What should we do for our honeymoon?
April 21, 2005 4:00 PM   Subscribe

What should we do for our honeymoon? The soon-to-be Mr. Supafreak and I are planning to get married in summer '06. We have somewhat limited funds, speak only English, and want to learn about the world when we travel.

Our ideal vacation: We spend a few months in advance reading about history and culture of a place that's been around for a long time, then travel there and see geographically, culturally and historically significant sites. We eat good (vegetarian-friendly) food every day. We try to do cultural things each day, but also take time to be lazy, sit in cafes, or just roam around with no particular purpose. Urban and rural are both OK. Off the beaten path is great.

We've talked about going to London, which we loved when we both traveled there about six years ago (before we met). I'd also like to see much of Europe, which I gather is reasonably navigable for English speakers.

With current exchange rates, though, I wonder if we should be looking at other parts of the world. We've both traveled widely within the US, and I think we'd be best leaving our native land for this adventure.

Constraints: I'm a vegetarian (eggs and milk are OK, fish and poultry are not). I'd be shocked if we can get more than a week off of our jobs, which leaves us with 9 days including travel. $2,000 each is probably the extreme limit of what we could afford, unless our parents surprise us and offer us more money -- which is entirely possible, but we can't count on it.
posted by croutonsupafreak to Travel & Transportation (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Mrs. Doohickie and I honeymooned in Nova Scotia: Old world charm, with the co-mingling of the British and French cultures (the original "Cajuns" were from "Acadia"- the French name for Nova Scotia).
posted by Doohickie at 4:11 PM on April 21, 2005

I vote for Montreal. It's not drastically expensive, there's tons to do, and you don't need to speak French. I recommend staying at one of the numerous and charming bed and breakfasts.

Also, depending on when you could go, you could hit the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Incidentally, some friends of mine recently honeymooned in New Zealand, and absolutely adored it...
posted by Specklet at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2005

My one piece of advice: don't tell anyone where you are going. My wife and I did this, and it made our interactions with people during the wedding much more fun. Instead of having them give us the pros and cons of our chosen locale, they just responded with a misty sense of our wonderful upcoming time together.

For safety's sake, you can leave contact information with selected close friends in sealed envelopes, to be opened only in case of emergency.
posted by alms at 4:16 PM on April 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

I would go to Newfoundland.

A thousand years of history, beautiful scenery and wonderful people. I spent several months before going reading about the place and found the entire trip extremely rewarding.
posted by duck at 4:20 PM on April 21, 2005

Re the New Zealand suggestion: NZ is undeniably wonderful (I spent a couple of weeks there in late 2003), but I wouldn't recommend it for a brief trip -- I would feel 9 days including travel is probably not enough time, considering it's about a 13-hour flight from L.A. alone and you lose a full day crossing the date line.

If you've already done London but like the idea of returning to the British Isles, what about Ireland or Scotland? You can easily blend great urban and rural settings in one place -- for example, a few days in Dublin followed by several days on the extraordinarily scenic west coast (hell, if I ever get married again, that's where I'd like to honeymoon!).
posted by scody at 4:30 PM on April 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

These are great tips, thank you. The Montreal Jazz festival sounds incredible, though my fella's already been to Quebec and may want to go somewhere new.

I really like the idea of travelling to Scotland, too. Does a $2,000 each budget seem reasonable for that kind of travel?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 4:32 PM on April 21, 2005

I was going to endorse SW Ireland (Counties Kerry and Cork)--has everything you want but I reread your post and would not recommend it during summer travel season--in fact--I would not recommend any place in Europe during the summer if traveling on a limited budget- -very pricey and all to often has a Disney Land feel during the summer--We travel to the UK or Ireland 2 times a year--never in season--it is a different world and a different experience. I would definitely endorse Nova Scotia, Quebec, or the maritime provinces--affordable, cosmopolitan,urban and rural. Or delay your honeymoon and fall in love with Kerry and Cork in the late fall or early spring Frank
posted by rmhsinc at 4:44 PM on April 21, 2005

I recommend going south to one of the great colonial cities in Mexico, such as Oaxaca or San Cristobal. These cities have a vibrant history, lively art scene, great cafes and plazas for people watching, and a rich culture. Not speaking Spanish will be less of a big deal than you would think and you'll be able to treat yourself very nice with your planned budget.
posted by Staggering Jack at 5:00 PM on April 21, 2005

oaxaca is a nice place, and you have time to learn the basics of spanish. apart from oaxaca, though, i found the rest of mexico pretty unfriendly - they're not that keen on gringos. i think you upset them at some point.

have you thought of argentina - buenos aires? trouble is that summer for you is winter there. but apart from the airfare, prices are still very low (we paid around $25 a night for a decent en suite room - double bed w continental breakfast; in general prices were half what they are in chile). buenos aires itself is a great place - friendly people, mostly (we were ripped off once, but otherwise people were, in my opinion, friendlier than in chile, which is saying something, if you're used to english standards) and real culture (an excellent museum of spanish-american art, tango, cafes, etc). you can visit local places by train and even go across the river plate to uruguay (there's a united nations protected area - site of global historical interest or whatever they're called, an old colonial town, that includes a hostal; staying there a night or two would be wonderful - it's right by the beach, in this historic building...)

