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Trip Report Trotting Through Turkey Toting a Toddler

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We just returned from a wonderful 2+ weeks in Turkey (with a tad bit of Greece) and have discovered that our 17 month old toddler is a fabulous international traveler!

This report may take me a few days to do, since there's much to share. But as an overview, we traveled from Sept. 23- Oct. 10, and visited Istanbul, Cappadocia, Sirince (Ephesus), Pamukkale, Fethiye, and Rhodes - all self-guided, no tours. We were traveling with another couple, my husband's cousins, and our little boy. And I have to say, everything you read about Turkey being one of the most child-friendly countries in the world certainly proved true, although it was also the case that our son exceeded our expectations with how easygoing and adaptable a traveler he was. The omnipresent and toddler-entertaining cats found absolutely everywhere in Turkey certainly helped…

The Adventure Begins...

For reasons that involved a good deal on business class seats using miles, we had initially planned to fly through Paris to Athens, see the Parthenon, and then go on to Istanbul from there. My husband, aviation geek both professionally and personally, was pretty excited to fly the Air France Airbus A380. Business class service was pretty extraordinary - we had a seat for our son, but he really didn't need it, since there was lots of room in our two seat section. When we arrived in Paris, however, we discovered an air traffic control strike/slowdown in Athens was making flights in and out of Greece pretty uncertain. So we ponied up some extra cash and decided to go straight on to Istanbul from Paris - which turned out to be a good decision, since we appreciated the extra day in Istanbul... (even if the They Might Be Giants Song Istanbul (Not Constantinople) appears to be permanently stuck in my brain!)

One noteworthy, but gross (so be warned!), anecdote from our air travel was that the only negative moment involving my son on the whole trip occurred in the Air France lounge when he decided to have a vomiting episode of Exorcist like proportions all over me. I mention this for other moms out there to pass along the valuable advice (which thankfully someone gave to me and I followed!) PACK EXTRA CLOTHES IN YOUR CARRY ON!! This turned out to be especially important since the change to Istanbul delayed our baggage for over 24 hours, and I believe wandering around naked (or covered in vomit) in Istanbul is generally frowned upon.

SO WE MADE IT...

… although, in further keystone cops like adventure, I managed to leave my backpack in the baggage claim office, which was beyond security, so I had to enlist the help of our hotel shuttle bus driver to help me talk my way back into it during the process of which my son accidentally knocked me in the nose, causing a gushing nosebleed. So you can imagine the sight I made, 24 hours of travel, clutching a wiggly toddler while trying to hold back the nosebleed, and pleading to just be let back through security for a minute to get my bag. Fortunately, this inauspicious beginning marked the end of our bad luck!
We were staying at the Basileus Hotel (http://www.basileushotel.com/) right in Sultanahment - which I highly recommend. Great location, comfortable rooms, very helpful staff. When we changed our flights, I desperately emailed Yusuf, the proprietor, to ask if we could extend our stay. Although he didn't have room available for that night, he kindly arranged for us to stay at a nearby hotel at the same rate and dealt with all of our transportation and lost bags. We had a lovely dinner at Doy Doy on the rooftop patio overlooking the Blue Mosque that first evening and then headed off to bed. I also dropped off my disgusting clothes to be cleaned at a local launder and picked up a cheap pair of harem pants because my change of clothes involved shorts which were both not warm enough and generally inappropriate in Istanbul and they were the only pants I could find at 9 PM…

DAY 1 – ISTANBUL

Although not the biggest Rick Steves fan, I have to admit, his guidebook for Istanbul was pretty indispensible. So, armed with Rick, we set out in the morning to hit the sites of Istanbul, visiting Hagia Sofia, the Blue Mosque, and the Underground Cistern. To our joy, we learned that a young child is a powerful token in Turkey, and we were ushered to the front of the lines thanks to the toddler in tow. My son, of course, had the best time chasing pigeons in Sultanahmet park, where he was a big hit with the local kids. Although he was also pretty fond of wandering up and down the ramps and stairs in the Hagia Sofia. Because he was pretty sleepy around lunch time, we ended up dining at the Green Corner, right next to the Hagia Sogia, which was pretty touristy and awful, but it did have a comfy bench in the shade where he could snooze while we ate. As impressive as the Hagia Sofia and Blue Mosque are, I think I loved the Underground Cistern best – what a cool and spooky place! Plus, I feel a sense of accomplishment at preventing our toddler from taking a nose dive into the cistern where he would undoubtedly be eaten by an obscenely large fish… We were delighted, upon our return to the hotel, to discover our baggage had arrived – clean clothes, finally!

