I decided after planning most of our wedding that I would leave the honeymoon planning in my husband’s hands. I figured that wherever we didn’t go on the honeymoon we would eventually get to one day. We knew we wanted something that was part relaxation and part exotic adventure. There was nothing for me to worry about when it came to Chris putting a trip like that together. What was an issue was the dysentery that we both contracted on what is supposed to be the most romantic trip of your life. (photo source)
Chris zeroed in on Turkey and our honeymoon took us on a three-part trip around the country in the month of August for 18 days. We started in Istanbul for some cultural Constantinople touring and made our way to Cappadocia in the center of the country for the famous hot air ballooning. Then we finished the trip with what’s known as a blue cruise around the eastern turquoise coast on our own private sailboat. It was, for us, the perfect route. Everything would have been perfect, except for the dysentery. Oh, and except for my luggage being lost prior to setting sail.
Kicking off the trip in Istanbul set the honeymoon off to an amazing start. We were lucky enough to have a friend familiar with Istanbul who was able to connect us with our own personal tour guide whom he knew. The guide met us each morning at our hotel and we’d set out to explore that day’s sites. (*Simply ask the concierge or staff at your hotel for a suggestion when it comes to hiring a private guide if you’re searching for one. They will be able to connect you with reputable guides who won’t be a waste of your money). In Istanbul we stayed at The George’s, a boutique hotel in the artsy neighborhood of Beyoğlu just down the street from the Galata Tower. Like most tourists we visited all of the main sites and they were truly awe inspiring. There is so much to see in Istanbul so be sure to give yourself at least several days. That won’t leave you much leisure time so add on a couple more if you can.
The second hotel that we stayed at in Istanbul was the Çırağan Palace. This was just for one night to really treat ourselves. The hotel is the former palace of Sultan Abdülaziz. Ottoman opulence at its finest, the fact that it was once the property of a Sultan does not go unnoticed. The hotel’s main restaurant, Tugra, was amazing. Dinner is presented in the classic Ottoman tradition so be prepared for countless courses.
We departed Istanbul by plane and were off to Cappadocia. When my husband selected Turkey for the honeymoon I insisted that we visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site otherwise the trip wouldn’t be complete. He complied and as a result we at some point in our stay contracted dysentery from something we ate…not exactly what you dream of happening on your honeymoon. Yes, we ended up in the hospital. Yes, it was extremely uncomfortable for about 5 or 6 days until the meds finally kicked in. You might think I’m crazy, but yes, seeing Cappadocia and hot air ballooning over the famed “Fairy Chimneys” was probably worth the pain.
We chose Royal Balloon, the company with the highest safety record, for our sky high viewing and they were fantastic. Royal has an option to pay a little more but to be in a smaller basket with fewer people. There were only 5 of us including the pilot. Other companies will fit 20+ people to a basket. Our pilot was also from Australia and was previously a professional hot air balloon racer (had no idea that was an actual thing) which made communication very easy. According to him other companies don’t have the same requirements for their pilots as Royal so I would dish out a little extra cash for the added safety measures. The company sends a driver to pick you up at your hotel in the morning, takes you to the base for breakfast and then you’re off for your flight. Upon landing you are met with a spread of champagne and other refreshments for a “first flight” celebration. (photo sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
We stayed at the Argos, one of the most uniquely beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed in. The hotel is carved into the rock of the surrounding hillside. Rooms have been carved into the stone and you are basically sleeping in a cave filled with some pretty luxe comforts. You can even opt for your own private pool in your suite if that’s suits your style. I also have to add that the staff was beyond helpful in aiding us when it came to our medical needs and getting us to and from the hospital. Not a very romantic tale, but something that we’ll certainly never forget and even now still laugh about.
From Cappadocia we flew to the coast where we traveled to Fethiye to board our sailboat, a Beneteau Oceanis 41 (much like the images below). We were still pretty weak from illness so 2 of the 7 nights that were planned to be spent on the water were spent in the Fethiye harbor. In addition to the illness the airline also managed to lose one passenger’s suitcase and of course that one suitcase was mine. I never check a bag, but being too weak to lift my bag into the overhead compartment due to dysentery I parted with the bag thinking I’d see it once we landed. I spent the next 4 days in a few items I was able to find at local shops (one bikini included, a necessity for a sailing trip) and some of my husband’s t-shirts. The luggage was recovered and we slowly recuperated from our illness as we sailed the islands and inlets of the turquoise coast. Chris was captain and I was first mate, a sickly pair who made the most of it. We finally got the hang of the required European mooring, something we hadn’t the foggiest of how to do prior. (photo sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
I suppose that’s the excitement of travel, the trial and error experienced in new places. New experiences lead to new lessons, open up your mind to new ideas, create a confidence to deal with uncomfortable situations when you might least expect them. I’d say we learned quite a bit on our honeymoon and the fact that we were able to get through it with the mishaps that many never have to deal with showed our strength as a couple. We treated ourselves to a Costa Rican getaway that December, a re-do of sorts to make up for the mishaps, but we look back at our honeymoon as a true adventure in every sense and hope to get back to Turkey some day (without any diseases).