1. Wedding Wreaths
There are some local wedding customs and traditions in many countries that go back centuries. Greece is no different. In the Orthodox church ceremony, two white circlets called stephani (meaning ‘wreath’) which are joined together by a ribbon, symbolising the unity of the couple. They are placed on the bride and groom’s heads by the priest during what is known as the ‘crowning ceremony’. There is much other symbolism contained in the stephana (pl), such as the crowning of the couple by Christ via the priest. The exchanging of the stephana from bride to groom three times by the best man (or woman), the koumbaro(a) seals the union. During our wedding, even though we married in England, we had stephana at our ceremony, swapped on our head by our koumbara
2. Throwing Rice
When leaving the church guests throw a handful of rice on the couple’s heads which is symbolic for the good roots of the marriage.
3. Parading the Dowry
For many decades now, most weddings in Greece are no different from anywhere else. For most, the traditional “Greek wedding” seems more and more like a distant memory. But there are some regions in Greece where old customs and more picturesque weddings still happen. In order to still see that kind of old fashioned wedding, one has to go to the small towns on Mount Olympus (like Livadi or Agios Demetrios), or the rural regions around Ioannina, and of course the islands. Even then, it is getting rarer and rarer. Old tradition dictates that the procession to the church is escorted by a horse carrying the bride’s most valuable belongings and embroidery, which are proudly displayed. Accordion and clarinet always prevail in the traditional wedding parties in Greece, as these customs derive from medieval Greece and Byzantium.
4. Wedding Favours
At the wedding reception it is traditional to give wedding favours known as bonboniera. These are usually bags or boxes filled with sugared almonds (koufeta). The white of the almond is for purity, the almond’s egg shape represents fertility, and the hardness of the nut personifies the endurance of marriage. The sweet sugar is symbolic of the sweetness of married life.The number of koufeta should be 5, symbolising health, joy, fertility, prosperity and longevity. Sometimes the number is more or less but always an odd number, which is not divisible by 2 and therefore representing the fact that the couple cannot be split up. Ideally the number should be a prime number - divisible by 1 and itself - symbolising that the couple can only be separated by death or themselves.
5. Traditional Treats
During the reception pasteli may be eaten. This delicious snack is made from honey and sesame seeds. We tried some at the Apolloniatisses bakery in Rhodes - and brought some home as it was so yummy.
In Crete another tradition is to decorate the wedding table with special decorative bread called Xóbliastres. At one time this would have been to feed the whole village but in modern times it is purely decorative rather than edible.
6. Pinning Money on the Bride & Groom
Of course most people have heard of the pinning of money onto the bride’s dress instead of giving wedding gifts at Greek weddings. It is still a common practice in Greek communities around the world, although probably not so much in Greece. Unfortunately nobody did this at our wedding!
7. Plate Smashing
Although a tradition which people associate with Greek celebrations, the “Breaking of the Plates”, which once implied abundance, to symbolize good luck and happiness, is now considered to be in very bad taste. It is also officially discouraged by the authorities as being dangerous in most regions of Greece.
Dreaming of a 'big fat' Greek wedding or a small, intimate event? We can help you incorporate some of these traditions and customs into your dream wedding in Greece if you wish. Contact Sarah today to arrange your free consultation. We'll create the perfect celebration in magical Greece.
The strawberry, one of the most popular fruits in the world, comes originally from the Americas. It’s a member of the rose family and is a unique fruit as it has seeds on the outside rather than the inside. The most common varieties are a hybrid of the wild Virginia strawberry (native to the USA) and the Chilean variety (originally from South America).
Native Americans were eating strawberries when the European settlers arrived. Often the crushed berries were mixed with cornmeal and baked into strawberry bread. After trying this bread, colonists developed their own version of the recipe which became the famous strawberry shortcake.
In the 1500s, explorers brought the fruit back to France from Virginia. The Virginian and Chilean varieties were then brought together accidentally about 250 years ago in a botanical garden in France, where a new type of strawberry was born. This is the variety we eat with such gusto in Europe today.
The strawberry was also a symbol for Venus, the goddess of love, because of its red heart shape.
The English word "strawberry" comes from the Anglo-Saxon "streoberie". The word was first spelt in the modern way around 1538.
In 1625 the British Francis Bacon described how ‘strawberry-leaves dying, yield an excellent cordial smell’, suggesting that strawberries were admired as much for their scent as their taste. It is still true that the very smell of the fruiting strawberry plant gets your mouth watering. Indeed the strawberry features in many works of fiction throughout history, including these:
The strawberry grows underneath the nettle
And wholesome berries thrive and ripen best
Neighbour'd by fruit of baser quality.
William Shakespeare, Henry V (c. 1599), Act I, scene 1, line 60.
The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!
Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.
