• ksmith959

THE ULTIMATE 11 DAY HONEYMOON

We're Kristen and Sam and we are travel nurses and also own a travel agency! We decided to drop everything to travel with our profession after we had the most amazing time on this honeymoon. This trip opened our eyes up to bigger and better things that the world has to offer than our little small town in Texas.


Here are the things that we did on this amazing 11 day honeymoon so you can replicate the trip for your own!


DAY 1

NICE, FRANCE

Our first day takes us to Nice, France. A really cool fact that I learned shortly before our trip is that my ancestors were a big part in the development and upbringing of the city that we know Nice of now. Nice used to be a part of Italy, and you can tell with how the city looks and feels. I honestly don't know the details, but it was really interesting to see a city that played a big part in my family's past.


The hotel that we stayed at is called Hotel West End. The hotel is located right on the Promenade des Anglais. This is the strip of road in Nice that lines the coast line. The hotel was beautiful. It has a really old feel, but it also felt very nice at the same time. We fell in love with the small elevators and room that felt very European. I wish we had taken photos of the rooms, but you will just have to believe me when I say that it had a lot of character, haha! By the looks of their website, I think that they have done some renovation of the rooms since our trip. In general, the hotel is in a good location. We were able to walk to most places in the city, but we did have to take a bus once. Breakfast in the morning was just like any other French hotel breakfast: croissants, meats, cheese and fruit. They also have a restaurant there, but we didn't utilize it.

https://www.hotel-westend.com/


Hotel West End


Our first activity in the city involved us walking across the hotel to the beach and doing what we do best, beach bumming and trying the new local alcohol. This is the first time that we both tried an Aperol Spritz, which is a really interesting drink that I think we both don't care that much for (unless we are in France and Italy). Our honeymoon was in April which is a cooler month in France, so it was a bit too cold to swim in the ocean. The beach is a rocky beach as well, which is very common in the French Riviera.


Nice, France


After beach bumming, we took a look around the city center. The architecture in the city is so gorgeous and unique! This was the first time we both had visited a European city, so the buildings were something that we were in awe at! We also loved the small streets, statues and literally everything about the European vibe!


Nice, France


Our first day was half a day so by the time we finished these things, it was time for dinner. We did not do any research on restaurants, so we stopped at a random one in the city.

https://www.maison-cresci.com/

Thankfully, we got very lucky with this stop! Another restaurant during our stay in Nice was not so kind to us.. haha! Honestly, we went back to this specific restaurant before we left the city because it was THAT good! Kristen got a pot of mussels, and Sam got some kind of fish dish or steak??? We also finished our meal off with Tiramisu and coffee.


Nice, France Restaurant


At the end of our day, we wandered off into a small wine shop to get us a bottle or two of wine for our hotel room. We tended to end our nights just like this on every stop of our trip.


DAY 2

NICE, FRANCE

Day 2 was our only full day in Nice, and we spent a lot of time exploring! We started off our morning on a walking food tour of the city. It was a small group with only us two and maybe 1 or two other people. The guide taught us about the culture and history of the city while we sipped on coffee in the morning. We then visited the local markets where they sell a ton of hand made food and goods. We absolutely loved this portion of our trip and realized that this was one of the highlights of the entire honeymoon. We tried meats, cheeses and bread at the market and then the guide brought us to one of the most famous places that sells a local dish in Nice (socca).


Socca is a flat pancake like dish that is made from chickpeas. We learned all about how it is made. It is made in a wood oven and then delivered to the markets for sell.

We also visited a famous local chocolate shop.

I (Kristen) ended up buying some local soap that I saved for months before we used them. I didn't want them to be gone, haha!! They were great though.


Food Tour


After our tour, we walked up Castle Hill. This is probably the best and most well known thing to do in Nice. You hike up the stairs to see the most amazing panoramic view of the city and coastline. This is probably one of the most amazing views that we had on our honeymoon. While most of the castle that once was there is gone, it is so worth it to visit. There is a rather large park at the top of the hill as well.


