Herein an brief account of our holiday at my wife's parent's house in Adapazarı, Turkey.
Day 0 - Drive
For the first time, we decided to book a hotel near the airport for the night before flying. Luton is only a two hour drive away but with a 6:30am flight and a small child, we decided a hotel would be prudent.
It certainly was. Somehow, though, I'd managed to book the hotel for two weeks later than I'd intended. I blame laterooms.com's mobile site as I booked the thing on the tablet and I'm certain I selected the right day to start with :P
Day 1 - Flying
The flight - despite all of our fears to the contrary - went without a hitch and the little man was calm and happy throughout! We arrived at the airport to be greeted by father- and sister-in-law who swiftly transported us to their home. We rested on the veranda in their beautiful (30 degrees though) countryside house.
Day 2 - Down the city
We went into the local town for provisions and to stretch our legs.
Day 2 - Cheese
After a grumpy start on my part, I learned that driving a left-hand-drive car is really no different. We went to a fish restaurant situated at the end of a road that followed the floor of a luscious valley near Hendek. There was a starter that consisted of a ceramic bowl filled with baked cheese and another of mushrooms with baked cheese. The main course was alabalık (trouy) baked with tomatoes, onions, herbs, and cheese. The cheese was a locally-produced variety that nobody seemed to be able to name but it was reminscent of mozzarella in its texture and halloumi in taste.
Day 3 - Istanbul
We decided for the dude's birthday that we'd have a day out in İstanbul. After a late start (par for the course these days) we got the 11 o'clock bus from Adapazarı terminal and arrived in Harem around 12:30. We proceeded immediately to the ferry at Üsküdar which took us to Beşiktaş where we had my favourite fish in bread and mussel dolma for lunch.
Following lunch, we took a tour boat that goes down the Bosphorous and back up to the next stop from the start point. The highlight of the sights from the boat must be the twin forts, one on either side of the Bosphorous. Now I come to write that, I can't help but think of Minas Tirith and Minas Ithil.
After the tour, we walked to Karaköy and struggled up the long hill past Galata tower up to Tünel. Thence, a pint and some snacks before walking to my wife's favourite place for Tantuni. Then, Taksim for ıslak burger and a final walk back to Beşiktaş to get the ferry and bus back to the terminal at Harem just in time to catch the last bus (10pm by this point!) back to Adapazarı.
Day 4 - Shoppi
Tired out by a hectic day of movement to, from, and within the bustle of Istanbul, day 4 was spent gently strolling through the streets of Sakarya where we bought some nice things for my mother-in-law, some provisions for the house, and lots of fish for dinner.
Note to self: Find out the English names for Çupra, İstavrit, and Palamut. Çupra was the tastiest, though full of bones.
Dinner was great; stayed up late chatting with family; fell asleep in seconds. Woken too soon by the dude.
Day 5 - Climbing
A lazy start and the news that aunty number three would be delayed led us to reconsider our plans for the day. After considering a few options, we (well, I) elected for Maşukiye. Once we got there, it became apparent that the pictures we'd seen that took us there were actually of Kartepe - a mountain with a popular ski resort at the top in the winter - so up we went! Driving up the mountain was all well and good (apart from some painful ear-popping) until we reached the highest point reachable by car. For some daft reason, the resort at the top hadn't seen fit to look after their part (the final part) of the road so the last 100 yards or so was a hair-raising gravely, dusty road that wound around and around to reach the top. To my eyes, which are so used to right-hand-drive cars, the road was around about exactly as wide as the car.
Bricks were shat.
But we got there, we enjoyed the wonderful view from the top of the mountain, and more bricks were shat as I considered the even more terrifying journey back down the slippery-looking, steep hill.
But we got back down again.
And once we were down, we ate passable food at an overpriced restaurant overlooking a series of small waterfalls. Better views were had, however, by leaving the restaurant and taking a shortish walk up the path through the trees behind the resort.
Day 7 - Bidet
Sunday was designated as the official birthday party day for the little man as we'd buggered off to Istanbul on his actual birthday. The morning was spent making preparations (decorating the veranda, picking up the cake, etc) and the afternoon with extended family eating, drinking, being merry, and playing games.
Day 8 - Not the seaside
I'd said that while we were in Turkey I wanted to spend one day at the beach and we'd thus far not managed to do so. The morning starting bright and sunny, I decreed that to the beach we would go. Half way there - the black sea was about 80km away - the sky clouded over, the sun gone.
We proceeded anyway to the seaside town of Karasu where we asked for directions and were given a recommendation to visit a nearby waterfall at Maden Deresi.
When we arrived at the waterfall car park, we were let in to the fact that the actual waterfall was a 45 minute walk away with some caves along the way that would not be passable with a push chair.
Of course, as we were already there, we decided to go anyway and that we'd just carry the baby.
The walk turned out to be a fairly hair-raising trek along a narrow passage cut into the side of the hill. Most of the journey involved a sheer drop to one side - sometimes there was a wall. The caves turned out to be equally narrow and low to boot. This, it turned out, was really not a sensible thing to do with a baby.
We arrived safely at the waterfall, revelled in it for a bit, and then trekked back :)
I suspect we may be the first people ever to have done that walk with a baby.
Day 9 - Taking it easy
The final day of our holiday was spent partly in the nearby city buying provisions for the family and partly just relaxing on the veranda.
I spent the evening packing while the wife dealt with last-minute visiting relatives who seemed determined to keep us up late despite our early start the next day.
Day 10 - Flying again
And then we flew back :)