if you could learn the basics of spanish (unless you are talking to people they do appear brusque), and found a good airfare, you could have an amazing time there (if the weather is ok - i have no idea what it would be like).
posted by andrew cooke at 6:50 PM on April 21, 2005

colonia is the place in uruguay. more pictures including hostal del sol which, i think, is the place i remember. you wouldn't want to spend a whole week here, i think, but a night or two on a honeymoon would be glorious....
posted by andrew cooke at 6:57 PM on April 21, 2005

I have to disagree with andrew cooke on Mexico. I travelled around there for close to three months about year ago and found the people of Mexico to be very friendly, warm, and helpful. I was, in fact, surprised at how far out of their way locals would go for me. On that trip, I eventually went to 11 different countries and Mexicans, by far, were the friendliest.
posted by Staggering Jack at 7:10 PM on April 21, 2005

ah well. maybe they didn't like the way i looked (it's unfair for me to judge all of mexico - apart from oaxaca, we were in mexico city, and two or three other towns).
posted by andrew cooke at 7:26 PM on April 21, 2005

I second Staggering Jack on Mexico--a magical place. I spent a lot of time in Mexico in the 80s, and returned a couple of years ago, and was astonished at how much more prosperous it seemed. And on your budget you could live it up in a grand colonial style. Costa Rica is also wonderful, with less history but more nature than Mexico. Guatemala is fascinating too, with colonial cities, jungled ruins, and a strong indigenous presence.

And congratulations!
posted by LarryC at 7:33 PM on April 21, 2005

Iceland is great, although dining is expensive, you could probably get away with 2k each if you eat cheap breakfasts and lunches. It's a fairly short flight from the east coast. If you rent a car, you can easily cover most of the best of the island in nine days. Most people speak English and are very friendly. I took my 71 year old Dad there last year in the spring (right before the high season) and had an amazing, stress-free vacation.
posted by drobot at 7:42 PM on April 21, 2005

Vegetarians do well to stay out of Scandinavia. There are vegetarian restaurants but they're really no good. On the other hand, Central European cities, like Vienna and Prague, tend to have amazing vegetarian restaurants.
posted by Panfilo at 9:57 PM on April 21, 2005

oh, forgot about the veggie thing. nowhere in s america is good for vegetarians. prague, however, is not just good for food, it also has really low prices. the only problem is the long flight. but if you want somewhere european on a budget (which is also beautiful, friendly, cultured) prague is a great idea.
posted by andrew cooke at 4:24 AM on April 22, 2005

Ditto Montreal The food!
posted by IndigoJones at 4:46 AM on April 22, 2005

Istanbul, Turkey. You can get there by jet, book a hotel (please: in the Taxim/Pera neighborhood, not in dreaded tourist infested Sultanhamet....) , and eat all the salads, cheese pastries, nut-stuffed eggplants and pistachio baklava you want within your budget.

You'll have access to Ottoman and Byzantine art and culture, the Turks are some of the world's friendliest and most helpful people, and nobody cares if you don't speak Turkish - there is always somebody happy to translate for you. Prices lower than Europe, shopping is amazing. A week should be about right.
posted by zaelic at 5:09 AM on April 22, 2005 [1 favorite]

I second zaelic's reccommendation. My wife and I honeymooned in Turkey and loved it. We spent about 4-5 days in Instabul and joined an adventure travel tour (run by Imaginative Traveller) for a 10-day trip around the country (including 3 days of cruising the Med.)

We loved Istanbul even thoguh we only saw a small portion of it. As a matter of fact I happened to look at our album the other night and it brought back many happy memories.

Another suggestion upstream is Ireland, which is another good idea. We got a package for $400 (CDN) apiece that included a car rental for 7 days and 7 nights accomodation at Farmhouses/Bed and Breakfasts throughout Ireland. Airfare was extra. If you don't mind the driving aspect it would be a great experience.
posted by smcniven at 6:15 AM on April 22, 2005

Oh - I forgot to comment on the vegetarian aspect too. When I was in Mexico, I was travelling with my vegan girlfriend. Both Oaxaca have and San Cristobal have vegetarian restaurants. One in San Cristobal served vegetarian tacos al pastor (made with gluten, I believe) that made a big impression on this non-vegan.
posted by Staggering Jack at 8:45 AM on April 22, 2005

oh...tacos al pastor...is there anything better? Since it looks like you're on the West coast, can I suggest somewhere in Asia? Yes, it's far away, but a week in Thailand, or Cambodia - with a few days in a city and a few days on the beach - might be heaven. The airfare can be had for fairly cheap from LAX and once you're over there, it's cheap. Having said that, Oaxaca is gorgeous: lots of little day trips from the center, Monte Alban for ruins, *great* mole, great squash blossom soup (I have no idea if the stock has meat, I'd imagine it does but ask to be sure), poblano rellenos with almonds, queso tortillas to die for. Here's a little review site to get you excited! Here are Google's photos of Oaxaca - you really couldn't go wrong with a week there in a gorgeous little B&B. I stayed at La Casa de Mis Reccuerdos which had great breakfasts, but I know that with your budget you'd be able to stay at the Casa Oaxaca, which looked beautiful - we met a honeymooning couple staying there. Have fun!
posted by fionab at 9:32 AM on April 22, 2005

PS: Here is an extra-large panorama photo [self link to Flickr] of the Monte Alban ruins near Oaxaca.
posted by fionab at 9:36 AM on April 22, 2005

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