Tag Archives: honeymoon

Honeymoon Travel Guide: Hiroshima

For most people, only one thing springs to mind when they hear the name ‘Hiroshima’. As the first ever city to suffer a nuclear attack, it has a sad history for sure, but today’s Hiroshima is far from a depressing place.

I had no idea what to expect when we hopped on the 90 minute train from Osaka, but what greeted us was a lively city with some of the friendliest people (and wildlife!) ever. They also have great food (make sure you try Okinomiyaki, a local speciality which is a fried cabbage, egg, meat and noodle dish) and fantastic scenery. We spent 48 hours here at the end of our time in Japan.

Here’s how we filled it:

The Atomic Bomb Dome and Peace Memorial

Our first stop was the Atomic Bomb Dome, one of very few structures left standing after the nuclear attack. The iconic ruin is a natural place to start your visit as from here you can walk down the river to the Peace Memorial Park and museum.

This was an emotional morning, especially because we’d both completely fallen in love with Japan and the people who live here. Just the thought of what it must have been like during the aftermath of the bombing is unfathomable.

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Alternative Honeymoon Ideas

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After all the stress and excitement of the wedding is over, your honeymoon is the perfect chance for you to kick back and relax. But what if the idea of lying on the beach in the Bahamas sounds frightfully dull? Don’t you worry, my friends from Patchwork, an online alternative gift registry and honeymoon fund, are here to share their top five 2016 honeymoon destinations!

For this article I’m handing over to Patchwork founder Olivia Knight.

Speed through stunning Japan: Two weeks sightseeing on the bullet train

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We’ve got tons of couples using Patchwork to plan and fund honeymoons to Japan this year. I know you’ve just been there Kat (always bang on trend) so you’ll appreciate what an incredible culture trip it is. From the bright lights of Tokyo to the ancient temples of Kyoto and the paradise island of Miyajima, there’s so much to see and do. And thanks to the speeding bullet trains it’s actually possible to experience it all in a two-week break.

Japan is an expensive country to visit, especially if you want to see all the sites and travel in style! So if this is your dream honeymoon, it makes sense to ask friends and family for cash gifts to help make it happen.

Experience bohemian Berlin: One week living on a houseboat

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If you’re planning a summer honeymoon and want a city break that’s full of culture, colour, music and art, Berlin is where you need to be. If you want to experience the city’s bohemian delights avoid hotels and live like a local in one of the many unique homes available to rent. My favourite place right now is a super stylish houseboat on lake Rummelsburg that offers a romantic and secluded escape for honeymooners with excellent access to the city.

I think the best way to experience Berlin is just to take your time to wander the East side, stopping off at the food stalls, pop up bars, flea markets and random arts events that all spill out onto the streets in the summer. But there are a few essential tourist-y things to include in your Berlin patchwork too: Dinner up the TV tower for £50, U-bahn tickets for £20, a guided tour of the Berlin wall for £40 and zwei bier for a fiver.

An epic adventure in Peru: For couples who can take some serious time out

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Honeymoon Travel Guide: Kyoto and Osaka

One of the things I was most looking forward to on our recent trip to Japan was that we were going to take the Shinkansen (bullet train) to a few different cities. The transport in Japan is so fast and reliable and it really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. (I wrote about our itinerary and all the ins and outs of getting the bullet train in my Japan 101 article.)

After Tokyo, the next city on our tour was Kyoto which is less than a three hour journey away. We opted to spend five nights, and although it was beautiful and peaceful, any longer and I think we would have struggled to fill our time. I must prefer to be busy and occupied when I travel. I’m terrible, I know, I literally do not know how to switch off!

There are way more people in traditional clothing in Kyoto which was so cool to see. These colours!

If you enjoy history, castles, palaces, gardens and museums, you’re going to LOVE it in Kyoto.

