The Turkish Riviera

When I was packing for a trip to Turkey I was fairly certain I knew what to expect, some good food, extremely hot weather, and lots of Brits abroad. I was partly correct but there was so much more to this popular holiday destination – plus instead of Brits it there were Russians and lots of them.

The scenery around Antalya had the ability to take ones breath away, it was incredibly serene and calming considering the turmoil continuing in its neighbouring war torn countries. I decided not to stay in the centre of Antalya and instead booked into a small hotel in Beldibi. Most accommodation along this stretch of coastline is the same, often all-inclusive, night time entertainment and daytime activities. Our hotel was no different, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the food mostly fresh and local, and we’d managed to avoid the western all-you-can-eat buffet.

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Despite the various holiday reps advice and garish posters I wasn’t too interested in the usual activities, having done some prior research it was apparent there was so much more to the southern coast than the party boats and massage parlours. The amount of history in Lycian country was vast and I was keen to make the most of our first few days so after a bus, a car and a boat we found ourselves feet away from the Island of Kekova and the infamous ‘Sunken City’. Dolchiste, a small settlement was overcome with water after a large earthquake in the 2nd century. Visible just below the waves these ruins are a must see, and I’d recommend hiring kayaks from a nearby island for the ultimate close up.

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Another fantastic must-see is Goynuk Canyon, you could simply hike through the canyon for stunning landscape, experience canyoning and other extreme sports or enjoy a mud bath with what they say has magical healing powers! It cost approximately £3 for a ticket into the park and although it’s supposedly a popular attraction at no point was it ever crowded. Make sure you take plenty of water with you, but they do have some beautiful day beds and tables over the river offering freshly squeezed orange juice and light refreshments.

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Food –

The food in Turkey is ideal for traveling with children, even at 9 months old Wilfred loved all the fresh fruit, vegetables, cheese and fresh flavours on offer. Similar to that of Greek food there was often bread and meat as a staple diet, followed by plenty of fresh salads such as peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions. We ate at the hotel a few times making it easier to put Wilfred to bed, however on several occasions we would stroll through the town afterwards tasting some of the local Turkish delight.

Where I found myself at the Russians popular holiday spot the drink of choice was vodka, served from 10am it would even accompany a morning coffee! Being the light-weight that I am I had to decline most of the shots and settled on some pleasant local wine. Otherwise, nothing much to write home about, as most places clearly catered for the tourists rather that offering the local tipple.

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Travelling with children –

This I feel I must mention to anyone that hasn’t been before – the Turkish locals LOVE children. They are extremely sincere and generous but if it is your first visit it may be overwhelming. A touch of common-sense is always best when you are in a strange country with people you do not know, and I found that my blue-eyed, blonde boy was quite the attraction! On one occasion whilst walking through the town late in the evening, a local proceeded to take my child from his buggy and sniff and cuddly him before handing him back. If that had happened in England I would’ve been horrified but it seemed strangely normal having been there for a few days already. One waiter from the hotel even shed a tear when he realised it was our last day. Wilfred loved all the fans that he had by the end of the trip, and was spoilt with cuddles and attention.

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In a practical sense facilities for children in Turkey differed from place to place. We rarely found a child changing area yet most shops stocked Pampers, Huggies swimmers and baby food – although if outside of the main city this was double the price. There is also the weather to consider, for the second half of our holiday it reached 40+ degrees and Wilfred being only 9 months struggled at times. It’s imperative that they have plenty of shade, factor 50 is used and you are forever topping them up with liquids.

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Overall it was a fantastic trip to take Wilfred on, I learnt so much about travelling with an infant from just how much they need to how much food to take. It’s also an extremely, reasonably priced trip away and very cheap once in the country. A week in Turkey can easily be cheaper than visiting some of the holiday parks in the UK, so it’s well worth a thought when booking your next family vacay!

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