in Istanbul
  • Day 1: Istanbul (Grand Bazaar)
  • Day 2: Istanbul (Topkapi Palace)
  • Day 2: Istanbul > Overnight Train
  • Day 3: Arrival in Ankara
  • Day 4: Ankara
  • Day 5: Old Ankara
  • Day 6: Roman Ankara
  • Day 8: Ankara (Antikabir)
  • Day 9: Cappadocia
  • Day 10: Cappadocia (Hot Air Balloon)
  • Day 11: Arrival in Selcuk
  • Day 12: Selcuk
  • Day 13: Selcuk (Pamukkale/Hierapolis)
  • Day 14: Selcuk (St Jean and Ephesus)
  • Day 15: Selcuk (Kusadasi)
  • Day 16: Selcuk (AquaFantasy)
  • Day 17: Selcuk (Sirince)
  • Day 18: Selcuk > Istanbul
  • Day 19: Istanbul (Basilica Cistern/Hagia Sofia/Blue Mosque/Bosphorus Tour)
  • Day 20: Istanbul > JFK > Atlanta

Other posts about Turkey on my blogs:

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