Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Istanbul Toy Museum

entrance of İstanbul Toy Museum

İstanbul Toy museum was founded by Turkish famous poet Sunay Akın in April 23rd, 2005. This museum houses favourite examples of the toy history from 1700's till now.  The exhibition is held at a historic mansion located in Göztepe  which is a very well known town of Istanbul.

Sunay Akın, the former of the museum, had visited the auctions and antique shops from many other countries and purchased these old toys. The old mansions each room has been decorated for a thema and they exhibit the toys according to the time. The first step of human on the earth was an era for the World. So here you can find the toys produced at that time and how children played. This decorative narration is very useful as our children can define how the mood of children in those days.
The decorator artist of the museum is very well known design artist named Ayhan Doğan, so here I would like to thank him for his great understanding the history of toys even before he was born ;)
The museum stands as an only one example on the world for it is been founded by a poet and decorated by a theatre show designer.

section of castle and soldiers

My kids were wondering the toys of my childhood, so was I ;) I invited my mom to tour visit of the museum. So we all three generations headed towards to see the unforgettable memories.

section of shadow game characters

We bought our tickets , mom, me and my two little kids stepped right into my childhood.
Woow at the entrance I saw  "Karagöz and Hacivat". The funniest two characters of Turkish shadow play. Karagöz means the one with the black eyes and always wears red clothes. He represent the illitereate but straightforward from public. Hacivat, the name means "the pilgrim Ivat", is the other leading character represents the educated class and  speaks in a poetical way. He always wears green clothes.
The central theme of the play is the contrast between these two characters, therefore children and of course adults are always having fun with their interraction of misunderstandings during play.  The shadow play had became popularized in Ottoman time and still is well known and played during the Ramadan month of Muslims.
Mom told to kids the story of my brother of how he used to play the "Karagöz & Hacivat" and earned money from me and my cousins ;))

If you are wondering how the play is, link to this adress please:

The museum exhibits the toys at three different storeys. So we headed upstairs to visit each theme of toy history as my mom and I were telling the stories from our chilhoods.
There were doll houses from 1800's, in other section we saw the planes, trains and cars, in another the toys from star wars, the toy time of soldiers and castles and many more...
I found some of my toys that I used to play alot. I told my stories of how I used to make houses with my "Noppers" and place the dolls and cars to create the city of my dreams. My kids listened eagerly and understood those times.

The museum is also a theatre place and activity place for children . There are acts for children above age of three. Also at the cafe there is a big section for children where they can color their own wooden toys.

some of toys from my childhood exhibited

doll house section

Hereby you will find my notes of a mom's sightsee to visit this museum;

  • The museum is at Anatolian side of Istanbul.
  • You cannot visit each story with the baby strollers, as the museum exhibits at an old Turkish mansion. So you can either leave the stroller at the entrance of the museum or just carry it through the floors as well as with your baby.
  • There is no nursery room for the babies, however you can manage every thing at the cafe section ;)
  • The cafe is very vintage. After you finish the visit of museum, you can have coffee and some little desserts and relax. 

a part of cafe

  • I suggest you to ask the ticket officer the activity time of coloring the wooden toys for children. They will love it as is going to be a memoir for them.
  • If you want to see the plays at the toy museum, please make a reservation before you go or ask to ticket officer at your arrival time. Please note that all the acts are in Turkish except the pantomime play called the "The Journey of Red Nose". This will be a good activity for you and for your children since children are also taking part in this "mim play". I suugest you to have this opportunity to see the interraction of your child with Turkish children and a touch to Turkish culture. Below you can find the phone for reservation for the play or ask at your visiting time. Mostly the plays are held at weekends. In Turkish it is called "Kırmızı Burnun Yolculuğu". However do not worry as most of Turkish people will understand English and will help you a lot.

a scene from the theatre named The Journey of Red Nose

  • There is a parking lot nearby the museum for at least ten cars. You can also park on the other streets as well.
  • I suggest you to use navigation for the address, since the museum stated at a very complicated area of Istanbul..
  • Mom's with toddlers, be sure to have their food with you, since there is no menu for them.
  • Menu consists of hamburgers, cold sandwiches, toasts, hot/cold beverages and some desserts. Please taste pinky basier/ meringue :)
  • The restrooms are at the ground floor where you will find through a decoration of submarines.

children's activity area
Entrance fees and visiting hours

Mondays closed.

