I want to share all the details from our honeymoon so I decided to split it up into a series of posts. This is the first and I will cover our planning process, itinerary, travel details + lodging accommodations.
This was my first trip to Europe, so I am by no means a travel expert with tons of overarching tips to give. BUT what I can do is share specific details behind our trip in hopes that you all can use it as an example when planning a vacation of your own.
I also love to document personal things like this on WEEKENDWISHING.com so we have memories to look back on for ourselves!
A LITTLE BACKGROUND ABOUT OUR HONEYMOON
We got married in November and did not go on our honeymoon until the following February. The day after the wedding we did get out of town for a couple nights. You can read about that HERE.
We waited for our actual honeymoon for a few reasons…
For one, after the wedding we were jumping straight into my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years. We knew the holidays would keep us busy and we wanted to be able to relax and enjoy that time with family after being so consumed with the wedding for months. If we had tried to squeeze a honeymoon in before this, we would have come back and had to hit the ground running. What’s the point in that?
Another huge reason we decided to wait was because we did not want to be rushed. A trip requires a lot of time, money and effort. Becuase of that, we wanted to be able to enjoy every part of it–even the planning, packing and anticipation leading up to it. We got engaged in March and married that November. We did not want a long engagement so we were very happy with this timeline, but it did not leave a lot of free time for trip planning. If we had wanted to visit an all-inclusive resort in Mexico then we might have been able to swing booking it while prepping for the wedding but mapping out an entire trip around Europe was not in the cards. We are the type of people who want to do our own research and make our own plans when it comes to travel. We’re not travel agent people. Rather, we’re very hands on and we actually enjoy the “before” process of a trip. I even like planning outfits and packing my bag. If we were forced to cram any part of this into the mix prior to the wedding we knew we would not enjoy it to the fullest.
&& lastly, since we got married at the end of the year, Ethan did not have an additional two weeks left of vacation time. If we waited until the beginning of the next calendar year we could plan a trip away and take the full amount of days that we wanted.
Moral of the story, do NOT be afraid to step away from tradition and make your own rules when it comes to a honeymoon. You don’t have to take it immediately following your wedding. You don’t even have to take some extravagant trip at all. Just do whatever works best for you and your partner and you will not regret it!
Cities: Paris, London, Reims, Barcelona
Length: 2 wks
Time of Year: Feb 8-22
Flight: Cincinatti to Paris, Nonstop, Delta
HERE’S HOW FAR OUT WE STARTED BOOKING
The first thing we did was buy our plane tickets. We had been browsing around for these for a few months but we actually purchased them on Dec 10th. We departed for our trip on Feb 8th. We used those next 8 weeks to plan which cities we wanted to visit, fill in our accommodations, and seek out some activities. It was nice to do this in stages so the expenses were spread out.
Note: I made a spreadsheet with all this information. It also included additional details like confirmation numbers, phone numbers, the name of the app we needed to reference for our tickets (such as the airline app or EuroStar app), check in and check out times for each accommodation and high/low temps and forecast for each day. We were able to access this easily through the excel google sheets app in my phone. I highly suggest having all this info in one place so you can reference it as you go through your trip.
DAY 1 – FRIDAY – TRAVEL
6:18pm depart Cincinnati airport.
DAY 2 – SATURDAY – PARIS
8:25am land at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris.
9:00am leave airport to go to hotel. Transportation from airport to hotel booked ahead of time online through Agoda. The driver showed up on time, was professional and the van was clean and spacious. We were the only passengers on the ride and were taken straight to our hotel. The cost was $70.
Check in Grand Pigalle Hotel. We got lucky and were able to get into our room when we arrived. (More of a review on this hotel to come in my Paris post.)
DAY 3 – SUNDAY – PARIS
8:30am – 12:30pm Paris’ Best Kept Secrets Tour. We booked this through Airbnb and would highly recommend it. (More of a review on this tour to come in my Paris post.)
DAY 4 – MONDAY – PARIS
8:30am photoshoot with Alina Kolot. So glad we did this!
12:00pm check out of Grand Pigalle Hotel. When we made our hotel reservation we planned to be in London on this night. We changed our London travel dates when the soccer game date got moved back a day. By this time the hotel was fully booked for our third night. So, we used the opportunity to stay in a different area of the city.
3:00pm check in to Airbnb in Montmartre area. We LOVED, LOVED the Montmartre area (more on that to come in my Paris post) but this apartment was only ok for one night. It was way too small and missing some needed items so I wouldn’t recommend this specific spot. However, the balcony was amazing and we had a wonderful afternoon and evening here.
DAY 5 – TUESDAY – LONDON
1:03pm depart Paris on EuroStar. The EuroStar train is nice and it was such an easy ride. Once you board the trip is stress free!
2:39pm arrive in London at Liverpool Station
3:00pm check in to Airbnb. Unfortunately the place we booked ended up being a NIGHTMARE. I will spare you of the details, but we quickly realized we could not stay there so we googled and found a hotel down the street and walked there. We landed at Z Hotels. Since we booked so last minute, our room was a very small space without a window. But, it was very clean and safe so we were more than happy to be settled there. (More on the hotel to come in my Paris post.)
We planned to do a high tea at The Ritz after checking in but with the lodging debacle, we missed our opportunity.
DAY 6 – WEDNESDAY – LONDON
8:33am depart from Liverpool Station via train
10:00am arrive in Newmarket. Ethan works for Juddmonte Farms (a thoroughbred farm) and they have a European base in Newmarket. We spent the morning touring the farm, offices and stallions.