Following Rick’s advice, we ended up at Cankurtaran Sosyal Tesisleri for dinner, which has a lovely terrace overlooking the water and great food. I am still dreaming of the kunefe we had for dessert! Plus there was a playground (oddly enough) which kept my son occupied while the adults lingered over tea and a wait staff and restaurant cat who were thrilled to entertain a curly haired lad! It was a nice stroll to and from our hotel to here, although I got to practice the Turkish I had worked so hard to learn several times in asking for directions! (I should note that everyone we met spoke very good English or French and that learning Turkish was just my own geeky hobby – but being able to carry on a basic conversation was pretty popular and took many folks by surprise!)

DAY 2 – ISTANBUL

The little one and I slept in a little and then met the rest of the gang at the Grand Bazaar, which I found a little overwhelming and meh. Maybe it just wasn’t what I was expecting, but it didn’t match up to the charm or excitement of markets we’d been to in SE Asia or the middle east. Still, enjoyed a bit of wandering around before heading over to Topkapi Palace. Our son was again a star attraction and got scooped up regularly by security guards and tour guides. One guide handed over his flag and ID tag, which Shea thought was pretty much the best thing in the world! We found the harem tour to be worth the extra cost, but the palace was pretty crowded, so there were long lines to see the jewels and other treasures – we took turns with the little one, who did not really have the patience for waiting to see shiny things! Fortunately, it was a gorgeous day and the grounds are perfect for toddler romping and running. Having had a pretty big breakfast, we just snacked on outrageously priced gozleme and omnipresent roasted corn in Sultanahmet square rather than eating lunch.

Our cousins were feeling generous that evening and suggested my husband and I have an evening sans toddler for dinner, so we headed over to Pasazade (http://www.pasazade.com/) for some tasty Ottoman cuisine and Turkish wine.

DAY 3 – ISTANBUL

We started our day off with a food tour with a guide recommended by a friend who had recently visited Turkey. Her name is Olga Tikhonova, and she’s a Russian citizen who does food tours and cooking classes (http://www.deliciousistanbul.com/). While a bit pricey, it really was fabulous and she took us all over the city, really emphasizing what to look for in food shopping and dining, to make sure you’re getting the best and authentic Turkish food. It was both fun and educational and included a tour of the Spice Market. At the end, of course, we were stuffed to the gills. So we decided to explore the Taksim Square area and ride the funicular. We wandered up Istikal Street and decided we would come back for dinner and to hear some music later that night. And that’s what we did, dining at a casual place for manti and gozleme (some of my son’s new favorite foods…) and then heading over to Nevizade Street for some drinks and music. Toddler began to fade, so we headed on home…

DAY 4 – ISTANBUL

We had an evening flight to Kayseri, so we decided to spend our morning on a half day cruise of the Golden Horn and Bosphorous, using a company recommended by the hotel. It ended with a bus trip to the top of Pierre Loti hill, which was not terribly exciting. The boat ride was relaxing, and we did get to see some of the sights we hadn’t seen, but I wouldn’t count it as one of the highlights of the trip. I did a quick bit of shopping in the local market outside the Spice Market and then we headed to Buhara 93 for a late lunch before our flight. They were very nice there and allowed us to kill time on their beautiful rooftop deck while my son napped. Then it was off to the airport for our next adventure in Cappadocia… To be continued!

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    Sounds like a great trip! Whenever you have time, would you please post some toddler travel tips you learned? Any favorite gear or toys? We will be bringing our son to Italy in May and he will be 19 months old. We took him to Greece at 7 months and he did great, but much will have changed by the next trip!

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    It was indeed a wonderful time! Most of our favorite toddler travel gear were things we owned prior to this trip - in particular, our Deuter baby framepack was a necessity. We hike with him in it all the time, so he's pretty accustomed to napping on the go in it, which was really handy. We also have a Kidco peapod portable baby bed, which was nice because he again was accustomed to sleeping in it, so got good sleep whereever we went, instead of being dependent on whatever cot the hotel had to offer. It's super light and portable. Although we debated whether or not to bring it, we were glad we had an umbrella stroller for running through the airport laden with bags - it was totally useless outside the airport in Turkey. We used for the first time on this trip a toddler harness with a little leash, which turned out to be very, very handy for the boat ride in particular.