Dr William Butler, 17th Century English Writer
In Britain many regions grow strawberries, including Kent, Devon, Cheshire, Lancashire and Scotland. But of course, the fruit grows equally well in warm and Mediterranean climates of the northern hemisphere. In Europe there are even annual strawberry festivals in the Greek towns of Paradisi and Nea Manolada, and in the French town of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, as well as many in the US. There are also many strawberry fayres in the UK too, from community events to music festivals. In parts of Bavaria, the annual rite of tying small baskets of wild strawberries to the horns of cattle as an offering to elves is still practiced by country folk. Elves are believed to be passionate about strawberries and the offering will mean healthy calves and abundant milk.
It is impossible to mention strawberries without their mouth-wateringly perfect complement, cream. There is something quintessentially British about strawberries. An English summer wouldn’t be the same without a bowl of strawberries drizzled with cream. This delicious combination has been enjoyed for centuries, from kings to commoners. But nowhere is it more iconic than at Wimbledon, the international home of lawn tennis.
Celebrate this decadent fruit. Use our concierge service to add Wimbledon or festival tickets to your holiday itinerary or book a tour around the strawberry growing regions of the world.
New Orleans is a testament to living history. Entire neighbourhoods, buildings, cobblestone streets and ancient oaks are markers of bygone eras. The history of New Orleans has turned the city into a colourful and exciting destination.
The History of New Orleans
Claimed for the French crown by explorer Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1682, La Nouvelle-Orleans was founded in 1718 by Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville and became the capital of the French Colony in 1723. The city developed around the Vieux Carré (Old Square), a central square from which the French Quarter evolved.
A vital trading and commercial hub, Spain took control of New Orleans in 1763 and this 37 year rule can still be seen in the city’s street names and architecture, like the Cabildo and the Presbytere. This period also reflected Spain’s more liberal views on race that fostered a class of free people of colour.
In 1800, the Spanish ceded Louisiana back to France but after only 3 years Napoleon sold the city and the French Colony to the United States in the Louisiana Purchase. Despite this sale the residents of New Orleans held tight to their Francophile ways. Language and customs, cuisine, opera and social mores were still French. A sophisticated and cosmopolitan society was created by the Creoles (the American-born offspring of European settlers) in New Orleans. This French influence can still be seen in the Creole cottages, the Ursuline Convent and Charity Hospital as well as the streets of the French Quarter.
War of Independence & Civil War Eras
The British tried to claim the land during the War of Independence in 1812 but Andrew Jackson turned back more than 7,500 British soldiers, forcing them to abandon the area and ending the war.
As American plantation owners prospered, the French and Creoles of New Orleans socially rejected these nouveau riche. This led to the Americans staying across Canal Street in their own neighbourhoods.
In the mid-1800s, the highest concentration of millionaires in America could be found between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, fortunes founded on the slave trade and huge sugar plantations along the Mississippi River. Louisiana sugar plantations produced an estimated 450 million pounds of sugar per year, worth more than $20 million in the 1850s.
Elegant mansions were built by these millionaires on their plantations. Both depended heavily on slaves, one of the key motivators of the American Civil War. Union troops occupied New Orleans but the city didn't fight back, thus sparing itself from destruction. This signalled the end of New Orleans halcyon days, an era to become known as Antebellum (after the war).
After the war there was poverty, racial tension and governmental chaos. The city’s plantation owners could not match their antebellum success but the port of New Orleans preserved its essential status, as it does to this day.
Discover the period at the Old U.S. Mint, the only Confederate mint and the oldest U.S. mint in existence; or visit Louisiana’s Civil War Museum in the Warehouse District; see the statue of Margaret Gaffney Haughery, a beloved Irish immigrant whose bakery supplied bread to hungry families during the war and founder of orphanages, in the Lower Garden District.
World War II
New Orleans played a special role in the second world war. Shipbuilder and local industrialist Andrew Higgins invented a boat designed to float in Louisiana’s shallow water swamps and marshes. Built in local shipyards, “Higgins Boats” were used throughout the war for getting soldiers, vehicles and equipment off big ships to shore, most notably during the D-day invasion on the Normandy beaches.
After WWII land reclamation allowed New Orleans to expand. Similarly the history of New Orleans continues to create a city of rich culture, an eclectic mix of neighbourhoods - from the funky, bohemian Bywater all the way to the oak-lined Garden District, and civic pride. There's something for every type of traveller from authentic live music, historic architecture and vibrant nightlife.
New Orleans was an important port for trade with the Caribbean quickly becoming a target for piracy. Brothers Jean and Pierre Lafitte were perhaps the most infamous. Visit Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop on Bourbon Street, the base of these pirates, which claims to be the oldest structure housing a bar in the United States.
The first Mardi Gras in the United States was celebrated in March 1699 when Iberville and Bienville landed at the mouth of the Mississippi River on Mardi Gras, 60 miles south of New Orleans. They named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and celebrated with their men. By the 1730s the Mardi Gras was celebrated with parties and street fairs.
In 1857, a secret society of New Orleans businessmen called the Mistick Krewe of Comus organized a torch-lit Carnival procession. The present-day New Orleans Mardi Gras with marching bands and floats can be traced to this celebration.
Speak of New Orleans and you immediately think of jazz. Evolving in the late 19th century, jazz combined ragtime, blues, spirituals and the American songbook, a result of the diverse ethnic and racial groups — French, Spanish, African, Italian, German, and Irish — found in New Orleans.