Castles and shrines

Being an older city there are plenty of castles (many of which have been converted into museums) for you to explore. Doing touristy things really isn’t my idea of a brilliant time, but Gareth particularly enjoyed our visits to Nijo Castle, the Silver Pavillion and Osaka Castle (which is in Osaka, obviously! More on that below). The Golden Pavilion, which unlike its silver counterpart is actually covered in gold, was also on our list, but we were feeling a bit Pavilion-ed out by the time we came to visit so we gave it a miss.

There are also SO MANY shrines in Kyoto. It’s hardly surprising that the city’s nickname is ‘the city of ten thousand shrines’! I’m pretty sure that’s literal too. Nearly every corner you turn its like “Oh hey, there’s another one!”

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Honeymoon Travel Guide: Tokyo

The movie Bright Lights, Big City may be about New York, but I think the concept is much more suited to Tokyo. I’ve been very lucky to have travelled a lot over the past few years, every time falling in love with new places, but nowhere has my heart quite like Japan’s capital.

I am 100% a city girl. I love the hustle and bustle, that fact that everything’s open super late, and that you never know who you might meet or what whirlwind adventure you might end up on next. However Tokyo is unlike any other city I’ve ever been because of one major thing – the people.

I don’t think I can adequately express just how much I adore the Japanese. Although Tokyo is one of the busiest places on the planet (with a population of THIRTEEN MILLION), unlike other big cities, it never feels rushed. People just don’t hurry like they do in New York, they’re not rude like they can be in London, and they don’t push and shove you as they cram onto the subway (and we went on it during rush hour! There were white-gloved attendants stuffing people on to the train and everything!) Yes, its hectic, but I never felt uncomfortably claustrophobic like I can do in London… maybe it’s because I’m easily a foot taller than everyone else there? HA!

People say “please”, “thank you very much” and “excuse me” all the time. They smile, they nod, they offer to help you with your bags down the steps. Even at Shibuya Crossing, the busiest cross-walk on the planet, the sea of people felt almost calming, not intimidating. I really don’t think I can explain how much I love this place to you properly unless you just go! I really hope you will too because there is literally no place else like it.

OK, OK, enough gushing! What I really want to share with you today is some fun things to do in Tokyo. As I mentioned in last week’s post, we were only there for two days this time (sob) and we’d been there before so we did most of the major touristy things that time. You definitely have to visit Odaiba Island, Tsukiji fish market, Tokyo Tower, the Imperial Palace, the ancient Sensō-ji Temple and Ueno Park. You should also try to take part in a traditional tea ceremony or a cooking or origami class if you can. But if you’re looking for some more out-of-the-box ideas for your visit, then this is the article for you!

Kawaii Monster Cafe

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Honeymoon Travel Guide: Japan 101

It’s official: Japan is my favourite place on the planet. Gareth and I first visited Tokyo in 2008 for our honeymoon and we’ve always wanted to go back. We haven’t really had the time or money for a (non-working) holiday since then though, but at the beginning of this year we thought “Screw it, we’ve worked our arses off these past few years, let’s just do it!”

Today I wanted to tackle some of your frequently asked questions about our trip. I’ve received so many since I’ve been (over)sharing on Instagram! I’ll be sharing some recommendations of things to see and do in each of the cities we visited over the coming weeks too.

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Our itinerary

The first time we visited, we spent our entire 10 day-trip just in Tokyo. While you can certainly spend more time than that exploring and experiencing this magical city (we still haven’t made it to the Sanrio theme park – TRAVESTY!) Japan is so much more than just its capital.

As we’d been to Tokyo before, and done a lot of the main sites already, we decided to spend just two nights there this time. At first I was worried we wouldn’t get to see enough of it, but we really did manage to pack a lot in. They were long 10+ hour days, but I love being busy and soaking everything in when I travel. The idea of lying on a beach all day sounds so dull to me! Our itinerary went a little something like this:

Thursday 17th March – Arrived in Tokyo
Sunday 20th March – Shinkansen (bullet) train to Kyoto (approx. 2.5 hours)
Friday 26th March – Shinkansen train to Hiroshima (approx. 1.5 hours)
Monday 28th March – Shinkansen train back to Tokyo (approx. 4 hours)
Tuesday 29th March – Flew back to the UK

Osaka is also only a 15 minute journey from Kyoto, so although we hadn’t planned to visit, we did! A lot of my research beforehand told me that Osaka wasn’t that exciting, but I’m so glad we ignored that because we loved it! It was more like Tokyo than Kyoto (which is way more quiet and traditional) but less intense and busy.

