Elena Bowes

New York-London design & culture writer of a certain vintage looking for meaning and wholeness in life

Honeymoon Round II – Some Top Tips for the More Mature Traveler

August 4th, 2021
France, Spain, Portugal

Stretch and I have been married for just over two months, a good chunk of that time was spent on our extended honeymoon traveling together 24/7  through France, Spain and Portugal, all during the time of Covid. With WFH we already knew each other quite well (!), but I discovered, there was more to learn about Stretch- who knew?

Here are my nine Easy Dos and Don’ts for anyone who is 50+ planning a honeymoon with their beloved. My tips guarantee that when the honeymoon is finito, your marriage won’t be.

Do be chill about where you go — I wanted to go to Italy, being a pasta-over-paella, Rome-over-Madrid gal but Italy’s quarantine rules for those coming from the UK made that a no go. Accepting that no honeymoon will be perfect, starting with the destination, is a good way to keep your attitude in check. You might just realize that someone in Madrid has an amazing recipe for asparagus and string beans.

If you remember anything from this blog, go to García de la Navarra in Madrid…

So go with the flow and you might be surprised at how much you like where you end up. Lovely Lisbon and Comporta in Portugal for example …

 Don’t Forget You Aren’t Twenty Anymore – It’s not all about the adventure, it’s also about the arthritis. My Away suitcase gets an A*- great for storage, love the tidy compartments, and most importantly, the wheels work really well in airports, train stations and on other smooth surfaces, less well on cobblestones, sandy paths and stone steps. I love the nifty bag that comes with it- my back and shoulders were ever so grateful.

Do Save the Multi-Country Expedition for When You’re Not on Your Honeymoon – Three countries in three weeks was probably two countries too many, especially with the added expense and hassle of Covid tests. Any post-spa bliss was erased by the nail-biting wait for test results—Would we get them in time for our flights? Would they be negative? Where do we save them on our phone for easy access at the airport? Stretch proved himself a model husband. He remained relaxed and tech savvy throughout. But even when Covid is over, you might still want to heed this honeymoon tip. After all, wouldn’t you rather gaze at the sunset from some idyllic perch that isn’t an airplane window?

Don’t Take a Three Week Honeymoon –  Let’s face it, when you get older, you pretty much always want your own bed. Three weeks is about a week too long even when you’re having the time of your life. Throw in a new husband, and you risk several moments of TMI. I love Stretch, but I also like a touch of mystery, and the mystery disappeared around day 16, maybe even 15—right about when he shared his toe-nail clipping techniques with me. What’s seen cannot be unseen.

Do Remember, It’s OK to Spend Time Apart on Your Honeymoon–  In fact, I highly recommend it. We were relaxing by the pool at the peaceful and luxurious Cap Rocat hotel in Mallorca. Once a military fortress, Cap Rocat is now a unique and uber-chic five star oasis with a zen spa, pool plus beach plus delicious beachside restaurant. Why would anyone want to leave?

I have to exercise every day or I’ll go nuts, “ announced my new husband after a lazy day by the pool.  “I found a great hike for tomorrow. It’s an hour’s drive.

I should have said:

No problem new husband, I’ll see you when you get back from your eight-hour odyssey. What’s eight hours apart when we have a lifetime?”

I should not have said:

It’s our honeymoon, we need to be together. I’ll come with you.”

I am a fearful person. Stretch is not. The ascent on our hike the next day was not the issue. It was quite lovely in fact.

It was the descent where marital cracks surfaced.

I don’t do heights.’ I said when I spotted the vertical boulder-filled ravine that I was expected to scale down. If I stumbled, Stretch would be wifeless.

Needless to say, I did fall and survived, but only barely.

After that we had trouble finding the path.

Time to retreat to your inner child where getting lost was half the fun,” Stretch joked. I wasn’t amused.

So, he tried a different tact—

See those rocks there, that means there’s a path nearby. Call me ‘the path whisperer”.

Luckily for our new marriage, he was right.

Do Spend Some Time with Friends if You Can– This isn’t your first rodeo. No one needs to be with their partner solo every waking hour. See friends en route. Mix it up. Alternate alone, not alone, alone. It gives you something to talk about. We stayed with friends in Provence and Comporta: two places I would go back to in a heartbeat.

Do Plan Ahead –   Spontaneity is great, but not during Covid where numbers of visitors are being limited and lines can be long. I’m glad we booked tickets to the Arles Photography Festival and equally glad that our organized friend Dede thought to book a guide – the fair is huge and rambling. It takes place throughout the historic town, including in a supermarket. Our guide helped us navigate what to see and what to skip.

In Portugal, we missed seeing the spectacular Baroque library at Coimbra University,  apparently, one of the most stunning libraries in the world, and an inspiration for Harry Potter films. Who knew you needed tickets to see a library and that the ticket office would be impossible to find. We’ll just have to go back.

Don’t Plan Ahead –  On the other hand, a honeymoon is really supposed to be a relaxing time. Maybe choose your destination based on the hope that if all else fails you will sit by a pool, or on a beach, or at a cafe or on a terrace sipping rosé or Port Tonic – a delicious Portuguese cocktail we discovered at the stunning Six Senses in the Douro Valley –  reminiscing about when exactly he fell madly in love with you.

Do Notice How Wonderful Your Partner Is –  My tips above are about the holiday, not the husband. Stretch proved to be almost as perfect as his wife. He’s super patient (I don’t find Waze or Google Maps that straightforward), highly competent (he does find Waze and Google Maps that straightforward), forgiving (I was a tad moody the night my earring got stuck in my ear and my cell phone wasn’t working- both disasters at the same time!) and he’s pretty much always sweet, upbeat, curious, attentive and loving – except when he doesn’t get his exercise.

August, 2021