The 1920s roared along the Mississippi, ignoring Prohibition and welcoming travellers. Authors, artists and the adventurous discovered the French Quarter. Le Petit Theater was opened on St. Peter Street. New Orleans provided the soundtrack to the era.
The city’s music is its beating heart. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B and soul fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine. Walk down Frenchmen Street, in the Marigny neighbourhood and take in the vibrant cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, dba. and the Spotted Cat.
New Orleans has produced musical giants like Louis Armstrong, Dr. John and Allen Toussaint. New acts follow in the tradition at Preservation Hall on Bourbon Street, Mother-In-Law Lounge on Claiborne Avenue, Rock-N-Bowl in Mid-City, the Maple Leaf Uptown and Vaughn’s in the Bywater where you can dance the night away. It’s all part of the magic that is found only in New Orleans.
New Orleans has a love affair with its traditional fare. Join the romance over by crawfish etouffe at a smart restaurant or with a bowl of gumbo at a backstreet bistro. Grab a po-boy sandwich stuffed with fried oysters for a picnic. This heady mix of Creole, Cajun and Anglo-American cuisine is totally unique. Discover the most famous dishes below.
New Orleans King Cakes
New Orleans Pralines
In a city steeped in history, New Orleans has a history of mixing innovative cocktails. Antoine Amédé Peychaud, is thought to have mixed the very first Sazerac in his pharmacy on Royal Street in the 1830s. From an eye-opening Brandy Milk Punch to a flaming Café Brûlot, the quintessential Crescent City nightcap, raise a glass to New Orleans’ past and a toast the city’s most famous cocktails.
New Orleans is a great destination for any time of year and any type of holiday. Speak to us to plan your food adventure in the Big Easy.
Set within a loop of the river Severn, Shrewsbury is home to striking half- timbered Tudor and Jacobean buildings. With more than 650 of the edifices listed, many of them, including Shrewsbury's castle, are medieval. A wander through the winding streets is a joy at any time of year. Home of a vibrant music and arts scene, this compact town is far from dull and makes a wonderful winter weekend destination.
At the heart of the town-centre life of Shrewsbury with its shops, bars, cafes, art galleries and medieval streets is the Lion & Pheasant boutique hotel. Housed within an historic 16th-century inn, the hotel mixes original character and beamed ceilings with contemporary décor and eclectic furniture. Here, you can enjoy a romantic fine dining experience in a relaxed and comfortable setting, or sip your drink of choice in the stylish bar. Walk off your lunch with a stroll along the riverside, only a short distance away. Make the Lion & Pheasant your base to explore the fascinating country town of Shropshire.
The Cotswolds are magnificent at any time of year, but in autumn the rolling hills are truly breath taking. When thinking of picture-perfect Cotswold villages, they don’t come much more picturesque than Upper and Lower Slaughter in Gloucestershire. These villages with their charming riverside cottages, stone bridges crossing the River Eye are hard to beat for autumnal walks. Take a turn around Eyford House. Crunch through the fallen leaves on your riverside walk before repairing to a delightful country pub to warm up.
Travel further afield to one or both of the best-known Cotswold towns, Stow-on-the-Wold and Moreton-in-Marsh. Stow is an important shopping centre and has many fine antique shops, art galleries and craftsmen. Once the scene of huge annual fairs where as many as 20,000 sheep were sold at one time, Stow remains a fascinating market town entered across a bridge over the river. Moreton-in-Marsh is one of the principal market towns of the Cotswolds, situated on the Fosse Way Roman road. Full of 18th century houses and coaching houses, Moreton-in-Marsh still holds a market every Thursday around the Redesdale Market Hall. Wherever you go in the Cotswolds you will be surprised and delighted by the golden stoned towns and picture perfect villages.
The Slaughters Country Inn in Lower Slaughter is a great choice for exploring the footpaths and bridleways. In the evening, settle down by the roaring fireside enjoying a pint of local ale and the Inn's excellent gastro-pub fare made with the finest local produce. The Slaughters Country Inn is part of the AA Hotel Group of the Year 2017-18.
Blending traditional features of the oldest part of the house with contemporary design, the Inn’s 25 guest rooms and six charming cottages are all designed to reflect the property’s unique character. The friendly and rustic bar welcomes guests with sofas and shelves lined with books and board games. All in all, the perfect winter retreat from the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations!
One of the most complete medieval villages in England, Lavenham was built by wealthy wool merchants of the Tudor era. Stroll through the historic town with its half-timbered houses, the Guildhall, the market cross, quaint shops, pubs and restaurants for a memorable visit. Notice the large oak doors, wide enough to allow the wool sacks to be unloaded during the halcyon days of the village. Despite its bustling past, Lavenham has remained small, making it an easy place to get to know.
