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Lex and Justine

We were married in January. A beach and marquee wedding in Forster NSW on the Australia Day weekend. We wanted a hot, iconic Aussie wedding as we are huge beachy people. So naturally we wanted our honeymoon to be somewhere hot and beachy too. With work restrictions and the northern hemisphere being in different seasons we decided to have a belated honeymoon. I would actually really recommend it. We still had a week off at a beautiful beach house in Seal Rocks NSW to sleep and eat after the wedding, which was totally necessary! But then we had time to plan and get excited about our honeymoon.

We both own our own businesses which are rapidly growing, and intentions of starting a family in the next few years, and knew that the h-moon would be our last opportunity for a really big, long break. So, we took 6 weeks and went to Europe to escape the winter. My sister lives in London, so after a quick weekend visit with her, we headed to Greece.

The choices of our destination were mostly food based! We are both huge foodies and couldn’t think of a better way to relax than to eat, drink and swim our way through the 6 weeks. We spent 2 weeks between the islands of Santorini, Naxos, Syros and Mykonos. Most days began with Greek yoghurt, honey, fresh peaches and apricots picked from the garden, a morning explore, a Greek salad, calamari and beer for lunch, afternoon swimming, napping then amazingly decedent dinners and local wine. As you can see the food focus is fairly strong!

My pick of the best Greek days was a day on the island of Naxos. It is the most fertile island of Greece and one of the only self sufficient islands. We hired a dune buggy ride and set off on a journey of the island, driving through the tiny little townships, stopping at plantations and picking stone fruit from side of the road trees. We stopped at a beautiful beach on the way back and had cucumber martinis at sunset…heaven.

Italy was our next country to explore. We spent two weeks on the Amalfi Coast between a beautiful bed and breakfast in Amalfi town and a 5 star resort just outside of Sorrento. My husband, Lex, worked on attaining a double chin by eating three massive gelatos a day and I allowed my love handles to grow through risotto and bellinis. The resort outside of Sorrento was called ‘Capo La Gala’ and our stay there was given to us as a wedding present from my sister. It was a divine love nest with amazing preppy yachtsman decor and incredible views. The capacity was small but the property was huge, meaning that you could always find a place to sit quietly where a waiter would magically appear with a bottle of prosecco.

My pick of the best days of Italy would have to be our day trip to Capri. We splurged on hiring a private boat and skipper to take us on a tour of the island, meaning we could stop and plunge in whenever we wanted. Then, we wandered through the streets eating lemon granita and buying jewellery. Once back on the mainland we went out for dinner and shared the worlds most amazing bouillabaisse and wine.

We had a couple of days in Rome and then headed back to England for a weekend. Just in case we weren’t relaxed enough, we stopped off in Thailand for 10 nights on the way home. We went back to a little island called Koh Samed, which is at the top of the gulf, so easy to access from Bangkok. It was our fourth time here, so we knew it was the quiet little hideaway we desired. We spent the week in a dangerously laid back fashion of eating (surprise, surprise) sleeping and reading.

Home time. We arrived back with two extra bags, a whole heap chubbier and big smiles on our faces. Work exploded as soon as we got home and every time I find myself really stressed I try and think about just how lucky I am to have spent so much time with the man I love and that he’s still there to give me a cuddle when I walk in the door.

My honeymoon advice; just spend the time doing exactly what you want and feeling lucky for the time with your loved one. We are all so busy in our everyday lives, the quiet honeymoon time is a blessing.

Photos from Justine’s Collection

Ms Gingham says: Justine is also one of our lovely vendors! A talented florist and event stylist, you can find out more about her on her website. She also has a food blog… just to keep her extra busy! Justine also guest posts for Polka Dot Wisdom with floral advice and inspiration and you can read her posts here too!

About Justine Rose: “If you are one of the many brides, grooms or nominated event organisers that needs a bit of help to actualise the flawlessly styled event that you imagine, I am your girl! I can help you with all your decorating and styling extras, as well as advising you on the best way to make all the elements fit. I love working with colours and concepts, so just ask!”

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

On a stinking hot summer’s day in August 2012, we merrily set off from Paris to visit Versailles. What did we know about it? It was the palace of French royalty and their court, the residence of the infamous Marie Antoinette and that the palace was raided and looted in the bloody French Revolution. Our hotel was close to the Metro and with the help of our lovely concierge, we had our tickets booked and all that remained was catching the train there! Walking from the train station to the palace takes about five minutes and once you’re there you can’t help but marvel at the sheer magnitude of the place. Impeccably maintained with the gold gilded statues gleaming in the sunlight this is truly an awe inspiring structure. It’s a massive tourist attraction nowadays, but it’s very easy to ignore the hawkers outside the gates and just imagine what this place would have been liked in the height of the French kingdom. It was designed to intimidate and frighten and I can imagine that it did just that to anyone visiting.

Versailles really is a suburb in itself. There’s the main palace which is of course enormous! Then there’s the expansive gardens and the residence of Marie Antoinette. I can’t claim to be an expert in all the attractions contained within the gardens as even with the whole day spent there, I feel like there are probably more hidden things that we didn’t discover. We started our tour by walking through the palace. The audio tour is free and definitely worth getting.

What would it have been like living here? Isolated from the misery of the people and in your own bubble of luxury and decadence? “Let them eat cake”, she said. In other words, out of sight out of mind. The place to me felt haunted. I could just imagine her fleeing down the stairs and being caught, only to meet her end under the guillotine. And then there’s the gardens. I can’t even describe them. Imagine living somewhere where you have the botanical gardens as your back yard? So easy to get lost and away from prying eyes. Hmmm, I wonder what went on in between the tall hedges and manicured trees?

Time for a break? What better place than in the palace’s own courtyard?

The lake is just visible in the background of the picture below (yes that’s still the palace’s gardens), has a cafe set up and you can hire row boats by the hour to take a romantic row around. It’s so beautiful… (for those who don’t have a 5 year old screaming bloody murder the whole time “row to the edge, I want to get on solid ground etc.”).

The lowdown:

  1. You cannot possible walk the whole gardens. You have 3 options. You can jump on a little train that takes you around to the most popular spots where you can jump off and explore a bit more. You can hire a golf buggy (by the hour) and stick to the designated route, again jumping off and parking where you like. You can also hire some bikes and ride around the grounds.
  2. There are tours available to book that will take you around and show you everything. Great idea except that they’re super expensive. I kind of like the freedom that wandering around and discovering for yourself provides.
  3. You may get lucky and come when it’s not busy but if it is, expect long queues and lots of waiting. You must be prepared for this and be happy to just go with it.
  4. Get your tickets online before you go to save yourself a little time. Some websites say get there after 3pm when most of the tour buses are gone. As the golf buggies stop operating at 6pm and it’s starting to get dark, I imagine that you’d get a little stressed if you don’t get to see everything at this time. Just my thoughts though.
  5. Finally, this is a magical, beautiful, once in a lifetime experience that I am so glad we managed to experience it.

Photography by Ms Gingham