Real Honeymoon: Ireland, France & Italy

Get excited because this week we finally have a great new Real Honeymoon post to share! This week’s post was sent from Caitlyn and Jason who recently honeymooned across three countries in Europe. Read all about their wonderful trip below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Jason and I adventured through Europe for our two-week honeymoon, visiting Dublin, Bordeaux, Paris, and Venice and taking many day trips from each city. We left June 19 and returned July 4. Small piece of advice: avoid the middle of the summer. It. Was. HOT.

How long was your trip?

Two weeks – Saturday to Saturday. We highly recommend returning on a Saturday – everyone can use a Sunday to unpack, do laundry, and brace yourself for Monday morning work emails.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

Jason and I took a long time to decide where to spend our honeymoon – when else do you get to take two weeks off work?! We definitely don’t consider ourselves “beach people” so a tropical location was quickly ruled out. Other places we considered were Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, but ultimately decided that we wanted our honeymoon to be a little more romantic than how we envisioned those destinations. What can I say? We’re newlyweds! Jason had never been to Europe and I knew the atmosphere was perfect for a romantic, semi-adventurous (but also relaxing!) trip. So, off to Europe we went.

We chose Dublin because Jason is a huge whiskey and beer enthusiast. From the Irish Whiskey Museum and the Jameson Factory to the endless amounts of ice cold Guinness (please note, my husband would like to specify the Guinness was not actually ice cold – I disagree…#marriage), we definitely had our fair share of cocktails. We stayed at The Arlington – located the perfect distance from pretty much anything you’d want to do – just a short walk to pubs, museums and everything else. If you don’t mind a slightly older hotel, we highly recommend The Arlington.

Ireland honeymoon

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While we were there, we took a day trip to the other side of the country to experience the insane beauty that is the Cliffs of Moher – and I mean INSANE. The most breathtaking scenery you can imagine. From the moment we hopped on the bus, we were hooked. Every nook and cranny of that country is a shade of green you’ve never seen … and never want to unsee.

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Our next stop was Bordeaux, a small town in the south of France known for its red wine and gorgeous châteaux. Jason and I love wine and absolutely couldn’t wait to get here. Every day we took a trip to a different region to learn about (read: drink) Bordeaux wines. While visiting château after château is definitely recommended during the day (our favorite regions were Saint-Émilion and Médoc), take some time to walk along the river and enjoy the view. The river walk was renovated from parking spots to beautiful gardens and bike paths – a great spot to enjoy an after dinner treat. This was my favorite hotel of the trip – La Maison du Lierre – a small bed and breakfast that was straight out of a Pottery Barn catalog. If you stay here, make sure to have breakfast on the patio – it’s so quaint you almost forget you’re in the middle of a city.

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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: Paris, The Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong & Japan

Yes, you read the title correctly. This week’s real honeymooners went to Paris, the Maldives, Singapore, Hong Kong, AND Tokyo on one of the most amazing honeymoons imaginable. My friend Danny and his husband Graham travel frequently and very well, so of course they had to really step it up even more for their recent honeymoon. Read all about their ultimate multi-moon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

As a global traveler on a regular basis for work and a huge airline “dork,” I wanted a honeymoon that would allow me to travel on a wide variety of airlines (in first class, of course) and to at least one exotic location that I had never been before. Fortunately, my now husband was on board with my ambitious plans and we settled on a pretty crazy itinerary.

maldives honeymoon

In the end, we went to Paris (Westin Vendome) , the Maldives (Niyama Maldives), Singapore (The Ritz-Carlton Singapore), Hong Kong (The Hotel Icon) and Tokyo (The Peninsula), experiencing Suites class on Singapore Airlines, First Class on Lufthansa and Thai Airways and business class on ANA, including a trip on their new Dreamliner.

maldives

How long was your trip?

To keep the wedding/honeymoon as one celebration, we left on our honeymoon the Sunday after our wedding and spent roughly two weeks traveling (May 2014).

maldives honeymoon   maldives honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destinations?

For as long as I can remember, my number one criteria for my honeymoon was spending at least part of it on an overwater villa someplace tropical. Since Graham and I have been together (over 6 years), our favorite memories have been our tropical trips, sitting on a beach, drinking something fruity, and gorging ourselves with beach/pool side food. As such, he was more than happy to indulge me once again in this dream, so the focus became finding the best overwater bungalow we could.

maldives honeymoon   maldives honeymoon

We narrowed it down to Tahiti and The Maldives, but ultimately decided on The Maldives, as it was easier to get there for free with my miles and there seemed to be far more options with extra perks, like personal infinity pools and underwater nightclubs, that Tahiti did not seem to offer.

