Category Archives: Food

Discovering Modern Istanbul Along Istiklal Caddesi

Like many world cities, Istanbul is a complex mix of the new and the old. Everywhere we turn we are reminded by a cobblestone street, a crumbling mosque or an historic tower that we are walking in the steps of ancient history. But this is a vibrant, bustling metropolis, the economic and cultural center of a nation bidding to enter the EU.

The core of modern Istanbul life is Istiklal Caddesi, a pedestrian-only shopping zone full of people no matter the time of day.  Our apartment was located just a 10 minute walk from one end of Istiklal so we spent quite a bit of time on our trip meandering and discovering what it had to offer.img_0044

A “nostalgic tramway” reminiscent of San Francisco’s streetcars runs the length of Istiklal. Since the street is built on a slight slope, the most comfortable way to explore it with little ones is to ride the tram from the southern most point to the top end of the street (Taksim Square) and walk back down. That way it’s slightly downhill the whole way plus the tramway is a lot of fun for kids.  You can reach the start of the nostalgic tramway by taking the Tunel funicular from Kadikoy. When you exit Tunel at the top (end of the line – there’s only one stop) you’ll see the streetcar stop right outside. You buy your ticket from the driver for 1 Turkish lira (about 60 cents).

Istiklal Caddesi is jam-packed with fashionable boutiques, kitschy tourist shops, cafes, movie theaters, restaurants, and historical sights.  We most enjoyed just walking along and people-watching, stopping here and there for a bite to eat or for a cup of coffee.  After riding the nostalgic tram to the end, Grace and I started our first day of exploration of Istiklal after we dropped Steve off for his conference at the Hilton near Taksim Square. First we stopped to try a simit from a branch of the chain Simit Sarayi. A simit is a ring of baked dough dipped in sesame seeds, similar to a bagel. You see simit vendors selling their snacks from red carts all over the city. They’re cheap, fresh and very good.

img_0040Back out on the street Grace and I followed Rick Steve’s walking tour of Istiklal Caddesi in his Istanbul guidebook (highly recommended), which pointed out some of the historical sites along the way. There are some old movie theaters, churches, mosques, flower and fish markets, that kind of thing. We didn’t feel the need to stop long at any of the sites but following the tour at least I knew what I was seeing along the way.

We made a stop at the Ipek silk shop about halfway along the street, on the left if you’re headed towards Taksim.  It’s a high-end silk shop with very helpful staff and good quality scarves. I found a few nice cotton/wool blend scarves (the shop has more than silk). Grace was the princess of the shop with all five shop attendants doting on her, kissing her, and even tying a jaunty scarf around her neck which they gifted to her (and she proceeded to lose on the street shortly after we left!). We have quickly learned that Turks adore children and have no qualms about showering children they don’t know with affection. Grace slowly warmed up to the idea of such expressive strangers and started to return their love with shy waves and air kisses.

There’s a great English language bookstore, Robinson Crusoe (#389), along Istiklal. They have English speaking staff and a wide-range of books about Turkey and other English-language books. It’s a good stop if your kids need something new to read as well.

A fun culinary treat along Istiklal Caddesi, and throughout Istanbul, is ice cream. Turkish ice cream is thick and img_0426stretchy so the servers (found in cafe windows along the street – you’ll spot them by their red and gold hats and vests) do all kinds of tricks with their gooey concoctions. When we stopped for a cone after dinner one night the server shot a long metal rod out the window at Grace. Stuck to the end of it was the scoop of ice cream with a cone. When Grace grabbed the cone, the cone (and scoop) detached perfectly in her hand. But the server wasn’t going to let her get off so easily. He continued to grab the whole thing away from her but reaching out and slapping the end of the metal stick back on the ice cream, to which it stuck and he could pull it away. She was bewildered but amused by the whole endeavor but eventually he let her eat it in peace.

We ate a few meals along Istiklal Caddesi during our time in Istanbul too. Haci Abdullah  (Sakizagaci Cadessi 17, just off Istiklal (past the Aga Mosque) was rated one of the best restaurants in the city by Lonely img_0421Planet Turkey, so we had to give it a try.  The food was good and the service was fast, plus it’s a large fairly noisy restaurant, a good thing when dining out with a toddler. Still it was expensive for what we got and we found we enjoyed Hala (about halfway up Istiklal Caddesi, on the right side if you’re headed towards Taksim Square) so much more. Hala serves gozleme, a traditional thin crepe-type dough folded over various ingredients like cheese, spinach, ground meat and other vegetables. The crepes are made in the restaurant window where you can watch women roll out the dough and cook it over a griddle right in front of you, which is very fun for kids.  We also tried their stuffed grape leaves (dolma) and Turkish ravioli (manti), both fresh and tasty.

