This 5 part series on "The Unconventional Honeymoon" talks about our first self-planned and self-arranged Euro Trip. In our short-but-sweet trip of about 7 days we covered Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Rome. This was about 4 months after our wedding when my husband had to visit Toulouse, France for work. We happily jumped at the opportunity of converting this business trip to our Its-Never-Too-Late Honeymoon.
As it involved staying at Airbnb accommodations, walking tours around city centres, city travel by local transport like trams, buses and trains, boat tours and cycling around perfect landscapes, this was indeed an unconventional honeymoon, but definitely the perfect one for us.
This is Part 1/5 of the series. For other parts check out the following links:
Part 2 - Brussels
Part 3 - Bruges
Part 4 - Amsterdam
Part 5 - Rome
Self planning a trip requires a lot of patience and dedication as you have to decide on the cities first and then come the plethora of decisions regarding where to stay, things to do in the limited time, what not to miss etc. etc. But I must admit that the planning part of the trip excites me just as much as the actual travelling part. My husband, on the other hand, is not a big fan of all the planning but loves exploring new destinations. We extensively used Tripoto, Skyscanner, GoEuro, Airbnb Ulmon City Maps 2 Go Offline Maps to shape this trip. I would not call this a budget trip, but I gaurantee that you would save a tonne of money if you self-plan, rather than booking those pricey packages.
After meticulously going through the reviews and a lot of research about how it works and whether it's safe or not, we decided to make all our accommodation bookings with Airbnb. And it was awesome. You have the freedom to decide your budget and your area of interest in the city with endless options to choose from. It definitely turns out to be a lot cheaper than city hotels and also gives you an opportunity to live with the locals and get helpful tips from them.
For getting around, we used the Ulmon City Maps 2 Go Offline Maps. This is an awesome app for anyone who doesn't have internet on their phone during a trip. This app gives you a detailed map of the city with roads, streets, places of interest, restaurants and bars, metro lines and stations, tram and bus stops, public convenience, cycle stops etc etc etc, well everything you can imagine. And these come with reviews so you can decide what's best for you. You can star places you'd wish to visit and you just need your device to provide your present location and then figure out how to go about. It works so perfectly. We used this app extensively on our trip and it never ever disappointed us in every city we were in. The app itself is free and we downloaded the city maps for each city (10 to 20 MB) beforehand over internet. There were times when we were arrived late at night or had to look for our booked place of accommodation and we were the only 2 people on the entire street. With no internet or calling we had no way of contacting our hosts. CityMaps2Go was our absolute saviour and even gave us house numbers so that we could easily reach our destination !
Paris, the city of love, was first on our list. I arrived from Delhi and my husband from Toulouse and we met at CDG. We had booked our stay near the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in the city which was very conveniently located. Out host was a French lady who barely spoke any English. Nevertheless, the entire process of making the reservation, finding the place and checking-in was absolutely hassle-free.