Archive for the ‘Honeymoon’ Category

Well, we did it. We booked a trip to Europe! When we got married and obtained a little cash, we decided we’d save it and keep adding to it until we had enough to go to Europe. Our goal was Fall of this year, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I could never get away from my job at that time of year. We considered a few other options and began to realize that what made the most sense was this spring. As in really effing soon!

We chose a trip through Trafalgar. Despite some negative reviews I read, they had a tour that seemed perfect for us, and if we booked by the end of February we could get $400 off per person. So on Monday night (February 28th by the way), we found ourselves on the phone booking a trip. A European trip yo!

Here’s the deal. We fly to London and spend two days sightseeing, then  head to Paris for two days. I get to show Mike my favorite things from when I was there last year, then we’re off to Switzerland for a day, followed by Venice, Florence, and finally two days in Rome before we fly home. If you’re keeping track, that’s 11 days. Minus two days of travel, we’ll be in Europe for nine days! We’ll hit England, France, Switzerland and Italy. It’s like a dream come true and we are so thrilled.

And yes, we’re splurging. Big time. We took what was given to us at our wedding and added in as much money as we could each month. We hope to get a tax refund this year that we’ll throw in, as well, and hopefully that’ll be enough. I wouldn’t want you to get the impression that we can just up and visit Europe whenever we want. We’ve been making some sacrifices to make this happen, and I’m confident it’ll be worth it.

Not only is it a splurge, but it’s a very meaningful trip for us. It’s sort of like a second honeymoon — we had a very inexpensive wedding so we could later take an exciting vacation instead of paying off wedding debt. It’s also going to be a celebration of our one-year anniversary since we’ll be traveling relatively near that date. But most importantly, it’s a last hurrah before we get serious about the kid thing. Once the little critters come along, who knows when we’ll be able to splurge this way again. I’ve been to Ireland and Paris, but Mike has never been to Europe at all, and we’ve obviously never been there together. This trip = HUGE!

So, we need to make the most of it. Ever been to London, Venice, Florence or Rome? What are the must-sees and must-dos? What about Paris? I  know where I want to take Mike, but maybe I missed something last time that I shouldn’t miss again. Also, as a culinarian, the food part of this experience is important to my husband (and me too… hello, Italian past? Yes please!). Any must-eats to recommend?

Dudes. We are so damn excited!

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Friday was our last day in VA, and really, it was just a morning. We got up earlier than we had all week, packed up our stuff, straightened up the cabin and headed out. We were in search of breakfast, which proved to be a real challenge, but once we located some pastries, we hit the road. Our plan was to drive all the way back to Michigan on Friday and stop about two hours from home. And so we did. It was a long day, but it went pretty smoothly until we were 45 minutes from our destination. Then all hell broke lose in the form of a hail storm. But we had been driving all day and we were so close, so I kept driving and we only nearly died a few times.

The hotel we stayed at was a shit hole, but it was a place to sleep. And we spent several hours the next day at the local zoo, which just happened to showcase its giraffes and one’s ability to pet and feed them.

If you don’t know yet, one of my nicknames for Mike is the Giraffe, and the whole giraffe thing has sort of become a running joke in our relationship. We walked through the whole zoo, but this part was definitely the highlight.

I know that zoo animal photos are incredibly boring, but that’s all I’ve got from this last stretch of our honeymoon, so here you go.

And the best looking animals of all…

Before we left the zoo, we strolled through the gift shop and were total suckers for this little guy:

I’m not usually a sucker for stuffed animals, but we got it in our heads that we’d save this one and give it to a future child of ours. A little momento from their parents’ early days. We named it Luray after the town in VA that was our honeymoon spot. Isn’t that just so… cheesy! Yeah, but who cares.

After the zoo we drove home and fell into piles on the floor. Our honeymoon was amazing and I’m so glad we did it, but like with any trip, we were exhausted when it was over. But! So worth it.

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Wednesday, our second full day in VA, the plan was to spend the day exploring Shenandoah National Park. The first thing that went wrong with this plan is that we couldn’t find our National Park pass before leaving home and so we had to pay the entrance fee. The second thing that went wrong is that everything, no I’m not kidding, EVERYTHING looked like this:

Look I’ll show you more.

