Have you ever dreamed of staying in a castle in the Loire Valley? Ever dreamed of frolicking in fields of wildflowers while horse graze in the distance next to a babbling brook filled with woodland critters? If you said yes, this blog is for you, my friend. You can make all your princess fairytale dreams become a reality in the French Countryside of the Loire Valley. And the craziest thing of all, it won’t break the bank.
Getting to the Loire Valley
First things first, lets chat about getting to the Loire Valley. It is surprising easy to get here! All you’ll need to do to fly into Paris and then take a short 1 hour, 45 minute train out to Tours. From there, I would recommend renting a car. Make sure you specify ahead of time if you would prefer an automatic, these are not the go-to option in Europe. The French drive on the right side of the road like the majority of Europe too. So, if you’re coming from the United States, this is an easy transition. I prefer getting a car in Tours versus Paris because it’s just easier to navigate driving in a small town versus a city like Paris. From Tours, set your navigation system to Amboise and you are on your way!
Amboise is the perfect place to begin your adventure. This is a lovely town with lovely, kind French people and the most delicious food you could ever imagine. Now, you can travel all throughout the Loire Valley to view the incredible chateaus and drink the most amazing French wines, but we decided to stay right outside Amboise and just soak in every moment without the need of a constant schedule. By the way, get the potage here, it is amazing.
This is the most magnificent castle and the one we stayed in! Not only was it shockingly affordable, but it was truly magical. Light pink roses adorn the front of the castle while weeping willows sway in the summer breeze. The ground is carpeted with tiny yellow flowers. The castle’s backdrop is rolling pastures with grazing horses. It also has a hidden wine cave that leads to the pool.
This historic castle is surrounded by a large, lovely garden in the heart of Amboise. Clos Lucé, Leonardo da Vinci’s final residence, is a museum that is 0.6 mi from this hotel! You will be in the heart of everything with this one.
Ok, so close your eyes and imagine crystal, clear azure waters, strikingly beautiful cotton candy sunsets, bright pink petals carpeting the cobblestone streets, and the freshest, most savory seafood paired with the perfect white wine.
Now imagine all of that with the love of your life and you have the Greek islands. Cameron and I both wanted a truly unique experience for our honeymoon. When I say unique-I mean going to one of the most beautiful places on the planet that neither of us had ever been to. We were both avid travelers before we got back together. We had been to South Africa, Italy, England, Germany, Canada, Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Kenya, Tanzania, and countless other places separately. So we knew that we wanted our honeymoon to be completely new for both of us: a new adventure to mark our new marriage.
So Greece was the place.
Our wedding was something out of a fairy tale. It truly could not have been more perfect. Sure, things went wrong. But I didn’t notice a dang thing but the absolute bliss of marrying my soulmate.
But here is one little tidbit of advice, do not leave on your honeymoon the morning after your wedding. You are riding on the high of the best day of your life.
Take some time to process it.
To sit in that joy with your person.
Cameron and I had a day in between our wedding and honeymoon. I wish we would’ve taken another day or two.
So, if your jobs allow, take 1-3 days between your wedding and honeymoon.
Trust me, when we left for our honeymoon, I was actually starting to get sick because I was so stressed from wedding planning. On the way to Greece, I realized that I didn’t have my sense of smell (thankfully, it wasn’t Covid!). But that was a serious bummer because you can’t taste the amazing food as well when you can’t even smell. So just be sure to SLEEP on the days leading up to your wedding. Take that melatonin or sleeping aid the night before your wedding. Because your nerves will keep you UP. And take that emergency every dang day to boost you rimmunity. Before I dive into our itinerary, I want to chat with you a little bit about what we packed.
What to pack
So Cameron and I abhor checking luggage. And tbh, it’s a pain in the butt to get a big a** suitcase around on cobblestone streets. So we both only did carry-ons and backpacks. Was this hard for a 3-week trip for a blogger? Absolutely it was. But we made it work.
How did I bring so many cute AF outfits and a mini-steamer? I used Compression Packing Bags from Amazon. These bad boys sucked all the excess air out of my clothes so I bring as many cute outfits as I needed. Also, whenever you stay at a place with a washer-use it sis. That way to can bring less comfy clothes and just wash them when you can.
Don’t forget to bring a little tripod for taking those romantic pics! You are going to want to document everything since this is the only honeymoon you will have.