Overall Istiklal Cadessi is an entertaining place for families, worth at least a short outing during your stay in Istanbul.

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Travel Food For Kids: Buy Stock In Clif Bars

grace_breadForeign food and kids don’t always mix well. Our daughter Grace is generally a pretty varied eater for a two-year old.  She likes a good mix of fruits, veggies, meats, bread, so for the most part our parenting food philosophy is along the lines of “as long as she usually eats what we eat, an occasional deviation from said philosophy is perfectly acceptable.”

The “occasional deviation” quickly becomes the norm when we travel however, particularly to foreign countries. Really, it has to.  I just can’t insist that Grace eat spicy food in Honduras or shellfish in the Caribbean. Nope, not gonna  do it.

As much as possible, we try to find familiar as well as new foods Grace will like in the local cuisine. In just about every country you can find some kind of food that appeals to your child, if you know what to look for. Last Thanksgiving in Honduras the hotel kitchen made Grace her own special noodles with white sauce and broccoli most nights.  In Argentina we often ordered Grace her own small sides of mashed potatoes and applesauce, both staples in Argentine parilla restaurants.  Fruits and breads are widely available just about everywhere, so don’t be afraid to ask for something special for your child, even asking a waiter to recommend what local children eat. You may find your child has a new love for mashed turnips or grilled guniea pig!

Food should be a fun part of travel, not a headache, and it generally doesn’t take long before we find ourselves at a meal where Grace just isn’t digging whatever happens to be available. We always carry a good supply of back-up foods that are easy to pack, nutritious, and we know she likes.   A cranky, hungry kid is no fun when traveling and neither is a cranky, frustrated parent.

Clif bars are our #1 travel food of choice for Grace. She will always eat them, no matter what.  Clif bars use organic clif_baringredients, are high in fiber, protein and vitamins, and relatively low in fat and sugar (compared to, say, cookies). I find them on sale and buy large quantities with coupons. I avoid the chocolatey/ peanut butter combinations and instead go for fruity varities – blueberry crisp, oatmeal raisin, and once I even bought a whole bunch of carrot cake (woohoo for veggies!). Somehow I feel better giving her the fruity/ veggie flavors, even though the sugar and fat content doesn’t vary much from their chocolate cousins.

Other favorites we pack along include Horizon organic UHT milk (no refrigeration needed), single serve boxes of raisins, organic applesauce packs, Mi-del whole wheat graham crackers, dried blueberries, and peanut butter.

Our hope as parents is that, by introducing Grace to new places, people and, yes, foods as a young child, she will grow up embracing new friends as well as sights, sounds, and tastes.  Bringing along a little of the familiar seems to help her feel more at ease and willing to try new things. Plus there have been plenty of times when I’ve been grateful to have her Clif bars along to settle my own rumbling tummy.

What are your favorite travel foods for your kids?

Tegucigalpa’s Offerings For Families

The last week of our trip to Honduras was spent in the capital, Tegucigalpa, or “Tegus” for short.  This was a return visit to Tegus for us, and it seems to have improved with time.  The airport is newly renovated and a much nicer experience.  The streets seem cleaner and better organized, even with political campaigns in full swing.  Truth be told, though, Tegus is probably not somewhere you’d seek out for a vacation as the culture and vibe is not quite the same as you might find in Antigua, Guatemala.  But, if you find yourself with kids in Tegus at some point, here’s our experience.

First, it’s hard to find a decent hotel with enough comfortable space for kids.  We’ve stayed at Leslie’s Place in the past before Grace, and it’s really nice but doesn’t have any suites available.  Fortunately, Humuya Inn is the top ranked hotel on TripAdvisor and deservedly so.  It’s in a quiet residential neighborhood, run by competent and attentive American expats, beautifully appointed and has huge 2 bedroom apartments for a reasonable price (and smaller hotel style rooms are available as well).  The kitchen is decent and flexible too.  Humuya staff also arranged a daily driver with van for us, which was a positive experience and well worth the moderate cost.

Humuya Inn
Humuya Inn

In Tegus itself, the highlights for us included El Mirador del Picacho, a park with huge Christ statue overlooking the city.  The overlook is next to a somewhat-maintained park commemorating the United Nations and some playground equipment.  There’s also a nearby zoo which apparently has seen better days (we gave it a miss).

Grace at the Mirador

Another worthwhile outing with kids is the Chiminike Children’s Museum, a fairly new site with a good variety of hands-on exhibits that appeal to a broad spectrum of ages.  Vacuum tubes, water games, karaoke, and a walk through the human body kept Grace entertained for several hours.

