After taking some time to relish in their newly married status following a dreamy winter wedding in Palm Beach, Florida, Olivia (née Velar) and Brett Knief traveled to Europe for a two-week-long honeymoon that incorporated the perfect blend of relaxation, culture, and romance.
Destination: Italy, France & Spain (Mediterranean Cruise)
The couple desired a honeymoon experience that explored various European countries, as Brett had never been overseas. “I wanted to show him how magical of a destination Europe could be,” shares Olivia. Since her husband requested that Italy be included in the itinerary and they also had a friend getting married in Ireland, Olivia and Brett decided to blend the destination wedding with a Mediterranean cruise that allowed the newlyweds to see Italy, France, and Spain. Since the ship departed from the latter locale, Olivia and Brett stayed at The Barcelona EDITION before boarding the cruise. “The Edition is a fresh take on the modernization of the city of Barcelona,” explains Olivia of the five-star boutique property. “Located near the city center, the hotel is perfect for easy walking to local attractions and charming meals in the hub of culture,” she adds, noting Restaurante Casa Mari y Rufo as one of their favorites.
Photo courtesy of EDITION Hotels
The rest of their European journey awaited as they boarded Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas for a seven-night Mediterranean cruise, which stopped in Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Marseille, France, as well as Rome and Naples in Italy. Once they arrived at each port, the pair spent their time on land experiencing the cities by foot; however, they did partake in one excursion while in Italy: a day tour of Capri, Sorrento, and Pompeii. “We were able to cover so much ground and see multiple locations rather than staying in the port town of Naples,” confirms Brett. Though the highlight of the cruise was being able to see so much of Europe in just one week, they also enjoyed their evenings on the ship, noting the Hairspray show and adult comedy club as their favorite entertainment activities. “A cruise is perfect for those looking for the ease of relaxation with the option for adventure and excitement,” affirms Olivia.
Shopping in Spain. “Palma de Mallorca had the best district for shopping right next to the Royal Palace of La Almudaina.”
Sampling pizza in Italy. “We were sure to try the local pizza in each of the Italian cities... La Pia in the Monterosso al Mare village of Cinque Terre was our favorite!”
Touring Capri, Sorrento & Pompeii. “From Naples, we took a boat ride to Capri, had a three-course meal in Sorrento, and were guided through the Pompeii ruins in one day.”
Photo courtesy of Olivia & Brett Knief
Destination: Dublin & Cork, Ireland
After their adventure at sea, the newlyweds headed to Ireland. Before venturing to the town where their friend’s wedding was held, Olivia and Brett spent four nights experiencing Ireland on their own, as neither had been before. They stayed three nights at The Dean Dublin – “a true hipster paradise with a chic rooftop bar,” adds Olivia. Since the modern boutique property is located in the heart of Dublin, the couple had a wonderful time experiencing city life and enjoying some tourist attractions as well.
One of their favorite activities was the Celtic Nights Dinner & Show at the Arlington Hotel. “For those interested in a lively environment with a traditional Irish meal, this is the place to eat,” Olivia notes of the music and dance experience. “Arrive early as parties are seated front to back by arrival time.” The couple also made sure to visit the famous Guinness Storehouse; a hot spot for fans of the brew. “Ireland is the birthplace of Guinness, so it’s a must!” shares Brett. The newlyweds enjoyed the VIP Connoisseur Experience, which incorporates an intimate tasting not to be missed. “Be sure to book in advance as they limit the number of experiences each week,” adds Olivia.
Photo courtesy of The Montenotte Hotel Cork
Following their time in the country’s capital, the pair checked into The Montenotte Hotel in Cork, Ireland. They took this portion of their vacation to slow down and spend quality time together, enjoying afternoon strolls in the Victoria Gardens on property and taking in gorgeous views of the city in the evening. They also drove through the countryside to the famed Cliffs of Moher, which Brett notes as his most memorable moment. Olivia encourages visitors to bring a jacket due to strong winds and wear sneakers or hiking boots to prepare for uneven surfaces at the picturesque location. “Have a camera out and be ready for photos at any moment as everywhere you turn is picture-perfect,” she smiles. Brett adds, “It’s easy to see why the cliffs are one of Ireland’s most majestic attractions.”
Enjoying dinner and a show. “Your ticket includes a three-course meal as well as a traditional Irish dance show.”
Upgrading their Guinness tour. “We had been told by friends to upgrade to the VIP Connoisseur Experience and thank goodness we listened.”
Driving through the countryside. “The Cliffs of Moher are a must-see location!”
Photo courtesy of Olivia & Brett Knief
Destination: Kilkenny, Ireland
The final stop of Olivia and Brett’s romantic honeymoon came full circle to the nuptials of a friend, whose destination wedding was hosted at Mount Juliet Estate in Kilkenny, Ireland. “The estate is something out of a fairy tale,” describes Olivia, who was mesmerized by the site’s rich history, quiet grounds for ultimate relaxation, and exquisite fare from Michelin-starred restaurant Lady Helen, where the reception was held. The luxurious country property also features a Jack Nicklaus signature-designed golf course, a revitalizing spa, and activities including horseback riding, falconry lessons, and fishing. “Since our last stop ended up being for a wedding, we were able to meet up with friends and spend our final days as a large group,” notes Olivia of the unique honeymoon experience. In addition to the wedding activities, the pair partook in the roaming bike tour on property, which shares various exploration areas on the grounds, and they also traveled to the nearby Kilkenny Castle.
Photo courtesy of Mount Juliet Estate
Olivia and Brett were thrilled to be able to spend one-and-a-half weeks together, just the two of them, and cap off their honeymoon with friends. “Usually your phone is attached to you every move you make, but being abroad allows for time to disconnect from the outside world and reconnect as a couple,” muses Olivia. The honeymooners also loved that they were able to visit so many destinations on their wish list. “The fact that we were able to fit two completely different-style trips into one made it so unique,” she adds. “Being able to end our trek in such a romantic setting surrounded by love was truly the icing on the cake.”
Dining at Lady Helen. “Just like the elevated dining experience, the room was classically elevated with simplistic, yet striking décor.”
Exploring the town. “We loved wandering the shops on the main street of Kilkenny.”
Visiting Kilkenny Castle. “Exploring the grounds and taking in the rich history with friends was a fun activity I will never forget.”
Photo courtesy of Olivia & Brett Knief
Travel Tips from Olivia & Brett:
“For those traveling on a ship with a similar route, ports can be about 30 minutes to two hours away from the popular city destinations. If you’re not partaking in a ship-provided excursion, you’re at risk of being left behind if not back on the boat by the allotted time!”
“Taxis are limited in the countryside town of Kilkenny, Ireland. Be patient and prepared for the fast driving and narrow two-way roads.”
“Don’t be afraid to take the time and make the trip what you want it to be. It’s okay to mix in personal, couple, and friend time!”
“September was a great month to visit each of the locations. It wasn’t too hot in the Southern region and there was hardly any rain in Ireland.”
“Be sure to book tours and experiences in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.”