The other destinations were picked more based on getting to and from the Maldives with miles, maximizing our time in First Class, and getting to destinations where we knew the food would be amazing (our other big criteria).

tokyo honeymoon

asia honeymoon
   singapore honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

We may differ on this, but other than the amazing flights, and beautiful Maldives, I have to say the best part was just spending 2 weeks together, with no one else and no other distractions. It was the longest time we had spent together, just us, and it was pretty amazing. Über emo, I know. Hopefully you aren’t all throwing up now….

first class honeymoon   paris honeymoon

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Real Honeymoon: Greece & France

I haven’t met my sister’s friends Erin and Austin before, but after reading about their honeymoon in Greece and Paris, I feel like we have a lot in common.  Prioritizing their honeymoon around beaches and good food?  It’s like we have ESP or something.  Check out their amazing honeymoon in the Greek Isles and Paris below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

Santorini, Mykonos, and Paris [June 2013].

Santorini honeymoon

How long was your trip?

Santorini for 3 nights, Mykonos for 3 nights, and Paris for 7 nights.

Santorini honeymoon

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

One of Austin’s best friends was getting married in Mykonos, so we planned our wedding dates to coordinate. We also really wanted to go to France because going to fabulous restaurants is one of our favorite things to do!

Mykonos honeymoon

The best part about our honeymoon was…

I don’t think I can narrow down one best part because there were so many awesome things we did. Food was definitely one of the highlights. We heavily researched our restaurant selection for Paris and it really paid off; we had unforgettable food and dining experiences. We also had a great time celebrating Austin’s friend’s wedding, it was a beautiful setting at the lovely Mykonos Grand Hotel. Another highlight was the boat ride we took in Santorini. Only one other couple was on the boat, and they were also on their honeymoon! It was beautiful, the crew cooked us an amazing lunch, and our boat even got a visit from a playful dolphin! In Paris we also did a lot of walking through neighborhoods and sitting on park benches – it was fabulous.

Paris honeymoon

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

I would have packed warmer clothes and closed toed shoes for Paris! We were there the second week in June, but it was fairly chilly and it even rained for one whole day.

Paris honeymoon

How much planning did you do in advance?

I planned a lot in advance, but most of the planning was food related. I made dinner reservations for most nights of the trip about a month ahead of time. One of our friend’s travels the world just to eat delicious food, so we had awesome restaurant suggestions to work with. I also looked at all the menus and read tons of Yelp reviews. We were only disappointed with one restaurant (L’Atelier de Joel Robouchon) mostly due to their terrible and overpriced wine suggestion. I also booked the catamaran trip ahead of time in Santorini.

Paris cheese shop

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Real Honeymoon: France & Monaco

Valley Girl Jesse Draper and her husband Brian recently jetted off to Europe for a fabulous honeymoon in southern France and Monaco.  Read all about their luxurious trip and check out their cute photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We honeymooned in June in the South of France. We actually started in Monaco and made our way through Provence and ended up in Nice. More specifically, we rented a car at the airport, went to Monte Carlo, Monaco, then to Aix-en-Provence, followed by Arles from where we did a day trip to Avignon and Les Beaux and we ended in Nice with a day trip in Cannes.

monaco honeymoon

How long was your trip?

A luxurious two whole weeks!

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

I speak French and he had never been to France. He actually chose the destination. Since I was planning most of the wedding, his job was to plan the honeymoon, so I actually didn’t know much other than where we were headed when we took off to Europe which was very relaxing for me, everything was a bit of a surprise.

Honeymoon in France

The best part about our honeymoon was…

I would have to say the luxury of time. It isn’t often you get time alone, in a foreign country nonetheless, to spend with your significant other (without technology or social interruptions). Typically when I have the opportunity to travel internationally I am trying to fit in as much as possible in a little amount of time. For example, I have 10 monuments marked in my travel book that I need to see in one day so I am running around. We spent quite a few days in each city, so we were really able to take everything in with a more natural feel. We wandered around the streets of Aix-en-Provence aimlessly and drove around the countryside looking for wineries, not sure where we were going to end up. It was so much fun! It was the perfect balance of relaxation and exploration. So the best part was the free time we had to spend together, that, and the chocolate, cheese, and wine that we consumed along the way, of course.

Honeymoon in France

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

I really had such a great time, there’s not much to change. We decided we could do without Arles, the hotel options aren’t great there and it’s more of a historical town that you could hit on a day trip. Also, I wouldn’t change this because I had a lot of fun, he may say differently, but we went on a hike in Arles and got lost in the middle of the forest by this Van Gogh bridge and  probably walked 5 more miles than we planned, so that might have been nice to know ahead of time, but had we known, then it wouldn’t have been such a fun adventure!

Hiking in Arles

How much planning did you do in advance?

