Jonathon and Natalie
Following our Dayboro wedding, we made our way to Paris and Italy for a 2-week Honeymoon during the end of November 2012. You’ll notice that our wedding was focused around a strict budget, we did this so we could afford an equally amazing honeymoon and start our life on a great footing. After the whirlwind of planning and executing a wedding and flight times, we spent our wedding night at The Emporium Hotel in Brisbane and experienced their beautiful enchanted evening package. It was a great way to quickly re-wind and regain our energy for a long flight to Paris on the evening following our wedding. Another great thing was that we could book a luxury car to chauffeur us from our wedding to the hotel, it was less expensive than going through a private company and it meant everything in our room was timed for our arrival.
In terms of the ‘Honeymoon’ part, I’d recommend searching around for a travel agent you are happy with. You need someone that understands your budget, what you are trying to achieve and will be contactable during your travels. Moreover, one that is flexible when you change your mind a million times about what you want to do and where you want to go. We were lucky that my friend is a travel agent and accommodated our excitement. One question I keep getting asked, was how we had such a good time when we didn’t know the language. My answer, Lonely Planet phrasebooks, saying key phrases with a smile such as “Hello, it’s lovely to meet you, we are on our honeymoon from Australia, do you speak English?” Knowing this in French and Italian got us by, everyone was willing to help and responded in English with accurate pointing to things and nodding.
We flew Emirates straight to Paris for 3-days and stayed at The Scribe Hotel. The concierge were amazing, they helped us book our dinners at local cafes, gave us directions, and even sent flowers, real French champagne and sweets to our room after I commented on the how amazing flowers smelt in Paris. During our days, we pre-booked a tour of Versailles, The Louvre, and a river cruise which included dinner at the Eiffel Tower and the late session at the Moulin Rouge (most travel agents have deals like this). The rest of the time we walked around Paris in search of hot chocolate and Laduree after slowly freezing from the temperature changes from home.
At the end of our 3-days we boarded a shuttle to the airport (all pre-booked so we didn’t have to worry), and jumped on a flight to Rome. At the airport in Italy, we were greeted by the tour director from the Best of Italy tour by Trafalgar. There were both positives and negatives to the trip. Our motivation behind the tour was to have a guide, be informed about everything we were seeing, be able to see all the tourist attractions without lines and have someone to worry about all the logistics. Our tour director Patricia did exactly this and in addition, we asked for more romantic local restaurants with freshly made food and she was happy to provide the ‘local’ insights. This particular tour also has a lot of scheduled ‘free-time’, which meant we could split from the group and just get to absorb the sights, environment, and be ‘Italian’.
Something to note, have a think about what you want to purchase in Italy. We decided we didn’t want a collection of cheap tourist ornaments, so we allocated our money for a set of authentic Murano glasses which we got engraved (the visit is included on the tour). It is a huge investment, but we love them and it’s something we can pass down to our children. At the end of the day, we went to Italy because we knew we would be able to eat most things on offer, and eat we did… at the cafes, restaurants, food stalls and ‘Be My Guest’ dinners with all generally having the mother or grandmother coming out to comment on how happy she was that we had such a healthy appetite when we asked for seconds and thirds. At a few local places, I also asked for their recipes and they were happy to share, which means we can have a little bit of Italy at home now.
In Italy tipping is customary. You can pre-purchase tips for your Driver and Tour Director and give them this on Day 2. It makes them very happy and helps when you want things a little more tailored to your requirements. You will need tips for the local guides and restaurants so make sure you keep your Euro coins for this. The coins also come in handy as you need to pay to use the bathroom everywhere in Italy, unless you sneak into a McDonalds or are dining at the restaurant. It’s also worth noting that ‘tap’ water isn’t the norm and you will receive mineral water with everything and there is a charge associated, so just ask for wine. 🙂 The negatives with the trip was that it was definitely a tour and didn’t feel like a romantic honeymoon. You do a lot of travel to squeeze in so many sights in a short period of time and you are in a coach with 38 other people that aren’t on their honeymoon. We also paid extra for 4-star accommodation and were very disappointed, it does not equate to the standards in Australia and was more like a motel with stained floors I couldn’t bear to put my naked feet on. However, you literally only have time to sleep in the room, the rest of the day you are seeing amazing sights or going off on your own and eating gelato.
Overall, our honeymoon was a great experience, we finally got to experience all the places portrayed on TV and in the movies that looked romantic, beautiful, culturally diverse, and housed locals that embraced tourists. And, after opening our eyes and a few belt notches to new tastes, we also got to eat our way through the countries.The weather was a bit hit-and-miss, but don’t let that disappoint you, bring an umbrella, a spare set of thermals and know where your closest shelter is. At the end of the day, you can always recover from a cold when you get home, you’re excitement for adventure will keep you healthy until then… unless you are like me and fall pregnant on the trip, then carry mineral water with you everywhere 🙂
We did realize, that we needed more time to relax both before and after the trip. I would advise not flying out the day after the wedding or spending a little more time in your first location. This will allow you to get a bit more rest and get your body clock in order so that you are able to power through the days and nights exploring the hidden treasures of the places you are visiting. Additionally, take some time when you come home to wind down, put a day aside to go through those wedding gifts and send out your thank you notes. Then reward yourselves with a mini-honeymoon to a cabin in the mountains or a hotel on the beach…. anywhere, where you can have your privacy, walk on floors without wearing your shoes, get a massage and relax knowing you have fulfilled all the requirements of a ‘wedding’ and re-charge after your travels.
P.S The statues in Italy are enjoyable to stare at, who said history was boring?
Ms Gingham says: Divine, divine and divine again!!! Great tips and so lovely to see this gorgeous couple enjoying themselves!
Natalie says: “23, married to my highschool sweetheart, given up work and tucked away my degrees to be a full-time wife, moved interstate, supportive of my army husband and look like a train wreck expecting our wedding night bub… and all since 13th November 2012! P.S. I love cake and all things pretty – enough said.”
You can read all about Natalie and Jonathon’s wedding on Polka Dot Weddings