Castle Hill


I think the rest of the day we spent exploring more of the city while walking around and enjoying each other's company. I believe that dinner on this day is when we ate at a not so great restaurant and then ended up back at the one we ate previously.


DAY 3&4

MONTE CARLO, MONACO

After a bright and early breakfast at our hotel in Nice, we trotted our way across the city with suitcases in hand to the train station to begin our journey to Monaco. The streets were not luggage friendly, but it was a funny experience. Nice and Monaco are only about a 30 minute train ride from another. This was the first time that we had both ridden on a European train.


Nice Train Station


Once arriving in Monaco, this is where it gets interesting..

To start off, we exit the wrong side of the train station which throws us off big time. Once finding were we were supposed to exit, we decide to try to walk to our hotel. We then realize that this was a horrible idea because the city is on a big hill. There are tons of roads that just end without warning and supposedly, you have to take an elevator up to a higher level to finish off the road. Weird, I know.. We then decide that it is impossible to walk to our hotel due to that situation and highways. We decide to take a bus instead. It takes us a good hour or so to find the correct bus. It starts to rain during this process. Keep in mind, we are dragging our suitcases with us, so we take cover the best that we can. Once getting on what we thought was the correct bus, we ride the entire route TWICE trying to figure out the correct bus stop. Finally, a nice French lady realized that we were lost and told the bus driver. The bus driver decides to drop us off at the correct stop by our hotel, which was not on his normal route. We had to wait on him to eat his lunch before he did this though, haha. All together, it was over two hours before we finally made it to our hotel. What an experience!!


We stayed at Le Meridien Beach Plaza during our stay in Monaco.

https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/mcmmd-le-meridien-beach-plaza/overview/

After our mishap above, we decided that taking too far of a detour into the city was not something that we want to continue during our Monaco days. Most of our time was spent hanging out at the hotel since it was such an amazing hotel. It is right on the beach with amazing views. We spent time in the pool, beach, the outside bars and restaurants, and our room. We had a room that overlooked the beach with a patio. Thankfully, we had such an amazing hotel in this city. Otherwise, we would have been bored without going out to explore too much. We also ate at the hotel restaurant for dinner every night. It was very elegant and we spent $50 dollars for a bottle of wine because it was the cheapest that they had, haha!!


Le Meridian Beach Plaza


When we got the courage to venture from our hotel, we ended up at the Monte Carlo Casino of course! We did not go in to gamble because we felt very under dressed and too young for the crowd there! We did look in the lobby though. We also found a near by shopping mall that was super fancy. We also got some tea and coffee at the cute little tea shop next to the casino. Some other random stops that we did in the city was to a Japanese garden, a Mediterranean restaurant for lunch, where we ate some Octopus, and another little coffee shop.


Monaco, Monte Carlo


DAY 5

TRAVEL&VENICE, ITALY

Day 5 was mostly spent traveling on trains to get from Monaco to Venice, Italy. I believe we had three train transfers! It was not that boring though because seeing the views of Italy outside the train windows was phenomenal. We passed famous cities like Verona, had a transfer in the crazy Milan station, and saw the Italian country side pass us by all day.


Trains


We arrived in Venice at dusk and checked into our hotel called Palazzo Giovanelli Venice. This hotel is right on the Grand Canal, so it was in a very convenient location.

https://www.hotelpalazzogiovanelli.com/

The room here was huge and gorgeous! It felt very elegant and vintage. We had a deluxe garden view room. Also, I wish I had taken pictures of the room. Breakfast was very typical every morning, croissants, coffee, juice, meats and cheeses, etc. We also utilized the garden tables outside of our hotel a lot during our quick lunches and breaks between activities.


Palazzo Giovanelli Hotel


After we checked into our hotel this day, we decided to walk around to find somewhere to eat at. Again, we had no plans for this night. We stumbled upon this small Italian restaurant right on one of the canals. We did not realize that it is very common in Italy to always have reservations for dinner, and we did not, but they let us sit down anyways. We got a table outside looking right at the canal with a candle, it was so romantic! We ordered the house wine, some seafood and pasta, and of course tiramisu.


