Real Honeymoon: Paris & The Maldives

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of multi-moons (i.e. combining two or more honeymoon destinations in one awesome trip), so it’s no surprise that I’m very excited about Cari and Chris’ honeymoon in Paris and the Maldives. Read all about their incredible honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Paris, France & the Maldives. Our wedding was on December 7, 2013 so we left for our honeymoon on December 9th and returned on the 22nd.

paris honeymoon

Chris and Cari in Paris

How long was your trip?

It was 13 days: 4 days in Paris, 7 days in Maldives, 2 days of travel.

Maldives 2     Eiffel Tower day

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations? 

Maldives: Chris and I lived in Malaysia and always wanted to go to the Maldives while we lived on that side of the world. We never made it there before we moved back to the States, so it stayed on our travel bucket list. We have traveled a lot separately and together, and wanted to go somewhere new to both of us and unique. Also, it is far away and a place we wouldn’t be likely to travel to at a later date.

maldives honeymoon

Paris: Chris travelled to Paris when we first started dating, and we traded emails throughout his trip where he shared how wonderful of a place it was. We got to know each other better throughout these emails and it was always a fond memory in our relationship. When he returned he brought me a souvenir Eiffel Tower and promised to be bring me back there someday. There was even a time during our wedding planning that we talked about getting married in Paris.

Paris love lock bridge

For the honeymoon, our initial plan was to go to Maldives, but when we realized the routes to Maldives required a layover in Paris, we seized the opportunity to have a two continent honeymoon. It was a wonderful way to visit two places that we had always wanted to go together. And it was fun to be in a cold city first and then end in a tropical place!

The best part about our honeymoon was… 

Paris: Finally exploring and experiencing the City of Love together.

Maldives: Relaxing on our private beautiful beach and doing absolutely nothing!

Paris 4     Maldives - private beach

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Spend the extra money and upgrade for first class tickets!

Maldives - sea plane airport

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Real Honeymoon: Maui

This week’s Real Honeymoon features one of the happiest couples I know, Desa and Jared. With tropical relaxation as their number one honeymoon priority, they decided to make the (relatively) easy trip from California to Maui where they avoided the typical touristy activities and just enjoyed the beautiful island for what it is. Desa and Jared also really know what’s up when it comes to great food, so you won’t want to miss their list of awesome Maui restaurant recommendations toward the end of this post. Read all about their wonderfully relaxing Hawaiian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Maui, HI May 27 through June 5, 2014.

maui honeymoon     maui

How long was your trip?

9 nights.

maui sunset

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination?

Jared and I are pretty good at waiting. We waited over ten years to get married and another eight months before we took our official honeymoon. I am very happy we did not try to plan a big trip after our August 2013 wedding, but my level of anticipation grew as the months went on and I could not decide where I wanted to go. I suggested Belize, St. Maarten, Japan… Jared wanted to go to Hawaii. I pulled up itineraries for Ireland, New Zealand, and the Tahitian Islands. But Jared wanted to go to Hawaii. Everyone goes to Hawaii, Jared. How about something new?! Also, I couldn’t shake that memory of the one time I went to Hawaii (Oahu) and got chased down the street by the 300 lb pepper spray wielding Samoan transvestite named Passion – not the honeymooniest image.

Jared’s sales pitch: tropical, uncomplicated, good food and drink (something other than rum).

The months went on and I ended up working through a long, mentally exhausting trial. So, when it was time to book the trip, EASY was the name of the game. Hawaii! And it was perfect. Good work, Jared.

maui     maui

The best part about our honeymoon was…

The level of relaxation. We slept in every day, then wandered down to the cabana by the ocean with our bottle of sparkling wine, guava juice, and bowl of ahi poke, and floated back and forth between the ocean and the lounge chairs. Maui let us revel in sun-soaked lazy hours, until we felt free enough to ignore every tourist guidebook and “must-see” recommendation.

Yep, these guys look relaxed alright

Yep, these guys look relaxed alright

Instead of hopping aboard an overrun snorkel tour boat, we self-explored around our beach with gear found in our condo, learning later that Black Rock just south of our cabana is one of the top five snorkel spots on the West side of Maui. Instead of a luau, we treated ourselves to decadent dinners of elevated island fare.


Instead of the early morning trek up the Haleakala volcano, we cruised up north for an easy walk down to the Nakalele Blowhole with its picturesque heart-shaped rock.

heart rock maui

One day we took a short trip to the Upcountry (central Maui) for a day cheese-tasting at a goat farm, exploring the deserted Enchanting Floral Gardens, and dinner at the Hali’imaile General Store for one of the best dinners I have had in my life.

surfing goat maui

Knowing Jared and I could always come back to Maui if there was anything we wished we would have tried was very liberating. It allowed us to focus on each other instead of our itinerary.

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I would book a hotel on the East side of the island for the last two nights of the trip. That way we could explore the Road to Hana without the daunting task of driving the long winding road twice in a day, which we opted to forego this trip.