He did a lot of research and had general ideas of where we were headed, but all he booked in advance were the hotels and flights. We had a few days in each city which was plenty of time to relax and get to know the places easily and TripAdvisor is a lifesaver and we really based most of our meals off of what was recommended on their app.

Honeymoon in France

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Where Should You Go on a July Honeymoon?

Last week Condé Nast Traveler’s resident travel expert Wendy Perrin wrote a blog post answering the question, “What are the best travel destinations for July?”  While her article wasn’t necessarily honeymoon-specific, she mentioned many popular honeymoon destinations that would be wonderful in July, and a bunch of others that should be avoided.  Check out her recommendations below:

The Good:

Tahiti (As if you need another reason to choose Tahiti for a honeymoon, in July you can also celebrate Polynesian culture at the Heiva Festival.)

– Seychelles (A great tropical-yet-cool-and-dry destination that isn’t too crowded in July.  August, however, is another story.)

– Barbados (Big off-season deals are easy to come by in July, and you can check out the Crop Over Festival.)

– Anywhere up north: Canada, Scandinavia, The U.K. (Warmer weather and extended daylight hours – what’s not to like?)

Tahiti

Tahiti in July? Yes, please!

The Bad:

Belize (Humidity + mosquitos?  No thanks!)

– The west coast of Mexico (It can be so hot that the sand will burn your feet.  Yikes.)

– Eastern Turkey (Also suuuper hot.)

– The French Riviera (Lots and lots of tourists.)

– Croatia (Too many cruise-goers in Dubrovnik, but other seaside towns should be alright.)

– Rome/Venice, Italy (Really overly crowded with tourists; the prices skyrocket.)

– Southern Spain (Yep, just too hot.)

Belize

Belize is totally gorgeous, but probably not the best destination in July

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My two cents?  I think that Greece is also an excellent destination for July even though it will be high season.  The Aegean Sea doesn’t get super warm, so if you go too early in the year you might find the water to be on the chilly side.  But if you go in August, the islands get extremely crowded with Italian tourists.

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Real Honeymoon: France & Italy

My friends Alex and Sarah went on a seriously incredible European honeymoon last summer, and it has (understandably) taken them nearly an entire year to write a blog post worthy enough to do it justice.  (Spoiler alert: they nailed it.)  For those of you who may be interested in honeymooning in France or Italy yourselves, Sarah provided lots of great information that should help you plan your trip.  Read all about their travels, and check out their gorgeous photos below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

France/Italy in August/September 2012.

We started in Paris (4 nights) and rented a car and drove through Burgundy (2 nights at B&B in Pulingy Montrachet near Beaune), the Rhone Valley (2 nights at B&B in Avignon) and Monaco (2 nights). We dropped the car in Nice, flew to Naples and stayed 5 nights in Sorrento on the Amalfi coast. After that we took trains to Rome (3 nights) and Florence (3 nights).

florence sunset

Sunset in Florence

How long was your trip?

3 weeks (but don’t remind our bosses). We were married on a Saturday and flew out on the next Wednesday to be able to enjoy all the friends/family in town, rest up, and get cheaper flights. Highly advisable to take a few days after the wedding.

Ravello, Amalfi Coast

Ravello, Amalfi Coast

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We wanted to take advantage of the excuse we had to take 3 weeks off of work and tour some parts of Europe that we hadn’t experienced. We live by the beach and knew that we wouldn’t be able to sit still on a beach for more than 2 days. While going to Paris is cliché, it certainly did not disappoint and was just as romantic as people say. As for Italy, we can’t wait to go back.

Sunset in Monaco

Sunset in Monaco

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Seriously not even sure where to start. How about a top 10?

10. Renting city bikes in Paris and using them to bike all around the city. Sign up on their website and pay about $2/day. Bike depots all over the city allow you to park. Great way to see the city, save money, and get a little exercise.

Baguette

Yes, that is a baguette in Alex’s hand

9. Hiring a driver in Sorrento to take us around the Amalfi peninsula and an amazing meal at Ristorante La Tagliata in Positano. If we ever make it back to this area, we will stay in Positano.
8. Running after the tour bus as it pulled away nearly leaving us in Sienna. Since when do Italians run on schedule?
7. Shopping in Italy for clothes and shoes
6. Private wine tour around the Rhone valley

Rhone Valley Wine Tour

Rhone Valley Wine Tour

5. Raiding the chocolate shop free samples in Tain L’Hermitage (Valrhona)
4. Limoncello tasting along streets of Sorrento
3. Gambling at Monte Carlo dressed to the nines
2. Somehow partaking in “Fashion Night” in both Rome and Florence where the shops stay open late, have live music, complimentary cocktails/champagne/appetizers.

