Feb 14

Grantourismo Travel Blogging Competition: January Winners

For our eleventh contest in our yearlong series of monthly Grantourismo HomeAway Holiday-Rentals travel blogging competitions we asked you to create a blog post on the theme of slowing down and settling in to a place for a while. Our January Competition winners are…

FIRST PRIZE, a stay at a HomeAway Holiday-Rentals property anywhere in the world valued at UK£500/US$750, a Viator tour voucher worth £100/US$150, and a Trourist Moleskine notebook, goes to Robyn Eckhardt of Eating Asia for her post on Our Istanbul Fruit Guy.

SECOND PRIZE, a Context tour voucher worth US$100, a private half-day tour with a local guide anywhere in the world from Our Explorer, and a Trourist Moleskine notebook, goes to Pam Mandel of Nerd’s Eye View for A Lazy Winter in Maremma.

THIRD PRIZE, a 1-year subscription to AFAR magazine and a Trourist Moleskine notebook, goes to Jessie Voigts of Wandering Educators for Early Mornings in County Kerry, Ireland.

Congratulations to this month’s winners and thanks so much to everyone who entered. If you haven’t yet read the many inspiring January entries we received, please do take a look here; links to the posts appear in the Comments and/or Trackbacks.

And once again, a very sincere thanks to our competition sponsors, HomeAway Holiday-RentalsContextViatorOur ExplorerAFAR, and Trourist for so many fabulous prizes! Details for February’s competition, our final HomeAway Holiday-Rentals Grantourismo Travel Blogging Competition, will be posted next.

Here’s the winning January post:

Our Istanbul Fruit Guy
By Robyn Echkardt of Eating Asia

As we walked uphill to our rental apartment on our first evening in Istanbul last May, the display at a tiny fruit store beckoned. We stopped and bought peaches, melons, cherries. The white-haired proprietor was so friendly, the fruit he chose for us so delicious, that we shopped nowhere else.

Last month we returned to Istanbul for two weeks, staying in the same area. “Merhaba!” our fruit guy — as we called him —  cried, as if we were long-lost friends. We vigorously shook hands, chatting as much as my Turkish would allow.

We stopped in daily, whether we were short of fruit or not. We learned that our fruit guy has many children. That he opens unusally late in the day to catch the evening commuter foot traffic. That he cooks his own dinner on his desk, over a single burner. After tasting his rice soup — wickedly spicy — we knew that, like us, he loves chilies.

“If you were having a bad day, all you’d have to do is go to the fruit shop and you’d feel better. He’s that kind of guy,” mused Dave.

On our last evening in town we learned our fruit guy’s name: Mehmet Ali. How ludicrous that we hadn’t asked before. We told him ours, took his address, and promised to send a photo. He and Dave shook hands, and Mehment Ali kissed mine. He gifted us Izmir pears and Antalya oranges.

We said “Gorusuruz,” (We’ll meet again.), hoping that we will.


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  1. Robyn

    Thanks very much Lara, Terence, and other judges. We’re tempted to put our $$$ towards another rental in Istanbul so that we can meet up with Mehmet Ali again sooner rather than later.
    Robyn and Dave

    1. Terence Carter

      You’re welcome. Incidentally, we loved all your posts from Turkey. Great writing and evocative photographs.
      We know you’ll use the prize well!

  2. mvmaithai

    I didn’t know we were competing with the pros. Hopefully our posts were not too shabby. Congratulations Robyn and Dave! Nice to know you are living in my native country of Malaysia!

    1. Terence Carter

      Greetings, the contest was open to *anyone* – still is! In my opinion this January’s entries were all quality posts, toughest decision so far.

  3. wandering educators

    thank you!! what fun this was – and what GREAT entries.

    1. Lara Dunston

      Totally agree! This was a fun competition – we really enjoyed judging this one.

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