We worked as hard as we could to get our floors down before leaving for our honeymoon. We managed to get about 75% of the floors down, all that is left to do is the very front and back subfloors of the bus. In the front area we need to build the floor up first, the original coach bus design had a ramp going down to the steps, but we’d like to make it all one level. Plus, the back of the bus has a hatch that we need to keep accessible to the engine. We cut a hole in our plywood floorboard for this hatch but it didn’t fit perfectly. With so many things to prepare before our travels we decided to leave troubleshooting these problems until we got back. It was time for some adventure and relaxation!
When we made this huge change and left our old lives we had to be smart with our finances. One smart thing we did do was purchase our bus on our Chase Sapphire credit card. We immediately paid the card off and gained enough points to cover most of the flights for our honeymoon.
Le Marais, Paris, France
Our first destination on our honeymoon was Paris, which worked as a home base for us on this trip as it offered direct flights to all our locations. We spent 2 days in the Le Marais area, a trendy hip location for restaurants and bars with close proximity to many famous Parisian sites. We booked an apartment on Airbnb called The Sleeping Lion. It was a typical European size apartment offering Parisian charm with a center courtyard, a long spiral staircase and a Juliet balcony off the bedroom. It was stylishly decorated as you would expect in Paris and a very comfortable stay while being another opportunity to learn what’s important to us in tiny living.
Paris is known for amazing cuisine and wine and our favorite restaurant in this area was Vins Des Pyrenees. We were also able to find a restaurant that offered Gluten free and some dairy free options of traditional french pastries called NoGlu which was a treat for me (Mela) as I have a few food allergies.
We spent half a day exploring The Louvre, the world’s largest museum and the home of the Mona Lisa. We pre-purchased our tickets online which I highly recommend. The line to get in is long, but by pre-purchasing we were able to get in fairly quickly. We picked out a few highlights to view, but it would be easy to spend 3-5 days exploring this museum and it’s architecture as it is a colossal old palace from the 12th to 13th century decorated by the greatest artists of the day and filled with a world renowned collection of art.
We enjoyed a walk along the Champs de Mars , a large public greenspace in front of the Eiffel Tower. Having been up the Eiffel Tower in a past trip, I highly recommend it and the view of Paris, but the Champs de Mars offers a few money saving and atmospheric perks. People picnic and socialize in the park, it’s a nice walk, plus offers lots of photo opportunities of the Eiffel Tower without the ticket cost.
We thoroughly enjoyed a night walk along the Seine River. People come out with picnic blankets, cafes offer food and drinks, buskers line the river and create a lively spirited night time ambience. There are many cruises along the river which I have done in the past. The cruise is a great way to get more info on the city and it’s sights, but enjoying the local atmosphere along the river for free is just as fun!
Stalida, Island of Crete, Greece
From Paris we headed off to Crete for a week of sun, sea and relaxation. We stayed at The Raspberry Junior Suite , another AirBnB rental, just steps from the Mediterranean Sea in Stalida which was just far enough away from the touristy side that you have peace and quiet yet many tavernas are within walking distance. We woke up every morning to a breathtaking sunrise and had a dock just a few steps from our front yard to go swimming.
The Cretan way of life is very relaxed and laid back, which we fully embraced. We spent much of our time swimming, snorkeling, dining on fresh local cuisine, wine and raki.
Crete was the center of Europe’s first advanced civilization, the Minoans. We visited the archeological site of the Malia Palace dating back to 3000 BC. I highly recommend reading up on the history before visiting the ruins, it really helped us understand what we were looking at.
On the east side of the island is the charming town of Agios Nikolaos. We enjoyed a day trip to this bustling little town with its narrow roads and long staircases nestled between buildings, it’s a great city for walking. It has a unique lake in the middle of town with a narrow inlet to the sea with tavernas, bars and music all around it’s a fun place to visit. Not far from town is the Cretan Olive Oil Farm where we were able to do olive oil tasting and learn about how they make olive oil and raki. If we ever return to the island we are definitely heading back here to take their cheese making class!
A highlight of our week in Crete was a trip to the Lyrarakis Winery in the Lassithi Mountains. It is a family run winery credited for their revival of two ancient Cretan varieties, Dafni and Plyto, and a “vineyard treasure”, the indigenous Melissaki. This made for a unique tasting experience that was also complimented by traditional Cretan cuisine. We ate a lot of good food on the island but this was by far our favorite dining experience.
It was so hard to leave this paradise, we had had the most amazing week here. I could never tire from waking up to our view of sunrise over the Mediterranean Sea and there was so much more we wanted to explore on the island. I can see us returning to Crete in the future.
The Honeymoon is far from over as next we head to my (Mela’s) hometown in South Africa.
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