I had a really long entry on Istanbul and it didn’t feel right. So I decided to start again…
Istanbul, East meets West, Christianity meets Muslim. Wow. It is definitely one of the warmest, friendliest, busiest, eclectic places I’ve ever been to and I loved every minute of it. Most of the trip, looking back, was a blur. We had a 10.5 week old baby, were definitely sleep deprived, Little Man was going through a growth spurt and I came down with a really bad cold.
So…what do I remember? Our hotel pool…it was glorious. A perfect temperature in June to sunbathe, shadebathe really, and relax under an umbrella while cuddling a little one. Little Man loved it too…
The Hagia Sophia. Wow. A 6th century basilica turned into a 15th century mosque turned into a 20th century museum. The space was absolutely magnificent and seeing the Christian and Muslim iconography next to each other was spectacular. If there was only one place to see, go there. We passed by the Blue Mosque and had the intention to go to some of the markets but my cold and sightseeing with Little Man made our free days pretty short. Plus, the chaises by the pool were calling my name…oh, and we overlooked the sea too.
We wanted to see the Asian side, and get Little Man in his third continent, so we took a ferry ride over there on our last night for dinner. Our hotel was in the Ataköy region and there was a fast boat that took us straight to Kataköy. From there, we walked up the hill into the old town and found a restaurant courtesy of the Lonely Planet iPhone guide for Istanbul. And the food was amazing. We didn’t use a menu, but went to the open kitchen and were told what was made for the day and picked way too much food. Bit it was all delicious and exactly what I was looking for.
A lovely walk back down to the ferry and it was a wonderful last evening in Istanbul.
We had a few memorable meals, but the second one was definitely at a restaurant near our hotel, next to a petrol station. A friend told us about a grill down the street and off we went. Eating out with a little one can sometimes be an experience. Positive or negative. This one was definitely positive. You could tell the restaurant was very family friendly as there was a play room for little kids to play while the parents ate. And the changing facilities? Nothing has topped this one yet! It wasn’t modern, but there was a separate room with a proper changing table and mat and also a bench if you wanted to feed your little one there. And the staff? Everyone stopped by to coo over Little Man. They even had a few cuddles while we finished up our meal.
The people was what really made the trip. I haven’t been to another country yet where everyone seemed to love children. Little Man was not lacking in kisses and cuddles the whole time, from the hotel staff to servers at restaurants to shop keepers. A bit of digression: We are very much in favour of him being in the arms of strangers…to a degree. From week one (apart from the days in hospital after birth and our time “babymooning”),,, we’ve let people give him a cuddle. We want Little Man to be comfortable in unfamiliar situations and also not be only held by mum and dad and a select few family members and friends. So, we’ve installed a couple rules (in no particular order). Rule one – never let Little Man out of our sight. If we are in a restaurant, say, and a server wants to take him to show other servers, we always make sure we can keep an eye on them. Rule two – trust our gut. If we feel comfortable with the person, then we are all for letting them have a cuddle. If we aren’t comfortable, we don’t let them have a cuddle. Rule three – Little Man determines cuddle timing – if he’s happy and settled, then whenever. If he’s tired, hungry, grumpy, etc, no cuddles except from mummy and daddy.
So, as I was saying, Turkish people seem to LOVE kids and we were all too happy to let them cuddle Little Man. We even had a few meals where we could both eat our mains at the same time! A hot dish was fairly novel to me at that time.
All in all, I loved Istanbul and want to go back and have a proper exploration. The combination of our relaxing pool and sun days with the explorations into the city was perfect for the age of Little Man and my level of energy.
What is your view of letting strangers cuddle your little one?