12:00pm lunch in Newmarket at The Packhorse Inn
4:46pm arrive back in London
5:30pm we headed straight to the London Eye to take a ride and see the city.
8:00pm Tottenham soccer game at Wembley Stadium
DAY 7 – THURSDAY – LONDON/PARIS
9:33am Depart on EuroStar. SADLY, we missed this train. Don’t make that mistake like we did! It was a rocky start to our Valentine’s Day, haha, but EVENTUALLY we were able to rebook. Thank goodness.
12:00pm filled the rest of our time at Searcys Champagne Bar in Liverpool Station
3:00pm Depart on EuroStar. We made sure we were there on time and caught this train.
7:20pm arrive in Paris. We took a train and the metro to our Airbnb. In hindsight we probably should have just gotten a taxi.
8:00pm check in to Airbnb in the 16e Arrondissement. We absolutely LOVED staying here. (Full review in my Paris post to come!)
DAY 8 – FRIDAY – REIMS/PARIS
12:58pm depart from Paris via GoEuro train
1:44pm arrive in Reims. Champagne country! (Full review to come)
3:15 G.H. Mumm champagne cellar tour
6:45pm depart Reims via GoEuro train
7:31pm arrive back in Paris
DAY 9 – SATURDAY – PARIS
No plans. Explore Paris.
DAY 10 – SUNDAY – PARIS/BARCELOAN
12:25pm board AirFrance plane at Charles de Gaulle airport.
2:05pm arrive in Barcelona. Take cab to hotel.
3:00pm check in to Cotton House Hotel. Full review HERE.
DAY 11 – MONDAY – BARCELONA
No plans. Explore Barcelona.
DAY 12 – TUESDAY – BARCELONA
11:00am check out of Cotton House Hotel.
Check in to Airbnb in Barcelona city center. These were not nearly as nice of accommodations as at Cotton House but the airbnb was clean and the windows were nice.
DAY 13 – WEDNESDAY – BARCELONA
No plans. Explore Barcelona.
DAY 14 – THURSDAY – BARCELONA/PARIS
5:45am check in deadline at airport
6:25am depart via AirFrance plane
8:25am arrive in Paris at Charles de Gaulle airport
9:30am check in to Hotel Regina. Our stay here was FABULOUS and we could not be happier that we ended our trip on a very high note here. We stayed in the Eiffel Tower Suite and I highly recommend it. (More info to come in my Paris post!)
DAY 15 – FRIDAY – PARIS/HOME
10:25am depart from Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris via Delta plane.
2:00pm land in Cincinnati. Our flight was direct and between the movies and the in-flight pasta meal it was actually so enjoyable. I didn’t want to land and face the fact that the trip was over! If a direct flight is an option, it is worth it!
HOW WE CHOSE WHICH CITIES TO VISIT
Ethan knew how infatuated with Paris I was (still am) so when we decided to do Europe he said we had to go there. He had been before but thankfully for me, he was more than willing to go back together. We knew Paris would be a good central hub to fly in and out of so we booked our tickets around that idea. Then we organically chose the other cities we visited as we planned out our trip in the following weeks.
We decided on Barcelona because Ethan had never been there (he has traveled a lot more than me in the past) and one of his best friends loves it there. Originally we were just going to do Bordeaux in addition to those two. But, then Ethan discovered that his favorite soccer team was going to play a game in London while we were overseas. So we nixed Bordeaux and added in London instead. The decision to go to Reims came last. We both love champagne and after reading a bit about the champagne region in Paris we decided we had to make time to visit since we were so close by.
WHAT WE WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY NEXT TIME
Allow for more time when traveling by train. We accidentally missed the EuroStar we were scheduled on from London back to Paris. So many other passengers did too. We learned that when you are traveling from one country to another it takes more time to get through security and board, even if it is a train and not a plane.
Spend more uninterrupted time in Paris. We’re happy we got to experience London and Barcelona together but we know we would like to spend more time settled in Paris. We are SO drawn to the city. Spending a full two weeks there in the future is a dream of ours. We would fill time with a few day trips (back to Reims and to the Palace of Versailles) but no other major travel.
Pack less, somehow. I tried really hard to be selective with what I brought with me. I kept removing items from suitcase but in the end, my case still ended up being overweight. It was a huge nuisance because I not only had to pay the extra fees on every flight but I also had to let Ethan carry my bag anytime it had to be lifted or brought up stairs because I was not strong enough to handle it. This left him with his 50lb bag in one hand and my 70lb bag in the other! He handled it like a champ and just grabbed them both at the same time and took off every time we needed to (even up sets of stairs) but I felt terrible. I am not sure how I would pack less than I did for a winter trip, but I would force myself to figure it out next time. I’d start by making myself use the middle size suitcase to try and keep it in a reasonable weight range.
Take more photos of the two of us. We did a photo shoot in Paris with a photographer (you can see those HERE) and I am sooo glad we did. But, I would still take more photos of us together if I could go back and do it over again. Even if it meant asking more strangers to snap a pic while we were out and about.
Stay tuned for remaining posts. If you have anything specific you would like me to cover in those feel free to send me a message. FYI, I will save all of this content to a tab labeled HONEYMOON TRAVEL on the homepage of WW so you can easily reference back to it if you are planning a trip in the future.