The birthplace of the painter Thomas Gainsborough is in nearby Sudbury. Here you can wander through the museum and gallery then view the garden. An ancient mulberry tree still stands as the garden’s centrepiece, just as it did when it was planted in the early 1600s. Sudbury is also home to ancient water meadows which make a great walking option. Or follow in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth I and Beatrix Potter at Melford Hall. This charming brick mansion is a great day out for all the family. If you have more than a weekend you could go further afield to charming Bury St Edmunds, the National Trust's Ikworth House or West Stow Anglo-Saxon Village for a living history experience.
The Swan is a stunning 4 star hotel with high quality dining, located in the heart of the historic centre. The afternoon tea is a must and there are frequent lunch and dinner events so make sure you check what's on. The hotel has 45 perfectly appointed bedrooms with all the little luxuries you need. Each room is utterly individual as they are all slightly different and as charming as they are comfortable. Any stay at the Swan comes with style and flair built in.
Faversham, the oldest market town in Kent, is a must for those in search of a great place to unwind. Located on a winding creek, Faversham is bursting with history. With an eclectic mix of independent shops, nearby places to visit, great walks and a reputation for fine food.
Faversham was the centre of the nation's explosive’s industry for 400 years so you can pay a call to Oare Gunpower Works or the 18th century Chart Gunpowder Mills. If you prefer the outdoors why not visit the national fruit collections at Brogdale or Mount Ephraim Gardens. If you book enough months in advance you could treat yourself to a table at The Sportsman pub, the Michelin starred restaurant. Lovely Whitstable and its oyster restaurants are a short drive away too. There is so much to see and do around Faversham you will be spoilt for choice.
A great choice for a weekend away is The Sun Inn, a beautiful old town-centre inn full of heritage. The pub, in Faversham’s conservation area, is full of original features like inglenook fireplaces and oak beams. It’s one of the most popular pubs in Faversham to drink, eat and stay, providing 12 stylish rooms. Just a short stroll from the Shepherd Neame brewery, The Sun serves distinctive Kentish cask ales of course. In addition to being a haven for real ale aficionados, the pub also offers a variety of top quality snacks and main meals to be enjoyed in the bar, restaurant or (in clement weather) in the courtyard garden. Take you morning coffee and breakfasts in the adjoining No.9 Coffee Shop. Escape the everyday and drink in the atmosphere of one of Faversham’s oldest pubs.
Glorious Camber Sands
Camber, located east of the ancient Cinque Ports town of Rye, has over 2 miles of beach, much of it golden sands. Home to the only sand dune system in East Sussex, it provides a valuable natural habitat to many animals and plants. Camber Sands isn't just dreamy in the summer months. In the autumn and winter months you can take a blustery walk along the beach and over the dunes. Nearby Rye is a 'must visit'. Once a port from Roman times, the harbour silted up gradually stranding the town inland.
Perched on a hill, the medieval town’s unhurried atmosphere and enchanting streets are dreamy. Rye is small enough to make you feel at home but with so much to discover. Antiques, books, records and artisan goods are Rye’s speciality, along with galleries, evidence of the town's thriving art community. Cobbled streets and narrow passages are ready to explore. Mermaid Street is peppered with ancient buildings and the renowned 15th century Mermaid Inn.
Winchelsea is another of the Cinque Ports stranded by the receding sea. The town now stands on an inland hilltop. This stunning village has ancient roots and its picturesque Georgian houses have inspired many an artist.
Romney Marsh - known for its natural beauty, the diversity of its habitats, rich history, extensive coastline and its sheep - is within easy reach of Camber. Even if you don't get to visit it is likely that you will have the opportunity to sample some of the region's fine produce, particularly the celebrated 'Salt Marsh Lamb'.
Once you've been for a bracing walk or done your days out to the local attractions, cosy up at the Gallivant. A restaurant with rooms, just across the road from the dunes, the Gallivant is relaxing hideaway. The 20 beautiful bedrooms have super-soft beds and giant roll top baths. The lounge boasts a log fire and a book-lined snug. The hotel's restaurant has a locally sourced menu that's well worth sampling. This coastal styled accommodation is a great choice for a weekend to recharge your batteries.
Hip Hebden Bridge
On the confluence of two rivers, hidden in a narrow valley alongside the windswept Pennine moors of Cragg Vale, stands Hebden Bridge. Home to my mother's family, this small town of weathered sandstone cottages is quite different to its neighbours, Mytholmroyd and Heptonstall. The reason for this is that it attracted the hippy movement from the 70s onward, thus turning itself into a unique destination.
Hebden Bridge grew up as a settlement on the packhorse route between Halifax and Burnley. Steep hills with fast-flowing streams and access to major wool markets meant that the town was ideal for water-powered weaving mills. The Rochdale canal passing through Hebden Bridge ensured that the cloth manufactured there could be distributed with ease. Now these signs of the town's origins house art, culture and independent shops, selling everything from vintage crockery and luxury soft furnishings to Fair Trade food. Colourful barges now tie up on the canal, once the bustling hub of the "Trouser Town". Hebden Bridge is also a market town so you can browse from Thursday to Sunday each week.