Iphone May 2014 172

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Real Honeymoon: Italy & Spain

I’m so excited to share this week’s Real Honeymoon blog post written by my good friends Ashley and Tom. After their beautiful wedding weekend in Pebble Beach, they spend the first part of their honeymoon Italy and ended their trip with a few days in Barcelona. Read all about their honeymoon in Italy and Spain below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We went to Italy and Spain from May 26-June 7 [2014]. (Sestri Levante, Cinque Terre, Rome, Venice, and Barcelona)

italy honeymoon

How long was your trip?

Just about two weeks.

barcelona honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

We wanted to take the opportunity to go somewhere far away since we both took off a full two weeks from work. We had both been to Europe but to different places and back when we were in college. We wanted to have a combination of relaxing beach time and sightseeing, and obviously with good food and wine! I also really wanted to see Venice so we spent one day/night there in between Sestri Levante and Rome.


The best part about our honeymoon was…

We absolutely loved out time in Sestri Levante and Cinque Terra. We spent one afternoon hiking between Vernazza and Monterosso. It was about two hours, with lots of stairs and uneven paths through the mountains but it had absolutely breathtaking views of the coast. We both agree that if we could go back to one part of our honeymoon it would be to that day! I also have to mention the food, Italian pasta and the fixed course meals we had in Spain were among the best meals we’ve ever had.

italian food

italian food   italian food

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

… how much time we gave ourselves in Spain. We had Wednesday night through Saturday morning, but we would have liked another couple of days to explore other beaches and small towns. We really only had enough time to do one full beach day and one touristy day (the hop on hop off bus was great).

italy honeymoon

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Honeymoon Reading Recommendations: Part III

My honeymoon reading recommendation posts (Part 1 and Part 2) are still my post popular to date, so I thought it was time to publish a new list of great books to read during your honeymoon (or any other vacation).


Books! Books! Books!

As always, I consulted with a group of friends who have great taste in books and cross-referenced their recommendations with my own recent reading list. The following is the list that we came up with, in no particular order. Enjoy!

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Real Honeymoon: Italy

Yep, it’s time for some more Italy honeymoon posts! This week we have Kristina and Sean, who got married in beautiful Napa Valley earlier this summer. Read all about their amazing Italian honeymoon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

On May 27th [2014] we left to begin our honeymoon in Positano, off the Amalfi Coast in Italy. We spent 5 relaxing days there, and then took a train up to Florence for the remaining 5 days. While staying in Florence, we wound up taking two spontaneous day trips to the Cinque Terre and a tour of Tuscany that included Siena, San Gimegnano, and Pisa.

florence honeymoon

How long was your trip?

12 days total. 10 days of fun, 2 days of travel.

Chianti Countryside

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

I (Kristina) had always dreamed of going to Italy on my honeymoon—even more than I dreamed of my wedding. But my husband had always envisioned a “beachy” honeymoon destination, so we compromised that we would go to Italy but spend a good portion of our time in a coastal town.

positano honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Spending a day by the Mediterranean at Le Sirene restaurant at Spiaggia Laurito in Positano. This beach is known for the restaurant next door, Da Adolfo, but by happy accident we wound up on Le Sirene’s water taxi and were thrilled to lounge on the far less crowded side of the beach. The food was incredibly fresh, I’m talking they brought the live fish to our table before they cooked it fresh. You could rent chairs and towels for 7 Euros, the drinks were reasonably priced, and the service was great.

Le Sirene

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

Knowing what we know now, it would have been awesome to spend more time in either the Cinque Terre, or a small village in Tuscany like San Gimegnano, as opposed to staying in Florence for the full 5 days. We did day trips to these places and they were so beautiful and relaxing, we would have loved more time. Though we both loved Florence, 2 days there would have been more than enough for us, as we really didn’t have an interest in spending a lot of time in museums on our honeymoon.

Duomo lunch

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Fond Memories of Brazil 2009: Rio de Janeiro + Búzios (Part 2)

Yes, this is FINALLY the last Fond Memories of Brazil post! Last week’s post was about the first part of our stay in Rio de Janeiro, but this week focuses a bit more on Búzios, a fancy beach town that’s a three hour bus ride east of the city.

Bus from Rio to Búzios: map credit Rome2Rio

Bus from Rio to Búzios: map credit Rome2Rio

Despite some iffy weather and a bad case of food poisoning, we thought Búzios was pretty great. Just don’t try taking a late night bus there during a holiday weekend! Read why in Aaron’s email below:

Q: And Friday night you left for Búzios. Any mention of that word is going to unleash a linguistics rant, isn’t it?

A: Okay, here’s the thing about Portuguese as a language: it’s not fair if every character in your alphabet makes either the “h,” “ch,” or “sh” sound. That’s just cheating. For instance, here is a handy pronunciation guide for a few words.

  • Mate (the local drink, pronounced “mah-tay” anywhere else): “Mahhh-tchhh”
  • Lorraine (the name): “Lo-ha-ni”
  • Veinte (twenty): “Been-che”

And, in Rio, this lisping is incredibly strong. Ilana ordered a Sprite in a restaurant, and the waiter just laughed at her ignorant accent. “Oh, you mean a ‘Spree-tchhh.” No. No she does not mean that. Pretty sure there´s no “H” in that word.

