While writing up the story of our honeymoon, I was trying to figure out why ours was so special to us.
A honeymoon is supposed to spend time together after the chaos of the wedding planning and the wedding day. But ours ended up being more than that; each part of the trip represented something about my husband and me, as people. It allowed us to tap into our desire for adventure, rekindle old friendships, and relive memories we hold so closely to our hearts. Yep, that’s cheesy, alright! But it’s 100% true.
I’ll have to back up a little bit in our story to fully explain the magic of our honeymoon. Dan and I’s relationship started while we were both on our own individual adventures, both choosing to study abroad in the Paris suburb of Levallois-Perret. He is from Mexico, and I am from Indiana, and by fate we ended up studying in the same school. For an entire semester we made so many memories all over the city, eating at the local sandwich shops near school, and picnicking all over the city whenever we could.
We also became very close friends with all of the other foreign exchange students in the school. To this day we remain in contact with many of them, and would visit any of them in a heartbeat. My husband, Dan, and I reflect upon that semester a lot, and every time we do we both agree that it was the greatest experience of our lives.
Okay, going forward in time to planning our honeymoon! We found Traveler’s Joy and knew that the best gift anyone could give us would be the gift of adventure. We both knew we had to go back to Paris, since we hadn’t been since our semester abroad.
As we were looking up the most affordable ways to get to Europe, we came across flights through Norwegian Airlines. Intrigued, we ventured to look up a little more about Norway, and what we saw and learned blew our minds. Neither of us had ever seen such breathtaking landscapes, with its mountains and fjords, nor such unique history. We both knew we had to go. We started earmarking all the crazy and interesting places we wanted to see and do, and each site went straight to our Traveler’s Joy registry!
We left for our honeymoon the day after our wedding. We packed as lightly as we possibly could (which was a real struggle for me), and ended up with a backpack each and one shared checked-in suitcase. We had a direct overnight flight to Oslo, and our adventure began before we even left the Oslo airport. We went to go pick up our suitcase from the luggage claim, and it was missing! We were confused how they had lost our bag on a direct flight, but luckily my husband is a wiz at packing and knew to pack the suitcase with the least essential items we needed.
However, our plan for Norway was to be in a new place almost every day, so we told the airline we would be in Bergen in four days, and hoped for the best!
So, a little lighter (because we were missing a suitcase) we set out for Oslo. We were in the capital city on one of the warmest days of the year – even the Norwegians we met were complaining about how warm it was! To us it was beautiful, sunny and in the 80’s. We walked through Oslo City Hall, which has floor-to-ceiling murals that illustrate some of the history of Norway. We went to a Viking ship museum, where we saw intricately carved dark wooden ships, one of which is expected to date back to 800 AD, maybe even earlier!
We wanted to see one of Norway’s famous stave churches, so we went to the Norwegian Folk Museum where they had one preserved, and it also had a replica of a small village complete with grass-covered thatched roofs and guides telling us what life was like in Norway in the 1500s (they loved their strong coffee back then too!).
The last site we wanted to see in Oslo (we specifically asked for it in our Traveler’s Joy registry!) is Vigeland Sculpture Park, a beautiful park filled with the most bizarre sculptures we’ve ever seen, all by Gustav Vigeland. If the fact that one of the sculpture’s name is “Man Attacked by Babies” doesn’t convince you to go see this place, I don’t know what will! The park had hundreds of statues, all of the human form doing odd and random things – it was great!
Our full day of adventuring in Oslo complete, we were ready to get some rest…but the sun wasn’t! Norway is high enough in latitude that it has extremely long summer days – there’s enough light to see everything even at 3 in the morning! So we covered our window with blankets to finally get some much needed rest…because an even bigger adventure began the next day.
Dan, being the amazing planner that he is (I get to reap the benefits of his travel-planning talents!) planned for us to do our own version of a “Norway in a Nutshell” tour. We started off by taking a train to Flåm, a tiny town at the end of an upside-down U-shaped fjord called Nærøyfjord. The train went up through the mountains of Norway, and went up so high in altitude that we saw a lot of snow, in June!
Once we arrived in Flåm a few hours later, we went on a sightseeing boat through the fjord. The only word I can think of to describe the landscape is majestical, and even that doesn’t do it justice. The boat snuck its way between the towering green and lush mountains, and there were so many waterfalls I don’t think anyone could even count them. Everyone was running from one side of the boat to the other, trying to see every sight, every waterfall, and catch all the beauty of the fjord. It was breathtaking.
The boat finished its journey on the other tip of the U-shape, in Gudvangen. In the immediate area there was a hotel with a restaurant, but really not much else! A lot of tourists stayed in that hotel, but Dan and I went the more adventurous route and hiked about a mile away to a campsite with little cabins to stay in. The only place to get food was a gas station back by the hotel! We stocked up on random Norwegian snacks and candy for dinner, and for our hike the next day. Yep, we planned to hike up the side of a fjord!
There is a trail called Rimstigen that used to be a trail for merchants to carry their goods over the mountain. It was a steep hike up the side of the fjord, and apparently I wasn’t in the best shape for hiking because I was huffing and puffing the whole way! But wow, what little breath I had left from hiking was instantly gone once we reached the top. The view of the fjord from the top was even more amazing than we had imagined.
The next day we took it easy…just kidding! Norway is not for the faint of heart. We took a bus to the city of Bergen, a port city on the west coast of Norway that actually used to be the country’s capital. During the day we took the funicular up to see the birds-eye view of the harbor town, and explored Bryggen, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was an old wharf but is now a bustling center of commerce with the same beautiful wooden structures of the 14-16th centuries. And, as an added bonus, when we arrived at our hotel our lost luggage was there waiting for us!
With slightly heavy hearts, we left Norway the next morning. However, we left for the south of Spain for a joyous occasion – one of our foreign exchange student friends was getting married! She is also from Mexico, from Dan’s university, and her now husband is from Spain. We celebrated with them in the beautiful port town of Marbella Spain, which provided the relaxation we needed after our Norwegian exploits.
From Spain, we finally made it back to Paris. Both of us had kept our Paris metro passes from our semester, five years previously, and we were stupidly happy to find that they still worked! We spent five days in Paris, visiting all of our favorite places in the city.
We stopped in the small café where we had our first date, went to visit our old apartments, and all of our favorite places where we used to hang out with our friends. We spent a lot of time people watching in cafes while enjoying a glass of wine or delicious espresso. We ventured into new parts of the city that we had never been to before, and just enjoyed ourselves in every possible way.
Our Traveler’s Joy wedding registry helped us revisit and recreate some of our most favorite and most precious memories in Paris. It also helped us create new memories and discover amazing new places in Norway.
To us, these memories are worth so much more than any physical thing we could have asked for on any other gift registry.
Our family and friends through Traveler’s Joy allowed us to start our marriage in the most memorable way possible, with new adventures.