Fog fog everywhere. We thought maybe the sun would burn it away eventually, but it never cleared up even a little. We paid to look at this shit. I know there’s nothing anyone can do about the weather, but what a disappointment huh? And even if the fog had cleared, half the pullouts were closed with this explanation:

I was really excited to see Shenandoah, so the whole thing was a real bummer. Then ass we were driving away from the diner where we ate lunch, someone pulled up beside us and yelled, “You’re almost on the rim! Front passenger!”

Mother fucker, we had a flat. A really flat flat. Luckily there was a service station next to the diner, so we filled it with air, but the whole thing was too precarious. We drove about 100 yards and decided it wasn’t safe, so we turned around and called AAA.

But seriously, they were SO slow (Can you blame them? They were coming to the middle of a national park!), so my man stepped in.

Pretty soon we were back on the road and we headed straight back to town where we found a tire store. The dude there patched it up for only $10 and I’ve been driving on it ever since! All the way home from VA, and back and forth on my hour plus long commute each day. Knock on wood. Wow, I so just screwed myself.

Our hot air balloon ride had been rescheduled for that night, but when we called to check, they said it was too foggy but we’d definitely be able to go Thursday night because it was supposed to clear up. So we had dinner in town that evening, then hung out at the cabin all night doing pretty much what we did the night before: hot tub, books, DVDs (we brought a season of Angel), etc.

Thursday we had no plans until our balloon right in the evening. We considered trying Shenandoah again, but we were skeptical. We took it as a sign that we should just chill for a day. So we did! We explored the woods and pond behind the cabin…

…took pointless pictures of each other…

…read some books…

…and laid out in the sun.

[Inappropriate sunbathing photo withheld.]

Eventually we got restless, so we ventured into town. We visited an antique shop and thrift store where we bought several fun gifts for a few key people who helped with the wedding.

(These were not the gifts.)

I also bought a mirror for myself that I plan to paint black. And then I made Mike carry it across town to our car.

I also bought this antique necklace that I love!

When we got back to the cabin, guess what, the balloon ride was canceled for the third day in a row. It was a serious disappointment because we were so excited about it. But we, yet again, chilled at the cabin and took it easy all night. Our last night in our little hideaway paradise. But we had some fun on the way home, too, just to extend the fantasy world where work doesn’t exist a little longer.

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Ahh the honeymoon. Let me just say this: take a honeymoon. Do it. No don’t argue with me, just do it. Mike and I didn’t do anything super special – we just rented a cabin and chilled. We made a few excursion-type plans, but almost all of them failed. That wasn’t the point though. The point is that we took a week to acknowledge this big thing we just did. The moment, the second we got home, we had to get right back into our routines, but that honeymoon week got to be something different. Before this week we were unmarried, after this week we were married. Marriage honestly feels no different than co-habitating (apparently not a word) in a committed relationship, so that week away together really helped us to feel like we had done something special.

Anyway! Enough with the lecture. Let me tell you about our honeymoon. We left off in our luxurious king-sized bed in our super cheap suite. I forgot to mention that before we went to bed, we filled out a room-service card so breakfast was delivered to our room in the morning. Room service is a treat we don’t usually indulge in, but hell, honeymoon right?

After breakfast we stopped at home to grab our honeymoon stuff and switch cars and we were off. Mike and I are good road trip partners so we decided to go somewhere far enough from home to feel “away” but close enough to drive. Sunday night we stopped in a small Pennsylvanian town for the night, and we got to our cabin in Virginia Monday afternoon. I’d tell you about this place, but we loved it so much and we want to go back someday, and we don’t want the prices to become outrageous, so we need to keep it a secret. Ok not really, it’s the Peach Orchard Hideaway in Luray, VA.

But we really did love it. And we really do want to go back – maybe for an anniversary, or maybe with “the kids” someday. After we checked in (at a cute little store run by the cabin owners), we bought some groceries and settled in. We totally relaxed, made dinner, watched some DVDs, read and hit the hot tub. Oh yes, private hot tub.

Tuesday was the only day when our excursion plans actually worked out. Well, part of them did. We had planned to visit the Luray Caverns, then go on a hot air balloon ride. The balloon ride was postponed due to weather, but the caverns were a success. It’s like this huge underground cave with all kinds of amazing geological wonders. Or something. It was pretty cool. And we got headsets!

We ate some really fancy (nope) lunch, and hit the car museum that was part of our caverns admission ticket.

We were also interested in visiting a Civil War museum, so we drove to a little town 20 minutes away to check one out.

And that was our most active day of the whole trip. We had cool plans, but as you’ll see, the universe didn’t want us to experience such things. It just wanted us to relax a whole lot. So we listened. More on all that later.

