In a past life, I must have been a travel agent. I dream about jet-setting across the world on almost a daily basis, and although I'll never turn down swanky five-star digs, there's nothing more romantic than experiencing a new country from a local's perspective, rather than a tourist's. Getting lost walking down winding cobblestone streets, finding hole-in-the-wall restaurants that weren't mentioned in the travel guide, and attempting to have a conversation in the local language — these things all define my dream honeymoon. What defines yours?
Here are two of my favorite honeymoon getaways, including local hotspots and what brides should pack with them. Enjoy!
Source It: Images via Lungarno Collection
Rome at Twilight. Take the three-hour "Rome at Twilight" guided tour, where you'll visit famous landmarks like the Fontana di Trevi and the Spanish Steps — this has newlywed mush written all over it. It's also perfect for avoiding the crowds and heat, if you'll be visiting during the summertime!
Tivoli’s Villa d’Este. Then, take a stroll through some of the most enchanted gardens in all of Rome.
Ponte Milvio Bridge. Also known as "Lovers Lane," this will undoubtedly be the most romantic walk of your entire honeymoon. Here, couples have attached padlocks to the bridge as an expression of their love, just like Paris's infamous Pont des Arts bridge. But resist the temptation to add one of your own — The Huffington Post reports that there has been a fine in place since 2007.
Eats & Treats
Gelateria Giolitti. I have a slight problem when it comes to carbs and chocolate, so I can't resist the land of pasta and gelato. This little piece of heaven serves up some of my favorite gelato in the area. And if Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn can get their sugar fix eating succulent sorbet, then so can I.
La Buca di Ripetta. Experience la dolce vita by feasting on classic Italian fare, like rosemary-scented pork or sautéed mussels and clams. You might even rub shoulders with an Italian celeb in this legendary restaurant.
Shops & Bar Hops
Via Condotti. Located at the Spanish Steps, this is the best street in all of Rome to shop for designer goodies from Ferragamo, Cartier, Giorgio Armani and — my personal favorite — Christian Louboutin.
Altroquando. If you're obsessed with books and movies like I am, then this is your next stop. They carry Italian postcards, movie posters and magazines that make for great souvenirs (even if you'll need a translator to understand them).
AlexanderPlatz Jazz Club. Want to experience Roman nightlife? Jazz music lovers, prepare for a fun night that might even extend into the next morning.
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Photo Credit: 123rf.com
Rent a yacht. Yes, I have a budget and no, I'm not a queen (yet!) but I'd love to cruise around the Mediterranean ocean. Try Dakoutros Boats & Yachts, which is located in Fira.
Visit the hot springs. Palia Kameni (which means "old burnt") is the ultimate hot tub — the water is 33 degrees Celcius (which is about 91.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and it contains sulfur that is good for the skin.
Caldera trip. This is one of my favorite tours in Greece: not only do you get to see volcanoes, but you can swim at Palia Kameni, then skip on over to the fishing taverns and witness the spectacular sunsets at Oia. If you're prone to seasickness, you may want to take anti-nausea medication beforehand.
Ancient Thira. Located 396 meters above sea level at Mesa Vouno, this classical city was founded in the 9th century B.C. by Dorian colonists and was inhabited until the early Byzantine period. The preserved ruins belong to the Hellenistic and Roman phases of the city. German archaeologists excavated the larger part of the cemeteries in the residential area between 1895 and 1902. It's closed on Mondays, so keep that in mind when booking your trip.
Eats & Treats
Papagalos Restaurant. This Oia village restaurant has defined contemporary Greek cuisine and has been voted one of the top 50 Greek restaurants.
Skala. For a memorable honeymoon meal, book a reservation here. This place has the best view of the caldera and the largest dining terrace in all of Oia.
Aktaion. Get lost in time here — this diner is the oldest place to grab a quick bite on the island and, to my knowledge, it hasn't changed much over the past 80 years.
Shops & Bar Hops
Elixir. Located in the area of Kamari, this little gem doesn’t get any more exotic. Drink all you want outside with the waves crashing just steps away.
Canava Roussos. I may be a foodie, but I know nothing about good wines. What better place to learn than the oldest wine establishment in Santorini?
Meandros Gold. When I think of Greece, particularly the islands, jade gemstones and gold (lots of it) immediately come to mind. If you want to go shopping, head to the narrow streets of Fira to indulge in guilty pleasures.
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— Angelica Bragg
Angelica Bragg is a real bride and the blog maven of The Bridal Detective. She and her fiancé, Edwin Mirzayans (a published author), are planning a destination wedding at the Italian Lakes in Summer 2014. With a stunning backdrop and "la dolce vita" attitude, the couple's soirée will be intimate and romantic, all while celebrating two cultures. When the couple returns from their Italian road trip honeymoon, they will throw a glam after-party with all of their loved ones back home in Jacksonville, Florida.