Tuesday- Friday: 09.00- 18.00
Saturday- Sunday: 09.00- 19.00

Adult: 10 TL
Children: 7 TL
Theatre fees: 25 TL (including entrance fee of the museum)

right at my heart from my childhood ;)


By Private vehicle:

Drive through E-80 highway on the direction from European to Anatolian side of Istanbul, till you find the "Göztepe" signs. From there drive on the very famous line of minibuses avenue at "Göztepe" till you see the signs of "Istanbul Oyuncak Müzesi". Do follow these signs and you will find the old mansion where you will find easily as you will notice the two giant statues of  giraffes.

By Public Transportation:

There are bus stations at "Kadıköy" and "Göztepe".

Take these lines of the numbers below:

10, 10B, 10S, 14Ç, 14KS, 17, 17L, 19F, 19M, GZ1, GZ2, ER1, ER2.

The museum is at a complicated spot even for a local, so please use your navigator to find the address.

Adress: Ömerpaşa caddesi
              Dr. Zeki Eren Sokak.
              No: 15 Göztepe/ İstanbul

English version of address: Ömerpaşa Avenue
                                             Dr. Zeki Eren Street
                                             No: 15  Göztepe town

Phone: +90 216 359 4550- 51

Please find the map here.

wooden toys are waiting to be colored

children are visiting the cafe

Hope you'll visit İstanbul Toy Museum on your Istanbul tour and find the chance of sharing your best memories with your kids ;))

Friday, December 19, 2014

The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art @ Bosphorus

Karaköy Port 
The Istanbul Museum of Modern Art is the first to organize the exhibition of modern and contemporary art in Turkey. It was founded in 2004 located by the European side of Bosphorus at Karaköy Custom Port. Since then Istanbul Modern embraces Turkey's artistic creativity and promotos its cultural identity in the international art world.

Despite being a permanent and a temporary art galleries, Istanbul Modern offers photo galleries, educational and social spaces for every age, library, restaurant, cinema and design store.
Istanbul Modern encourages a creative and an interactive museum experience for its visitors.  As a result of this act, museum encouraged the frequent visitors.


Through the years Istanbul Modern provided the connection with its visitors by the temporary modern art exhibits. During my visit I noticed that the museum attracts the young visitors and foreigners as well. There are mostly school students coming during weekdays. The museum organises tours for these children with a guide.

Must knows about the museum:
  • Weekdays are suitable for comfortable visits. No queues. 
  • Thursdays are free.
  • You can make reservation for guidance at the museum, make a call for before you go.
  • If you do not want guidance you can have audio guide for 10 TL.
  • Do not miss the lovely view of old Istanbul Bosphorus from the restaurant.
  • Backpacks are not allowed during the visit. If you are carrying your baby's stuff, I suggest you to bring a small handbag to carry at the museum.
  • However it is not allowed to eat or drink inside. So you can either have lunch at the restaurant or can eat outside where there are benches cross the historic clock tower.
  • Other than having your own lunch box, or lunch at the museum's restaurant, walk to Karaköy. You will find a variety of food down there.
  • What I most like about the museum is their educational programmes for all ages. You can find the schedule for workshops and make reservation (pls call: +90 212 334 7341 ).
  • There is a parking lot, but not free :((
  • For mom's with strollers or with children under 5 years old, use the elevator for lower floor. The stairs are moving while you are stepping down, this is not dangerous for adults however with children you might need help....

  • The modern art museum attracts the youth very much. I noticed that they are very interested in each piece. So let them visit the exhibition.
  • There isn't a baby sitting room. However there are toilets in each floor with baby nursery beds. Do not worry, they are clean and very neat.
  • The souvenier shop is great to look!! There are out of the box designs. I loved them all. You can find something different and useful as a gift from İstanbul Museum's gift shop. 
  • The exhibition is held at at the wharehouse port of Karaköy. The place is renovated by the very well known company Eczacıbaşı. They used the # 4 wharehouse and decorated the place for museum conditions.
At Istanbul Museum you will find a brief look for the modern Turkey's creations in every aspects of the art. If you are planning a visit to Istanbul, this exhibition is one of the spots in town  to see not only for the compositions but of course have a shot right accross the old Istanbul's siluet with your loved ones ;))) 

Ramazan Bayrakoğlu -
piece of art made of acrylic on plexiglass -

Entrance fees and visiting hours:

Monday is closed.

