A quick guide to Istanbul 

Earlier this year we were trying to plan a holiday to the States but somehow it didn’t happen. Instead we each picked a location we really wanted to see. I chose Rome and my mum chose Istanbul. I’d been last year but it was mainly for work so I was looking forward to a lot more touristy/family things this year.

Istanbul doesn’t disappoint. There is so much culture, lots of sites to see and surprisingly, quite a bit for children.

Public transport is super easy, you can get one Istanbulkart and everyone can use it (you don’t need individual cards because you only tap in once). While there are lots of taxi’s, they a) don’t always stop for you b) refuse to take you if your location doesn’t suit them c) insist on a high fare, rather than use the meter, especially if they know you’re desperate.

Things to see:

The blue mosque 

The Aya Sofia 


The stunning tulip display outside the Aya Sofia


The spice market

There’s also Topkapi Palace (but we didn’t make it there), Taksim Square (I didn’t see the big deal), the Grand Bazaar of course and don’t forget a cruise over the Bosphorus river.

Turkish food is amazing. Not so great for vegetarians but a delight for meat eaters.


We did however get a little tired of Turkish food after 3 days so we ventured to Taksim Square and went to Kitchenette which was amazing…I’d definitely recommend visiting it (they also have a branch at Atuturk airport).


My friend Louise lives with her partner in Istanbul and on the Saturday night she convinced us to give Turkish food another go at the famous Develi restaurant. It did not disappoint!


If you’re visiting with kids then head over to Istanbul Mall and check out mini Legoland and Jurassic World (more on this coming soon but here’s a sneak peek).


By day five we were all exhausted and ready to go home.


This cheeky monkey on the other hand was already planning his next vacation while devouring the Turkish Delight samples at the airport.

 

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The Shangri La, Cebu Mactan

Last summer my cousin Benita got married in Cebu, a beautiful island in the Philippines. I’d been to Cebu before but like any holiday, it’s a completely different experience with a baby/toddler. S was 2 years and 4 months when we visited last July. We stayed at the Shangri La Mactan resort which is pretty much the best one on the island (and only a 20 minute drive from the airport). Their facilities are second to none and having your own private beach is definitely a plus point.

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The pool

The people of the Philippines are renowned for being friendly and walking through the resort you’re constantly being greeted by members of staff with the biggest smile on their face. When I visited several years ago, I didn’t think much of the food but this is something they have most certainly worked on because there was a huge improvement. Breakfast at the Shang is fit for a king – there is everything from sushi and noodles to pastries, fruit and cereals. You can have broth any way you want it and eggs any way you want them – a food lovers heaven!

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The private beach

They have three pools. One is outside the Ocean Wing part of the resort and the other’s are a short walk away. The main pools have basketball rings at either end as well as slides and water fountains for the kids.

Sounds impressive? You haven’t heard anything yet! Before we headed to Cebu, I bought some sand toys for S but when we got to the beach, we came across this:

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And even better, there’s a member of staff there at all times just to hang out with the kids and build sand castles.

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As amazing as it all sounds for kids, they also have a lot for the parents as well. There’s jet skiing, snorkelling, banana boating, paragliding, underwater walking classes and lots more. And if it all gets a bit much down at the beach, parents can head up to play mini golf, go to the spa or to the gym while the children are entertained in an indoor soft play/arcade. Creative classes are also run hourly which children can attend for free.

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Although there are several eateries at the hotel, the prices can be on the higher end. One of the best things about Cebu is their seafood and I definitely recommend exploring the island and checking out their many amazing restaurants.

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If you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday that takes some of the weight off travelling/holidaying with children then Cebu is a fab choice. It’s warm all year round, even during the rainy season which is June-September.