Tuesday, October 27, 2015

There & Back Again: Our European Honeymoon

England, France & Austria




One of my biggest worries about getting married so young was that the opportunity to travel would be lost to me. All I have to say to that now is PAH. If traveling is important to both of you, then you'll make it happen. 

We knew before we were engaged that we wanted to go to Europe for our honeymoon, so we used that five months to save like crazy for it. Cobblestone streets, red telephone booths, trains, fog; we wanted to share those experience badly. While tropical beaches and resorts are super delicious, we felt those destinations would be easier later in life, while Europe would just get further away.

So the day after the Big Day, we were off! To preface this, we were in Europe for two weeks. I've attached a detailed itinerary (with hotels, trains, public transportation and airlines we used) that you can access (Here) if you are planning a trip and would like some direction.

1. First Stop: London, England

London Double Decker Bus

What We Did:

We hit all the places you are supposed to if you're an American and in London: Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, the Eye of London, Big Ben.

Buckingham Palace

My first carousel ride ever with our dear friend and native Sister Ford

A must when in London is to see a West End show. It's like Broadway to New York. You can buy discounted tickets at the theater booths in Leicester Square. Don't be afraid to shop around, there are multiple ticket booths offering different prices. We had the pleasure of seeing Wicked, and it was definitely a highlight of the trip.

London West End Wicked

Camden Market was another gold find, especially if you're into food and Harry Potter. Are there two better things? It's a wonderful market of chaos, full of food vendors offering culinary delights from every region of the world. I got a Nutella crepe-a common occurrence-and Tayler got some delectable curry.  Beyond the food vendors there was a bazaar maze, with booths full of original paintings and clothing and Harry Potter paraphernalia. I got this sweater for $14 there.

Harry Potter Sweater

Kings Cross Station was a must for me. Harry Potter got me through the horrors of Middle School, so I definitely wanted to have a go at passing through  9 3/4 to the Wizarding World beyond. Alas, we discovered it's a wonderful little tourist trap now. Everyone lines up to take their picture with a cart of luggage so I didn't really have the opportunity to run full force at the brick wall. There was a shop though.

Platform 9 3/4

Hyde Park Church and the London Temple. We didn't want to  skip church on our first Sunday as a married couple, so our friends the Fords took us to the Church of Latter Day Saints at Hyde Park Chapel, and everything was wonderfully familiar. That same day we also stopped by the London temple, just to stroll around the grounds and tour the Visitor Center.

London LDS Temple

2. Paris, France

Eiffel Tower Paris

In Paris, we didn't have an itinerary. It was wonderful.

If you're going to Paris and on a budget, I'd recommend staying a the Holiday Inn Express. Hostels weren't an option for us (um honeymoon) and this hotel was perfect. It was cheap, clean, and was on the banks of the river Seine. We only had to walk outside the lobby and we were walking along the river.

What We Did:

The Louvre. We actually didn't go in because A) Its massive and takes decades to walk through B) It cost $$ and C) Neither of us are that in to art and would rather be exploring the city.

Lourvre Kiss

Arch de Triumph. And our first marital argument. The Arch is in the center of the most chaotic roundabout I have ever seen. Five lanes wide, with no lines, where everyone is weaving in and out as they please with no apparent order to it. Tayler wanted to JAYWALK ACROSS IT. Excuse me? Til death do us part didn't seem so far away. I was sure that there was a way to get across without stepping on that death trap of a street, but we couldn't find it. After some arguing he bought me a Coconut Nutella Crepe and agreed to walk around looking for the pedestrian pathway to the Arch. Low and behold, there was an underground tunnel that takes you to it.

Arch de Triumph Roundabout
Note the 3 buses behind him waiting to crush a pedestrian. 

Notre Dame. A historical landmark brought to my knowledge by Disney. The architecture was amazing, and the entry price was too. Free as can be.

Notre Dame Interior

Sainte-Chapelle. A medieval cathedral (does anyone else think that rhymes??) with massive stained glass windows depicting scenes from the Bible. The whole room was covered in a sort of purple glow as the sunlight filtered in through the paintings. It was relatively cheap at €8.50, but if you're under 25 you'll get a "student" discount and pay €5. 

Sainte-Chapelle

The Love Lock tradition on the fences of a bridge over the river. The amount of locks on these fences was amazing, they even had to be reinforced in places because of the weight. Basically the idea is put a lock on the bridge with your lover and throw the key in the Seine. I'm counting on you to figure out the mushy symbolism:) 



Eats

My favorite place to eat in Paris was the Au Bon, something we'd found on TripAdvisor. It was an amazing restaurant with a perfect view of the Eiffle Tower. This was a big time splurge for us. Our three course meal cost a killer €70. However, this was one of those "Who cares we are in Paris" moments and we just went for it. Worth it.

Eiffel Tower Street View
Lunch in a courtyard. To save money and repent for our indulgent meal the night before, the next day we smuggled apples from the hotel lobby, bought sandwiches and chips from a grocery store, and had a little picnic in a random public courtyard. Equally as enjoyable as our fancy smancy meal.

