Turkey is by far the most child friendly country I have visited. Strangers pile my toddler with far too much attention to the unfortunate point that he now squeals when he sees someone approaching him. On trains, he has been handed cookies and fruits . At restaurants, the waiters play with him, while T & I have our meals. And at a ferry office, they let us use their office to change his diaper. Everywhere we go, my son gets his cheeks pulled, pecked and outright kissed. We'd like to think that our son is cute, but I am convinced Turks love children as much as their kebabs.
Our pictures from Turkey posted on our Facebook page.
*Travel Tips for Parents*:
Since our toddler has limited patience when strapped in a plane seat and can't move around in a bus, we planned to visit only places that were accessible by trains. Seat 61 is a great source. We traveled from Istanbul to Izmir (with a ferry connection at Bandirma), took a day train from Izmir - Ephesus, an overnight sleeper train from Izmir-Ankara and the Super express train from Ankara-Istanbul. We would highly recommend the trains in Turkey - for both comfort as well as cleanliness. Infact, I would implore you to try them out; it's perhaps the best way to travel if you have young children.
Much to my son's delight, we found lots of children's parks in Istanbul - I particularly liked a small secluded park at Taksim Square tucked into the center of the busy intersection. Hotel Alaaddin that we stayed at provided a baby cot/crib. Only a few restaurants provide high-chairs but they make up for it by holding your baby! The ferry from Istanbul - Bandirma had a cozy childrens play area - pretty impressive for an 80 minute ferry ride. Supermarkets have a variety of fruit yogurts, cheerios, cheese snacks, and milk in tetra packs that don't require refrigeration. In Istanbul, we suggest heading to 'Dia Super market' in Karakoy ( it's the 4th stop on the tram line from Sultanahmet) because everything is overpriced in uber-touristy Istanbul.
What I do find surprisingly little of in Turkey are vegetables on the menu other than an occasional eggplant or a tomato and lettuce salad. In Izmir we came across Kumpir- a baked potato dish that you can ask for with vegetables, a perfect break to all the meat that we had to feed our toddler. Most public restrooms don't have changing tables, so we have perfected the 'standing' diaper change - which requires 2 pairs of hands - one to hold him straight while the other changes his diapers. Of course this is immodest, but necessity forces creativity.