This summer I took my family to Turkey.
This wasn’t my first trip there- I’d been with my wife four times previously, but it was the first with the kids - my two boys of 5 and 9 and my daughter of 13.
Many people don’t really know what to expect from Turkey - just the sound of it is highly exotic - it resonates with the echos of the Ottoman Empire and much more ancient empires before it - it is a meeting place between East and West, a place where cultures clash and of course, a Muslim country. But is it modern or backwards? First world or third world? Are the people friendly or not? And what about the food?
The answer is that Turkey is exotic - but it is also modern and well developed and even in the middle of nowhere one feels safe and comfortable. The people are incredibly friendly, and the food is one of the great cuisines of the world.
Turkey has always been one of my favourite countries - It was even better with the family. To see any country through kids’ eyes is literally an eye opener - and a completely different experience from travel without kids -everything takes on new meaning, one’s perspective changes and you get to visit places you would never have gone to otherwise. A trip becomes less of a pure sightseeing tour and more of an immersion in the country and it’s culture - kids want to see things that interest kids - sure, some of the big sights, but also the playgrounds, the ice cream parlors, the parks, the markets, and sometimes the more off -beat places and sights.
Together we explored Istanbul, one of the great cities of the world, and then we journeyed through the almost unknown Black Sea region - the last great frontier of Turkey. It was awesome -first touring the great imperial city and seeing the remains of past civilizations and then visiting the smaller towns and villages and experiencing the magic of the Black Sea coast. Best of all, kids act as the perfect ice breaker with the locals, and we met so many people through our kids that we would never have net otherwise. Experiencing cultural differences with kids is fascinating too - they loved visiting mosques, and they really enjoyed exploring the new tastes of a culinary repetoire they had never come across before.
Turkey proved to be the perfect family vacation - adventurous, but with the right mix of first world amenities and comfort as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Turkey to any family, well traveled or not, looking for a great cultural experience without suffering any discomforts. Follow my blog at www.travelwithkidz.wordpress.com