Will and I have always taken one big vacation each year. We save all year, and when it’s time, we go all out. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, our lives have led us all over the world in the past year so we didn’t get to take a real vacation. And while we wouldn’t give up all the small trips we’ve taken, and the big trip involving bringing home a little spitfire bundle of joy, we decided a few months ago it was time to resurrect our annual big vacation when all we wanted was some uninterrupted time together spent relaxing.
In the past we’ve always gone to the Excellence Resorts in Mexico. Our friends joke we could be sales ambassadors for those resorts because we can’t stop talking about them. We had heard that the Antalya area offers some similar all inclusive hotels, so we decided to give it a shot.
We hit the air bright and early, and were so thankful it was only a quick hour long flight to get to our destination. The early morning did teeny traveler in though. She fell asleep before we could make it to the hotel.
And again by the pool a few hours later 🙂
I talk a little later about how we handled Aubrey throughout our trip, but I’ll just go ahead and say vacationing with a baby is a whole other experience.
We stayed at the Liberty Lara Beach. The hotel was pretty nice; actually according to a few of the British people we met there, it is considered one of the nicest in the Lara Beach vicinity. However there were definitely differences in the service and just general quality and luxury when compared to the Excellence. We may or may not have noted all the reasons why the Excellence was just so excellent throughout the week, before finally decided that we would probably only do all inclusive in Mexico from now on. Hey, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it right?
It didn’t help that the vacation gods were not smiling down on us this trip. We arrived early, and because the hotel was booked we basically had no where to go because they didn’t have a room for us to check into. They did let us eat breakfast, and we put Aubrey down for a nap on a makeshift bed of a couple of chairs pushed together, and then we sat…for hours.
Eventually when lunchtime rolled around they finally had a room for us, but when we got to it, we realized they had put us in a twin bedroom instead of a double. After asking to be moved we were informed there weren’t any doubles available, so we were stuck at least for that night. We tried pushing the beds together, but halfway through the night after fighting the mattresses pushing apart and doing our best to avoid falling in the crevice, we gave up and succumbed to sleeping separately.
Then that night we found a puddle of water beneath the air condition, and upon the maid spotting it the next morning, technicians were called in and proceeded to try to fix the AC for close to 3 hours while we tried to get Aubrey to nap throughout the noise. The hotel even asked us to leave our room while they were working and we had to try to explain that our baby was asleep.
Oh and there were still no double rooms available.
They finally finished and we made our way to the pool, only to come back that evening and find water dripping out of the light fixture next to the AC. So we had to call again, and begged to be moved to a different room.
I’ll spare the very frustrating details, but after a number of calls, and finally having to break out my mama bear on the manager (I had a baby that was screaming to go to bed), they finally gave us another room for the night, albeit a downgrade from our current room.
The next day they finally switched us into a double room, and it was all around a much better place to be.
We spent the next couple of days getting settled and trying to unwind and find a routine with Aubrey. Then the third day we hopped on the bus into downtown Antalya. Believe or not I actually needed to shop for a pair of shoes as our vacation mishaps continued. I was so proud to have only packed two pairs of shoes for our whole trip, only to have the soles completely come off of the pair I brought to wear in the evenings the second day we were there. It may be time to start investing in higher quality shoes.
The harbor area was the kind of site they feature in travel magazines.
And luckily I found a pair of sandals I really liked in the shopping district, as well as a new swimsuit cover up made from Turkish towels, and Will and I treated ourselves to some knock off Ray Bans 🙂
For lunch we climbed about a million stairs (kudos to Will for toting the stroller up all of those babies), and dined al fresco on some freshly grilled octopus in a restaurant that overlooked the harbor.
We also looked up the hotels there so we could return for a long weekend sometime. I HAVE to swim in that beautiful water!
Afterwards we walked a bit more and then grabbed a taxi back to the hotel. We felt the few turkish lira were worth not having to deal with the hot bus that stopped every 5 feet, after we had spent the day walking and sweating.