    I also became the world's biggest fan of the squeezy packs of yogurt and apple sauce, which made great snacks on the go for the plane and the rest of the trip. Throughout Turkey, they give you individual packets of hand wipes (at sites, restaurants, etc.), which also turned out to be very handy for wiping off constantly grubby toddler hands. For the plane trip, I loaded up on little items at the dollar store - little plastic boxes which I stuffed with cheap jewelry and gift bows were a big hit - so there would constantly be something new that we could leave behind with no regret. Oddly enough, what most entertained my son on this trip was actually our guidebook. Especially the DK series one, which is bright and colorful. He spent hours and hours on the trip just flipping through it.

    Good luck and enjoy - we had a ton of fun traveling with our little guy!!

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    I enjoy reading your narrative, escapades and toddler-tunes.

    Is it an American custom to name their sons at a later age? How do you usually call him, :Son! or Hey Toddler? :)

    Or if he actually does have a name is there a reason you will not share it with us? -:)

    My wife wants me to ask whether we can keep him with us on your next trip to Istanbul, while you traipse around the countryside.

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    Who are we to turn down an offer of free babysitting? :)

    His name is Shea (pronounced "Shay" for those not familiar with either Ireland or the former home of the NY Mets). I am just taken with the alliteration of traipsing through Turkey with a toddler!

    And here's the next installment...

    NIGHT 4 / DAY 5 – CAPPADOCIA

    We arrived at Kayseri late at night and were met by Ali, our rental car agent, to pick up what we thereafter referred to as “The Family Fun Bus” – actually a van. The whole interaction with Ali, who operated from the side of the road out of his car, seemed terribly sketchy, but we ended up with a working car and we were off to Goreme. We wandered around the town lost, before figuring out the location of the Dervish Cave Hotel, where we were staying (http://www.dervishcavehouse.com/) We really liked this hotel! Beautiful rooms, really nice garden, friendly people, and tasty breakfasts.

    In the morning, the hotel owner sat us down with a map and showed us the sights. Since we were driving ourselves, we headed out to check out the Goreme Open Air museum first – which was a very neat place, but hot and crowded. I began to feel great loathing for the hordes of tour groups who, of course, had every right to be there, but I found to be as a collective whole very unfriendly. A few of the churches were closed for renovation, which was a little disappointing, but the Karanlik Kilise was definitely worth the extra fee – really beautiful frescoes! My son’s favorite part, of course, was getting to pet the camel waiting to lure in tourists at the entrance to the park and hurling endless fistfuls of sand down the cliffs!

    The landscape of Cappadocia is every bit as surreal and beautiful as it appears in the pictures! We piled back in the family fun bus and viewed some fairy chimneys, and then had a leisurely lunch in Urgup, where we also tasted a bit of wine at the Turasan Winery. This was overpriced and unexciting and I would definitely recommend avoiding it – we found better wine tasting at a little wine store down the street. Next on to the Devrent Valley where we climbed up to the Camel Rock and then a brief visit just after sunset to Pasabagi, where we stopped for an ice cream and vowed to return. Our little toddler friend really enjoyed running around the sandy hills and poking through the cave holes here. In a bonus, there was another camel to pet.

    We had a very nice dinner at a restaurant along the main drag in Goreme – the Old Cappadocia Café. Not only was the food fantastic – I had a delicious guvec – but the staff had a great time entertaining my son and showering him with snacks and fresh fruit. We finished off the evening just wandering around town, poking in shops and watching the heated games of backgammon and ruminkub in the cafes.
    DAY 6 – CAPPADOCIA
    We got up at a godawful hour to go on our hot air balloon ride with Urgup Balloons, which the hotel owner had recommended. The hot air balloon ride was completely worth it – as everyone says – a totally magical experience. Our pilot took us through Rose Canyon, getting so low as to touch the rock, and seeing all of those colorful balloons in the air over the rocky landscape is pretty breathtaking. That being said, Urgup Balloons were pretty disorganized and chaotic – not sure I would recommend them. It turns out we were lucky – another couple at the hotel had the same pilot the next day and the wind took them over an empty field and landed them at a trash dump.

