If I've made all this travel sound adventurous and maybe even a little exotic, it is. But if I've given you the impression that traveling with kids is anything less than a whole bunch of whining strung together in some very cool and very public places not condusive to giving your kids the fated time out in their room. Well, then I haven't done justice to what it's truly like. I'm gonna tell you a little secret. Come close.....closer. It's not always as charmed or fun as it may appear from the smiling photos.
Like the time we went to Miniaturk. Which is exactly what it sounds like, a compilation of the great buildings of Turkey, all in miniature. It's like a lego-less lego land and it's outside. Plus the kids can run from building to building and swipe the bar code on their ticket to hear about the building in English even. Sounds super kid friendly right? And it was, except for the fact that our four kids were completely obsessed by who got to the scanner first to swipe their ticket. And they would do anything. I repeat ANYTHING, to be first. The result? We ended up using the divide and conquer approach. Which is why I don't have any photos of the kids at Miniaturk. And see how clenched and forced my smile is? Now you know why.
A smiley boat ride on the mighty Bosphorus. Look how happy they are right? Well, the picture is of the the two kids who scored the front of the boat. And they were happy. The other two who did not score the prized seating in the front of the boat? They were not happy. Now this is easy to remedy by switching the kids half way through the boat ride right? No. Because we were on the tippiest (and loudest) little boat ever. So to do so would have put them at risk for swimming in the mighty Bosphorus. On second thought, maybe we should have tried that. They do say natural consequences are the best form of discipline.
Since we are talking Turkey. Let's get back to that. Didn't Turkish toilets (AKA: squat potties) originate in Turkey? We've been practicing our skills here in Morocco and I don't want to brag or anything, but we're pretty damn proficient at squatting over a hole and doing our business in it. So, it was a bit disappointing that the the Turks are boasting they have modern toilets everywhere. Seriously, we did not encounter one freakin' Turkish toilet in Turkey. How unauthentic is that? Really. Isn't anyone committed to anything anymore? And that's why I will never use the term Turkish toilet ever again. And I'm committed to that.
We checked out the Basilica Cistern, were they stored water for the Great Palace in the 2nd century. The kids asked a billion questions, as they always do. In theory their curiosity is great and should be encouraged. Right? Except that after you go through a lengthy explanation with one kid, the next kid (who was standing there the whole dang time) asks the same exact freakin' question. Then so does the next kid. And the next kid. And they do this every place we go. And it's completely exhausting. My reserves of patience for such questions were diminished on day two of the trip. In fact, accumulated a patience deficit and just started pretending I couldn't hear them while quietly humming Somewhere Over the Rainbow in my head (The Bruddah Iz version, if you must know) so I wouldn't explode.
But then they kept asking how Medusa's head got in the Basilica. And why it's upside down. And then I exploded. "I DON'T KNOW, OK! YOU'RE A READER. HERE'S THE BOOK."
And there in the cold dark drippy cistern is where we got this cheesy family photo taken. Oh and don't mention to my kids that I posted this on the blog because they will be mortified. As they are by this blog, so don't mention that either.
So we took the kids to the Rahmi M Koc Museum which exhibits artifacts from Istanbul's industrial past. And it's hand's on, so they can touch stuff. Besides each other that is. Because we're well into the trip at this point and yet somehow the kids though annoyed by each other, are stuck together by some unknown magnetic force. I think it's called abhorrence. Unless it's animosity. Anyway, the day we're at the museum there are large groups of kids on school field trips. Who cares right? Except my kids are annoyed that the school kids are misbehaving, noisy and touching each other! Whhhhhaaaaaatttttt? Note to pot calling kettle black.
Now, oriental carpets have never really done it for me. But, Turkey has these wool tribal rugs called kilims. They're so cool, funky and fun. And I love them. ANd I want one. Ok, I want several, but would settle for one. Of course, the kids couldn't care less about carpets. So when we finally stop at a carpet store for a measly 15 minutes, it suddenly becomes wrestlemania time. And the boys are giggling tearing into each other, you know the way they do right before something gets broken or someone gets hurt. Though I have to say, at that point I was far more concerned for the well being of the carpets than I was the boys. So we kicked them out of the store to let them settle it out on the hard concrete sidewalk. Like men. And no, no carpets were hurt.
The day after a rainy afternoon that kept us couped up in the apartment without television or an ipod, that can only be described as hellacious, we went to this fort. And we let them run wherever they wanted without guard rails and with very little supervision. Because we were exhausted.
So exhausted that we deemed the kids won the battle of petting stray Turkish cats. (Which in our defense appear much less mangy than Moroccan stray cats.) The kids probably won’t get rabies, but if they do how would we know? They already act crazy and foam at the mouth.
And on the day before we left we went to Topkapi Palace which is like the Louvre of Istanbul. Sky had begged us to go earlier in the week because he heard that they had the hair of the Prophet Muhammad on display. Not to mention paintings, gems and other antiquities too of course. Finally, on the last day in Istanbul, we decided to go. I was so excited I had butterflies in my stomach. I rushed through lunch and couldn't wait to get there.
Two of my friends from Colorado and their families were there!
Unfortunately, we only got to see each other for about 10 minutes! But it was 10 minutes my kids didn't fight, touch each other, complain, whine or ask any questions. None. In fact they barely even talked. The moral of the story? Travel is much more fun with friends. Don't leave home without them.