Hebden Bridge is a great base for exploring the local area. Hardcastle Crags is a spectacular place for a walk. Brave the stepping stones over the river or take in the views at the top of rocky outcrops or visit picturesque Gibson Mill - stop for tea at the National Trust cafe there. Also nearby is Halifax with its plethora of activities and places to see. Don't miss the wonderful market, housed in a grand Victorian hall, or the 18th century Piece Hall where local wool merchants used to sell their 'pieces' of cloth. After a massive renovation project, the Piece Hall is now home to high-quality boutiques and unique shops for artisans, it is also an event and festival space as well as housing heritage spaces where you can learn the history of this magnificent building. There is so much more to see funky Hebden Bridge and the surrounding area that a weekend may not be enough!
Why not stay at Croft Mill serviced apartments? Combining comfort and style with the added freedom of self-catering facilities should you just want to cuddle up instead of venturing out to eat. The amenities of Hebden Bridge are a short walk away. This 4 star property comes with secure parking and Wi-Fi. A Complimentary Welcome Breakfast Pack with fresh local produce is provided, full of all the ingredients necessary to complete a unique breakfast experience at Croft Mill. The perfect choice for immersing yourself in this historic and quirky town.
We hope you are feeling inspired to discover wonderful small towns in England this winter. To book a weekend at any of these properties or a selection of handpicked accommodation get in touch now.
The Brexit process seems to keep dragging on and on. Don't let it get you down. Time to plan your escape - at least temporarily. Brits are booking just as many holidays as ever, so at least the uncertainty of Brexit has not managed to take all the joy out of life! Here's some inspiration for your next journey.
Africa is a large continent with a huge array of vistas and activities so you can expect to find something to suit everyone. With its breathtaking natural beauty, contrasts diversity, your holiday to Africa will certainly be unforgettable.
For luxury resorts head to the north to Morocco and Egypt. This is a side of Africa full of history and a different culture to the rest of the continent. Fringed by the Mediterranean it is only a short flight too. Combine beach, city and a river cruise for the ultimate Egyptian experience. Whilst in Morocco visitors can combine desert, mountains, city and beach life.
Located about half way down Africa on the east coast, Kenya is a paradise for outdoor lovers. With its soft powdery beaches, snow-capped mountains, endless savannah and the vastness of Lake Victoria, Kenya can give you once in a lifetime experiences, like wildlife spotting on a safari.
Let's not forget South Africa, the rainbow nation. From bustling cities like Cape Town and Durban to splendid game reserves where you can view the 'big 5' - lion, leopard, rhino, elephant and Cape Buffalo. There are also mountain retreats and scenic coastal drives, not to mention great shopping and museums in Johannesburg. Fancy a tour around awe-inspiring Victoria Falls or a great wine tasting tour around Stellenbosch? Whatever your lifestyle you will find the perfect holiday in South Africa.
Why not head over to our Offers page and search for our latest Africa deals now (select holiday type then country).
England is a beautiful, surprising, historic and wonderful place. Why go abroad when there is so much to see here? From historic castles to lush green countryside to stunning coastline to ancient ports and activities galore.
Following the Brexit vote there is even more reason to stay in the UK, what with rising prices and the falling value of sterling. Get more bang for your buck in dear old Blighty. Visit extraordinary historic houses, castles and towns. The list is endless and no matter where you go, the United Kingdom is steeped in history everywhere you look. Along with this there is a huge range of accommodation to suit every pocket. There is also plenty to do from outdoor pursuits to craft workshops to museums, cinemas and children's activities.
Great Britain now produces excellent food and drink and is a haven for the foodie. Drink in the local brews in Kent, where not only is there the oldest brewery in England but also a multitude of vineyards, not to mention great pubs. Or head to Somerset where cider is king. Tour an orchard and learn how cider is made. Sample excellent local produce in West Sussex with a trip to a dairy to learn how to make cheese. Artisan producers of all types of gourmet foods abound, as do award winning vineyards. Take a trip into East Sussex and tour a quaint old brewery in Lewes.
There are so many amazing sights to see away from the obvious tourist attractions in Britain. In Yorkshire take a trip on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and learn the history of the longest canal tunnel in the world at Standedge in Marsden, West Yorkshire. Taste remarkably good wines at one of the most northerly vineyards in the country, whilst you take a break from touring the breathtaking moorland scenery. Or head to the seaside at Whitby with its ancient abbey and old fishermen's cottages.
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland offer some amazing choices for short or long breaks. With steam railways, mountains, lakes, rivers both fast and slow and of course endless coastline. Whether you love adrenaline sports like zorbing or white water rafting or prefer to read a newspaper in a pub with a roaring fire - you will certainly find a holiday to suit you in the UK.
Tasteful Travel design bespoke UK tours so why not book a consultation now? We also have a range of short breaks and accommodation so check out our latest offers here. If you need some inspiration for your travel planning just head over to our Destinations page and get booking your staycation now.
After you've said “I do” and set the date, one of the best parts of planning a wedding is dreaming of the honeymoon to follow. It will be your first holiday together as a married couple and you'll want it to be memorable. Here are some luxury destination ideas to get excited about.
Singapore is full of romance with memorable sightseeing spots you can explore arm in arm with your loved one. It has outstanding dining options, world-class nightlife and a safe and pleasant environment for an exciting honeymoon experience.