Tuesday-Sunday: 10.00- 18.00
Sunday: 10.00- 20.00

Entrance fees:

Thursday is free
Children under 12 years are also free of charge

Adults: 17 TL
Children: 9 TL
Movie: 9 TL

If you have Istanbul Modern card, entrance is free

If you have Museum + card one visit per year is free

a moment of love of audience
for Turkish movie stars around 1970ss

By Private vehicle: 

Drive from Karaköy to Kabataş. You will see the Nusretiye Mosque at right hand side, then you will notice the red label of ISTANBUL MUSEUM sign.

By Public Transportation:

Take Tramway from Kabataş to Karaköy. Stop at Tophane. Cross to sea side of the road and take a 10 minutes of walk towards to Nusretiye Mosque than see the sign of Istanbul Museum.

You can also take the finikular line from Pera of İstiklal Avenue @ Taksim to Kabataş. Then hop on to tram and hop off at Tophane station. Again have a 10 minutes of walk to Istanbul Museum. (See the railway map please)

You can have bus ride from Beşiktaş, Eminönü or Taksim riding to Karaköy. Here are the number of the lines: 26, 26A, 26B,28, 28T,30D

Olafur Eliasson -
the most remarkable piece of the exhibition -
The Red Emotional Globe

Adress: Meclis-i Mebusan Caddesi
              Liman İşletmeleri Sahası
              34433, Karaköy/ İstanbul

Phone: +90 212 334 7300

a collection of magazines
 of Turkish movie starss

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A weekend with children at Zorlu Shopping Mall- Beauty and the Beast @ Zorlu PSM

Certain as the Sun
Rising in the East
Tale as old as Time
Song as old as Rhyme
Beauty and the Beeaaast!!

Summer is over :( the autumn has just started but an early winter crushed in the sunny long dayss. Being at home is all we missed after all the outdoor exercises done during summerr. So we sat and thought what to do @ weekend with children in rainy Istanbul.

There were lots of workshops for children or moviee but nehh, playing "uno" or "monopoly" ...nooo, cooky cooking @home may beee... What else could we do more exciting and different? Finally we made the decision; watching the Beauty and the Beast @ Zorlu Performing Arts Center (PAC) was just the thing we all needed!!

entrance of Zorlu PAC

As all agreed we headed to Zorlu Shopping Mall (SM).  It was the last day of Beauty and the Beast. The tale and of course its theatre was a gorgeous performanceee. My son really loved it, he couldn't sit on the couch because he got really excited of the music and the visualss...
And I am/ we are still murmuring the song at home....

Ever as Before
Ever just as Sure
As the sun will Rise

The fare of the theatre was reaaly expensive, you all know that :((...
Therefore we hesitate to visit the PAC with children. Now here comes my tip; Check from the web side of Zorlu PAC if there is a spare seat  for the theatre. If there is, immediately go to PAC at the performance day and buy ticket for children only for 20 Turkish Liras!! ( The cost vary from 160 to 400 Turkish Liras according to performance)

Oooops did not know thatt?? Well now you do, so follow the life saver mommy tips around ;))

the hall inside the PAC

Zorlu PAC is in Zorlu Shopping Mall.
The architecture of the theatre helps you view the stage good from every aspect.
Acoustic is also perfect. Air condition is good. The staff is very good mannered and fairwell trained.
The seatings are comfortable, however the space between two seats and front seat are very close.
This situation blocks your view of stage!!! Thus you gotta change your seat if you are with a child :((

At the PAC, if you can't find spare seat for a theatre, do not be mad at me please ;)) Always have an alternative plan.

entrance to PAC from Meydan Floor

Zorlu Shopping Mall differs from others in Istanbul. This a very faashionable market where you will find world leader fashion studios... Also a cultural and an event place that you can see world performances.

