In the next instalment of my Best and Worst Holidays, in which my fellow bloggers share their holidays, the good, the bad and the horrendous, we have Laura from My Beautiful Forever. She is sharing her best holiday to date, which happens to also have been her honeymoon. She has inspired us and you can find out how at the end of the post!
Honeymoon with a difference
When my husband and I got married in June 2016, we decided that we didn’t want to do the “normal” type of honeymoon. You know the one where you spend 2 weeks on a beach.. 1) because my husband ends up looking like a lobster after 5 minutes in the sun and 2) because we actually went on an all expenses paid holiday to Mexico about 3 weeks before we got married – something my husband won at work and were set dates – it did mean I had a cracking tan for our wedding!
As with many couples today, because we had been living together for 2 years when we got married, we asked our friends and family if they would contribute towards our honeymoon and we were SO overwhelmed with how generous everyone was.
We had chatted about inter-railing a couple of times when we batted ideas around but I’ll be honest I never imagined it was something we would actually do! It seemed like such a perfect dream.
We sat down with the inter-rail map and made a quick plan of where we wanted to go deciding to go to London, Paris, Venice, Florence, Pisa and Rome ticking off quite a few bucket list items for both of us!
Now I’ll be honest, I’m quite a travel ninja when it comes to finding deals online for the best hotels, train fairs etc (so much so if anyone in my family is going anywhere they ask me to scout them a deal) so my husband pretty much left me to organise where we stayed and all the travel and chipped in a few ideas on what we wanted to get up to.
Our adventure started in London, staying in the Premier Inn at Kings Cross so we were close to St Pancreas. I absolutely love visiting London, I don’t know what it is about the city but it is just fab! We arrived on the Sunday afternoon and spent the evening walking around the city at dusk taking in all the beautiful sites. We also decided to go on the London Eye which was absolutely magical in the dark! There really is something special about being that high up overlooking the city when its all lit up!
One of the things my husband and I both wanted to tick off our bucket list was a trip to St Paul’s Cathedral. Not just to visit it but to climb to the top! If you haven’t done it before it is defiantly something I would recommend. The first layer of stairs take you up to the famous whispering gallery – a balcony which is round and it is said if you whisper into the wall the sound travels to the other side. The next sets of steps are not for the fainthearted – or the claustrophobic but is worth every second for the breathtaking views you get over London as you stand on the top of St Paul’s.
Its not a trip to London unless you take in a show and we decided to see Wicked. I’ve seen the show probably 8 or 9 times – its one of my favorites – can you tell – but Adam had never see it. Its one I would recommend to anyone!
This is where the real adventure then began for me! I’ve been to London many times but I hadn’t been to any of the other places we visited!
Next stop – Paris – we caught the early Eurostar from St Pancreas. I can see why the Eurostar is so popular! It was so easy. It really was just like getting the train anywhere else. After years of dreaming of going to Paris and seeing the sites in pictures and on the TV it was so surreal to actually be there! We stayed in just next to Notre Dame which for us was perfect. We were right next to a metro station and were within walking distance of a lot of the attractions. We decided to buy a ticket for one of the hop on – hop off buses which stopped at the end of the road by our hotel which was SO worth the money. If your visiting Paris I would definitely recommend it. We got to see all over the city and the bus stops near all the main attractions.
We did all the usual tourist trips – the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower (to the top). One thing I would say is if you are going to Paris and want to visit the attractions, book the tickets online before you go. We saved ourselves about 3 hours queuing at the Eiffel tower because I had booked the tickets online!
From Paris we took a 14-hour overnight train to Venice. I was a bit dubious about having to share a cabin with strangers (although you can upgrade your tickets so you have your own cabin if you go first class) however we were so lucky to have got a lovely family from Australia who we got chatting to. The train ride itself was actually as horrific as I thought either!
Lots of people had told me how beautiful Venice was but let me tell you there really is nothing more breathtaking than walking out of that train station and seeing the Grand Canal. I was actually taken aback by how beautiful the city was. Its little windy streets make it so easy for you to spend hours walking around getting list in the magic. We spent most of the 2 days we were there just wondering around the city. We visiting St Marks Church and went on a Gondola – another 2 items ticket off the bucket list. Top tip, if you’re a couple and you want to go on a Gondola – try and pair yourself up with another couple as they are often cheaper if there are 2 of you – we got chatting to a couple in our hotel and going on with them saved us a fortune.
After Venice we headed off to Florence. I’ll be honest, I didn’t have such high hopes for Florence as I didn’t think it would live up to the other 3 cities we visited however I have to say, I think it surprised us both. While in Florence we took a train ride (about an hour) up to Pisa. We decided it wasn’t worth staying in Pisa because there was not much else their but the tower we wanted to see – I think we literally got off the train, walked the mile and a half to the tower, stopped for lunch, walked back and got back on the train!
One huge regret we have for Florence (and you will notice I didn’t take my own advise here) is that we didn’t book tickets for Il Duomo and when we got there the queue snaked round the whole cathedral – however its just an excuse for us to have to go back!
The final stop on our trip was Rome. I think Rome, like Paris, was a city I was very excited to visit. Again you see it in the movies and on TV but when your actually there! It takes your breath away. As with Paris, we purchased the hop on – hop off bus tickets, which again proved invaluable. We ticked off all the usual tourist spots like the Trevvi Fountain and the Vatican and spent one of our days exploring the city by doing the Angels and Demons tour – this wasn’t an organised trip – as massive fans of the books and films we just decided to look up the churches from the book / film online and visit them. It was a great way of exploring and seeing the different parts of the city.
Again with the Vatican I would defiantly say book before you go as we saved ourselves probably 3 or 4 hours in the red hot sun. One place that was not on our original list to visit – but a lovely surprise was the Castel de St Angelo which formed part of the Angels and Demons walk we did – obviously in the franchise this marks the hiding place of the illuminati and we were both intrigued by the history behind it, especially the secret walk way which links to the Vatican. Looking online we found out you could do a behind the scenes tour which I think worked out around €8 each but was worth every penny. You got to see the chambers of the Castel and even got to walk along the walkway that links it to the Vatican! I was very excited by this! I love discovering little trips like this as you really learn the history behind places!
If you considering inter-railing my best advise would be DO IT! It is something we said we would do again in the future – maybe once our little girl has grown up a little bit but if your wanting to visit more than one place its an amazing way to do it. We travelled on the Global pass, which allows you to travel to up to 30 countries around Europe. There are different passes, depending on how long you are travelling for –. It is worth noting that a day only counts if you get on to a train. So any days where you spend in a city wouldn’t count, you only count days you are physically travelling. We travelled using a 5 day in 1 month travel card because of how we worked out of travel in the 2 weeks we were away. If you want to just visit 1 particularly country (say Italy) they also do individual county tickets too. We said this is something we may look into next time.
Overall, this trip is one of the best trips I have ever been on! I wish we could do it all over again. When you dream of visiting places for so long, to finally go is magical. I am SO glad we chose to do this for our honeymoon.
Thanks so much to Laura for sharing her story with us. She has inspired my husband and I to consider inter-railing with our son in a few years time. What a way to see a few places in Europe in one trip. We’ve even found out we can start our trip from Seville, just a short two-hour drive from where we live now. Watch this space.
Laura blogs at My Beautiful Forever. She has been blogging for around 7 years. Her blog started life as a bit of a beauty blog but quickly developed into a lifestyle and bit of everything blog – including her new role as a mummy to her XX week old daughter. Laura can also be found on Twitter and Instagram.
And if you would like to feature in my Best and Worst Holidays series on the blog, please send me an email at email@example.com.