What a whirlwind the weekend has been! After marrying the love of my life at the Trinity River Audubon Center outside of downtown Dallas on Saturday, my new husband and I set off Sunday afternoon for our honeymoon to Croatia and Italy.
We decided to honeymoon in Croatia after hearing that it was just as beautiful as the Amalfi Coast in Italy, but with fewer tourists and lower costs. After, seeing photos of Plitvice Lakes National Park online and being avid watchers of the best show ever, aka Game of Thrones, which is partially filmed in Dubrovnik, we set our hearts on Croatia and started looking at flights.
We wanted to book through American Airlines to get points, however, American’s site said the fastest route to Dubrovnik was +$3K with 40+ hours of travel and 3-4 stops! I couldn’t believe that was our only option so I started researching alternatives. I found some reasonably priced, direct American flights to various places in Europe and then researched European airlines that flew from those hubs to Croatia. The cheapest and quickest route was via a 10-hour, direct flight to Rome and then a cheap, 50-minute flight to Dubrovnik on Vueling airlines, for a total travel time of 14 hours and a few hundred dollars in bonus savings. We also decided to utilize our layover destination by tacking on another week to our honeymoon in Italy! When in Rome, right?
I find trip planning to be an essential part of the travel experience because it gives me months to daydream with excitement about all of the fun things planned, however, with all of the wedding planning on top of a busy work load, I gave myself a break from honeymoon planning and went the travel agency route for the Croatia part of our trip. Zicasso tours, a luxury travel site that curates top travel agencies across the world and matches you with the best agencies in the destination you are looking to go to, had some amazing Croatian itineraries. I filled out my travel interests on the site and was introduced to Andrea, a Croatian travel planner living in the US. She put together an amazing itinerary for us. I compared the cost / details of her plan against what I could book myself to make sure we were getting a good deal, and things lined up perfectly so we booked the trip!
When booking through an agent, I always suggest price comparing their recommendations as they can up-charge by hundreds to thousands over the same trip if you booked on your own. The cost of connivence can be expensive! For example, when I looked into offers for the Italy portion of the trip, the proposal was over $2K more than what I could book it for AND I found 5 star hotels within my lower budget when the proposal only had 4. Since I have been to Italy before and knew what I wanted to do that, I decided to save money and plan that leg on my own.
Since we were leaving around noon on the day after our wedding, we had all of our gear packed for our trip beforehand so we could grab our bags and head straight to the airport. With all of the “marrying my best friend” excitement, I literally could not fall asleep and I watched the clock until 6 AM the morning of our trip. Unfortunately for me, my alarm was set for 8 and I was so exhausted. Thank goodness for travel induced adrenaline!
Check-in at the airport was easy and we found some awesome massaging neck pillows to relax us on the plane. Yes, they were 100% worth it and I am ashamed of my previous judgement of neck-pillow enthusiasts.
After a quick bite to eat, we were on the plane and ready for take-off. I tried to sleep for al little while but ended up watching 3 movies instead. While the 9 hour flight to Rome went quickly, our 3.5 hour layover in Rome took a while. We didn’t have our gate information so we took the airport tram to a central terminal, went through security, and sat by a coffee shop to wait for our 11:45 AM flight gate to populate. An hour later, we still did not have gate information and were falling asleep, so we decided to walk around. We went the wrong way and took the tram back to our original terminal. We still did not have gate information and we couldn’t find a Vueling counter so we decided to hang by an information screen for a while. There was nothing to do and we were pretty unimpressed by the Rome airport. We twiddled our thumbs there for about 2 hours and, with one hour until takeoff, we were concerned that our flight info was still missing. I went to the restroom and returned to a frantic husband exclaiming that our flight started boarding already at gate E9 while we were at E-61! We had 45 minutes to switch terminals, go through security (again), run to our gate, and check-in for our flight since we could not do so online. Talk about a panic! When we finally ended up in the right terminal, we saw it was filled with awesome shops and restaurants which would have easily made our layover much more entertaining. That was a bummer but at least we got to the gate right in time. We took a shuttle to our Vueling plane and got two aisle seats next to each other. I tried to get some sleep on the 50 minute flight and ended up using my neighbors shoulder as a pillow – oops!
The flight went quickly and our plane was literally the only one at the Dubrovnik airport. While all 5 airplane terminals were open, we deplaned on the runway, took a 2 minute shuttle (it honestly would have been quicker to walk) to the security line, and were out of the airport in 15 minutes or so. We had a driver waiting to take us to the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace and were pleasantly surprised when the driver lead us a suped-up Mercedes. Living the lux life, right?!
The view on the drive to the hotel was astonishing and we got a glimpse of Old Town Dubrovnik (aka King’s Landing from GOT). We drove another 10 minutes or so from Old Town and to our hotel which was right on the coast. Boy was it beautiful!
We got upgraded to a junior suite and were flabbergasted by the room. There was champagne waiting for us, we had a living room, 2 bathrooms, and a huge balcony with the most beautiful view. We unpacked and relaxed, finally able to be on our honeymoon officially.
After freshening up and popping our bottle of champagne, we decided to explore the hotel. The hotel had a beautiful spa, quite a few restaurants, a scuba shop, and a pool with a swim up bar right next to the water. The ocean looked a little too choppy for us to take a dip, so we went to the bar by the water for some cocktails before dinner.
Dinner was at the hotel’s Maslina Tavern restaurant that overlooked the ocean. The restaurant was so romantic with live music and an amazing view of the sunset.
We enjoyed a delicious squid ink seafood risotto, crispy sea bass, and duck with roasted sweet potatoes, plum sauce, and red cabbage. The seafood was caught that day and, boy, it was delicious!
With full stomachs and a little wine in our system, it was time for some much needed sleep at a scandalously late, 8 PM bed time.