Eric and I didn’t go on a honeymoon after our wedding. Instead, we spent the following week recovering from the hectic lead-up to the big day (and the big day itself). We strolled down the streets in neighbourhoods we had never explored, swam in public pools, and had evening picnics in the park. We didn’t leave Montreal, and it was for precisely that reason that we found the week so relaxing.
But I wasn’t necessarily ready to give up on that “hollywood honeymoon”. You know the one: beautiful hotel room with an ocean view, billowing curtains leading out onto a large private balcony. Piña coladas. Massages. Tennis. Room service. Lazy mornings. Lazy evenings.
Since we had started dating in late 2011, Eric’s work had caused him to be away more than he was home. So, we decided to take some time off to travel around the world. We would spend loads of time together. We would see all sorts of beautiful and breathtaking sights. We would experience and learn about different cultures. And we would eat delicious food. Sounds like a honeymoon to me!
If you’re Bill Gates, a trip around the world would have the potential to be the ultimate honeymoon. Since we’re Eric and Olivia, it’s a lot of budget accommodation, squat toilets, and packed buses. And let me tell you, watching some guy – not your husband – walk around your hostel in his skivvies pretty much dissolves any illusions you might have had that you’re honeymooning.
But this is our honeymoon. And while every day may not feel like a honeymoon, “honeymoon days” sure do. I should clarify. On “honeymoon days” we spend the day in a similar way as any couple might on their honeymoon. Ok, maybe we’re more conscious of our budget, but that rarely takes away from the experience.
The day we spent touring the Margaret River Valley region was definitely one of those days. Before driving down from Perth, Eric had done some research and found a one-day sip ‘n cycle wine tour. Problem was, it cost $90 per person. Not really in line with our budget. So, he got creative.
20 minutes later, he had a plan. We would rent bikes and do our own DIY sip ‘n cycle. And that’s exactly what we did on our second day in Margaret River. Baguette and brie in hand, we chose three wineries within biking distance of the rental shop, and off we went on our barely used (new, in Eric’s case) townie bikes.
After a somewhat arduous journey filled with climbs and speedy descents, we arrived at the first winery, Leeuwin Estate. Bikes locked up in the deserted parking lot (we were the first ones there), we tentatively walked in, not really knowing where to go. We were greeted by luscious gardens and welcoming staff. After signing up for the winery tour that would begin in just over an hour, we walked around to explore before tasting six wines each (tastings are free at most wineries). Little did we know that the tour also included a tasting of the entire selection. That was about 12 wines.
It’s now 12 p.m. and we’ve each had the equivalent of two glasses of wine within the last hour. Fumbling to get back on my bike, I can’t stop laughing at the prospect of having to bike up those hills. Turns out I didn’t have to. My bike was as happy to be pushed up that one big hill as I was to be pushing it!
It was about a one-kilometer ride to the exit of the vineyard. On our way in we had noticed the grape vines just meters from the side of the road and had made a mental note to take a picture on our way out. After many attempts at a satisfactory shot (balancing the camera on a tree stump was quite the challenge), we were about to continue on our way. But our tummies were rumbling something fierce. What better place to have our picnic than next to the vines?
And what a scrumptious picnic it was: baguette, brie, and apples. No wine needed!
When it was finally time to get back on our bikes, still a bit tipsy, I wondered how I would make it the rest of the way to the next two vineyards. The answer: slowly but surely. Riding those bikes was just a pleasure. Both in-and-of-themselves and compared to the bikes we had rented on Rottnest Island.
As we rolled along past fields, under a canopy of trees, we didn’t need to say anything to know this was a honeymoon day. Apart from the occasional car, we were alone on the perfectly paved roads that led from Leeuwin Estate to Voyager Estate Winery to Xanadu Winery.
By 2:30 p.m., having reached the last vineyard at the end of an impossibly long driveway (easily 2km), we were hot, tired, and wine-logged. Not wanting to have biked that road for nothing, we forced ourselves to try a couple more wines. Not usually one for dessert wines, I suggested we end our day with a tasting of Xanadu Winery’s supposedly delicious Cane Cut Semillon-Sauvignon Dessert Wine. And it really was. Just. Delicious. The thought of shipping a case home did cross my mind momentarily. Then I had to remind myself that we were not actually on a two-week honeymoon!
As a perfect end to a perfect day, we drove back up to Perth in our rental car, iPod on shuffle. Every now and then, songs that hold special meaning for us as a couple would play. I sat back in my seat, thinking how fortunate I am. How fortunate we are. To have honeymoon days. To have this trip of a lifetime. And to have singled each other out among the 7 billion people on this planet.