So at the weekend or during the week time there are a lot of activities you can take your children which can be held in or outside of the mall area. Such as;
  • Workshops for children
  • Art Galleries
  • Free concerts
  • Gourmet restourants
  • A 1600 square metres playground
  • Movie theatres
  • and many other more activities you can attend with your children for planing your time.
The mall has a huge playground where you will also find sandpit. As the weather is rainy here in Istanbul, so we can't visit. But I promise when the sunny days come back in town I will be there and letting you know my sightsee of mom notes ;))

Meydan floor at Zorlu SM

So here are the must knows and do's of Zorlu SM and Zorlu PAC:
  • The whole area is stroller friendly :))
  • So during summer time, take your child with you to the open air, let him run around as you sip your americano ;))
  • Or if there is a baby needs to sleep, take a tour and seat on a bench in or out, and read your newspaper relaxingly

shops inside the mall
  • Take your child to the playground, but must have spare clothes for the sandpit area.
  • If you are hungry there are a lot of choices you can find. Fast food, Turkish kitchen food, Italian food, gourme restaurants, kultural kitchens.. Choose the one suit for your family.
  • Each section of food is at the different location at Zorlu Mall. You can have the whole fast food section at Bogaz floor. If you just need to shop and want to have coffee, this section is at Metro floor. The fashion brand shops and gourmet restaurants are at Meydan floor of the mall. The home furnitures are all at Kopru floor. 

food court at Boğaz floor
  • If your children are more than one in number, sometimes you need to use the restrooms all together. Don't you? Hey, here you can find family restrooms that you can use with all your children...Lovely haa, nice thought thank you Zorlu ;))
  • Of course there is a baby sitting room, where you cand find good accomodation for your needs.
  • At the weekend make reservation a couple of hours before your arrival for the gourmet restaurants such as Jamies Italian, Eataly, Tom's Kitchen and Morini.
  • At the PAC, there are mini shops for drinks, junk food and fresh fruits. A water costs 3 TL, a banana is 8 TL... I found the prices a little expensive. However you can bring your food from home or buy from these mini shops as you wish.
  • At the performances there takes a long break, like 20 minutes. This gives us a long breath for easily arranging the whole needs of the children.
  • Please do ask a raising seat for the child from the staff as you enter the hall.
  • I suggest you to use the public transportation such as metro and metrobus especially for arrivals from Asian side of Istanbul. (But do not use the metro and metrobus with children at rush hour time. )

drive to parking lot or valet services and the metro 


Public Transportation

By metro: Hop off at Gayrettepe station. Follow the signs leading to Zorlu Shopping Mall.
By metrobus: Stop at Zincirlikuyu. Walk to metro and follow the signs leading to Zorlu Shopping Mall. (This an advantage especially for the winter days at Zincirlikuyu)

Private Vehicle: Drive to "Zincirlikuyu". Turn to Gayrettepe and follow the signs showing "Ulus- Levazım". Then you will see Zorlu Shopping Mall in front of you.

Parking: Parking is free. You can also leave your car to valets at Zincirlikuyu and Levazım entrances. 

the view of  Zincirlikuyu from Zorlu Mall

The Mall is open to visitors between 10:00 am and 10:00 pm a week.

For the address and the contact please check the following.

Zorlu Shopping Mall and Zorlu Performing Arts Center are contributing substantial cultural acts to the life of Istanbul and will be adding more values. 

During your stay in Istanbul I suggest you to visit Zorlu Mall and Zorlu PAC with your children, thus showing the modern face of Istanbul.

one of the shops at Meydan floor

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

One of the best to see with children Sedir Island in Marmaris

the beach of the famous Cleopatra Island
Cleopatra Island is a heaven on earth!!!
Sea, sand, ancient ruins of Greek time, the smell of olive trees, the sun and of course the feelings that make you are in a place that is heaven :))

They say, Cleopatra and Antonius had lived a tremendous love on this island.
So that Antonius did whatever to please the very beloved Cleopatra, the famous queen of ancient Egypt. He obtained the wonderful sand of Red Sea and 60 ships transferred it over to Sedir Island. This was to adjust the comfort of Cleopatra in this lovely turquise colored water.

the lounge behind the beach

The sand that made the island very famous nowadays. This is not similar with the one that you can find at every beach.
The sand does not differ from each other as they all have the same sphere with the same measurement, incredible ha ;)) The sand can be burned by fire or can be multipled by soda. If you ever observe the sand by a magnifier, you will find that the sand moves.