What is the best time to go?
I believe September is the best because it is still very warm and the crowds are thinner than July and August. Plus, July and August are insanely hot. September is a much more enjoyable temperature. Still warm enough to swim, but just not as scalding as July and August. Make sure to bring a shawl for the evenings because the temperature drops at night.
Two tips you must know before going to the Greek Islands
Do not forget all and any medication you may need
If you have asthma, bring your inhaler. Just do not forget any medication you may need. If you get allergies at all, bring an antihisathme. Remember, you are on islands. Doctors take a while to get to you. I say this because I had a severe allergic reaction to something (I still don’t know what). I broke out in hives and my throat began closing (I have asthma). Luckily, we were right next to a pharmacy so Cameron was able to get me an inhaler and the nurses gave me medication. It took over an hour for a doctor to get to me. So don’t forget your medications. You probably think it’s dumb of me to forget something so critical, but keep in mind, I had just planned a massive wedding and our honeymoon back to back and was mentally and physically exhausted. And I have only had two asthma attacks my whole live-this isn’t something that happens regularly! So just be extra prepared.
Get an international drivers license
There are tons of scams out there, so make sure you get it through AAA. I would start this process at least 2 months before your trip. Otherwise it will be nearly impossible for you to rent a car, scooter, or ATV. If you don’t have one, you’ll more than likely find someone who will rent you something, but you’ll be paying a ton more. Plus, since it’s Europe, most of the cars are stick. So the odds of you finding someone who will rent you a car and it’s an automatic and you don’t have an International DL are like the stars aligning perfectly. So trust me and just get it.
First Stop: Santorini
We decided to do Santorini first because it is the crowning jewel of the Cyclades. And it is incredibly unique from all the other islands because of the caldera. It is literally built on a cliff and is stunningly beautiful.
Where to Stay in Santorini
We stayed in an AirBnB in Oia (this is the most touristy part of Santorini). Our AirBnB had a private plunge pool facing the caldera. While where we stayed had an unparalleled view and was perfect in almost every way, Oia is just exhausting. There are throngs of sightseers because it is so beautiful. We had to deal with tourists literally crossing barriers and being on our porch. We stayed there five nights, but three would’ve been perfect. One great thing was that our plunge pool was inaccessible to anyone but us, so that was extremely private. If you are going to Greece, I would recommend staying in Imerovigli. It’s less touristy than Oia, but just as stunning. Make sure you rent a place facing the caldera and with a plunge pool. If you get a plunge pool not facing the caldera, you will be seriously disappointed.
We made a trek down to Ammoudi Bay and it was amazing. Pro-tip: if you wear a short sundress, bring biker shorts to wear under it because it is windy AF and I am sure many people saw my booty lol. The Sunset Tavern is the place to go in Ammoudi Bay and it did not disappoint. It was one of our favorite meals our whole honeymoon. We took mules up the mountain because after a few glasses of vino, you’re feeling a little sleepy. After this trek, I did feel conflicted because I felt sad for the mules in the Santorini heat.
Enjoy the Sunset, Wine, and your Plunge Pool
I would take at least one night to sit in your pool together, watch the sunset and drink some amazing Greek white wine. You can grab dinner afterwards. Take some time to enjoy your view and pool. Odds are, the plunge pool was splurge-so take some time to really enjoy it.
We began a day with a one hour photoshoot at 8 am and boy, are we glad we got these photos! They turned out amazing and are such wonderful memories.
This is 100% a no-brainer. You simply must book a sunset caldera cruise when you’re in Santorini. They will take you to beaches that are only accessible by boat. The boat staff cooks the most delicious lunch for you while you snorkle in the sapphire waters. And then of course, comes the notorious Santorini sunset with bright yellows blending into vivid orange. This is a must when you go to Santorini.
After this trip, I realized that I absolutely loved Greek wine. It’s light and perfect to pair with a hot day. We chose to book a winery tour in Santorini and it was incredible. We loved getting to see more of the insland and make other honeymooning friends from around the globe.
Where to eat in Oia, Santorini
A casual, cute place for lunch with a great view of the caldera. They have fantastic pizza and pasta. Don’t go here more than once! Keep on branching out and finding different places.
This was wonderful place for dinner. Their staff is incredible and welcoming. They don’t have a great view of the sunset so keep that in mind. It is really easy to get in during sunset, but after sunset, there will be a wait.