There is a huge range of top quality hotels in Singapore, many boasting spas. Book a couple's spa experience for the ultimate romantic treat. Try the historic Fullerton, iconic Raffles or the elegance of the Shangri-La. For more modern luxury pick the Ritz-Carlton Millenia or the Four Seasons.
Whether you are looking for a relaxing or action-packed holiday, Singapore has it all. Walk together through the wonderful Gardens by the Bay or chill out on the beach at Sentosa Island. Visit Universal Studios for an adrenaline fix or take a night safari to get up close to leopards and other nocturnal animals.
Romance is in the air at a rooftop bars. Get stunning views and first class dining at 1-Altitude at Raffles Place. Enjoy cocktails mixed by award winning mixologists at the CE LA VI skybar at the Marina Bay Sands, a microbrewery overlooking the city.
There are so many dining opportunities you'll be spoilt for choice. Take a trip on Singapore's cable car. Step into your very own private cabin and enjoy spectacular views of the city as you share a delicious 4-course meal. Grab a snack from a Hawker stall or choose fine dining in a huge array of top class hotels and restaurants. Don't forget to try Chinese and Malaysian cuisine or take a cookery lesson together.
Singapore is a buzzing and cosmopolitan city and is the perfect choice for the honeymooning couple.
A honeymoon in the Maldives gives you a chance to be together in a way that never happens at home. The name means ‘garland of islands’ in Dhivehi, the local language and evokes the wonder of this collection of magical islands. Overwater bungalows or villas in amongst the lush vegetation provide private love nests, secluded for maximum privacy and romance. Gaze from the veranda or the plunge pool across the panoramic views over the lagoon lapping the beach. The breeze rustling the palm fronds seems to whisper romance.
Each resort is on its own island so there are no strangers and the staff care for their guests in their private world. Crystal clear lagoons, white sand beaches and colourful coral reefs are standard in the Maldive islands. Exclusive upgrades, candlelit dinners under starry skies and bespoke experiences-for-two can be arranged to give your married life an amazing start.
Taj Exotica Resort and Spa for the lap of luxury on Emboodhu Finolhu island in the middle of one of the largest lagoons in Maldives. Just a 15-minute speedboat ride from the airport brings you to this idyllic resort, amidst the coral reefs.
On a private island in heart shaped Addu Atoll stands Shangri-La's Villingili Resort & Spa, an exclusive all-villa hideaway. Just 5 minutes by speedboat from the airport, the resort offers a range of activities, totally romantic dining experiences and the only 9-hole golf course in the Maldives.
One & Only Reethi Rah on one of the largest islands in North Malé Atoll. Enjoy a Thai massage over the water in the resort's award winning spa or revel in the marine life assisted by their Dive Centre. Dine in restaurants with stunning views or experience awe-inspiring private dining.
You can be as active or relaxed as you wish; swimming, snorkelling, diving or night fishing. Take a champagne sunset cruise, picnic on a sandbank and visit a desert island for just the two of you for a day. Explore the undersea world in a whale submarine or see the reefs from a seaplane. The islands have fragile eco systems so do your bit for responsible tourism and join in a coral-planting session or plant a commemorative coconut palm.
With so many picture perfect and romantic destinations in Australia, it is the perfect choice for a relaxing honeymoon to recharge your batteries. With such a huge country to discover, the range of scenery and experiences are second to none. From the World Heritage site of the Great Barrier Reef to the Red Centre, the outback, and the bustling cities, love-struck newlyweds can drink in the beautiful landscapes and revel in warm hospitality Australia has to offer.
The Whitsunday Islands
With pristine beaches and teeming with colourful marine life, Hamilton Island is paradise on earth. One of the Whitsunday Islands in Queensland, it offers good weather year round and some outstanding accommodation. At the northern tip of Hamilton Island, qualia is a completely private hideaway situated within the Great Barrier Reef. Only one island away from the brilliant white sands of Whitehaven Beach, Hamilton Island is the perfect location for exploring one of the most beautiful parts of Australia, or for a barefoot chill-out.
For a city-centric honeymoon, Melbourne is a vibrant and bustling destination. With its quaint alleys and cafe-filled lanes and historic buildings, Melbourne enchants. Activities abound: watching movies under the stars; taking a gourmet boat trip; private wine tasting tours, romantic strolls around the Botanical Gardens; or visits to museums and galleries, Melbourne has it all. It is also one of the culinary hubs of Australia, so you'll be spoilt for choice with restaurants, cafes, wine bars and micro-breweries. Treat yourself to butler service at The Langham for the ultimate stay in Melbourne.
For foodies you could not pick a better location for your honeymoon than the Barossa Valley. A region full of farms and wineries, the Barossa is one of the best places in Australia to sip a glass of wine. The locals are very welcoming and friendly in the Barossa and you can also enjoy many festivals like the Barossa Gourmet Weekend, Barossa Vintage Festival and so much more. Recharge your senses at 1860 Wine Country Cottages where you can walk hand-in-hand in the quiet countryside or experience their Boutique Wine and Food Trails. Relaxing and laid back, a honeymoon in the Barossa Valley is a unique experience.
