I think most people will agree that the honeymoon is one of the best parts of your wedding. Let's face it, after all your hard work, it's the payoff (aside from the happy, life-long marriage of course). You and your love get to take off on a trip by yourselves and just bask in the glow of being married.
How do you decide where to go? Many factors (probably most importantly budget) can dictate your choice. For my husband and I, our criteria were:
1. Europe (for the historical tourism).
2. Somewhere we'd never been before.
3. Somewhere we could get some beach time.
4. A place where we had some knowledge of the language.
For our honeymoon, that spelled a trip Portugal. We rented a car and traveled from Sintra, to the Algarve and Lisbon. It. Was. Awesome. The best trip of my life so far, and at least once a week for the last 17 months I've turned to Jim and said "Let's go back. Seriously, like, right now". Sigh. Hopefully we will someday.
Our first night in Sintra, the "medieval city". I just loved our hotel, the Palacio Seteais. We arrived earlier in the day and had to wait a few hours to check-in, so we headed to the hotel restaurant and ordered a typical Portuguese meal for lunch, bacalhau (dried salt cod) and vinho verde (literally 'green' wine, made from very immature grapes). Yum. Now Jim might tell you that at this point I was falling asleep and ever so-slightly sulky, but he's totally lying. Well, exaggerating, anyway. In my defense I was exhausted, jet-lagged and somewhere on our flight I managed to come down with a pretty nasty cold. Illness aside, the best part of day one was when we finally made it to our hotel room and realized we'd been given the honeymoon suite, where they'd left us champagne, strawberries and doces de ovos (egg yolk sweets).
Things were looking up the next day as we had an early breakfast on our balcony. Sintra is situated in the misty hills and the views were amazing. I remember while we were eating the wind picked up a bit and revealed a huge castle that had been obscured by the clouds. . .right in front of us. Beautiful!
Then came more sniffles. Followed by sneezing, coughing and hacking. In which Jim proves his ability to really speak Portuguese. If you can walk into a pharmacy in a foreign country and say "Do you have nasal decongestant?" in another language, then I'm calling you fluent. No arguments.
We took a day trip to Fatima to see the shrine and basilica.
Next stop: The Algarve. This (with some cropping) was the view from our balcony at our hotel, the Almansor. Three days and three nights of sun and crashing waves. This picture has been my computer background for said 17 months. Not exactly helping me get over the experience.
In the evenings the Almansor had dance performances.
Newly tanned, we drove back to Lisbon for some sightseeing and our last night in Portugal.
Padrao dos Descobrimentos (Monument to the Discoveries).
The view from our final hotel, the Dom Pedro Palace. We were pretty beat after the long week and had to get up really early to catch our flight home. So truthfully our time here was was spent looking out this very window, exclaiming over the really cool bathroom, ordering room service and sleeping.
I have to admit, at the time we were under the impression that by heading to Portugal, we were going on the most unique honeymoon ever, but we weren't quite that slick. While we were in line for the rental car I struck up a conversation with an American couple behind us. Not only were they also newly-weds, but we'd gotten married on the same day, in DC, and our new husbands had the same occupation. So much for blazing a trail!
Sniffling aside, I loved every second.