Venice Dinner


DAY 6

VENICE, ITALY

Our first full day in Venice had several activities. We ate breakfast at our hotel and then had a morning Gondola ride. We walked to the gondola tour, in fact I think we walked everywhere in Venice! We did not have a private Gondola because they are easily 100+ dollars for one, so we rode with another family. The family was from Australia and were very nice people! We loved meeting people from all around the world! The gondola ride lasted about an hour I think. We rode down the grand canal and also down lots of smaller canals. We enjoyed looking at the architecture that Venice has to offer and learned a bit about the city. We also learned a bit about Gondolas and how they steer them. Each Gondola is decorated differently, so it was fun to see how each one was different from the others. This was definitely one of the highlights of our entire trip! This day was also very memorable because it was 30 degrees Fahrenheit!


Gondola Tour


After our Gondola ride, we had some free time before our night activity. There were locals selling painted pictures of Venice right by the Gondolas, and we decided to splurge and buy one. We got it framed and it is honestly one of our most prized possessions.



Midday, we walked around and explored the city. Venice is a city know for "getting lost" literally. There are so many winding roads that you don't know which way you need to go or which way you just came from. It is almost guaranteed that you will get lost at some point, but that makes it that much greater. You will never get bored in Venice! We saw sights like the Rialto bridge, which is a big bridge that goes over the Grand Canal. This bridge is the oldest bridge in Venice and is filled with tons of touristy shops.


We also stopped at a little local diner to get some lunch. We got pizza and coffee.. at the same time... haha! That was basically our diet for the entire trip, and it honestly still symbolizes our diet now.

Fun fact, if you enter a coffee shop/diner and stand at the bar, you don't have to pay a service fee. If you sit at a table, you do!


Venice, Italy


After exploring a bit and taking a break in our room, we had a food and wine tour that lasted for several hours! This was our absolute favorite thing that we did in Venice.

We visited a bunch of little small local shops and at the end of the night, we had a sit down dinner. They were not stingy with the food or wine during this tour. We tasted a bunch of local food and wine that you can only find in the Venetian region of Italy.

A well known snack in Venice is called Cicchetti, which can be a variety of different side dishes, usually a small piece of bread topped with something. These are usually sold in bars and pubs.

At our sit down dinner, we were able to talk more with the people in our group (but honestly we all knew each other by this point). There were people from all over the world in our group, and there even was a young lady our age that was from a town in Texas that is close to our home town, small world! We had several dishes at our sit down dinner, and I only really remember trying Sardines for the first time. We also tasted our favorite wine that we have ever had. You literally cannot get this wine outside of Venice, and we are sad about that!

Food and Wine Tour


DAY 7

VENICE, ITALY

We started off this day with a walking tour. We saw some amazing things such as the Doge's Palace and the St. Mark's Golden Basilica. These are all located in St. Mark's square.

Pictures were not allowed in the Golden Basilica. It was the most beautiful basilica that we have ever seen. The walls were all gold and with paintings everywhere. They had displayed hundreds of treasure items that St. Mark owned. The most impressive thing that there was is called the Pala D’Oro. This is a huge golden altar dressed with hundreds of gems. We could not believe our eyes. Just google it and you will be amazed! The outside of the basilica is covered in marble and paintings. It is so impressive!


St. Mark's Basilica


We were however allowed to take photos in the Doges Palace. Most of the sightings were huge rooms with impressive paintings covering the walls and ceilings. We were taught a bunch of stuff too, but honestly this went in one ear and out the other. I guess we were too busy looking at all of the sights.


Doge's Palace


The Bridge of Sighs is connected to the Doge's Palace, so we got to walk across it! The Bridge of Sighs is a famous bridge in Venice where prisoners would walk across and "sigh" on their way from the interrogation room in the Palace to their prison cell. The bridge is closed off but there are holes in the walls, and it was said that the prisoners got one last look of the city of Venice before their imminent death.