'Found in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, heavenly Hawaii offers a breathtaking honeymoon to romantic newlyweds. Consisting of six unique islands, Hawaii invites you to experience distinct adventures, activities and sights. From the hustle and big surf of Oahu to the pineapple plantations and volcano views of Maui, to the coffee farms of Hawaii (big island) to the dramatic scenery of Kauai, Hawaii gives honeymooners a huge choice of amazing holidays.
On Maui you can experience a huge variety of scenery and climates on such a small island. When I visited this magical island we stayed in the historic Lahaina area where it rarely rains but visited tropical Hana after a picturesque and memorable drive, discovered British looking meadows on our way to Haleakala National Park - a barren volcanic landscape. Take part in the Old Lahina Luau or try Maui wines at Ulupalakua Vineyards and visit one of the many excellent restaurants. Explore this fabulous island from the Four Seasons Resort Maui on Wailea Beach. Unwind in style on a Maui honeymoon.
The third largest island of Hawaii, Oahu is sometimes called "The Gathering Place" and it lives up to the name as it houses the capital, Honolulu, and is the most populous island of the group. A honeymoon on Oahu gives lovers a great balance between buzzing metropolis and laid back surf resorts. Its a fascinating island with so much to experience, like the Dole Plantation, where you can eat the best pineapple you ever had! Don't forget to sample a delicious cocktail, the Mai Tai took its current form in 1954 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in iconic Waikiki. While you're in Waikiki you can climb Diamond Head, an extinct volcano which has been used as a military base. The amazing views from the top are worth climbing all those stairs.
For the best surf in the world head to the North Shore where you'll find the famous Banzai Pipeline - best leave the surfing to the professionals as it can be dangerous for the inexperienced but its great to watch. I found the Polynesian Cultural Center fun as well as fascinating and you can also sit where Elvis did on the base of the double palm from Blue Hawaii! No visit to Oahu would be complete without a sobering visit to Pearl Harbour. Oahu really does have something for everyone.
Escape to the "Garden Island", Kauai is the northernmost island in the Hawaiian chain. When you see the emerald valleys, sharp mountains and cliffs carved by the elements, Kauai will take your breath away. With tropical rainforests, rivers and waterfalls it is not surprising that the island offers so many outdoor pursuits. Kayaking, hiking and ziplining are available. Discover the Wailua River, Poipu Beach and Kokee State Park. Head to the South Shore for Old Koloa Town, a historic and charming town which was built on sugar production, which explains the vibrant multi-cultural population of the town today.
Although Kauai is full of resorts, golf, shopping, beaches and sights, there are many places which are only accessible by air or sea, ensuring that it cannot be overdeveloped. If you want an active honeymoon in beautiful scenery, look no further than Kauai.
For more information on any of these amazing destinations or to book your honeymoon, get in touch with our travel specialists today.
Celebrate Halloween with these tasty traditional recipes from different parts of the globe.
Most people believe that the modern day traditions of Halloween stem from the pagan and Celtic celebration of Samhain (meaning the end of the light half of the year). Today in Ireland and Scotland, Halloween is celebrated with bonfires, games, and traditional foods like barmbrack, an Irish fruitcake that contains coins, buttons, and rings for fortunetelling. The name comes from the Gaelic bairin breac meaning speckled bread. It is spiced and richly fruited to comfort you on a cold night.
DIA DE LOS MEURTOS, MEXICO
Pan de Muerto, or “bread of the dead”, is a sweet bread baked during the Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This day is celebrated in Mexico on the first 2 days of November. It is a light sweet bread shaped either as one round loaf or many smaller round rolls. Both loaves and rolls are decorated with bone-shaped strips of dough to honour the dearly departed.
Pan de Muerto
HUNGRY GHOST FESTIVAL, CHINA & SOUTH EAST ASIA
Although not celebrated at the same time as Halloween or the other festivals surrounding All Souls Day, we have included the Hungry Ghost Festival as it is rooted in the beliefs of restless spirits of the dead. The Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, which falls in July or August.
The spirits are 'fed' during the month long celebration with offerings of food and money (burning paper). The living are fed with many delicacies, including Teochew braised duck and these amazing rice patties.
All Saints Day on 1st November is known as Ognissanti in Italy. Chrysanthemums or other flowers are left on the graves of loved ones as well as strangers, bringing graveyards ablaze with colour. Red candles are also left in house windows at sunset and a place is laid at the table in the hope that the departed will visit.
Traditional food varies around the regions but most are a variation of bread or biscuits. Here's a recipe from Lombardy for Oss da mort meaning “bones to bite”. They are lightly spiced, crunchy almond biscuits which they should resemble dry bones and are meant to honour the deceased.
Oss da Mort
The biscuits will be still a little soft when you take them out of the oven but they will crisp up once cool. If still not as crunchy as you would like them when cool then you can put them back in the oven for 10-15 minutes more.
Oss de mord are really excellent dipped in Marsala or with morning caffelatte.