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Marrakech: The Good, the Bad and the Very, Very Ugly

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Ahh Marrakech. When I left in June, after a whirlwind two days with Gala and Shauna, I knew that one day I’d be back. I just didn’t realise it would be QUITE so soon. But when my sister Rachel and I were discussing her wedding décor plans recently, a quick trip over to the rainbow lined streets of the former imperial city to buy things for the wedding seemed like a perfectly logical way to spend a long weekend.

We lucked out with our timing too. November is the off-season so it wasn’t as busy as it was over the summer but it was still a more than acceptable 20-30°C every day. The perfect antidote the 0 degree weather back home!

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If you’re just planning to spend time in the city itself, a four night trip is ample time, making it the ideal location for a quick and/or inexpensive honeymoon. Our flights (through British Airways) were £120 each and our Riad cost us just £60 a night. We arrived Thursday evening and left Monday afternoon and we had more than enough time to see and do everything we wanted, including having the occasional lie-in! If you want to do day trips or explore out in the desert or Atlas Mountains then you might want to add a few more days to your trip.

A short three and a half hour flight from the UK, Morocco couldn’t be more different from the English way of life. It can be quite a culture shock so although I’ve written about Marrakech before, I thought another cheeky blog post would be more than worthwhile. Here are my top tips for getting the most out of this amazing city, plus a few things that definitely should be avoided!

The Good

Hotels
La Mamounia is a five star hotel about 10 minutes’ walk from the Jemaa el Fna, the main square. While there’s no way we could have afforded to stay there, we knew we had to pop by for a drink and a nosey at the palatial surroundings. Shorts, trainers, flip flops and jeans are all banned, and they took our shopping bags off us before we were allowed in (I guess plastic bags bring down the ambiance of the place!?) The drinks were obviously expensive (but have the Lavender Fizz, its divine), yet they were well worth the cost to see how the other half live.

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We actually stayed at Riad Mur Akush, which was pretty yet inexpensive. It’s certainly not the most amazing place I’ve ever stayed, but for the price you really can’t go wrong. The staff were friendly and attentive, the bed was comfy and the shower was hot. However the best thing about our Riad was that it was just three streets down from the most fantastic hotel, La Maison Arabe. They served really delicious cocktails (which were around half the price of the ones at La Mamounia) and they came complete with the most entertaining barman ever who put flowers in our hair and regaled us with tales of the hotel’s history. We decided to eat there one night too, and although it was one of the more expensive meals we had, the setting was breath-taking. We were sat right by a courtyard pool, and there was a live band playing traditional Moroccan music all night long.

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Hang Outs
The Henna Café is a calming oasis in the crazy busy Medina and 100% worth a visit. Co-owned by Lori (from America) and Rachid (a native Moroccan) the place serves delicious teas and authentic light snacks, plays Eric Clapton on a loop, has a roof terrace and a resident tortoise! The café also supports the local community and charities with its profits.

The Henna Café is a complete oestrogen-fest, almost exclusively female tourists, and I could have stayed there all day. If you want to get some henna done there can be a bit of a wait (I think we waited around 30 minutes but you can book in advance) but it was so worth it. Their artists are all highly skilled local women (none of whom speak English but there are translators on hand) and are fantastic at what they do. It was also, very surprisingly, cheaper than the henna being offered in the main square (more about that later!)

Tattoos cost from just 50 DH (around £3) for small designs and go up to 500 DH (around £30) for larger more intricate ones. Rachel and I both got ones done that were just 150 DH (£10) each. I am obsessed with them both and it’s really made me want to get my sleeve extended all the way down to my wrist… eek!

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