Fashion night in Italy, no big deal

Fashion night in Italy, no big deal

1. ALL meals in Italy (especially their amazing house wine by the jug)

Wine by the jug in Sorrento

Wine by the jug in Sorrento

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Real Honeymoon: France

I’ve made it pretty clear in previous blog posts that I’m a total beach person, so when I was planning my own honeymoon I only considered tropical places with white sand and warm water.  However, Lauren and John’s incredible honeymoon in France is a completely non-beachy honeymoon that I would have been thrilled to go on.  Planned around their love of good food and wine, they ventured all over France and went to some of the world’s best restaurants.  I’m salivating just writing this, so I’ll let Lauren take it from here.  Foodies, enjoy!

When and where did you honeymoon?

John and I headed to France in April of 2013.  We spent time in the Loire Valley (Orleans, Blois, Amboise and Tours), Bordeaux, Toulouse, Montpelier, Lyon, and of course Paris.

Loire chateau (Azay-le-Rideau)

Posing in front of a Loire chateau (Azay-le-Rideau)

How long was your trip?

Two weeks.

Loire valley and Amboise Chateau

Amboise Chateau in the Loire valley

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

John and I have always loved France (and French food and wine!), and have been a couple of times together.  For this special trip, we picked cities and towns where neither of us had been, so that we could explore them together.  We started with the Loire Valley because it’s our favorite wine and cheese region in the country; then, based on train routes and lengths, planned a loop around France.

Ham!

So much ham!

The best part about our honeymoon was…

This is a tough question!  We had an amazing time in each and every place we visited.  Like most of our trips, we tried to avoid museums and most tourist attractions so we could focus on the heart of the city.  We always ask for recommendations at our hotels and bed & breakfasts, and were able to try some amazing restaurants which we would never have found otherwise.

Our biggest surprise stop was Bordeaux. No one we had spoken to mentioned the actual city, although many had visited the vineyards in the area, so we didn’t know what to expect!  The city went through a renovation about 6-7 years ago, and now is clean and beautiful, with a long riverfront for strolling.  Our b&b there, Ecolodge des Chartrons was also spectacular, and the owner, Veronique was very helpful for where to explore…and where to avoid!  We were also lucky enough to end up in Bordeaux during the annual Antique Fair and Ham Fair, so we poked through French antiques and enjoyed some delicious ham sandwiches from tiny purveyors.

Overlooking the village of St. Emilion in the Bordeaux region

Overlooking the village of St. Emilion in the Bordeaux region

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Honeymoon Destination Recommendations for… Wine Lovers

It’s been quite awhile since I wrote my last Where To Go? post, so in honor of my good friend Stephanie who’s visiting San Francisco this week and in the midst of planning her own wedding, I thought it would be quite appropriate to cover a topic that’s dear to her heart: wine.

The following is a list of honeymoon destination recommendations for wine-loving couples created by myself, someone who knows little to nothing about wine.*  Since I am faaaar from being a wine expert, let’s just say that everywhere on the list is known for great wine, and hopefully my non-wine related comments will help you decide whether a particular location suits your particular honeymoon interests.  Pour yourself a glass, and let’s begin!

1) South Africa

Cape Winelands, South Africa

The Cape Winelands, South Africa

I’m starting off the list with the place that I want to visit the most.  South Africa really has it all: beautiful beaches, incredible wild life and safari opportunities, and the infamous wine regions of Constantia, Stellenbosch and Paarl.  It’s not a budget-friendly destination (especially if you want to go on safari as well), but if you’re going to go big on your honeymoon, I think South Africa would be absolutely fantastic.

2) Argentina

Malbec

I guess that’s what Malbec looks like?

On the other end of the budget spectrum, Argentina’s Mendoza region is another perfect honeymoon destination, especially if you love steak and a good Malbec.  While Argentina may not be as cheap as it used to be, it should still be significantly less expensive than a honeymoon in either South Africa or Europe.  Keep in mind though that Argentina is a huge country, so if you want to check out Buenos Aires as well as Mendoza, you’ll need to book some additional flights.

3) Australia

Hunter Valley, NSW

The beautiful Hunter Valley

If you’re going down under for your honeymoon, you’re in for a treat because Australian wine is delicious, and you don’t have to travel far from Sydney if you want to experience the wineries first-hand.  You can easily take a day trip to the Hunter Valley region in New South Wales, and then sleep off your hangover on Bondi Beach the next day.

4) France

Bordeaux

A winery in Bordeaux

There are three things that the French sure know how to do properly: food, wine, and romance.  What else do you need during your honeymoon?   The correct answer (at least for me): Beaches.  Fortunately, the French Riviera is just a short flight or train ride from Paris so you can have the best of both worlds, as well as Champagne, Burgundy, Loire Valley, and Bordeaux in between.  Stay tuned for an amazing Real France Honeymoon post coming up in a few weeks from a very food and wine-savvy couple.

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