    The nice thing about the balloon ride is that you’re ready to go, nice and early, so we had breakfast, piled back into the family fun bus, and headed to Derinkuyu, the underground city. Here we picked up a guide who was employed at the site (and worked for tips) which turned out to be pretty fortuitous, because not only was he a great guide, but he helped get us cut the lines to go up and down the one-way stairs (which for anyone who has been there, you’ll appreciate the value!), which turned out to be pretty important, because it was a difficult place to explore with a restless toddler who was not enthused about some of the dark, twisty tunnels. Still, all in all, a very cool place! Simply amazing to think of thousands of people (and their livestock!) living down there… As we left, a bus driver with whom Shea was captivated (well, he was pretty fascinated by his bus, at least, pinned a Nazar Boncuğu (evil eye bead) on him and cheerfully scolded us for not already having him so outfitted.

    Our next stop was the Ilhara Valley – with a quick stop at a local shop for some bread and cheese to tide us over - where we parked our car at the main entrance and hiked through the idyllic trails to Beliserma, viewing rock churches and pigeon niches along the way. We had an entertaining moment at a café on the river, halfway along, when an enthusiastic group of ducks and geese swarmed my husband, hoping for a handout. Sadly, my son was sleeping at the time, snoozing away in his baby backpack, so did not get to enjoy the feathered entertainment (“’Uck!” and “’Ack!” – his versions of duck and quack – being among his favorite words…)

    At Beliserma we were the only guests at a little restaurant where we dined on a pillowed platform afloat in the river and had a very pleasant leisurely, late lunch, which we fell on ravenously, having had a pretty busy day at this point. Then we needed to get back to our car, which involved an outrageously price negotiation with a local shop owner for a trip back in a small, diesel-fume coughing pickup truck – Shea and daddy up front and the rest of us adults crammed in the cab – which we seriously doubted would make it up some of the switchback trails. But they managed to return us to our car where we paid our 5 lira in parking (parking is ALWAYS 5 lira and there is ALWAYS someone appearing at your elbow when you return to demand it!) and headed on the long drive back to Goreme.

    DAY 7 – CAPPADOCIA

    Our day started with a hike through Love Valley, land of penis shaped rock formations. What’s not to love? We wandered around, taking in the giant phalluses and enjoying another beautiful day. Next, we decided to go see what there was to see in Avanos, where my son very much enjoyed the fountain in the central square, and we poked around some ceramic shops (not a good place for a toddler!). My husband has a long tradition of getting his hair cut at a local barber shop on international trips, so he and his cousin found a friendly barber where they got great hair cuts and friendly conversation in a mix of English, French, and Turkish, complete with traditional Turkish fire shave. Our new barber friend recommended a friend’s café (Sanso Panso) with a rooftop terrace, famous for its guvec, which was indeed quite tasty. It was after lunch that our trip to Avanos began to get expensive – the shopping there is much lower key than in other towns, so you can spend leisurely amounts of time exploring carpets, pottery, jewelry, etc. It was therefore, of course, here that we walked away with some beautifully hand painted decorative plates and the mandatory Turkish carpet! But we had a wonderful time getting to know the shop owners and my son was endlessly entertained by one of the carpet salesman, who helped him climb and explore piles of carpets. We headed back to Pasabagi where we climbed the hill and watched the sunset over the rocks. Beautiful! We took some of my favorite family pictures of the trip here, the light was perfect.

    Because Shea was exhausted, I stayed back at the hotel, while everyone else went out for a meal at Dibek Restaurant – which they found to be the only disappointing meal of the trip. Overpriced, mediocre food, and terrible service. Up at the crack of dawn the next day to drive back to Kayseri for our flight to Izmir… Goodbye family fun bus! To be continued at Ephesus....

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    I would love to read Shea's version of the trip also, but I am almost certain that you will not allow him to even become a Fodor's member.

    When I was asked to provide space for my daughter's observations on a trip report last year in October also, I let her write two full paragraphs. Just to show what some parents are like. Of'course I do admire your taking him on this trip and possibly others and charging your own expenses to his education account, as I suspect. :)

    By the way, the reading group at this computer is more interested in Shea's adventures and experiences than a descriptions of the sights. We do not mind some additional anecdotes of suffering parents either, for the comic-relief.