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We’re married!

We did it! The wedding was perfect, and we got to do it outside! And the reception was so much fun. In fact, the whole day was a fun, relaxing and exciting day. We loved spending time with each other and our friends and family.

Now we’re on our honeymoon. The cabin we rented is magnificent, and we’ve had fun exploring the area. Only have a few minutes of internet connection at the public library though. More details to come!

In short – it was awesome.

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Last minute stuff

It’s Thursday night! That means I can FINALLY focus on the wedding instead of other junk. My sister Andrea took me to get a pedicure tonight (Mike babysat Brady, her 6-month old – so cute). Then Mike and I went over our many lists – our list of what we need to bring to Dad’s tomorrow, what we need to get done tomorrow, what we need to pack for the honeymoon, etc. We packed a small suitcase for our wedding night, finished packing a large suitcase for our honeymoon, packed several bags with wedding supplies, and several supplies for our trip.

Check out our road food and vacation snacks:

Trail mix, chips, pretzels, granola bars, circus peanuts, reese’s pieces, power bars, Coke, Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Gatorade, Froot Loops, Mini Wheats, sour patch kids, hot tamales, swedish fish, mike n’ ikes. Healthy huh? Once we get to the cabin we’ll shop for meals to enjoy all week.

We’re also bringing lots of stuff to keep us entertained in the car and in the cabin:

The New Yorker, mad libs, crossword puzzles, trivial pursuit booklet, Glee soundtracks, novels, a disc of How I Met Your Mother Season 4, three audiobooks, three movies, and the whole first season of Angel.

I don’t know that we’ll get to all this stuff, but we went a little crazy at the library. And since our number one goal is to relax, these things will help.

Also, I want to show you a gift I got from a friend/coworker today.

She said it was for the road trip portion of the honeymoon. Isn’t it awesome and so thoughtful? I have such cool friends.

Tomorrow Mike has to work, but I’m heading to Dad’s in the morning. My stepmom and I are going to shop for the reception food, then work on decorations. Later Mike and some of my family are coming over to set up a few things, eat pizza, and get in the wedding mood! Emily, the sister who’s officiating the wedding, wants to run through the whole thing, too. We’ll come back home tomorrow night, and head back down first thing Saturday morning to spend the day there. The wedding is at 4, and we’ll leave when the party wraps up.

Mike and I have a nice hotel room that night, though I doubt we’ll spend much time in it. We’ll get there late and leave soon after we wake up. Because we’re off to the honeymoon! You guys, I’m so excited. I spent the week knowing my wedding was this weekend, but unable to really focus on it or get excited. Now it’s Thursday night and I am giddy! It all starts tomorrow.

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It’s a good thing our primary goal for our honeymoon is to relax. Because so far, two things we were counting on have gone wrong. In fact, other than booking a cabin rental, the ONLY two things we planned were 1) go to Shenandoah National Park, and b) take a hot air balloon ride.

One of the main reasons we chose this location was because of the national park – we bought a national park pass last year when we went on a cross country road trip, and the pass is still valid. Which equals free admission. If only we could remember where we put that damn pass… Yeah. So even though admission for one vehicle is only $15, I’m a little pissed we now have to pay it.

Then, yesterday, we got a call from the place where we booked our balloon ride. After not hearing from them for weeks with regards to where exactly we’re supposed to go and when, we were relieved when they finally called us back. But guess what. Oh no big deal, they’re just NOT OPERATING any more! So now we’re trying to locate another hot air balloon operator in the area, and the only one we can find can’t even tell us for sure what day we can fly, if at all!! As in, we may not even get to do this one thing we’re really excited about.

It’s really not so bad. The park is still on, it’s just costing us a little more. And if the balloon ride falls through, it’s not like there are no other hot air balloons in the world ever, we’ll just go another time. Mostly we’re looking forward to hot tubbing, sleeping in, relaxing and spending time together. I think we’ll at least manage that.

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In one month, we’re getting married! Unfortunately, wedding planning has taken a serious backseat as we get ready to move. Yes, we’re moving out of our apartment two weeks before we get married. It’s not what we wanted to happen, but it’s the way the timeline worked out, so here we are. Knee-deep in boxes and storage totes and chaos.

Luckily the wedding planning has been going well all along, so it’s not a crisis that we can’t focus on it right now. There is still plenty to do, but we have a pretty good grasp on it.

