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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Ireland Recap: Dublin, Slane, Galway, Cliffs of Moher

This was my second trip to Ireland, the first being nearly seven years ago when my friend Becky moved to Dublin on a whim after we graduated from college.  I never would have guessed that the next time I’d go back would be for her wedding!  A lot of our friends from home visited another country first before heading to Ireland, so it was a lot of fun swapping travel stories once we were all together in Dublin: one friend got yelled at in Barcelona for taking photos in a bakery without asking permission, another friend visited her brother in Prague and ended up sharing one bath towel with him and her husband for four days, and someone else actually got sunburned on the (usually cold and rainy) Aran Islands.

Guinness

Slainte!

We decided to spend three nights in Dublin at Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar.  Despite the central location and good price, I wouldn’t necessarily want to stay there again (and it’s certainly not honeymoon material).  Although the rooms were clean, they were really basic, the bathrooms were comically small, and the internet in most of our friends’ rooms was spotty if not nonexistent.  However, the rooms did have flatscreen TVs that allowed for plenty of late-night music video watching (which will always score points in my book).

When I wasn’t watching classic Shakira vs. Beyoncé music video countdowns (which was totally amazing, by the way), we did a lot of fun stuff in Dublin.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Trinity College – Even if you don’t want to pay to see the Book of Kells, the classic college campus itself is definitely worth a look.
Trinity College

A sunny day at Trinity College

  • St. Stephens Green – If you’re fortunate enough to visit Dublin in good weather, relax in this gorgeous park that’s close to Trinity College and the good shopping on Grafton Street.
  • Guinness Storehouse – It’s practically impossible to be a tourist in Dublin and not go here.  It’s a modern multi-level museum devoted to all things Guinness, and the general admission ticket includes a free pint at the top floor Gravity Bar.
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Good times with good friends at the Guinness Storehouse

Pub night at Hogans

Pub night at Hogans

  • Queen of Tarts – Cute place for lunch, two locations in Dublin.  Very touristy, but undeniably yummy.
  • Yamamori Noodles – If you need a break from pub food, we really liked this Japanese restaurant.
  • Zaytoon – The only place to go for late night food.  Don’t get a kebab from anywhere else; you’ll regret it immediately.

On the morning of the wedding, we rented a car from the airport and made the hour journey to Slane in Meath County.  A couple of things to keep in mind when renting a car in Ireland:

  1. They drive on the “opposite side of the road” in Ireland (i.e. the left hand side), and the steering wheel is on the right hand side of the car.  Repeat the mantra, “Little lefts, big rights.”
  2. The rental company told me that buying insurance through them was mandatory in Ireland, which nearly doubled the price of the estimated quote we received online before making the reservation.
  3. Renting an automatic car is WAY more expensive than renting a manual one.  If possible, learn to drive stick!
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Main Street in Slane

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Bring on the Whiskey and Guinness, We’re Off to Scotland & Ireland!

Even though it feels like we just got back from Panama, we’re already about to embark on our next adventure.  First up is Scotland, where we’ll explore Edinburgh for a few days and then take a train to Glasgow to catch a Bruce Springsteen concert.  After Bruce rocks our socks off, we’ll fly to over Dublin to drink plenty of Guinness and celebrate our good friends’ wedding* in County Meath.  Assuming that we recover from the wedding in time (rumor has it that Irish weddings often last until 7 AM the next morning), we’ll drive over to Galway and check out the Cliffs of Moher as well.

Scotland & Ireland

I don’t plan on spending much time in front of a computer during this trip, but I do have a couple of really great Real Honeymoon posts scheduled for publication on the next two Mondays, and I’ll definitely write about our own trip once we’re back home.  In the meantime, enjoy this Scottish/Irish travel playlist that my husband just created for our trip.

Sláinte!

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* Even though these friends live exactly one mile away from us in San Francisco, it’s so awesome that we’re going to celebrate their wedding over 5,000 miles away in Tankardstown!  You just can’t find wedding venues like this back home.