Melissa and Jared's uh-mazing European voyage of summer 2010!

January 27 |

After a brilliant reader request, we started featuring real offbeat honeymoons: A once-a-month profile featuring an array of honeymoons, from the spendy to the budget. Don't forget: click here to submit your awesome honeymoon story.

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Honeymooners: Melissa and Jared

Type: International travel

Budget: Spendy ($5000-$10,000)

Where did you go? I just got my passport and have never been out of the country before, so we wanted to visit as many countries in Europe as possible. First, we flew Iceland Air and had a full day layover in Reykjavik, Iceland. We made that our first stop.

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Melissa is a huge Beatles fan - A stop in Liverpool was a must

Then we went to England because I'm a huge Beatles fan and both Jared and I had friends to visit there. From there we went to The Netherlands and stayed right outside of Amsterdam with someone amazing who we found through couchsurfing.com. There is just something about Amsterdam that is intriguing — aside from drugs and sex, of course! It was a great visit. We saw a lot of museums, vintage shops and all around Dutch cuteness!

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A cafe in Paris

Then after an eight hour bus ride we were in Paris! We had a couchsurfing connection there as well, and then decided to stay longer. They helped us find a cheap hotel for the remainder of the week. I've always thought of Paris as very dreamy, and it totally delivered! I look forward to returning someday.

Then Italy, sweet Italy. My family is Italian: I HAD to go there! We spent about ten days in Northern Italy and it was a dream, and another ten in Southern Italy.

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Kinvara Ireland

Once we realized we were running out of money and could barely afford another week, we had to decide between Spain and Ireland. It was a tough decision, but Ireland won. After doing so many cities we just wanted to hang out with sheep on hills. It was a great way to end the trip of a lifetime.

What did you do? We did everything. It was two months of non stop action! Lots of sight seeing, visiting old friends in England and making new ones along the way.

We hit London, Glastonbury, and Liverpool (The Beatles!). In The Netherlands we saw Amstelveen, Amsterdam, and Haarlem. We took a canal cruise, went to the VanGogh museum, and ate delish things.

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Cinque Terra

In Paris, we saw the touristy stuff and wandered hand-in-hand through The Louvre. It is a magical city. Italy was the best! We rented a car and toured Tuscany, relaxed on the beaches of Cinque Terra and splurged on a night at an agriturismo for the best food and drink ever! In Southern Italy we discovered a small town that matches my last name, AHH!

P.S. Prior to this "splurge" we were super cheap, in order to make this trip last we had to find free things to do, stay in hostels, eat on the go, etc. Couchsurfing was a gift, not to mention the friendships that came out of it. IMG_1714

Unfortunately, we had to wrap it up… Ireland was our place to quiet the buzz of the cities, after Dublin of course (Dublin has amazing live music, inside, outside- everywhere!) Again, we rented a car and drove west. It only took two hours to get to the other side of the country! Jared was my hero driving on the opposite side (eek!) We visited the cliffs of Moher, hiked the Burren, rented bikes and ran around on the hills of Tara and Knowth. I'd say I broke in my passport proper!

What was the most meaningful moment of the trip? There was one night in Tuscany, where we were camping, and by camping I mean sleeping in our rental car in a campsite). I was wide awake at two in the morning. Normally that really annoys me, but I just started thinking about our wedding and all the love we have in our lives. I was watching a star make its way across the sky and I was so moved. I mean, I was watching the stars in Tuscany! Who wouldn't want to SLEEP under that?!

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Sunflowers in Tuscany

What would you have done differently? Not a thing. We were literally booking things and making plans days before. Then, I began to think maybe we should plan better and not fly by the seat of our pants. When we did that, we ended up miserable and trapped in Naples for a week. I think traveling is hectic regardless of wether you plan a year or a day in advance. So just hold on– it's an adventure!