DZIEŃ ZADUSZNY, POLAND
In Poland, All Saints Day and All Souls Day on the 1st and 2nd November respectively, is the time to visit the graves of family members. The holiday is celebrated with candles, flowers, and an offering of prayers for departed relatives at the cemetaries. From pagan times, women would traditionally bake special bread and kutia (wheat berry pudding) for souls on the Zaduszki holiday. The food was brought to the cemetery and given to the poor, children, clerics, or simply left on the graves, believing that this would help to bring wealth and prosperity. Nowadays the special bread and sweets are still made. Here is a recipe for one of them.
There are many more traditions and delicacies associated with the season of Halloween, All Hallows Eve and All Souls Day but its nearly time to go trick or treating! Have a wonderful time remembering the dead and enjoy the recipes.
Avid travellers like to understand more about the culture and history of all the places they travel to. If you are one such traveller, better your travel experience through a themed gastro tour.
1. Eat Like a Local
Avoid the tourist traps with their expensive and often poor quality offerings. Be shown those hidden gems where the locals eat and dine well. Experience authentic.
2. Experience Local
Immerse yourself in the country or region you are travelling through by meeting local producers and trying their wares. Get hands-on with baking or foraging, or fancy trying chocolate making? Whatever a region offers you can be sure you'll discover the cuisine and culture of it on a food tour.
3. Small Groups
To get the best experience on a food tour a small group is essential. No more struggling to hear the guide or waiting in line to be fed. Groups of 10-15 allow you to get the most our of the foodie experience and it's a great number to get round a table or two.
4. Expert Gourmet Guides
Learn about the history and culture surrounding the cuisine of the region from an expert. They may be local guides or well travelled tour managers but all have a wealth of knowledge to pass on to you. Try new ingredients or ways of cooking in a relaxed and fun environment.
The beauty of travelling on a food tour is that you don't have to worry about a thing. All the planning has been done for you. Visits to producers and restaurants have all be pre-booked and you'll be taken there in comfort. Your tour manager will make sure that all runs smoothly. You just have to enjoy!
6. Carefully Selected Tastings & Eateries
A gourmet tour is lovingly put together to ensure that you get the most authentic culinary experience of the region. From fine dining to cream teas, farmers markets to vineyard visits, you can be sure that only the best of the local venues are chosen.
7. Local Stories
Food history isn't boring. It forms such a fundamental part of local life and culture that it is a fascinating subject to find out about. Stories around the dinner table have been part of human life since the dawn of time. Be part of a foodie group and have fun while you learn.
8. Delicious Food
You can be sure that on a gourmet tour you'll be taken on a food adventure. It is absolutely certain that you will eat really tasty food on the way. From tasting menus to tasting platters, fresh oysters to local cheeses, whatever you try it will delight your pallet.
9. All Inclusive Food Experience
All of the tasting experiences and meals are included in the price of a gourmet tour so no unexpected bills to pay. Even the gratuities are paid. Your guide or tour manager will take care of all payments. But if you want to take some produce home with you, don't leave your wallet behind!
10. Delight Your Senses
Food tours will bring all your senses to life. Hear the buzz of the neighbourhood, see and feel new produce, smell the wonderful aromas, taste the delicious food. On a gourmet tour you will: See. Taste. Learn.
Book your next food adventure with Tasteful Travel.
A fantastic way to understand history is to see it recreated. We were lucky enough to be able to see the Medieval Jousting at Dover Castle arranged by English Heritage (EH). Before witnessing the exciting horsemanship and death defying combat, we explored the Castle's central tower. Built by Henry II, it has been lovingly reconstructed by EH with displays of furniture, food preparation and clothing to bring the Medieval period to life. No expense was spared to recreate Henry II's bed with real silk, fur and gold leaf.
Due to the event being on, English Heritage had arranged various re-enactments and displays in the King's Tower. To see just how fit you had to be to be a knight, a chainmail suit and headdress had been made out of iron, just as it would have been in the Middle Ages. I struggled to lift even the headdress it was so heavy! Having the construction method explained and displayed was fascinating and gives one a real respect for those craftsmen who toiled so long to make this chainmail. No wonder it was only the very rich who could afford it - it must have taken weeks to make just one - and iron was hugely expensive. There were displays of fire breathing and a group of 'wandering minstrels' played medieval music. Children ran around dressed as knights whilst grown ups watched EH volunteers/actors dressed as serfs and gentlefolk from the 1200s. We listened to a debate on the Magna Carta in the King's Hall including public participation. Fun for all the family.
After exploring the basement to the roof terrace of the King's Tower it was time for the Joust to being. Who would think that so much excitement could be generated by such a short gallop. The crack of the lances hitting the shield or body of the opponent could be heard well away from the Tilt Yard. The four 'knights' in full armour with horses decked out as in medieval times was a spectacular sight. The judges and other helpers looked fantastic in their costumes. They must have been boiling in their velvet on such a hot day!
All in all, a wonderful day out. If you love living history, why not request that an event like this is built into your tour or travel itinerary in the UK.