"Mummy, are these alive, can they eat us?"
"Hımm, no my dear, do not worry, look everybody is sitting on it." as I said this I looked around and noticed that the ladies at the seaside are washing themselves with it.
I guess they wanna look beautiful as Cleopatra ;))

from the beach

Cleopatra Island (known also as Sedir Island) is the biggest of the triple island group stated at the Gulf of Gokova of southernwestern of Aegean Sea. There are olive trees and bushes all around the island. The sea with its famous beach is an adorable view to swim with. You can also visit the historic Greek city ruins, which had been named as Kedrai at the ancient times.

wooden path all around the island

theatre of the ancient ruins

It is not easy to walk around the ruins as the restoration has not finished yet. But this is good as you can touch the old city's stones and feel the daily life.
Just imagine how it had been at the ancient times to watch a theatre or watch the war between the best gladiators. The ancient boats putting spices or silk to the port. The debates done for liberty and for law under the shade of the statues at the agora. See the mass activity of trade at the bazaar on one side of the island  and on the other hand watch the beautiful view and smell the Aegean Sea...



I suggest you to read the ancient history of Cleopatra Island before your visit.
And of course do not forget to read my sightsee mom notes just to be aware how the conditions are at the island ;))

Must know about Cleopatra Island
  • I suggest you to visit the island in the morning, as at noon time the boat tours stop at the port of the island and gets very crowded.
  • Each one of the sand is under the protection of government because of its specialities (since the sand is unique on earth). Therefore you cannot enter the beach with your flip flops :)
  • Children can easily swim at the bay since the sea is shallow. The temperature of the sea is also suitable for even babies.
  • Since the water is so beautiful, children do not want to come out. Therefore must have hats and sunscreen.
  • Before our visit to island we knew that there are no restaurants or cafes at the island. Therefore I made a picnic basket for children. We found a picnic table and enjoyed our lunch under the olive trees. I suggest you too...
  • However if you have no chance for that, do not worry there is a cafe at the island. You can have the necessary things from.
  • There are shower, cabins  and restrooms at the island, very close to the island's cafe.
  • There are free beach umbreallas and lounges behind the beach.
  • I suggest you not to take valuable things with you to island. However if you must, then there are lockers you can ask from the cafe. (Lockers cost 5 TL for a day)
  • The walking path around the island is made of wood. You can use the baby strollers comfortably.
  • Along the walking path you will find the historic points and of course the information as well. This tour takes not more than an hour. 
  • You can enter the island for free if you have a museum pass or a credit card form İşbankası .
  • If you prefer private vehicle to Cleopatra Island, I suggest you the Çınar Restaurant for dining.  You can have breakfast and otantic meals which are well priced as well.
  • Have your children ever picked mountain strawberries with beautiful smell? If not, you will find strawberry fields on the road. Of course not for free, goshhh.
  • Favourite suggestion is do not forget your camera!!
one of the island of the triple group

Admission fees and visiting hours

Visiting hours: 10:00 am- 19:00 pm

Admission fees

Adults: 15 TL

ticket boot
  • You can have daily boat tours from Akyaka or Marmaris. These tours are also stopping at Cleopatra Island and as other bays as well .
  • If you are going by your vehicle, take the highway from Marmaris to Datça. You will see the signs to Cleopatra Island on the way. After 5 km, you will reach to Çamlık village and after that to Çamlık port. Park your car and get on the boats cruising to the island. 
Transfer fee to island by boat for adults: 20 TL
Parking: Free

parking area at Çamlık port

the view of Çamlık port from the boat

My aim of visit to Cleopatra Island with the children was not only swimming at the turqouise colored sea, but to understand or make them feel the historic ruins as well.
To make them understand how rich these Anatolian grounds are.
Of course the sand, the sea and our picnic made the trip more enjoyful.

 the cock and chickens made the picnic fun

Visiting the Cleopatra Island will always be ranked at top of my list of places to visit in Turkey with children!!

the view from the theatre

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Zoo in Istanbul

Istanbul had a zoo in Gulhane when I was a child. I had the best memories there with my cousins and my grandfather. I remember how we fed the giraffes with the barks of trees.

