Whenever I travel I always prefer to stay in an apartment or house rather than a hotel. Don’t get me wrong, I love a boutique hotel as much as the next person but you really get a lot more for your money when you go self-catering.
After saying goodbye to the Gold Coast, Gala, Shauna and I hopped on a plane with Celeste from Tourism and Events Queensland, our photographer Janneke Storm and headed up to Cairns. We’d had such an amazing time so far that we weren’t sure how anything was going to top it – oh how wrong we were!
After a short flight we landed in tropical North Queensland and took a car up the coastal road to Port Douglas. As we’d had such a non-stop trip so far I really hadn’t had any time to do any research on where we were staying so needless to say I got the shock of my life when we pulled up here.
We were hosted by Executive Retreats (this is the house we stayed in) who specialise in luxury accommodation in Port Douglas and the surrounding areas. If you’re considering Australia for a honeymoon destination, then you need to put it on your must-visit list. No question.
Not only is it as close to paradise as you can possibly get, but all my favourite activities happened while we were here – snorkelling on the great barrier reef (which I’ll be writing about next week), a sunset boat ride and jungle surfing in the Daintree Rainforest!
Shauna and I shared the master bedroom (it was too good for one of us to have it on our own). The en suite bathroom alone was bigger than my living room at home!
The next adventure on our whistle-stop tour of Queensland was Surfers Paradise. After a quick drive from Dreamworld with our Tourism and Events guide for the day, Jess, we arrived ready for a surf lesson and bike tour!
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t particularly looking forward to surfing. Although I love the water I’m not the most athletic of people and the thought of hurling myself into some rather giant and scary looking waves filled me a little with dread.
You can’t really tell from this photo, but that’s a grin that says “OMG are we actually really doing this?!”
The beach was glorious, with the Gold Coast skyline just behind it. As Shauna lounged in the sun, Gala and I headed over to meet our surf teacher, Patrick from Cheyne Horan School of Surf.
Patrick didn’t seem to sense our trepidation (or if he did he definitely ignored it!) and he dived right in to the lesson. He also clearly had much more faith in our abilities than we did because after the briefest of introductions he told us to head out into the waves and give it a go. ARGH!
I glanced at Gala nervously and could sense her thinking the exact same thing as I was “Oh crap, are we actually really doing this?”
When the initial email from Celeste at Tourism and Events Queensland came into The Blogcademy inbox asking us if we’d consider an all-expenses paid trip to Queensland I nearly deleted it, assuming it must be spam. I mean, this kind of opportunity doesn’t exactly come knocking on your door everyday. After verifying that Celeste wasn’t, in fact, just playing a rather cruel prank, we started to plan our epic adventure down under!
Skip forward eight months or so and we were finally there. Celeste and her team had pulled out all the stops and scheduled an action packed five days for us including koala cuddles, surf lessons, boutique hotels and snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef! I’m so excited to share some of my highlights with you guys over the next few weeks. This new Honeymoon Travel Guide feature of mine is working out quite nicely don’t you think?
Queensland isn’t somewhere I’d ever really considered visiting before, but after this trip I can say with the utmost sincerity that I will be going back, only next time I’m bringing Gareth with me – this tropical paradise is just made for lovers!
More couples than ever before are looking for alternative gift list ideas. Adding new pots and pans to a department store registry is about as exciting as it sounds, which is why so many newlyweds are opting to forgo the new linens and ask for money towards getting started in their new married life or for something they’ve always wanted but could never afford.
The whole ‘asking for cash’ thing can be a bit daunting though. Sure, there are cute ways you can do it, with poems in your invites or whatever, but the fact of the matter that asking your guests to show you the money is a bit… er… awkward.
Apart from the inherent embarrassment of asking for money, the real trouble with requesting cash is that a lot of guests really don’t like the idea of just slipping money into a wedding card. It can easily get lost in the madness of the day but also (and forgive me but) it feels a little bit gross and impersonal too. No thought goes into the gift buying when it’s just cash exchanging hands. A lot of older relatives, in particular, really enjoy the gift buying and giving process. There’s also something quite special about being able to think “Aww Aunt Mildred gave us this china and we’re going to use it forever”.
So what are your options if you don’t need more house stuff and you’ve decided you really don’t want to just ask for money?
There are many services that offer honeymoon gift lists these days, in fact I’d imagine that many of you are already considering using one of them. Because these systems allow your guests to buy a tangible gift that you’ll enjoy on your honeymoon, they also really solve any problems that some guests might have with the idea of just handing over money. So let me take a moment to introduce to you to one the market leaders, a UK based company, who have been around for over six years – Buy Our Honeymoon.
I’m not going to pretend for one second that I’m some kind of expert in the world of travel or honeymoons. BUT you may have noticed that I’ve done rather a lot of globe-trotting over the past 12 months. And as we’re about to launch our 2014 Blogcademy world tour in a couple of weeks it would appear that it’s not really going to change any time soon!
So I figured, why not share some of the places I’ve visited and the experiences I’ve most enjoyed with you lovely lot? First up is a honeymooners paradise - Santorini.
For her 30th birthday Gala decided that she wanted to whisk us away to the Greek Islands. Of course Shauna and I weren’t complaining! Ever the travel guide, she organised most of it (so I can’t take any credit!) but what I can do is share the things we loved on our trip. Hum… it’s my 30th in April, I wonder if we can top this?
Whenever I travel, an apartment rental service like Air B&B or GowithOh! are my hosts of choice. Not only are the houses and apartments usually much cheaper than staying in a hotel, I personally think you get a much more authentic and interesting experience not being hauled up in tourist city.
For this trip we stayed in this apartment, in Oia. I kid you not, it had the best view on the whole island and the private balcony overlooking the ocean completely sold it to us. Our host, Nicolas, was also amazing. He and his porter Vasilis, (who carried our 25kg bags up and down those stairs with ease!) were attentive, helpful and made our stay a total pleasure!