Read any mainstream publication that lists top honeymoon destinations in the world, and Turkey hardly ever gets mentioned, often overlooked in favour of more exotic locations such as Fiji, the Maldives or Barbados.
With this in mind, I was rather intrigued when two passionate travelers decided to create their own itinerary for a honeymoon in Turkey. They shunned the luxurious suites, romantic dinners for two and had no intention of spending every day, running after each other on golden sand beaches.
Instead they opted for a two week road trip introducing them to the culture and traditions of Turkey, street food, ancient Roman ruins, city life and a romantic early morning ride in a hot air balloon.
I had to find out more and pestered Ali and Andrew to tell me their story with his and hers answers
Interview with Ali and Andrew – A Honeymoon In Turkey
Hi Ali and Andrew, Welcome to the Turkish Travel Blog
1 – First of all, tell us a little bit about yourselves.
Andy – I have been living in Germany for nearly 5 years and blogging for a little over 2 of them. I am a geek in many aspects of the word. I like to travel slowly and look at the odd places around the corner from the main sites. I play games and work as a programmer at the moment. I run Grounded Traveler and together Ali and I run Ctrl-Alt-Travel.
Ali – My travel addiction led me to visit all 7 continents before my 30th birthday. It’s also the main motivation behind starting my travel blog, and luckily the blog led me to Andy. We met through Twitter about 2 years ago while I was still living in the US.
I moved to Germany last July, about a month after our wedding. I’m currently struggling to learn German. Along with the site Andy and I run together, I also run Ali’s Adventures and Travel Made Simple.
2- I was happy to read, that you picked Turkey as the destination for your honeymoon. What were the factors that made you chose this country over others?
Andy – We wanted somewhere that was warm (although we went in April, so it wasn’t overly warm) and in Europe. I have some fear of flight and having an easier way there meant for a more relaxing trip. We kind of just started talking about Turkey and it stuck as the destination.
Ali – Turkey is one of those countries I’ve always heard amazing things about, so I wanted to go for a long time. When we started talking about honeymoon destinations, we realized we were both interested in seeing Turkey. Like Andy mentioned, it also helped that it was in Europe.
Andy – We did a circle around western Turkey hitting most of the big tourist towns. My favorite as an experience was the balloon ride in Cappadocia. Though as a destination I enjoyed Istanbul the most.
Ali – This is a hard one to answer because I enjoyed something about every destination we visited. My favorite sight was Ephesus because I could just feel the history. But as an overall favorite destination, Istanbul wins.
4 – A honeymoon to Turkey is not complete without a visit to Istanbul. Please describe this city in your own words. What were your favorite parts about it?
Andy – As I said above, Istanbul was my favorite location on our trip. Istanbul is chaotic, active and metropolitan. I like the bustling big-city feel of it. Add the cheap good food and it was a great place to walk around.
There is an interesting set of dichotomies. The bazaars (both Grand and Spice) are chock full of people with shopkeepers yelling and sometimes shoving things at you. It is so chaotic and merchantialistic. Then sitting in the square of a mosque watching the sun go down behind a minaret is so peaceful. Still people around, but calm.
My favorite individual aspect of Istanbul was Tunel, the old time funicular heading up to Istikal street, as well as the length of Istikal to Taksim. Ok, it isn’t historical, but there is a feel about it that I like.
Ali – Istanbul is a fantastic city. From the moment we arrived, I was excited to explore. I love cities, and this one did not disappoint. There are so many great sights, so much history, the food is amazing, and even in a big crazy city, the people were still really friendly.
The historical sights like Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque were gorgeous. The Grand Bazaar was chaotic but interesting to try haggling. The views from the Galata Tower were amazing, even on the rainy day we were there. I’d have a hard time finding anything I didn’t like about Istanbul.
5 – Turkish food is becoming a popular cuisine. Do you love it or hate it? If you liked it, what were your favorite dishes?
Andy – Definitely loved it. My favorite thing was the Iskender Kabab. Meat and tomato sauce with a few potatoes over a layer of bread to soak up the goodness.
Ali – I absolutely loved the food! I had a sandwich from a street cart in Taksim Square at 1AM the night we arrived that was so amazing I didn’t care that we were lost. We had doner wraps in the Grand Bazaar that were so tasty we specifically returned on the day we were flying out of Turkey so we could eat them again.
The chili pepper shakers sitting on every single table added just the right amount of spice to our meals, and we put that stuff on everything from meat to fries to rice.
I had a few pides that were really good, and even a salad that I now try to imitate at home. I really need to stop because I’m drooling all over my keyboard from thinking about all the wonderful food we had in Turkey.
6 – Were you hassled a lot? I ask because it is a common complaint by many visitors to the country. If you were, how did you deal with it?
Andy – We weren’t hassled directly other than one time. Sure there were plenty of people shouting at us as we walked through restaurant areas, but being together we just kept talking and ignored them.
The one time it got bad was a van trip up to Pammukale where the driver wouldn’t take us to our hotels right away and wanted us to go into his tourist office to listen to a pitch. It worked out when we refused to leave the van, but it felt wrong.
Ali – Shopkeepers in the Grand Bazaar tried to get us to buy stuff, a few guys in Pammukale (other than the driver Andy mentioned) tried to sell us stuff, but I don’t remember it being overwhelming.
If you know you aren’t going to buy what they’re trying to sell, it’s easy enough to just ignore them and keep walking.
Before we went I kept hearing about carpet sellers hassling tourists, but really, do I have the money for a Turkish carpet? No. So there’s no way they would somehow convince me to buy one. Just keep walking.
7 – Describe Turkey for readers who have not been here before. Did it live up to your expectations?
Andy – There is a lot of variety in Turkey. Mountains, plains, seaside, modern shopping, bazaars, historical ruins and gleaming cities. The food seemed universally good and people were friendly overall. We had many more good stories than bad ones about people. It is definitely a beautiful place to travel and cheap enough to spend a while. Yes, it exceeded my expectations.
Ali – It definitely exceeded my expectations. After hearing so many good things, I actually thought it might disappoint me because it had been built up so much in my head. But I wasn’t disappointed. The Turkish people were some of the friendliest and most helpful people ever.
We even had a taxi driver take pity on us one night in the rain, and he drove us a few blocks to our hotel but refused to accept any payment. The history of the country is really interesting. The landscape is incredibly varied and beautiful.
Turkey quickly became one of my favorite countries.
8 – Lastly, will you be returning?
Andy – That is our plan. We would like to spend more time in Istanbul. Four and a half days wasn’t enough especially with some days of rain. I think it would be neat to spend several weeks in a more local neighborhood and try to get to know a few locals as well as just enjoy all a big city like Istanbul has to offer.
Ali – I hope so! There are a few parts of the country we just didn’t have time for, so it would be nice to see a few other areas. But mostly I’d just like to spend more time in Istanbul. Not only did we run out of time for some of the touristy things we wanted to do, but I’d love to get to know the locals side of the city a little more. It’s definitely a place I could spend a month in and not get bored.
Many thanks to Ali and Andrew for this interview – You can follow the rest of their travels together on their new site Ctrl Alt Travel, which also gives you a calender picture a day from around the world.
Readers Question : Ali and Andrew had a unique honeymoon in Turkey. Does it sound fun to you or would you opt for the more traditional honeymoon experience?