Bridge of Sighs


We saw a couple of other things on this walking tour such as an archway that was once a part of Marco Polo's house, libraries, statues, schools, and other city buildings.


The rest of this day was spent exploring the beautiful city and "getting lost." I am sure we ate a lot of local snacks like gelato and canolli's, and I think we visited some book stores. It was a very relaxing afternoon with just roaming around the beautiful streets. One of our favorite shops that we visited is called "Nino and Friends." This is a chocolate shop with a chocolate fountain. They hand out tons of samples such as coffee, cookies, pesto, truffle oil, you name it! They have a website if you want to order something https://www.ninoandfriends.it/

This was the first time that we tried Limoncello, and I had to get a bottle. I accidentally left it in the hotel room before we drank it.. ugh!


Venice, Italy

This night, we found a restaurant to eat for dinner. This was the fanciest restaurant that we have ever been to. The waiter explained the entire menu to us and explained the meals as he brought it out. It was clear that we were not the type of people that were meant to be there, haha! I cannot remember what we ate, but you can bet that it was the priciest meal that we have ever had. Just look at the glass water bottle below.


Venice Dinner


We ended up really getting lost after dinner. Our GPS was not working on the mobile device that we had brought with us, so we had to buy an emergency plan with Verizon so we could find our hotel. It was dark at this point, so we had to do what we had to do!


With all that being said, Venice has been our favorite place that we have ever visited!


DAY 8

FLORENCE, ITALY

We arrived in Florence by train this day.

Our hotel was called Hotel Kraft.

https://www.krafthotel.it/

It was gorgeous! We checked into the hotel which took (what felt like) at least an hour because the lady could not find our reservation. Apparently, the name was under our travel agent's name. With the long wait, we were upgraded to a suite for our troubles! We were not disappointed in this room! It was huge! Our favorite parts of the room were the huge bathtub and the balcony that overlooked the city of Florence!


Some other favorite things about the hotel was the restaurant/bar with indoor and outdoor seating. We loved sitting on the patio and looking at the view that we had of Florence. It was even better at night! Breakfast was your typical Italian, but I felt like it was a bit fancier than the rest of the hotels we had stayed in. What we didn't utilize due to the cooler weather was the outside pool that had the same views as you see below!


Hotel Kraft


Later in the day, we had a walking tour of the Accademia Gallery, Uffizi Gallery, and the Duomo. The Accademia Gallery displayed a ton of famous paintings and art pieces. The Uffizi Gallery is the place that displays the famous Statue of David, and the Duomo is the famous dome cathedral that everyone knows Florence by. Other sites that we saw on our tour included the Medici Castle and the Ponte Vecchio Bridge.


We finished the day walking around the city and eating take away pizza! We ended this day early because we had to be up bright and early for a tour of the Tuscany Region the next day!

Our only regret this entire honeymoon was the fact that we did not stay in Florence long enough. We only got this half a day to explore the city!


Florence, Italy

DAY 9

TUSCANY REGION, ITALY

This day was a very long day on a wine and cheese tour through the Tuscany region of Italy, stopping off at small Italian towns and tasting the wines and cheeses. It was easily a 12 hour day, mainly spent on a bus. We stopped off at about 3 towns and had an hour or so at each, either tasting wine or roaming the city.


Our first stop was in Montalcino, Italy touring the Brunello winery. This winery is known for it's red wine, and we got to try a couple of them! This is actually a very famous and popular wine, and you can easily find it in the states. We had never heard of it before then, but now we are always seeing it in stores. We had a short walk to the winery, getting to explore the small quaint little city!


Other stops that we did were in Montepulciano and Pienza, Italy. I believe that we tasted wine in Montepulciano and Cheese in Pienza. Our time in Montepulciano was mainly just spent in the winery. We had a lot more free time in Pienza to roam around and explore. Honestly, our stops were so fast, it is hard to decipher where each of these pictures were taken.