One of the most popular day trips from the city is Valle de Angeles, a small town about 40 minutes drive from Tegucigalpa.  While sometimes touristy, it’s still a pleasant colonial village with a profusion of leather shops, wood handicrafts, traditional pottery, a nice plaza and church, and cool breezes.  The bustling groups of people on the weekend provided an entertaining distraction for Grace.  We were pleasantly surprised to find a unique shop off the main street selling interesting ceramics, iron sculptures, and a plant nursery.  Called Hierro Barro y Verde, we found some beautiful ceramic Christmas tree ornaments, tiles, a cross, and iron hanging card holder to take home.  It’s a new shop, run by mother and daughter, is only open on weekends at this point, and is across the street from the Museo Santa Maria de los Angeles.

Valle shop

While in Valle, we made a return visit to a restaurant we discovered on a previous trip called El Turistico (not as bad as the name might suggest).  It’s on a hill overlooking the town, has great anafre (melted cheese appetizer) and well priced steak.  I would be remiss if I didn’t also put in a plug for the venerable chicken institution in Central America, Pollo Campero, which has several locations around Tegus.

Hopefully this brief overview of Tegus’ possibilities is helpful for your next visit there with kids!  Have you found other good spots for kids in Honduras?  Please share!

Try Cabo With Your Toddler

The following post is written by our blogging buddy, Melissa Moog, of Itsa-Belly. Her toddler, Isabella, is just a few months older than our Grace and they recently traveled with her to Cabo, Mexico. The following are Melissa’s tips for feeding your baby there and managing the tricky car seat dilemma.

Cabo is an Americanized and modern town due to tons of tourism with lots of options for feeding your baby. We fed Isabella milk which we bought on site at our resort in their general market. We also ate at credible restaurants that offered rice, beans, chicken etc. We even shopped at the local market and bought veggies and fruit which were fine. Drinking bottled water with an American label or a local label that is credible (ask your hotel receptionist) is usually fine. We had no problem.

We had a shuttle pick us up at the airport called Transcabo and they offer car seats for an extra charge. Our car seat straps weren’t working properly though so beware and if you’re paranoid about this then bring your own and be prepared to carry it! There were no laws enforcing car seats there and drivers didn’t seem to care. We did share a shuttle to avoid the expensive cost and it was a bit of a bumpy ride sitting in the back of the van. Note that there are two terminals in the Cabo airport which are about 1-2 miles away fr each other and walking with luggage and kids if you get dropped off at the wrong one is totally inconvenient – this happened to us! So, make sure you ask the taxi or shuttle driver if the terminal you are dropped off at has your airline!

Thanks Melissa! Have you traveled to Cabo with your child? If you liked it, let us know plus any tips you may have!

All Aboard With Milk in Hand – You CAN Take Milk On The Plane

When you travel with a toddler or small child, the idea of not having milk in hand is, well, frightening. When Grace holds up her little hand and rapidly opens and shuts her palm making the sign for milk, I had better have it ready fast or else. I’m thrilled that, to break it down with a few milk-toting tips, my blogging buddy Melissa Moog of Itsabelly shared the following post with us here at Kids Go Global:

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We just returned from our vacation in Cabo San Lucas and had a wonderful time but when traveling with baby I’m always going through a long list of things I need to make sure to pack. One very important thing I make sure to have handy is the precious white liquid called milk. Our 19 month old LOVES her milk! I was also chatting with a friend about traveling with our babies and sharing different tips on how to make our travels easier. She mentioned that Trader Joe’s carries small milk cartons that don’t need refrigeration so she takes these on the plane with her. I thought that was a great idea as long as security decides to let you keep the cartons. Personally, I haven’t had a problem at all with carrying milk through but I’ve only traveled within the US and MX so far with our toddler. I wanted to offer some tips for parents wondering how they can have that precious white liquid on hand.

Here’s what I do when traveling with milk:

  • I take the Foogo sippy cup and fill it with milk. The Foogo is insulated and keeps milk cold for several hours. It’s also a non-toxic container which is plus! It also fits nicely in the side pocket of our backpack.
  • I take a Sigg bottle and fill it with extra milk. The Sigg is a non-toxic container as well!
  • Here’s some Info on how long you can keep milk at room temp – It depends on the temperature that the milk is stored at. To be safe here are some general guidelines for time and temperature for milk:
    – At room temperature of 60 degrees F milk will stay safe for 24 hours.
    – At room temperature of 66-72 degrees F milk will stay safe for 10 hours.
    – At room temperature of 79 degrees F milk will stay safe for 4-6 hours.
  • If for some reason security asks me to dump the milk I don’t worry because I can also purchase milk from the coffee shops or cafes after passing through security.
  • If for some reason you don’t find a coffee shop or cafe to purchase milk you can always asks your flight attendant while she’s serving your drink to give you a glass of milk. Voila, you can fill your child’s sippy cup with the precious white liquid!

