Travel, Travel & Lifestyle
Leave a Comment

First Travel with a Toddler – Throwback to Istanbul, Turkey

Our very first trip with our two year old daughter was to Turkey back in November of 2021.

The reason why we opted for Turkey is because we wanted somewhere close that had the best of both worlds – part Europe and part Asia. As a first-time experience, we sought to test the waters with our daughter’s introduction to travel and learn from it before we moved on to more adventurous and longer trips that were further away.

Staying occupied in the plane with a doodle mat.

The Flight Experience

The flight was some three hours long from Kuwait to Istanbul. We kept our girl busy with snacks, drawing activities, some videos on our phones as well as books. But it wasn’t long before our daughter got bored and wanted to walk on the aisle, which she did, and had more fun socialising with the passengers than all the activities we brought for her altogether. It’s no wonder, really, as this was her first time on an airplane and all she wanted to do was explore it!

Our Stay

We based ourselves in the center of Istanbul right at Taksim Square in a local boutique hotel.

Hotel view

The moment we stepped off the taxi and rolled our luggage and stroller along the cobbled pathways, Istanbul’s signature grilled aroma of meats filled the air.

Every corner, small restaurants and eateries advertised staple meals of kebab, alongside french fries and grilled vegetables on the side.
Turkish rug footwear (yes, they’re made from Turkish rugs!)
A common street snack – roasted chestnuts, especially during cold weather. So cozy!

That Night

It was already sunset and we unpacked/relaxed in the hotel before heading out for a little nighttime stroll and a dinner grab.

The streets of Taksim Square
I liked the aesthetic of this street view. A backdrop of residential buildings and calm laundry hangings, coupled with a glowing neon center from a lights shop.

As we walked the streets of Taksim, it was hectic, lively, and colourful. I loved the food street vendors in particular, who displayed fresh vegetables, fresh shellfish, and roasted chestnuts all the while we dodged pedestrians and passed locals chatting over Turkish coffee and dining. It isn’t the best area to be for a toddler, but the sensory experience was everything with so much happening in every corner. It can be quite overwhelming.

Trying some dinner

Food in Turkey

We were so hungry after our trip, that we decided to have some food at the first decent-looking restaurant we saw. Mayoosha, our daughter, had some chicken in tomato sauce on a cast iron dish with mashed potatoes on the side, while my husband and I got some grills. We all enjoyed Aryan laban – it was pretty much our go-to drink during the entire trip.

Mayoosha wasn’t accustomed to other food apart from homemade meals, so we struggled at first when it came to finding the right food for her that would make her feel comfortable. Even if something was somewhat close to what she ate at home, it wasn’t the food her mama or grandmother were cooking ^_^

Moreover, Turkish food mainly revolves around grilled meats and this can be too salty for a child. However, there are a couple of nice broths and soups to have as well. There was a lovely family eatery next to our hotel that made delicious, hearty lamb soup with bread ( I honestly don’t recall the name of the place). I would order this soup for Mayoosha and I a couple of times and my husband would bring it to the hotel room for us to eat for dinner on a cold night. It was quite nice!

Early in the morning we’d find bakers leaving their freshly-baked bread of the day at Kebap shops.
More photos capturing the street shops of Taksim Square

The Next Day

The next day , we had a lovely Turkish breakfast spread at the hotel’s outdoor garden. The garden was lovely and Mayoosha loved spending time there, especially with the feline visitors!

A typical Turkish breakfast would include different white cheeses with olives, a variety of dips such honey, scrambled egg, and Turkish Sucuk sausages with some fresh bread.

A Walk Around Istanbul

Since Istanbul is huge, we took taxi rides to places here and there and sometimes went on foot. The weather was chilly and rainy at times.

Loved this sculpture at a church’s courtyard by Turkish sculpture artist, Ayla Turan

Playgrounds and Parks

Our trip was very much toddler-oriented as we wanted this trip to be as comfortable as possible for Mayoosha. We dedicated a lot of our itineraries to beautiful parks, which meant Mayoosha could feel more herself and ‘at home’. The key to traveling with two year olds is to stick to places that are familiar to them as well.

A lovely and safe park at Ortakoy along the Bosphorus coastline.
Emirgan Park is gorgeous. It is inside a forested area. In spring, the park is covered in tulips and beds of flowers.

Emigran Park

Emigran park is one of the most gorgeous parks I’ve ever seen to be honest. I loved how it’s located at the shores of the Bosphorus, so as you descend the park’s pathways you have an open view of the sea on your side which is uncommon.

Mayoosha’s dream place ^_^

Trip to Sapanca

Sapanca soap

We decided to visit Sapanca, the rural side of Turkey in close proximity to Istanbul consisting of various villages around forested areas.

Bread-making at a restaurant in Sapanca. The Turks make delicious bread!
A little corner shop we encountered in Sapanca, selling village items.

The area we visited in Sapanca is known as Naturkoy in Sakarya.

We had lunch at this restaurant.
Manti dish in yoghurt. Manti are little meat-filled dumplings commonly eaten in Turkey.
And of course, we have the staple meat dish. No matter where we ate, the meat was always good.
The surrounding view from the restaurant.
Lake Sapanca. Loved walking around the lake during golden hour. It was very peaceful.
Kitty greetings!
On the way to Sapanca, we had also stopped by this horse-riding place. Our daughter enjoyed riding a pony for the first time!

The ZooFaruk Yalcin Zoo

What’s a toddler’s trip to a country without a visit to their zoo? ^_^

Tiger got very up close to Mayoosha!

And this wraps up our trip to Turkey!

Leave a Reply