Although COVID screwed our first wedding over and our plans to check out Europe for our intended honeymoon + swing over to a friend’s wedding in Hamburg, we somehow, still managed to check out Europe for 8 days.. and 25 weeks in pregnancy, I’m calling this a baby honeymoon. While I’m a planner enthusiast, I’ve been so scarred from wedding planning for 2020 that we didn’t purchase our round trip flight to Venice until mid/end October for our early November trip.
Surprisingly, it’s O’s first time to Europe. I’d think a TCK has “definitely” been to Europe, but I was ecstatic to be a part of his first visit to Europe. Aside from going to my favorite European store, Merci, I was really keen in checking out Italy for the first time as well with him. Aside from my dad assuming we’d go to Hawaii for our honeymoon *laugh* we enjoyed its stunning beaches and views already; honestly, O and I are much more of a city/island/artsy/culinary adventurer. (that’s a mouthful)
I had no idea how my pregnancy would pan out, which is partially why this was kind of whipped together last minute: 7 flights in 7 1/2 days.
Definitely not on my Euro priority list, but part of our long layover to Italy. All I remember about Frankfurt was it having heavy doors, generally pretty bleak architecture that somehow reminded me of Disneyland, and a sausage/bratwurst + beer galore – all things that I was kind of feeling meh about. While I was honestly kind of dreading it, I was relieved and happy for O since he told me he’s actually wanted to visit Frankfurt and I was happy to knock this out of his bucket list. I asked him to come up with a list of things for us to do within 7 hours, which mainly included visiting this castle via a pricey taxi, walking through a market to eat some bratwurst and sauerkraut, and more bratwurst and sauerkraut (+ ales for O)
2. Venice, ITALY
We finally then arrived Venice, which seems like an obvious place for us to start our honeymoon at; it’s a beautiful Italian capital that is built on 100+ small islands in a lagoon within the Adriatic sea, there are no roads – only canals, and is lined with these historical, gorgeous Renaissance and Gothic palaces. However, based off of my very little research and hearing about this about a week before we departed LA, did I realize that while it’s so small and one of the most expensive areas crowded with tourists (tons of tourist traps + overpriced goods + food) it wasn’t the best choice for our Euro trip, but one of the best choices to start and leave Europe with. The fish platter by the way down there, was the best fish / sardine platter we’ve ever consumed. And we’re keeping that as our secret.
P.za San Marco, 1, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Doge’s palace AKA Palazzo Ducale was hands down, one of the finest pieces of architecture we’ve ever seen and visited. I had no idea what to expect when approaching it, but it was obvious we were approaching it and entering it. Just like every other magnificent royal landmark, the ornate interior and artwork are so intricate and every time I visit places like this – I am blown away that it was built in its time (1340) and am awed by its beauty.
St Mark’s Campanile
P.za San Marco, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
I’m very embarrassed that I told O going up this was going to be a “waste” of our time/money since it was clearly the shot that I have 0 regrets on and we ascended it around sunset and I even put it in our Google sheet schedule for sunset. It was …beautiful at every side.
3. NAPLES, ITALY
Since O and I have been (Neapolitan) pizza enthusiasts from living in NYC and O’s been making pizza at our home, this was a personal must for me (and us, I believed) What’s better than enjoying Neapolitan pizzas, trying to make pizzas at our home, than to literally visit the origin of pizza…? That’s right, nothing. A friend of mine thought I’d get “sick” of pizza, which I laughed at – because out of all the food out there, I will certainly not get sick of some solid Neapolitan style pizza. The pizzas in Naples if you hadn’t heard are practically all made with some of the best crust (thin and crispy on the outside with an incredibly fluffy and airy inside), slathered with some of the freshest tomato sauce, and topped with the best cheese I’ve ever had. With a list of pizzerias in my Google sheet, the one we loved most was hands down, L’antica. (The pictures of this pizza don’t show at all its justice of how amazing it tasted) and was certainly the pizzeria/meal we were happy to repeat. Other than that, we did stop by Pizzeria da Atillo for that Ricotta star pizza. Honestly, I’m not a huge flan of ricotta pizza and shouldn’t be eating so much ricotta-so while it was good, it was probably one of my less favorable pizzas I had. As for sweets, I thought I’d go running around like a child. While the gelato was amazing, the tiramisu, most of the cannoli, and babà I had was too sweet, and the tiramisu was usually so intensely drenched with rum that it felt like I was drinking alcohol.
Did I mention that flying with a bunch of beautiful clouds and being revealed Naples was probably the most epic arrival I’ve ever viewed? (The 1-hour flight from Venice through the morning was so gorgeous that O and I couldn’t stop staring outside the window instead of the quick nap we intended)
L’ANTICA PIZZERIA DA MICHELE
via Cesare Sersale 1/7, Naples, 80139, Italy
L’antica Pizzeria Da Michele is so good that we went there twice for just $5 a pie and it deserves its own section. If you’ve ever traveled with me, you know I never go to the same place twice unless it’s really that damn amazing. While we did half plain and half Margherita, the Margherita was so heavenly that I’m pretty sure I could have inhaled two of them. When people ask how one could consume pizza like this, it’s because if it’s Neapolitan style and made well, the ingredients are of such high quality + so fresh that it doesn’t really make you feel gross.