There’s not much to speak of for the rest of our time there, besides spending a lot of time in the sun and eating ourselves silly. We did have yet another mishap a few days before we left, when we returned to our chairs after lunch to find all of our sunscreen and my floaty missing. I still can’t understand why someone would want to steal half used sunscreen. So Will had to walk down the road to buy replacements the next morning (the hotel sold sunscreen for the cheap price of $27 a bottle of course).
We did have a bit of luck however, we met the restaurant manager one of the first few nights we were there and over the course of our stay he kindly treated us to all of the à la carte restaurants (they normally charge a cover charge) as well as a bottle of organic wine sent to our room. We’re not sure if it was because we were the only Americans there, or more likely, the management had asked him to make our stay a little more pleasant after our stay started out so rough. Either way it was nice to get to try everything.
I feel like all all inclusives are basically the same, so there weren’t too many pictures to be taken.
Except miss fabulous in her sunglasses and bathing suit of course.
Part of me can’t believe I’m including this picture. I never anticipated not being able to work out post baby, but with Will traveling and working so much, and babysitters not really working out for Aubrey, I’ve barely seen the gym since she was born. Suffice it to say I’m a long way from being happy with my body, but for this trip I tried to just embrace the fact that I did in fact have a baby, and I’ve got time ahead of me to work back towards the body I want. Above all I tried my best not to let my poor self confidence keep me from enjoying a coastal vacation with my family.
But alas, that is probably another post for another time.
After it was all said and done, I think we ended up more tired than we were before we left. Even though Aubrey slept decently well, she still wakes up between 6-7 every morning, and that is just tiring when Mom and Dad tried to stay up and enjoy a few drinks here and there.
So for those wondering, here’s how we managed Aubrey’s schedule and food and such. For the most part we kept her on her normal schedule. These days she wakes between 6 and 7, nurses, eats breakfast at 8, then goes down for a nap from 9-11. Wakes and nurses, then eats lunch at 12, then back down for a nap between 1-2. Then wakes, nurses, and eats dinner at 5:30, nurses at 6:30, and down for bed at 7. Some nights we kept her out later, and some days she napped by the pool (typically on my chest), but overall we tried to make sure she stayed well rested because we knew it was the only way we would be able to enjoy ourselves. Will and I also took turns napping with her while the other person hit up the spa for the afternoon.
As far as food, I packed a lot of baby food, but once we got there we realized she was able to eat quite a bit from the buffet restaurant. So she ate oats, eggs, cheese and yogurt for breakfast; then a container of baby food as well as whatever we fed her from our meals for lunch and dinner. I’m so glad she is at the age now where she can sit in a high chair and pick at different foods. It allowed us to enjoy our meals and keep her entertained at the same time.
For entertainment we relied on a floaty boat (the kind babies can sit in, ours had a shade over top as well – similar to this one), a few toys I packed, and puffs. Puffs were one of those things I really hoped not to give Aubrey, but I’ll admit, they are life savers at times. I have used them countless times to keep her appeased when we are getting to the end of our rope on airplanes, and they worked wonders for keeping her occupied when we really wanted a little longer at the pool but she was ready to call it a day.
Aubrey still sleeps with white noise (which was even more important in a hotel) so we always travel with a mini blue tooth speaker. This time we brought the iPad, which is what we use for a white noise app at home, but we also have the option of using our phones. We use the Sound Sleeper app. Having the speaker is also nice because we were able to have music in our room at any time, as well as on the beach if we wanted.
All-in-all Aubrey was really a dream. Sure there were nights she cried a few times during the night. And sure there were times when she was totally done with the pool and just wanted to sleep. But she napped when we put her down, didn’t fuss a single time when we dragged her all over Antalya in the blazing hot sun, and she won over many hearts with her sweet little smile. I don’t know that we will try the all inclusive thing again until she is older to sort of fend for herself a little so mom and dad can also enjoy themselves a little, but it was a great first vacation. And coming home with this awesome tan isn’t too shabby either 🙂