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    Otherchelebi - As Shea's vocabulary is currently limited to about 40 words, half of which are animal noises, I'm not sure how detailed his trip report would be. Although he would undoubtedly enjoy banging on the keyboard!

    I am going to have to disappoint you with parental suffering stories, however, since once we got beyond that incident in the Paris lounge, he was a joy to travel with. (Although the return home has been rougher: jetlagged toddlers = no fun!)

    So here's some more trip report:


    DAY 8 – Sirince/Ephesus

    We arrived in Izmir, picked up the new rental car via Proper Car rental – this time promptly dubbed the Family Fun Fiat, a smaller but still roomy vehicle. We followed signs and ended up in Sirince, where we drove up a precarious series of dusty switchbacks to arrive at the Hotel Nisanyan (www.nisanyan.com), where we had booked the Platform Bed House.

    This place was a paradise, by far our favorite hotel of the trip, and we immediately began to regret only booking one night. We were greeted with delicious cool drinks, which we drank by the fountain filled with rose petals (Shea enjoyed the fountain much more than the drinks). In fact, the place was so nice that immediate dissention broke out among our ranks – the menfolk wished to just hang out and relax amidst the gardened terraces, wandering stone paths, and idyllic scenery, while we women were determined in our plan to see Ephesus. Shea just wanted to chase the geese.

    Eventually we detached our grumbling men folk from their Eden and headed into Sirince for lunch before hitting the ruins. Sirince reminds me a lot of a set for a Renaissance Faire. I expected tavern wenches and costumed knights to appear at any moment. It was, however, THRONGED with groups of tourists, so we grabbed a quick but tasty lunch at Özlem Gözleme and headed off to Ephesus with the still grumpy husbands. We arrived at about 3:30 in the afternoon, which turned out to be a pretty good time to be there – cool, not crowded, and nice light for photos. As I researched the trip, I read the continual debate about how much time to spend at Ephesus. While I am admittedly not that much of a ruin buff, I thought the 3 hours we spent there was entirely adequate to see everything (and it is really worth seeing!), read all the informational signs, eavesdrop on a few guides, and keep track of a toddler, who really just wanted to sit and play in the dust or chase the ever present kitty cats through the ruins.

    We then headed back to the hotel for a siesta before heading down to the main building of Nisanyan, where we had earlier arranged to have dinner. This was one of the most expensive, as well as one of the best meals of our trip – I had a melt in your mouth lamb shank to die for and salads and mezes the thought of which are making my mouth water as I type. The only disappointment was the dessert, which was just OK.

    This also proved to be the site of one of the most entertaining incidents involving our son on the trip. Poor Shea, having exhausted himself driving to excavate more of Ephesus from the dust, fell asleep just before we headed for dinner. Since it seemed likely he would stay that way for a while, I just picked him up, soundly snoozing, and brought him with us. There were two tables set for two, which had a wide cushioned bench between him. Since I could see the bench from the table we were sitting at – a few feet away – I placed him down, tucked some pillows around him so he couldn’t roll off, and checked with the gentlemen dining at the adjacent table to make sure they didn’t mind. A short while later, a couple was seated at the second adjacent table. Apparently they didn’t notice Shea at first, because they had a severe moment of startle when they glanced down to find the sleeping toddler next to them. They began to look around as if they were in an episode of Candid Camera and then erupted into furious whispered conversation. Fortunately, Shea snoozed throughout most of the meal and when he did wake up, I picked him up and he fell back asleep on my shoulder. Like most moms, I am a pro at eating while holding a sleeping baby, so this was not a problem!

    The only small downside to Nisanyan is that it is directly above the town of Sirince, and there was quite the loud party going on at a restaurant there, with music blasting late into the night. Fortunately, much like Shea, we were all completely exhausted and had no trouble falling asleep despite the noise.

    DAY 9 – PAMUKKALE and DRIVING TO FETHIYE/KAYAKOY

    While I got to sleep in a little, my husband and son wandered the beautiful grounds of Nisanyan, checking out the swimming pool, chasing geese, playing with puppies, and meeting the little girl, just a couple months older than Shea, who lived there. Breakfast was served in a breathtaking garden and was the best breakfast of the trip with what seemed like an unending supply of delicious dips, spreads, cheeses, fruits, olives, breads, etc. in addition to the eggs made to order. We lingered until noon, when we reluctantly decided we needed to be on our way.