This was one of our favorite meals our whole honeymoon. And probably our favorite in Santorini. We got the calamari (*chef’s kiss*) fisherman salad, and the Cuttlefish Ink Pasta. The only problem is that it is hard to get down to it. But 100% worth it. There is nothing better than eating right on the bay.
This is one of the most expensive restaurants in Santorini and was awful. I mean awful. However, the view was spectacular. But the food was lackluster. They served Cameron something was can only be described as, “fish creme burlee.” Plus, the bill came out to around 400 euros. Don’t fall into this restaurant trap. I mean the view is amazing a you can see by the photos. So go there if you just want to split a bottle of wine and watch the sunset. I could get behind that.
3/10 (the three stars are solely for the view and they gave me a rose)
This was one I was most excited to go to. Unfortunately, I had a complication with my asthma when I sat down, so we had to leave immediately to go to the doctor. Obviously that has nothing to do with this wonderful restarant. Friends of mine have been to it and loved it. So it’s worth considering for you. Pro-tip: you must make a reservation in advance.
So you’ve booked your ticket to La La Land-you’re completely ready to go. As you google “awesome spots in LA” you feel the daunting task looming before you.
This city is HUGE.
And there are about 1,000 different ways you can fill your three day weekend and you want to create some awesome content and have a great time.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worried girlfriend, I got chu.
I’ve detailed all the places I went for my LA trip last February so you don’t have to worry complete with exact addresses so you can find htem!
We stayed in West Hollywood near Melrose so most of these places weren’t crazy hard to get to and traffic wasn’t as bad as I expected or heard! Alright, lets dive right in!
1. Paul Smith Wall
I have seen many pink walls in my day and this one is crazy awesome. It gets super packed though, so I would recommend coming early in the morning otherwise there will be a huge line formed outside it. It is also better for lighting and shadows if you come in the morning! Its located at 8221 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046
2. Beverly Hills Hotel
This historical hotel not only has a beautiful aesthetic, but just an amazing vibe and is a staple to the Beverly Hills community. It definitely makes for some amazing photo ops, but I would recommend exploring inside if you have time! It is located at 9641 Sunset Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
3. Rows of Palm Trees in Beverly Hills
There are not many places you can get rows and rows of palm trees AND the Hollywood Sign in the background! This is one of these unique locations. It is a super quiet residential area so not many people even know this location exists! Quite the find my friends. The location is on Windsor Blvd between 4th and 5th streets.
LACMA is stunningly beautiful. The art is phenomenal and definitely makes for some lovely captures! I recommend going first thing because this one gets very crowded as well! It is located at 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
5. Venice Beach
This is one of the most iconic photo ops in California and it doesn’t disappoint. Tons of people are attempting to get the same capture as you, so keep that in mind, and you kind of have to stand in the middle of the street to get it. I would definitely recommend going in the morning to make this easier. We went at the busiest time though and we still got some amazing shots! It is possible just more difficult! It is located at Pacific Ave & Windward Ave, Venice, CA 90291
6. Santa Monica Pier
I recommend doing Venice Beach and Santa Monica together because they are so close! Santa Monica has such an awesome vibe. Literally just walking around you’re going to get some awesome captures. I also recommend renting a bike and just cruising! It is located at 200 Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica, CA 90401
7. Bluestone Lane Flower Shop
If you know me at all you know I loveadore flowers and I run on copious amount of coffee! So this place is my jam. Beautiful flowers and an amazing aesthetic. It is located at 8100 W 3rd St, Los Angeles, CA 90048 (there are several but this is where we shot).
This is such a no brainer! The happiest place on earth is without a doubt going to yield the best captures! If I could go to Disneyland every single day I for sure would! I love love love Disney!
9. The Hollywood Sign
Want a Hollywood Sign pic but maybe not really into hiking?! Don’t worry girl, I got you! Travel up to this location all the way and there will be parking and you just have to walk a short distance to get your capture with the sign! It’s also such a beautiful drive into the Hills of Hollywood! The location is 3160 Canyon Lake Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90068
That’s it girlfriend! That is my overview of all the Most Instagrammable Places around LA! if you have a place that I missed, please let me know! La La Land is such a wonderful place and there are way too many amazing photo ops! These just happened to be my favorite!