Anyway, so we’re going to Búzios. As you will come to understand, Búzios is THE vacation destination for Rio citizens. It’s close by, easily accessible by bus, everyone goes there on holiday weekends. So, when people would ask us what we were doing for the weekend, we would tell them we were going to Búzios. We would pronounce it “Boo-zee-ohs,” as it looks. Blank stares. Nothing. Eventually, we would have to write it out, or describe where it was, or something, and finally they would get it.

“OHH!!! Booshhh-eee-ohhhssshhh!!!”

Now, first of all, there are no “H´s” in the name of the city. But secondly … and this is my bigger issue with the whole thing: Think of where you live. Now think of the biggest tourist/vacation spot near that place. Now think of how badly someone would have to mispronounce the name of that place before you would not be able to figure out what they were talking about? (Bergstrom Family: If someone told you they were going to “Dohh-Ahh” County, would you not realize they were talking about Door County?) What is your deal, population of Rio?

Also, much more hilariously, Brazilians add “E”s to the ends of American words, so it´s “Hippy-Hoppy,” “Pingy-pongy,” and “Biggie Mackie.” This never gets old.


We made it! Emily and me in beautiful Búzios

Q: Okay, let´s cut the rant short here. Impossible to pronounce or not, Búzios was one of your first “Places We Absolutely Have to Go in South America” places, first proposed as a destination by Ilana’s friend Emily, a University of Michigan grad now living in São Paulo. So Emily came up to Rio, and you all took the bus to Búzios. That sentence sounds so simple, doesn’t it?

A: Deceptively, deceptively simple. First of all, rain shuts down Rio de Janeiro worse than hail shuts down the Inner Richmond (though less hilariously). Second of all, “it’s a holiday weekend” can be used as an excuse for anything, and every weekend is a holiday weekend (Emily: “I don’t know, it’s probably some guy’s birthday … I gave up on keeping track of all of them). Let’s practice.

Q: Why did the cab ride to the bus station, which normally takes 12 minutes, take 87 (yes, 87)?

A: It’s a holiday weekend.

Q: Why was the bus station packed with so many people that it was literally difficult to find a place to put our bags down?

A: It’s a holiday weekend.

And so on and so forth. So, while we were supposed to get in to Búzios at around 10 PM, we got there at 3:45 AM.

Q: So explain how, even though you now had the advantage of traveling with a Portuguese speaker, you managed to get ripped off on a cab ride worse than anywhere else in South America.

A: Well, when you add people to your travel plans, you start to assume that someone else will take care of things like “finding out where you hostel is located.” So we got to the last bus stop in Búzios, got in a cab, watched him make a U-turn and stop, pretty literally across the street, and charge us R$12 ($6 US). We later learned that he was fully within his rights to do this, that in fact the minimum cab fare in Búzios was R$12, but wow … it sure seemed like a slap in the face at 4 AM.

Q: Everything seems like a slap in the face at 4 AM. Anyway, the next morning, you woke up to more gray skies in a beach town. So what did you do?

A: Well, we learned how to make our own caipirinhas, of course. We weren’t about to pay $4 for them in bars, so we bought all the ingredients to make about 25 of them, and it came to … about $4. And learning to make a tropical drink is a wonderful experience. Even if you don’t get any better at it, each one is tastier than the last. We experimented with different fruits (though traditional lime is the best), and suddenly the bad weather wasn’t such a problem.

buzios   buzios

We walked around town a little bit, met a girl carrying a very young puppy who claimed to have found it in the street (Ilana’s mind was BLOWN), tossed around the idea of renting a buggy for the next day (it was obvious we couldn’t afford taxis), and decided to give rodizio pizza another try.

street puppy   buzios

Rodizio pizza … what is there to say? David Foster Wallace´s thousand-page novel Infinite Jest is about, in part, a video so enjoyable that anyone who sees it only wants to watch it over and over again, and forgets about all necessary life processes, and eventually dies of too much pleasure. Rodizio pizza is kind of like that. Pizza is wonderful. And people just keep bringing it to you. More and more fresh slices, in wonderful new topping combinations. And … and you tell yourself you’ll stop when you’re full. But you can’t. Somehow, though, you make it back to your hostel. And you sleep for sixteen hours, with very few interruptions.

Q: Sunday, though, you woke up to sun. This gives you a chance to explain Búzios again, when seen the way it should be.

A: You know, when you see travel-channel video clips of Brazil, and there’s some kind of voice-over going, “Fabulous Rio de Janeiro, home of beautiful beaches … and even more beautiful people”? That’s Búzios. Once a quiet fishing village, someone found out that it has seventeen distinct incredible beaches nearby, and it became THE spot for the rich and pretty of Brazil. Until Búzios, I had thought the whole beautiful-people-of-Brazil thing was a myth, and I would have told you there were prettier girls in Colombia. Not anymore.


Holiday weekend in Búzios

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