    So despite warnings from fellow hotel guests that there was no sense going to Pamukkale unless we had several days to spend there, we headed off to view the travertines. We decided we did not need to linger over the ruins of Hierapolis, so instead handed over the lira to take the bus directly to the main event. I have to say, it was pretty spectacular, although kind of a hazardous place for a toddler who was determined to splash in every puddle and pool and give his mother minor cardiac arrest by running towards cliff faces. Shea’s favorite part of Pamukkale was the trench that separates the area from which you can walk from those that are off limits, because it has a stream of warm and rapidly running water. And it was here, attempting to videotape my offspring enjoying this feature that I managed to drop one of our cameras, which was whisked away by the stream, forcing me to chase after it cursing loudly (which in retrospect was probably pretty amusing to watch) about 50 feet where it eventually landed. Needless to say, it was no longer operational. Fortunately, we still had my SLR and I am pleased to report that after sitting in a box of rice for a week, the camera has been restored to full working function. Pictures are all also OK.

    As it was getting late, we hit the road to our next destination: Fethiye, or more specifically, Kayakoy, where we stayed at the Villa Rhapsody (www.villarhapsody.com). Along the way, we stopped for pide in Cavdir, where I certainly got to put my Turkish to good use, since no one spoke English and Shea was loaded up with all sorts of candy from random folks who came in to the restaurant for tea.

    We arrived in the Fethiye region after dark, and having experienced the full Atlantic City-like atmosphere of Hisaronu as we drove through, my family was clearly beginning to think I was nuts to bring us to this place. Getting lost numerous times, we finally made our way in the pitch black to Kayakoy and the Villa Rhapsody.

    A note about Villa Rhapsody – this ended up being one of our favorite hangouts of the trip. But it made a terrible first impression. Atila, the owner, was busy with a reunion crowd of people who had been coming there for 20(!) years, so gave us a pretty brusque greeting, and the rooms are about as unexciting as you can get. Our cousins described them as dorm rooms, which is pretty accurate. Plus, hot water is decidedly lacking in the morning. However, once we got past that initial impression, we fell in love with the great garden, relaxed atmosphere, friendly owners, delicious homemade breakfasts, and evening cocktail tradition. I would definitely recommend this to anyone staying near Fethiye. The quiet atmosphere of Kayakoy is really lovely and relaxing.

    To be continued…

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    I am glad you got over that bad first impression. Jean, Atilla and Laura and the dog(s) and the cats at Villa Rhapsody are really great. (they are also a small part of our trip report of last year.) You are so correct about the rooms, but the garden and the relaxed atmosphere more than make up for it. I wish you had a chance to listen to the story of how they met and started this business from Atilla.

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    DAY 10 – KAYAKOY / FETHIYE

    After dawdling over breakfast in the beautiful garden and spending a fair amount of time keeping Shea from falling into the pool, we headed into Fethiye to check out the local market day. Here my son was practically buried in powdered sugar from all of the pieces of Turkish delight he was offered and scooped up over and over by friendly vendors who gave him many, many hugs and squeezes. Fortunately, he’s a pretty social kid, so was pretty OK with all the attention (although he did get sick of the Turkish delight!)

    We next went to the Fish Market to buy our fresh fish and have it cooked up by a local restaurant. The fish was delicious, but the meal turned out to be pretty pricey since we were not smart enough to inquire about the prize of the meze that we eagerly agreed to try. But we walked away well satisfied and stuffed to the gills.

    Then it was off to the port, to purchase tickets to Rhodes for a few days hence and check out a couple of hamams recommended by our hosts at Villa Rhapsody – for a later appointment.

    Finally, we headed to Oludeniz and the fabled Blue Lagoon for a little late afternoon beach time. While beautiful, I wasn’t a big fan of the beach because of the pebbly beach and slippery rocks in the water. I bruised my tuchus pretty well wiping out on those algae covered boulders. Shea, on the other hand, was content to sit for hours throwing said rocks into the water. He and my husband were also entertained by the geese hanging out at the beach restaurant, where they would sit on chairs and gobble down plates full of salad off of tables in very civilized fashion. Watching paraglider after paraglider loop de loop in spectacular acrobatics, I became totally convinced that I had no desire to engage in this activity, while my husband and cousins had the opposite response. Feeling still pretty stuffed from lunch, we stopped at a local supermarket to gather up a light dinner of bread, cheese, fruit and (of course!) wine, which we enjoyed back in the garden at Villa Rhapsody.