French courtyard
Sandwich

Crepes. Crepes everywhere. At fancy restaurants, corner cafes, street vendors. It was in these instances that Tayler proved his loyalty and love for me. Whenever I wanted one (aka every 3 hours) he handed me his wallet and waited in line beside me, however inconvenient the time. Seven crepes in 3 days. Thanks babe.

Delicious Nutella Crepes
The Eiffle Tower. I saved this for last because of its originality;) The tickets to go up to the tippy top were surprisingly affordable at €13.50, a cost we decided to go for. Wanting to see the lights of the city, we went at night. It opens at 9am and closes at 11pm.
Eiffel Tower
Top of the Eiffel Tower

3. Salzburg, Austria

Austria was entirely my choice of destination. Tayler had free reign on our itinerary as long as we visited this country. England and France are incredibly popular, but I wanted the quiet, calm, beautiful European countryside experience too. Also, the hills here are alive with the sound of music. So obviously I would stop by.

Salzburg was an unexpected gem. We stayed at the Holiday Inn which was beautiful. It had a full window wall looking out to the Alps. The downside was that it was quite a walk from Old Town, the center of  Salzburg. It was about a mile walk down to it, but we endured it just fine. 

What We Did:

The Sound of Music Tour. I love this movie with my whole soul, so Tayler surprised me with this tickets to it. Everyone on our tour bus was so fun, singing along as the soundtrack played through the speakers. We saw the mansion the movie was filmed at, the trees the Von Trapps climbed, the gazebo Leisel and Rolfe sang in. Tragically its now locked because of an unfortunate accident involving an 80yr old, bench hopping, and a broken hip. I was bummed. We drove up to the tops of the mountains and went to the church where Captain Von Trapp and Maria were married. Here the tour bus stopped for an hour as we walked the streets of the town and purchased crisp apple strudel.

Sound of Music Gazebo Tour
Crisp Apple Strudel


Sound of Music Tour Austria
Mirabell Gardens. Part of the Sound of Music tour, but also a lovely place to walk through or picnic in. This is where the "Do-Re-Mi" song was filmed if it looks familiar. 

Sound of Music Tour Austria Mirabell Gardens

Shopping in Old Town. Narrow streets with store fronts on either side, this was a fun stop for me. 

Eats

These giant donut pretzels were a definite plus. I ate 3 over the two days we stayed there. Tip: Don't worry about calories on vacation. Ever. Remember, you're on a vacation from your problems. Plus you're walking around enough to burn off everything right?
Salzburg Pretzel
PRETZEL BIGGER THAN FACE
Salzburg Castle. The highest point of the city with the most breathtaking views. After 5 it's free to go in, so that's what we did.
Top of Salzburg Castle

 It was also the weirdest experience for me. I was looking over the edge of the castle wall, like so.

Top of Salzburg Castle
I swear I didn't pose like that. It just happened.
Tayler was on the stairs above me, snapping this picture, when suddenly someone approached me from behind and asked, 'Is your name Cortney?" What the. I am in Austria. I can only imagine how confused I looked when I turned around. It turned out to be the older sister of a friend I went to junior high with.  Small world for sure.

Top of Salzburg Castle

4. Hallstatt, Austria

Hallstatt
Whenever Tayler teases me about being on Pinterest too much, I remind him that we owe the discovery of this place to that magical app. Proof that pinning for hours is a worthy activity.

A water locked town nestled against a green mountainside, population 800, that you can only reach by a boat named Stefanie. If that's not a real life fairy tale I don't know what is. After days of traveling and miles of waking and sightseeing, Hallstatt was our perfect end destination. Our hotel, the Seewirt Zauner, was literally in the town center, and it was the most perfect European adorable building I had ever seen.

Behold:

Hallstatt Hotel Seewart Zauner

What We Did:

Virtually nothing. For three whole days. Can I get a woot woot.

We swam. (Correction, Tayler swam. I considered it but the words "glacier fed lake" were enough to convince me otherwise.)
Swimming in Hallstatt
The Brave Husb 
Opted for the picture instead.
We sunbathed.


We dined.

Smuggled more breakfast foods from the hotel to enjoy on our balcony. 
We took the tram up the mountain to the lookout point. There's also a tour of the salt mines offered up there, but it was a tad too expensive for us. 

Top of Hallstatt

Top of Hallstatt

We hiked.

Top of Hallstatt

We rented a boat for an hour and took it for a spin around the lake. Intense 360s did take place.  After Tayler almost tipped the boat, I took over captainship.

Beautiful Hallstatt
Tayler was driving until...

He wanted to take a selfie and pretend to tip the boat but he actually tipped the boat so our camera almost slid off into the lake and we got this genuine picture of terror.
So I commandeered the ship.
Beautiful Hallstatt
I think it was a beneficial move.
Look how happy it made us.
We got use to introducing each other as husband and wife. And decided we are already starting to look like each other.



And then it was time go back.

Two weeks was a perfect length for our wonderful European Adventure. By the end of the 14 days we concluded: traveling was tiring, blisters were hurting, and our suitcases kept shrinking after each hotel stay.

Our honeymoon was perfect and it filled us with some many precious and unique memories, but we were ready to fly back to the US and make our new little apartment our home sweet home.





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