– We have to make our favors and decorations, but we have all the supplies ready to go.
– We have to confirm with everyone the things they’re bringing or making for us, but at this point it’ll just be a reminder to them.
– We have to work out some logistics, but with the great helpers we have, it shouldn’t be difficult.
– I have to finish the Unity Quilt, but it’s just a matter of sewing the squares together and adding the back fabric.
– We have to make final arrangements for our honeymoon, but that’s really just a matter of printing maps and doing a bit of research.
– We have to buy and prepare our portion of the food, but that can’t be done until just before the wedding.
– We have to do three more sessions of premarital counseling, but those aren’t scheduled until the end of the month.

Aside from a few miscellaneous odds and ends, that’s pretty much it! We’re in really good shape. The stress of packing and preparing to move is less than fun, but we’re in great spirits about the wedding. We’re getting MARRIED! In a MONTH!

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Honeymoon destination

We booked a cabin! In the Shenandoah Valley!* They’re holding it for us until the end of the week, and our deposit check is in the mail, which will secure it for us for real. Now that we have a plan and a destination, I’m thrilled. And Mike is excited, too. It was the hot tub that sold him I think. Four nights in a spacious cabin with two fire places and a hot tub. Like I mentioned before, there are a few things we’d like to see or do while we’re in that part of the country, but mostly we’re looking forward to staying up late, sleeping in, soaking in the tub, reading in front of the fire place, and ya know, spending quality time together.

I always thought I’d go on a big European honeymoon. Super small wedding and HUGE amazing trip afterward. But I’m not at all disappointed with this plan. Europe will be amazing someday (soon!), but lots and lots of chill time to celebrate our nuptials sounds just about perfect.

*Which is in Virgina/West Virginia, not Texas like Google Maps kept telling my friend Robin.

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Planning the honeymoon

We’re getting close to settling on a honeymoon idea! We’ve gone through quite a process trying balance what we want to do with what we can afford. We started out with the idea of a trip to the northeast, then we narrowed in on Boston. Fly to Boston, spend a couple days exploring, then shack up in a B&B somewhere for a few nights before heading home. Except then I started trying to find a B&B and became completely overwhelmed.

I told Mike I didn’t want to stress about the honeymoon or the planning of it. It’s the only thing about this wedding that has caused me stress so far, and it’s not even about the actual wedding! So I said, let’s do something in which we can completely relax (ie: no big city exploring), and let’s get a damn travel agent to help us. So we visited the local AAA and said we wanted to go on a cruise.

Turns out their agents are severely overworked, and after getting the run-around for a couple weeks, we were basically told that we can’t be a priority because our budget is so small. Touché AAA. We tried to do some cruise research on our own, but that too is overwhelming, and eventually we nixed that idea as well.

We considered an all-inclusive resort, but they’re just too expensive. My bottom line was that I was willing to spend $1500 on a good honeymoon, but any more than that, it better be a freaking spectacular honeymoon! As in, if we’re gonna exceed our budget, we better just go all out and head to Europe.

My next move was to look at this map:

Which details the states I have and haven’t visited. I considered, “Where have I always wanted to visit? An where can we drive in one day?” The answer was… well there were a few answers, but the one I honed in on was the Shenandoah Valley. I’ve always heard how gorgeous it is, the weather should be good in June, and I’ve always wanted to visit this part of the state if for no other reason than that my whole life, one of my nicknames has been Shannondoah.

I proposed this idea to Mike, and though he was not exactly elated at first, he’s come around to the idea. I insisted that “yeah that’s sounds ok” was unacceptable. We both deserved to love our honeymoon. And when I showed him some of the sweet cabins we could rent (with hot tubs!), he came around. So the research began.

We’ve found a cabin we want to rent, and we’ve narrowed down some inexpensive activities. We also have an annual national park pass from our road trip last year, so the Shenandoah National Park and Harpers Ferry National Historic Park will be free. And we thought about doing this zipline course we found. Other than that, we plan to explore the area a little, soak in the hot tub at the cabin, and relax as much as possible.

So far our budget looks like this:

Cabin rental – 800
Gas – 175
Oil Change – 30 (since we’ll take my car, we’re working this necessity in)
Restaurant meals – 150
Groceries – 100
Zipline – 80
National Parks – 0

Total – 1335

We’re hoping that’s reasonable, but also hoping we manage to spend even less. So, anybody been? Any ideas or tips? We haven’t officially committed to this yet, but I’m really excited about the idea, so fingers crossed.

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