    DAY 11 – KAYAKOY / FETHIYE

    Since the adults had, to a one, read Birds Without Wings, we felt pretty obligated to go see Kayakoy. We originally intended just to wander about the village, but spontaneously decided to continue the hike over the mountain to the beach. In a little foreshadowing, this turned out to be a terrible idea which ended up all right in the end. We were woefully unprepared, having very little water and inadequate shoes, but after enjoying the beautiful breezes at the height of Kayakoy, we began to make our way down the trail towards (or so we thought) the beach. While the trail is not at all technically difficult, it is blazed with trail markers in many different directions, which is a mite confusing. However, we eventually made our way down to Cold Water Bay which we discovered, to our surprise – having done, as I mentioned, zero preparation – is only accessible via the trail and the water. So after hanging out for a little while in this truly beautiful cove we paid some random guy to give us a boat ride to Gemile Beach, which was actually a really lovely experience in and of itself, since we passed all sorts of pretty coves and islands along the way.

    Upon arrival at Gemile Beach, we gawked at the swarms of fish hovering below the dock and then had a nice casual lunch beach side, while Shea made friends with the local restaurant dogs.
    Feeling in need of further pampering, three of us adults (cousin graciously agreed to watch Shea back at the Villa) headed off to the hamam at the Ata Park Hotel in Fethiye. While the disco lights greeting you at the entrance are a bit off putting, the hamam itself is fairly traditional, albeit co-ed. Following our bath, we decided to go full bore pampering and followed it up with a massage – ah, bliss!

    We then headed back up the mountain in order to wander into Kayakoy for dinner. We ended up at the Blue Butterfly, which had been recommended to us by some fellow travelers along the way. The owners, a Moroccan gentleman and his Turkish wife, in addition to serving up amazing food and fabulous service, accompanied by adorable Jack Russel terriers, happened to have friends over for a BBQ that night – we were the only guests at the restaurant. They kept bringing over tasty morsels from their own dinner for Shea to try and then, much to our delight, two of their friends (who turned out to be professional musicians) broke out their guitar and gorgeous voices and we were treated to an evening of wonderful music. It was one of those incredibly special moments of travel that you can’t plan and will never forget!

    DAY 12 – KAYAKOY / FETHIYE

    Feeling well-groomed and lazy, we almost skipped our plan for this final day in Fethiye, which was to head off to Sakkiklent Gorge. Our hosts urged us to go, and I am so glad we did! The gorge is pretty darn incredible and we really enjoyed hiking around in it. Shea got a little impatient riding in his backpack here, but his good mood was restored when we let him loose to engage in his favorite activities of throwing rocks into the water and splashing about in mud puddles. On the way home, we tried a stop at Patara Beach, but were driven away after very little time by the intense wind, which made both the water very rough and turned the sand into a stinging attack (although the beach itself is beautiful!) This evening we dined by candlelight in the garden of Villa Rhapsdoy, where Atilla and Jeanne served delicious food and wonderful wine.

    But wait, there’s more….

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    Fun report! Thanks for taking the time to write it and share it with us. My husband and I are currently in Turkey, visiting many of the same places you did. I admire your spirit in taking your toddler on his first "trip of a lifetime" -- we started traveling with our toddler when he was 18 months old (fab trip to Hawaii) and never stopped. He's now 32 and continues to travel far and wide.

    Agree with your assessment of Urgup Balloons -- we went on a balloon ride with them yesterday. The ride was beautiful, and I'm so glad we did it, but the company seemed very disorganized. There was no safety briefing as promised in the brochure, so when it was time to land and the pilot yelled "Landing positions!" None of the 12 passengers knew what to do. The pilot angrily yelled "Landing positions!" again (we all looked at each other with question marks on our faces), then we bounced down in the field and came to a stop as the balloon handlers grabbed the ropes and skidded several yards across the field. Our flight was the second flight of the day for this balloon (according to Lonely Planet that's a big no-no), so we had to take off where the balloon had landed after the first flight, meaning that we never did get to fly over the rock formations, the wind taking us instead along their edge and then toward a housing development on the edge of Avanos. We went with Urgup Balloons because we had a voucher for free rides (long story). So the price was definitely right! But given the choice, I would go with another company next time.

