The Beaches

I grew up on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia.  Swimming in the ocean and lying on the sand is imprinted on me so living in a country with coastlines along the Aegean and Mediterranean seas should make me spoilt for choice however in the Village we do not often make our way down to the beach despite the fact that we live no more than 10 minutes walk away.  Why?  Sadly the Village Beach is no Blue Lagoon at Oludeniz and, to be honest, I feel a little uncomfortable swimming down at the Village Beach.  I would much rather hop on a dolmus and travel the 2 hours it would take to get to Kizkalesi or Susanoglu where lying on a sunbed in your bikini is not cause for mirth and gossip.

Right now Daughter and I are staying with friends at Collaroy Beach and I am loving being on the Northern Beaches again.  This morning I wiggled my toes in the sand at Long Reef Beach as Daughter ran along the beach with my friend’s dog which I have named “Nugget”.  The dog really is a big nugget.  It might be the middle of winter but here in Sydney it is warm, the sun is shining and Sydney has put on her best dress for our visit.

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Since arriving we have made a point of visiting as many of Sydney’s beautiful beaches as possible.  Starting at Palm Beach and ending at Manly Beach the Northern Beaches of Sydney is definitely God’s Country.

Palm Beach

Do you watch Home and Away?  I still remember the first episode when we met Pippa and Tom Fletcher along with all those kids who lived in picturesque Summer Bay.  Daughter pointed out a few of the more obvious Summer Bay locations before we decided to enjoy the sunshine and hike up to Barrenjoey Lighthouse. It is an easy walk from the car park to the lighthouse and offers a great view from Sydney’s most northern point.

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Whale Beach

I didn’t often go to Whale Beach as it was difficult to get to by public transport when I was young.  When we walked across the sand of this small, protected beach there was not another soul to be found.  The beach was all ours.  If it wasn’t so damn windy it would have been a rather pleasant stop.

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Dee Why Beach

Always my beach.  As a kid I did swimming lessons (badly) at the pool, as a teenager I hung out with my friends down at Dee Why Headland, climbing over the rocks to find somewhere where we could sneak cigarettes (or a kiss) without being caught.

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Manly Beach

Famous.  Gorgeous.  Once my home.  One thing you have to admire about the locals at Manly is that even in the middle of winter, even when it is a mere 20 degrees, they are still out there swimming, surfing and generally enjoying the beauty that is Manly.

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North Head

Spending time on the Northern Beaches of Sydney is not complete without a trip to North Head.  Whether you are visiting from the darkest depths of hell or a Manly local the view is spectacular.  Summer or winter this spot is the epitome of Sydney.  To anyone visiting this beautiful country you need to get up to North Head pronto.  Start your visit on a high note!

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Living in Turkey is amazing.  We are so lucky but waking up each morning and looking over Collaroy Beach is pretty damn good too.

Five things in Istanbul

Daughter was five the first time I took her to Istanbul.  Usually we would travel straight through to Adana but as she was a little older it was time to explore her second (now first) home.  I have mentioned to you before that when Daughter and I travel together it is her job to find us 5 things to do together and 3 of them have to be free or a minimal cost.  This encouraged Daughter to want to learn about each city we visited and to have a better appreciation at each location.  It always worked beautifully with her and even now she utilises this skill regularly to learn more about a place or thing.

Daughter’s list of five things to do in Istanbul:

Basilica Cistern  

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This is always number 1 on our list and each year this still is our first stop in Istanbul.  Why?  It is an extraordinary underground water cistern containing 300 plus marble columns to keep the ceiling up.  It’s atmosphere is made more unique with “creepy” lighting, the occasional surprise of really cold water dripping from the vaulted ceiling and ghostly shadows this place is mysterious enough for Daughter to be enamoured with exploring every inch.  Hint: Each time we go there Daughter has to re-discover the Medusa Head in the north eastern corner.  Throw a coin and make a wish.

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Grand Bazaar 

Daughter loves to shop.  Daughter loves souvenirs.  Daughter loves a brand.  And if Daughter can get a name brand without the name cost she will.  With hidden doorways and tiny exotic shops the Bazaar is a mini city in itself and getting lost in the labyrinth and chaos of the Bazaar is part of its charm, especially for kids.  Hint:  I make a visit to the Bazaar a scavenger hunt.  Deciding beforehand what “souvenir” Daughter wants she has to locate the treasure and barter with the shopkeepers.  Originally it was to practice her Turkish but now it is to bag a bargain!