In 1991, the zoo in Gulhane had been shut down because of the many complains of the living conditions of animals. (Yeah it became terrible I remember that also :(((  )

In 1993 Faruk Yalcın, the founder of Faruk Yalcın Zoo who was known as a constructor of NATO, started a bird sanctuary in Darica to conserve the species which are endangered. He succeded in wild bird life and saved.  Faruk Yalcın, developed a suitable habitat for the birds to live in a natural environment. This forming advanced the sanctuary to a botanical garden as well. By 1995, the establishment generated a tropical area and started activity on adding wild life animals to the zoo.

ring taled coatis
Nowadays the zoo has a mission for conserving the animal species from Anatolia which are endangered. The park has 250 different species of animals and total number of animal population is 3000.

The zoo is protecting 135 species of animals which are endangered. When you visit the park you will also find 14 species of Anatolian animals which are in critical level of wildlife. There are 600 different plant species as 70% of  is from exotic climate.


Faruk Yalcın Zoo is the only zoo around the cities of Istanbul and Kocaeli. If you want to have an energic and an unforgettable weekend program with children this is a good spot. So here you will find my notes of the zoo for mothers to make a safe plan during their visit to the zoo;

Must knows about Faruk Yalcın Zoo
  • The zoo has sections divided to regions of world. So you can pick the species that the little ones are curious about and plan your visit accordingly. There is a map at the ticket desk that you can ask.
  • The security of children and of course animals has been arranged fair well ;))
  • You can visit the area with your strollers comfortably.
  • There are food courts at different spots of the zoo. You can have drink, food and rest as well at these sections. Please note that there is no food for the babies, so it will be wise to make a pack from home.
  • Touring the park lasts at least 3 hours. So do not forget to take sunscreen and hat for children during summer time.
  • The restrooms were clean in the morning, but at noon :(( Therefore believe in the power of baby wipes. There is no diaper changing room, sorry. However you can change it outside on benches, it would be more healthier..
  • There is a kind of amusement park on the way of your tour. I suggest you to pass through the jingly playground at final of your tour.
  • There is a parking lot outside the zoo at a very close corner. However, if you can't find free lot for your car, my suggestion is to park on streets behind the main highroad. If you still can't find any place, you can use the private parking lots, which are around 7 TL for whole day time.
  • There are educational tours for scool groups. Please make phone call before your visit.
  • Of course take your camera with you, you can shoot lots of lovely moments of your child.
the bear named as YUMOŞŞ ;))

Admission fees and visiting hours

Zoo is open 365 days of year.
The visiting hours are between 8:30- 17:00


0-4 ages are free
Sudent: 15 TL
Adult: 20 TL
65 years and over ages: 10 TL

Museum pass card owners have the advantage of discount on entering fee!

enterance of the zoo

  • Private vehicle: Take TEM highway and exit from Şekerpınar. Follow the signs leading to Bayramoğlu. When you see McDonald's at your left, you will find the signs showing the directions to Faruk Yalcın Zoo.
  • Public transportation: Take shuttles from Harem going to Gebze. Stop at Çayıroğlu McDonald's. Take bus no: 501 and hop off at the bus stop in front of the zoo.
  • If you are coming from Kocaeli: From main bus station or from E-5 highway take bus no : 400 and hop off at the bus stop of the zoo.

Adres: Faruk Yalcın Hayvanat Bahçesi
            Tuzla caddesi No:15
            (297)- 41700 Darıca/ Kocaeli

Phone: +90 212 265 9965

child viewing the fishes
Faruk Yalcın Zoo is a well established park and a zoo to see with children.
They will find the advantage of observing the wildlife animals and birds in their natural environment.
This is another world to show them instead of city life.
So let the children to understand the habitat surrounding in a real world, other than watching programme on television.

And one last note of mine, there is a red panda coming to park this year! So we will be visiting again since my children became fan of the zoo. Hope to see you there ;))