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    Greatly enjoyed reading about the rest of your trip! How long did it take your son to adjust to the time difference? From where we live to Greece, it is an 8 hour time difference. It took Alexander about 4-5 nights to adjust when we were there in May and he was 7 months. Am wondering if that will hold true for our upcoming trip when he will be 19 months. No way to know of course, but just wondered how your little one did

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    I'm happy that you were able to go around Turkey with your kid. I know sometimes bringing a kid with you on a great travel is such a hassle. But it would be worth it in the end. There's just so much joy around kids and traveling with them is twice the reward.

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    Sorry it's taken me so long to finish this off - stupid non-vacation, real life keeps getting in the way. And thanks for all the lovely comments!

    Texas Aggie - he did fine with the time adjustment on the way over. He just seemed to fall right into the swing of things. I should note that even at home, we're somewhat flexible with his schedule - his daycare keeps him on a pretty strict schedule during the week, but we tend to screw it up on the weekend, and he's never had difficulty adapting. However, coming home was definitely more difficult. Not sure if it was the time change or just adjusting to not being around mom and dad 24-7, but there were some rough nights that first week back!


    DAY 13 - RHODES

    Early in the morning, we took the ferry to Rhodes from Fethiye and caught a cab to our hotel - Hotel Anastasia (http://www.anastasia-hotel.com/). This was a lovely, quiet little place a 5 minute walk from the city walls of Rhodes Town. We spent the first day having a long, leisurely lunch at a cafe around the corner (the name escapes me!) recommended by the hotel owner - no menu, they take you back to the kitchen to peruse the selection - and then wandering around Rhodes Town. I found the back alleys and shops of Rhodes Town to be charming while the main thoroughfares seemed to be overly touristy and filled with junk shops. Definitely not as child friendly - Shea wandering around the streets would frequently cause shop owners to fly out and tell me to "keep the child away." For the record, I am not one of those parents who thinks it's adorable if my kid wrecks a store display, and I was obviously working very hard to keep my toddler out of mischief, so I found these constant scoldings to be both irritating and offensive.

    I found the Islamic library to be a worthwhile stop, but we were getting weary of sightseeing, so concluded the day with a wandering up towards the acropolis to watch the sunset and dinner at a roadside souvlaki stand (Yummy and cheap!)

    DAY 14 - RHODES

    We decide to rent a car and drive to Lindos, which ended up being our favorite day on Rhodes. We stopped for a long beach relaxation at Tsambika Beach, which was beautiful, with sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Shea had a wonderful time diffing in the sand and splashing around with other kids. When our stomachs began growling, we headed into Lindos itself and had lunch at one of the ubiquitous roof terrace restaurants. Then we checked out the Acropolis (sadly skipping the donkey ride) and just poked about the town for a while. On the way home, we took a quick stop at Seven Springs, which was a pretty laughably, pathetic attraction (kind of the South of the Border of Rhodes, for those familiar with the I-95 corridor...) Dinner that night was a seafood feast at Meltemi, right on the water, casual and delicious.

    DAY 15 - RHODES

    This was one of those throw away days, where you're just lingering before the plane ride home. It was also the only day it rained (record rainfall!) on our entire trip, which I can't really complain about. I convinced my husband to have a pencil and ink portrait done with Shea as a gift for my mother in law (she loves that sort of thing!) and we wandered around Rhodes Town a little more, but found it was largely shut down on Sunday. We also took a walk to the harbor to ogle the deer on pedestals which are ubiquitous on Rhodes chotchkes.

    Our last adventure ended up being a long, uncertain night at the Rhodes airport, where it was entirely unclear whether ongoing strikes in Athens would allow us to escape. But, after much delay, escape we did. We spent a (altogether too brief) couple of hours of sleep at the Holiday Inn in Athens (which was remarkably nice!) before hopping our plane back home. Shea was again, amazingly, an incredibly easy trans-Atlantic traveler.

    And thus endeth the trip report! Hope it's helpful!

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