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Constantine Walls

The walls were started by Emperor Constantine in 324AD and extended around the city to protect its people from invasion.  They were often attacked but when you are standing at the bottom looking up that these walls you wonder how on earth they were breached – and they were breached – notably by the Fourth Crusades and the Ottomans.   Start at Yedikule Fortress and you can walk for hours along or beside these gorgeous ancient walls.  Best of all – it’s free!  Hint:  There are so many other things to do along the way with parks, shopping and secret laneways.  Daughter would happily walk for hours and not complain (well not often anyway).

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Suleymaniye Mosque

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I clearly recall the first time I took Daughter here.  She was agog with its grandeur, its size   and its colour.  It was unlike anything she had seen before.  Entering the dome of the mosque she quietly watched the faithful at prayer – again so different to anything she had seen before.  After leaving the mosque we sat in the walled garden and talked about Islam giving her the opportunity to learn a little about their beliefs and lifestyle.  Hint: Returning home we purchased ceramic tiles and created our own masterpiece along the same styling as those seen at this iconic destination.

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Dolmabache Palace

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At 5 Daughter had dreams of becoming a princess and living in a palace and she insisted that we visit Topkapi Palace.  Unfortunately her idea of a palace did not coincide with what she viewed at Topkapi and we only ever visited the Palace that one time.  I did, however, take her to Dolmabache Palace the next day.  This was definitely a more romantic Palace and more to the liking of a 5 year old who expected grandeur and pomp.  Hint:  Viewing this Palace from the Bosphorus gives us an idea of its size and amazing architecture.  Cruising the Bosphorus is also another day trip in itself so give yourself lots of time.  At 11 Daughter’s interests have changed so Dolmabache Palace is no longer on our list.  This has been replaced with a trip down Istiklal Caddesi.  Why?  Shopping, of course.  Istiklal Caddesi is also great with its historic tram.  Don’t forget you need a card to ride it, they don’t accept cash.

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Bonus: Don’t miss the Whirling Dervishes at the Hocapasa Cultural Centre.  Daughter’s first experience watching that was enough to bring tears of laughter.  She was mesmerized and, upon returning to our hotel, tried as hard as she could to whirl and twirl but spent most of her time falling on her bum.

Children love to explore and to learn.  I think empowering your child to do the research gives them more appreciation and understanding of their surroundings.  Daughter is extremely lucky to travel to such destinations but if she does not learn about them, their history and their story, then there is no point in taking her there.  Frankly it would be a waste of my time and my money.

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The Puker

Daughter’s first overseas flight was when she was 10 weeks old.  We flew from Sydney to Bodrum so she could meet The Turk.  Daughter slept for the entire flight.  I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck.  Thankfully there was a lot of assistance from other passengers to get me from Point A to Point B otherwise I would still be wandering around Bangkok International Airport right now in tears (it’s a big airport).

On a whole, however, Daughter is one of those kids who always puked or always had a problem on a flight.  I know right?  I was generally mortified by her behaviour.  I know she couldn’t help it and I understand that, I really do, but it was just so damn embarrassing.  You name it, it has happened to us.  Lost luggage?  Check.  Missing connection flight?  Check.  Crying for 5 straight hours.  Check (and I am sorry).  Stomach aches, ear aches, head aches?  Check, check, check.

I’ve been on flights where they have separated me from my then 5 year old daughter and I even had one instance where Daughter’s name was called over the speaker.  Upon speaking with the attendant they were offering to upgrade her to Business Class!  Hello???

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The most infamous flight, the flight that I am sure the other poor souls who were unfortunate enough to be on that flight still comment on, went a little something like this:

  1. Half way through flight.  No problems.  Daughter feeling good.  Daughter feeling happy.  Me feeling relieved.
  2. Seat belt sign comes on.  Captain makes an announcement.  Turbulence.
  3. Daughter has finger up nose (she does enjoy a snack).
  4. Plane jars a little, finger is pushed into the roof of nose (possibly reached brain matter) and yep, you guessed it, a river of blood, a tidal wave of red terror gushed over us both.
  5. Daughter has a complete meltdown, starts choking.

Outcome?  Projectile blood pukage (is “pukage” a word) all over herself, me and . . the Canadian couple in the seats in front of us.  Dear God!

After vomiting for a straight 20 minutes Singapore Airlines refused to let us on our connecting flight (as we looked like extras from a Freddie Kruger movie) and so we spent the next 2 days at Changi International Airport waiting for another flight.  We missed the Anzac Day service at Gelibolu (that’s Gallipoli for you Aussies) and I said at that moment those words that I have said many, many times before, “I am never flying with her again”.

Yes, I have flown with her and yes, she has vomited since that flight.  Many times.

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