What's your advice for other offbeat honeymooners? Everyone warned me "Europe in the summertime, so hot!" So I packed sundresses, sandals, things for "so hot" weather. I found myself buying socks and long-sleeves. Poor packing on my part. I mean who doesn't even bring one pair of socks?!

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Also, Jared and I had been together and had a home together for five years so we really didn't need any stuff for wedding gifts that people are so quick to drop on you. Thanks to Ariel's "tutorial" on how to tactfully ask for money as wedding gifts, we felt great asking our loved ones to help us make this adventure possible.
And we sent our photo thank you cards from Paris, everyone LOVED them!

HONEYMOON PHOTOS!

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  1. Perfect!!! FH and I are planning more or less the same idea- asking for money instead of gifts, trying to keep costs down for the wedding so any money given by parents toward the wedding can actually go toward the honeymoon, and then off to Europe! The fact that after a 5 year absence, we re-met and fell in love in Paris only adds to the fact that we want to go back SO much. Looks like an awesome time was had here, with so many great places visited!
    For some reason, people think I'm a little odd when I tell them we want to do an epic European adventure for our honeymoon. Glad to see we're not the only ones doing this. ;)

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  2. I love it!!! We are planning to take off to Italy for our honeymoon soon – glad to see someone else use couchsurfing (I just discovered it)! Sounds like a wonderful adventure for your first trip out of the country.

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  3. A little correction on a photo: is not "Cinque terra", but it is "Cinque terre".
    I'm glad you like my country.

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    • Click the editz button at the bottom of the post to submit typo corrections!

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  4. Looks like you had an awesome time. My first trip to Europe I was in the mode "I must see everything" and visited 5 countries: Sweden, Denmark, Belgium, France, England. I loved Paris and seeing Phantom of the Opera at the West End in London was a huge highlight for me. Later trips I learned that I needed a little less bouncing around and focused on one or two countries at a time. I would highly recommend Venice and Florence as two beautiful and romantic Italian cities.

    Regarding temperature in Europe: yes, it can be hot but it's no guarantee. And sometimes when people mean hot, they mean high in the 70-80s F, lows in the 50s or 60s F, not very hot during the day for this Florida girl and a bit chilly at night. I thought I knew this from years of traveling but then my trip last year to Austria threw me for another loop. Altitude! It's a lot colder 1000 or 2000 meters high, especially if it's not bright and sunny. So bring extra warm clothes if you're planning on hiking on any mountains or big hills. I had to buy a jacket and a hat because I didn't bring enough warm clothes.

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  5. My husband and I just got back from our romantic European honeymoon tour – Brussels, Bruges, and Amsterdam. It was a wonderful trip. If I can add one more piece of advice – I cannot overemphasize the need for good comfortable shoes! I brought sneakers because we were planning to do a lot of walking and flip flops for something to throw on at our hotel if I needed to leave the room for just a minute or two. After our second day of "urban hiking", due to my feet swelling up on the plane ride over and never completely de-puffing and the overall dampness of Northern Europe in January, I had half a dozen huge, painful-as-Hell blisters on my feet. When I couldn't put my feet back into my sneakers without tears, I gave up and started wearing my flip flops. After spending the next two days painfully hiking around Amsterdam in my flip flops (which was cold), we (and by 'we' I mean 'I') finally caved and bought a pair of cheapie fake Ugg boots, mostly because they were the only thing I put on that didn't make me whimper.

    HUGE props to the shoe store clerk who 1) spoke English, and 2) didn't take advantage of my situation to try to get large amounts of money out of us. She actually said that her store was too expensive for what we wanted (she said, "I can't ask you to pay 60 Euros when what you want can be gotten for much less elsewhere"), and drew us a map to a cheaper shoe store that had what we needed.

    So moral of the story is – take good shoes with you!

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  6. The souvenirs and shopping items that you bought, did you ship them ahead or bring them along in backpacks and suitcases?? Even though you had a budget, other than the experience, food,friends and photos what did you do to carry or send items that you bought in Europe? P.S. It sounded like great fun!!!

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