Tuscany Region


DAY 10

ROME, ITALY

Fun fact, the first itinerary of our honeymoon did NOT include Rome! Our travel agent later found us a deal that included 2 extra days in Rome for a cheaper price than our first itinerary. DEAL! That is one reason that it is best to use a travel agent ;) (aka, ME)


After arriving in Rome from a train out of Florence, we arrived at hotel Massimo D’ Azeglio.

https://www.romehoteldazeglio.it/

We arrived pretty early in the day, so we had to drop off our bags at the hotel before we could check in. This hotel was pretty unique. It seemed very old like all of the rest of the hotels, but it definitely gave it character. It had a lot of antiques around making it a unique experience. Our room was pretty small but we didn't mind. It also had the best breakfast of the entire trip!


We ended up visiting the colosseum this day. We explored the inside and also the museums that they have there. We did not book a tour group for this one, and we really didn't feel like we needed one. I hear that some tours let you go down into the chambers to see more that the general public cannot see, so keep that in mind. We did however buy the more expensive ticket to "skip the line" which I would recommend! We easily shaved off several hours just by doing this!


Colosseum


After the colosseum, we made a stop at the Roman Forum. Entry into this was included with our colosseum ticket and they are right next door!


The Roman Forum is a small part of Rome where ruins of the old town lie. This was so neat to see and was definitely the highlight of our time in Rome. I think that we spent more time here than at the colosseum! Some parts of the forum were pretty challenging to hike around at (inclines, loose rocks, etc)


Roman Forum


Since this was toward the end of our honeymoon, we were quite tired. We ended up turning in early for the night. We stopped at a local supermarket to get food for the room and called it a day! We enjoyed exploring the local market there and seeing all of the food that is not common in the USA.


DAY 11

ROME, ITALY

Our last day of our entire honeymoon was spent seeing some other must sees in the city. We explored the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and Piazza Navona. All of these were so close to each other we were able to stop at one after another.


The Pantheon was super fun and this place in particular was so cool to see after seeing so many pictures of it. It was very crowded, so we only spent a short time inside but wow! We did not expect it to be so big and honestly we had no idea that it was dome shaped! The outside architecture definitely hides that fact!

Pantheon


The Trevi Fountain was just as picturesque! The crowd was so heavy that we could not get close at all. We were literally touching people just trying to get by. Very beautiful though!

It is said that if you throw coins into the fountain over your left shoulder using your right hand, you will find your way back to Rome one day. Well... it was impossible to do that, haha!

Trevi Fountain


The Spanish Steps were less of an exciting thing to see. I think the movies really play this one up. There were loads of people sitting on the steps, making it difficult to walk up and down them. You really couldn't even make out the architecture of them very well either. I guess that it was just a "When in Rome" kinda thing.

Spanish Steps


Piazza Navona was our last stop of this sight seeing day. In Italy "piazza" means square. This square had several fountains, shops and unique buildings to see. We went in a couple of shops that were all very touristy. We also had several locals try to sell us some things. Other than that, it was neat to see the architecture here.

Piazza Navona


Being tired early 20 somethings on our honeymoon after 11 days on our feet... we somehow had no desire to see the Vatican. This was mainly due to the fact that you had to take public transport there, haha!! Okay we had a slight urge, but we decided to spend the rest of our time in Rome "roming" around the streets close to our hotel. We found a fantastic pizza place that we visited twice (could not tell you the name) and also a small place that sold Porchetta. Porchetta is pork that is literally sliced right off of the pig. It is commonly put on bread as a sandwich, which is what we ordered. Delicious!

We also bought Italian leather goods. Kristen a purse and Sam dress shoes.


Overall, Rome was great but very crowded which kind of messed with our experience a bit. Not to mention how tired we were at that point! I think that we would visit again one day to experience it again with more time, less exhaustion, and during shoulder season.


Overall, what a dream Honeymoon!

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