Via Chiaia, 1/2, 80132 Napoli NA, Italy
Espresso game in Italy was very intense activity to me but certainly shook off our jet lag and any moment of sleepiness. If you hadn’t seen Jordan Schlansky take Conan to the same Cafe Gambrinus we went to, you must. We were blessed that it was literally down the street from our AirBnb so practically every morning ritual started off with espressos at the bar that you get in, you get out and you go about your day” experience Jordan Schlansky refers to. I tried a few other drinks like the Neapolitan Cappuccino, but espresso was the drink to consume here in front of these Godfather-like baristas.
I had no idea Pompeii was so close to Naples, but it was a quick ~40 min bus ride and while we were kind of bummed that it was raining (and cold as hell) – it was a surreal architectural site. When O asked me what I wanted to see, I vividly recall reading the Eyewitness book about Pompeii being completely covered from a volcano eruption and being shocked to see images of the excavations (I never read when I was a kid) – to see the casts of these remains in real life in the general area where they were found was quite chilling. 18 hours of a volcano destroying an entire civilization into ruins.
While we love our neighborhood cafe called Capri coffee & gelato, this was a fun, dreamy island hop. After a quick 1 1/2 hr ride around the island, I learned that:
1) I’d feel nervous hopping onto a ski / gondola like lift until I got on it (practically begged O to not have me go on it but swallowed it all up + told myself to not overthink that a bar holding me from falling over ~50′ would be fine)
2) Italians really give zero shit about operating hours; no matter how “organized” we were with restaurants/planning, we had to accept whatever food was available even with this sports game that they were watching from their restaurant TV’s.
After especially learning that second lesson + it poured rain, I figured it was a perfect time to go to our next destination: Paris.
4. PARIS, FRANCE
is always a good idea. Really. Even the simple buttery ham sandwich they served on the airplane was really impressive to me. I’m relieved that O and I still pushed this through even though we thought it was something we could overlook. While I originally thought of Paris as the internationally renowned hub of arts, impressionism, black noir film, high fashion, french onion soup, buttery pastries, and some overrated romantic getaway infested with trash + smoke + baguettes, it felt like the perfect, romantic getaway. While I also only came here twice previously for a day trip, I booked this sweet Airbnb that was in a truly magical location with high ceilings that captured the gorgeous streetscape.
The streets were surprisingly way cleaner than I remembered from my last 2 trips, and people seemed kinder. O and I also observed that everyone was good-looking (I think it’s because they just dress so much better than us Americans)
This was also the first time I visited Paris with a partner. After I made my mandatory swing by Merci and picked up all the plates for our home (my “gifts” to myself) – Europe was complete (ugh, I love that store and if I could, I’d fly over there to just go shopping every year and I’m not even a shopping type of person)
While I loved walking through the Louvre + laying on the grass by the Eiffel Tower with happy people picnicking with platters of cheese/sandwiches and bottles of wine, something about spontaneously walking through the Louvre + rushing over to the Eiffel Tower on our first night and watching it twinkle was so much sweeter + stunning.
Les Catacombes de Paris
1 Av. du Colonel Henri Rol-Tanguy, 75014 Paris, France
For the next morning, I gave it all to O to figure out whatever he wanted to do and check out, which included the Catacombs of Paris: a 1,500m underground ossuary containing remains of millions of Parisians dating back from the late 18th century. While I thought descending the staircase was never-ending and made me feel a bit nauseous, this labyrinth was never-ending and apparently, “and clearly” not recommended for sensitive individuals or pregnant people like me with the few opportunities to rest. However, it was quite remarkable seeing how they so neatly organized and preserved all these skeletal remains.
After ascending back up into life, O and I continued to just walk through different streets and parks. The architecture was stunning at every angle + perspective + I had the best crepe with sardines. While I was feeling a bit defeated that we didn’t get anything for our baby boy (isn’t that what you’d do as well for a babymoon?) it was as if it was a happenstance to find ourselves right by the Little Prince, where we bought some gifts.
44-47 Passage des Panoramas 75002 Paris France
O had such a huge smile for me when although we were trying to focus on gettin some grub, we spot Arabica. Back for our first international trip (to Japan in 2017) I made it such a trek for us to go to the one in Arashiyama, Kyoto; the line was the longest line O had ever waited for – but he didn’t complain about it after he sipped. I was relieved to see that this didn’t even have a line (the barista probably thought I was overreacting in delight), and it was as delicious (I didn’t even care that it was almost 6PM) Because of how sensitive I am to coffee, O was able to enjoy it while I “almost” enjoyed the croissant.
We had so much fun that by the time we flew back to Venice, we realize that we forgot to get our COVID tests to return to LAX (sigh, look up your traveling regulations since rules have been changing on a daily basis) So while it sucked to pay ~1,000 USD to rebook another flight/AirBnb with hours of being stuck at Venice’s only airport, we did get to spend another “last” day in Venice (mainly enjoying more espresso’s and taking turns of napping in their waterbus)
7 flights in 7 days honestly wasn’t as bad as I was fearing (except for the layovers + traveling between US + Europe) but hey, at least we made it through the adventure before Omicron + Germany’s shutdown.