Monday, July 28, 2014

Weekend Getaways

The weekends here in Turkey are our time to get away as a family and have fun.  

The weekdays can be hectic with work, school/summer camp/swim lessons for E,  half marathon training, cooking, cleaning, bath time, pumping, nursing....well, you get the idea.  Even little D gets exhausted from his Monday through Friday routine of tummy time and drooling with the nanny. 

But Saturday and Sunday is when we throw out routine and try to get away.

A few weekends ago we went with a few other families to an organic farm/restaurant about thirty minutes outside Adana.  The restaurant, Ekotepe, had been on our radar for a while, but we didn't get around to going until recently.  

Ekotepe is a family owned place perched on a hill overlooking beautiful, expansive farm land. Everything they serve, from eggs to figs to the cheese, olives and tomatoes, are grown right there on their property without the use of any pesticides.  The owners lay out a delicious buffet early in the morning and people come to help themselves throughout the day.   For 20 TL per person (less than $10) it can't be beat.  

Of course, this being Turkey, there is also a playground set up for the kids to play.  There are ducks to feed, rabbits to play with, horses to ride, and even a peacock and monkey gawk at.  The weather was perfect on the day we went--not too hot, and with added cloud cover to block out the sun.  The mood was fantastic and relaxing--we all spent hours eating, sipping tea and talking while our kids explored, played and otherwise got dirty.  I was actually happy to see E getting dirty and wet as he splashed around in puddles and dug in the sand.  He doesn't get to be that carefree and exploratory as often as we would like, so it was nice to see him just let loose and go at it.  Our entire group enjoyed the day, and we all left with full tummies.  

The view from the restaurant

Outdoor seating only

Home grown olives.  They even make their own olive oil, which I purchased.

Just a small portion of the buffet.

Wood burning oven where the owners sat to roll/bake sikma.

Mr. Peacock

E and the ducks

Little Monkey--this little guy actually made me sad, though.


The following weekend, S and I took the boys on another beach getaway to celebrate my birthday.  We stayed in an all-inclusive hotel about 2 hours west of Adana tucked away in a cove along the Mediterranean.  The hotel itself was old and not very appealing on the eyes, but it was clean, the beds were comfortable and there was A/C, so we were happy.  The beach, on the other hand, was absolutely amazing.  The water was calm and crystal clear.  There were comfy chairs and umbrellas set up along the shore, and the restaurant served anything and everything all day long.  E swam and made sandcastles for hours as S and I took turns tag teaming/entertaining D.  Perhaps the best part was watching the sea turtles swimming out in the distance, poking their heads up every now and then.  It was simply breathtaking.

We only stayed for one night, but we are already trying to figure out when we will go again.  We are definitely beach people, in case you couldn't tell.  

The view from our lounge chairs under the shade tree.

The beach was gorgeous and so quaint!

wading out into the water. 

E got brave enough to swim out by himself!

We found this little guy in the water. Crazy Eyes!

D Man--Beach Baby

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Beach Weekend in Mersin

This last week was pretty busy for us.  First there was a cocktail party at the principal officer's home on July 3rd which served as a more informal celebration of our nation's birthday.  It was the perfect opportunity for S and I to get time away from the kiddos, enjoy a couple of ice cold beers, and chat with good friends.  That was followed by a friend's family BBQ on July 4th.  S and I took the boys with us, and we all ate grilled burgers, hot dogs and drank more ice cold beer while E ran around with the other kids and D napped in his carrier on my chest.  Then on Saturday we hosted dinner for the new family who recently moved to post.  As the weekend progressed, we realized three straight days of parties, BBQs and dinner was a bit overwhelming, for us and our guests, but since the dinner had been scheduled way before the other two events were even on the radar, we had to go through with it.  In the end it was fun, low-key, and the food was delicious.  S cooked up an amazing Italian feast and our guests sat around our living room picnic-style, sipping wine and indulging in pizza and pasta.  

Having exhausted ourselves from socializing and partying, S and I decided it was time to get away.  We loaded the kids in the car, dropped the dog at the kennel, and drove the roughly 45 minutes to Mersin, a coastal town along the Mediterranean.  

We stayed two nights at the Hilton hotel with a fabulous view overlooking the water.  We spent a few hours at the pool the first day and returned back to the room that evening where we spoiled ourselves with room service.  

The view from our room

The next day we enjoyed a lovely Turkish breakfast then headed to the beach.  S and I took turns sitting in the shade with D and playing in the water or building sand castles with E. 

S and D at breakfast

Me with sweet E

S trying to coax E out into the water.

Building sand castles

It WAS a perfect day for the beach!

Attempting to take a selfie with D.

 After a long day of fun in the sun, we drove back to the hotel to prepare for dinner.  S and I were craving a nice fish dinner at one of the local restaurants, but that turned out to be a bust.  We set out on a walk at 5:30 p.m. in a quest to find a nearby restaurant.  Unfortunately, since it is currently Ramazan, all the restaurants were serving buffet-style Iftar dinners that didn't start until sundown.  That was it. No other options. Sundown is around 8:45 p.m. these days, and with a 2-month old and 3-year old, that was clearly too late to eat.  So, we trekked back to the hotel and dined in the Hilton restaurant.  We sat in the shade overlooking the water.  S ordered sea bass, I ordered chicken and shrimp, and E had pizza.  D chilled in his car seat discovering his hands and listening to the waves crashing on the shore.  E ate and played on his Leap Pad, while S and I enjoyed our food and good conversation.  We turned in early again that evening, and I enjoyed a solid 5 hours of sleep before D woke up demanding to be fed.  

Me with my boys

Dipping D's toes in the water.

Happy baby!

Dinner by the sea

Despite the fact that we were traveling with a newborn and a toddler, S and I both agreed that the weekend was perfectly relaxing.  I don't know what it is about the beach, but it seems to chill our entire family out.  Needless to say, there are many beach getaways in our future.  

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Fun Sign

These street signs are all over Adana.  They are clearly designed to warn drivers not to honk their horns, but if you have ever spent more than five minutes here, you will realize no one obeys the sign. So, S and I like to joke that it really means "don't play your trumpet in the street."  Since I have yet to see a trumpet player around these parts, I am convinced this is the case.  Boom.  Sign obeyed.