Welcome to the A to Z Challenge, an initiative that invites bloggers to post an alphabet-themed post every day (excluding Sundays) during the month of April. As part of this challenge, I’ll be sharing some of my travel memories to known and unknown places in the hope to inspire your travel dreams.
I is for…Istanbul (Turkey)
Our son’s first year of life included a ton of travel. I felt like we were on his world tour debut! Getting a break from all of the friend and family visits throughout the world, we stopped off in Istanbul for a few days before heading back to India. Istanbul is a fun and easy trip to do with a baby.
There isn’t a particular site in Istanbul that makes it child friendly, rather the absolute love and adoration the Turkish people have for children is the pull. This one aspect made our visit so special and memorable. Everywhere we turned people came out of their shops, (ok, usually to sell us something or usher us into their restaurant!), to say hello and chat with us. Once they laid eyes on our son they forgot their plan of getting business and just chatted to us like regular people. Living in India, we were used to lots of attention around our blonde hair, blue eyed son, but here he really opened the door for us to get to know the locals in a much deeper way.
The Turkish people’s love of children was probably amplified due to his blonde hair and pale skin. But really, at almost every restaurant we went to the wait staff would cater to our son, play with him, take him around to show him the kitchen so we could eat a bit in peace and of course met his every demand! As traveling parents to a baby, this is your dream situation!
Of course, many Westerners might find this uncomfortable, especially since most of the people you interact in this country are men. There is nothing sinister going on, they just absolutely adore children.
This beauty of this city is seen everywhere you turn. Istanbul is a beautiful blend of East meets West. Fancy, modern streets are surrounded by historic tiny by-lanes with wonderful Turkish bath houses hidden in plain sight. Streets are packed with locals out doing their shopping so thick that you can barely squeeze a stroller through, much less a car. Beautiful buildings like the Blue Mosque, vibrant markets (for tourists and locals alike) and fascinating neighborhoods make for eclectic sight seeing. We found the locals to be so open and welcoming with English very common. Every time I would sit for a minute with my son I was surrounded by locals who wanted to chat. One of our favorite daily activities was stopping by a delicious cafe to eat local Turkish food (pita and hummus was our baby’s favorite) while chatting with the owners.
If you are looking for an easy but exotic getaway, consider Istanbul. It is easy to explore and the people are so welcoming. It is a great gateway city/country for other Middle Eastern or Asian travel.