Emma and Sam

So Emma and Sam have arrived for a ten day holiday with us in Turkey, spending the first few days in Istanbul. We wanted to show them as many different aspects of life in Istanbul – from one of Peter’s high-end Mac health clubs, to a local market, to the Blue Mosque in Sultanahmet (the old quarter).

But of course most importantly we had to give them a flavour of what Istanbul has to offer in terms of food.

We were lucky as on the first day we stumbled across our local market in Ortakoy (the suburb where we live and literally 10 mins walk from our apartment) and later found out it was one of the best neighbourhood markets.

Once again fabulous food stalls piled high with beautiful vegetables – but also the most amazing street food. Fantastic Gozleme (turkish pancakes) filled with spinach and cheese and cooked on a sort of enormous skottle which were so light and crispy and absolutely delicious.

And some gorgeous dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) that the lady proudly showed us.

We got some homemade walnut baclava but we took those home for pudding!

4 Reasons Hotel

It took me a while to realise this was a play on the Four Seasons Hotel, but they state their four values as their four reasons – serenity, attitude, quality and design – and they pretty much have those in bucketfuls.

High points – gorgeous serenity, peace and a certain retreat-like quality as the hotel is nestled up in the hillside overlooking the small fishing town of Yalikavak about 20 minutes from Bodrum further into the Bodrum peninsula, and of course fantastic views.


The service is wonderful – very personal with Ali, Birol and Serhat doing their utmost to ensure you are looked after to their best ability. Occasionally the service was a tad slow when they were busy attending to somebody else, but their attitude and desire to please are outstanding.

The main low point is the food which is occasionally good – panfried sea bass salad and Billy was particularly partial to their meatballs – but mostly just ok. A bit disappointing but when we asked ourselves why we kept eating in the bistro night after night rather than trekking into town, we realised we loved the setting. So we were prepared to overlook the clumsy cooking and chill out with a delicious glass of Turkish rose. My advice to the chef is simplify – live up to the values of a bistro – simple flavours and let them speak for themselves.

There were a few irritating things like having to pay for water and espresso which frankly should be included in a hotel of this price. Oh, and the beds were very uncomfortable, although slightly improved by a soft mattress topper after the first night but still not great.

Would we come back? Absolutely, loved our 5 days here – definitely 4 reasons to come back.


Kuru (or Billy’s favourite restaurant)

On our last day in Istanbul before heading off down the West coast on holiday, we had our first Turkish lesson, as I found that as the week went by, I was getting increasingly frustrated at not being able to communicate effectively, especially in shops, even in the most basic way. I realised that in the last 20 or 30 years, I can hardly remember a time when I was in a country where I can not make myself understood or understand what’s being said to me.

So, it seemed to me there was one answer – start those Turkish lessons and get learning! Billy was the star of the class and seems to be able to retain the information well, whilst Daisy got board of the lesson after an hour and had serious attention deficit for the last half hour, but we got the basic greetings sorted plus how to ask for stuff in shops and restaurants and learnt our numbers to 100.

We then persuaded Peter to come out for lunch with us and stopped at one of the many basic cafes where you see tables of mostly men tucking into traditional Turkish fare.

The most popular seems to be a sort of mixed grill where you get a sis (pronounced shish) kebab, a kofte and a piece of chicken with various garnishes of tomato and cucumber salad. We decided to order a plate of chicken, a plate of kofte and and a plate of sis and all share, as well as being adventurous and trying the famous kuru – a Turkish version of baked beans – homemade of course.

And much to all of our surprise, they were delicious and we all love them.



Do it like a local

Day two saw us venture down into Ortakoy for a wander and to have our first sample of what is on offer here in Turkey.

We tried borek – fried Turkish pastries stuffed with cheese and spring onions – and some kofte – Turkish meatballs – which have become our staple lunch, especially for the male in the family.

Most importantly, Billy had several firsts – his first game of backgammon, and the first time a random Turkish man has kissed him on both cheeks – am sure that is the first of many as they are a very demonstrative race!