11.01.2013

Turkey For Toddlers

Turkey is a very welcoming place for toddlers and for parents of toddlers. Xavier is taking full advantage of this and having a grand time exploring.

Everywhere we go he makes new friends as people of all ages on the street, on the tram, on the ferry, in shops reach out to stroke his cheek, pick him up and ask his name. This often leads to conversations with locals, the best way to learn about a country, so we have appointed him our official ambassador.

Strangers call out to Xavier Masallah (God's gift), canim (darling), cok tatli (very sweet), lokum (Turkish Delight), findik (hazlenut) and they comment on his cok mavi goz (very blue eyes). Our 9-year-old friend Melis chases him around saying seni yiyeceğim (Can I eat you?) and he giggles wildly in response.

In restaurants Christian and I can actually eat our dinners and have a leisurely conversation with each other as both servers and proprietors whisk Xavi away to play with him and keep him entertained. Even the young guys working at the durum doner shop all vie for his attention and make him a baby-sized durum wraps. He also gets free ice cream cones at the gas station, fresh-squeezed juices from street venders and fruit from the markets. While not overly interested in food in general, here in Turkey he does like salty olives, pistachios, rice and grilled hamsi, the anchovies from the Black Sea which are in season right now. He also likes to lick the powdered sugar off the lokum.




Melis took us to the hamam at her father's hotel where she, Christian, Xavier and I all suds-ed up and  poured water over each other and all enjoyed the warm marble, the steam and the water therapy together. Hamams are a family affair, which is such a brilliant idea.

One of Xavier's favorite thing about Turkey is the kedilar (cats) and there are plenty of them for him to chase. He also likes the dogs, the chickens, the roosters and the goats.

Being obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine, Xavier loves the funicular and the tram (and the buskers on them).




He growls at the aslan (lion) at the Archeology Museum,


And points at the "baby!" in the mosaics at the Haiga Sophia and the Chora Byzantine Church (the baby being baby Jesus on his mother's lap).


He got an all-access pass at the Blue Mosque


And is allowed to clamber all over the ruins of ancient cities, like this amphitheater at Termessos, one city Alexander the Great failed to conquer.


He's rating all the beaches pretty highly...


And enjoying the sea water pool at Villa Huzur


And he naps whenever and wherever he pleases, like this moment while we were hiking part of the Lycian Way. 



Because Xavier is having a very good time in Turkey, his parents are having a very good time. 



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