These options should help you avoid bursting your ear drums from a screaming toddler who knows milk does her body good! At least until her sippy cup is sucked dry again 🙂

Overall, from Itsabelly’s review based on form, functionality and frugal-ness (is it worth the money I spent) we give Foogo and Sigg 4 out of 5 bellies (5 being excellent).

Thanks Melissa!

A couple of caveats from my own milk-slinging. Trader Joe’s no longer carries the single-serve boxes of milk, at least according to the salesclerk my husband spoke with last week. Their inventory is constantly changing so hopefully they’ll have it again soon. I have consistently found single-serve boxed milk at Whole Foods in the baby food aisle. For lactose-intolerant babies the search seems to be harder. My exercising buddy Rebekah is embarking tomorrow on a 19+ hour plane trip to Singapore, then on to India a few days later with her 14-month old daughter who is lactose-intolerant. She searched for single-serve boxed soy milk at Whole Foods, Fred Meyers, Trader Joe’s, Costco and even Target with no luck. Apparently Whole Foods usually carries vanilla soy milk (she was looking for plain) but were sold out even of that. She bought rice milk in single-serve boxes instead and borrowed a thermos from me to fill with her daughter’s favorite soy milk. Fingers crossed that, between the two, Ela will be satisfied.

My other caveat is in regards to the Foogo sippy cup Melissa likes. I took this cup to Buenos Aires in May for Grace and from the beginning it leaked like a drippy faucet. Even worse, it developed a sour smell very quickly, despite frantic soakings in hot soapy water and, in desperation, vinegar. It’s hanging in a bag in my garage to be returned to the shop where I bought it next time I’m in their area. The concept of an insulated sippy cup is great but not if it smells. Perhaps mine was defective as I’ve had other friends who, like Melissa, loved the Foogo. I think I’ll try Sigg‘s child-size water bottles next as I love my full-sized bottle made by them.

For more on carrying liquids on the plane see our recent post on the TSA rules and how much you can stretch them with kids!

One Reason We Travel: The Kindness of Strangers

Without exception, in our travel experience locals are generally kind and helpful to us travelers. Having a child along seems to only augment locals’ desire to help disoriented foreigners as well as their desire to provide you with helpful child-rearing information.

Take a recent foray into an Argentine supermercado as an example. I was looking for plain, unsweetened, yogurt for Grace. It seemed like a very basic staple, especially in the large Western-style grocery store where I was shopping. To my dismay I faced a refrigerator case full of countless packaged yogurts, all of which boasted interesting fruity (and highly sugared) flavors. No supermarket staff was in sight so I turned to the other lone shopper in that aisle, a smartly dressed woman in her mid-40s, and in my most helpless tone struck up the following conversation. Bear in mind the entire conversation took place in two levels of Spanish – poorly (me) and fluently rapid-fire (smartly dressed woman). I have taken the liberty of translating my Spanish as if it were perfect and her Spanish as I understood it, not necessarily as she actually said it.

Me: Excuse me, I am looking for plain yogurt for my baby. Do you know where I can find that?

Woman: Oh of course, let’s see it must be here somewhere. (Proceeds to wander up and down refrigerated case peering carefully at each variety. She finally pulls one down and hands it to me). This one is good for babies.

Me: (After reading container) Oh I see, but this one contains sugar. Do you know if I can find one without sugar or without flavoring? Plain yogurt?

Woman: Oh but your baby needs sugar. She will like this flavor. (some kind of mixed fruit) Babies love this flavor.

Me: (Placing tutti-frutti, high-fructose corn syrup-laden yogurt in cart) Thank you, I will try it. But do you know if there is also any yogurt that is plain?

Woman: (Not at all flustered by my persistence) Yes, I think so. (Wanders again up and down the entire refrigerated case, finally pulling down a small carton which she hands to me). This one is plain. But I don’t think your baby will like it. Babies like sweet yogurt.

Me: (Trying to be as diplomatic as possible in bad Spanish) Thank you. We’ll try both of them.

The kind but insistent woman and I parted ways and I left the grocery store with a carton each of tutti-frutti yogurt and plain yogurt. To my delight Grace preferred the plain yogurt. It’s nice to be right but it’s even nicer to have a warm encounter with a kind stranger.

Have you had a positive encounter with strangers while traveling with your children? Share it with us here!