Honeymoons happen once in a lifetime (hopefully) and the choice of destination makes all the difference between a disastrous time together and a memorable one. We cherry-pick some getaways where happy endings are a given.
Sagres… the name trips lyrically off the tongue like the fragment of a forgotten song. Located at the most south-westerly tip of Europe, the small fishing village of Sagres, in the sunny southern region of the Algarve in Portugal, has a wild, end-of-the-world feel. But naturally, for till the end of the 15th century, it was believed that to go beyond Sagres would entail falling over the edge of the world into an abyss.
A honeymoon in this untamed little sliver of Portugal where sea-lashed cliffs rise 200 ft above a roiling Atlantic can have an exciting edge — walking down a champagne-coloured beach with nary a footprint, where a windy forlorn hilltop fortress soars above into a blue sky. Long strolls where whispered sweet nothings are overheard only by wheeling seagulls above, and soft evenings spent at nearby Cape Vincent, gazing at blazing sunsets that drench the landscape in sizzling colours make for unforgettable moments…
And in Sagres, sunsets are happy to do an encore, day after day.
Sangla, Himachal Pradesh, India
Honeymoons are about being together in a time-stopped world. Sangla valley in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh has just the right dash of dreamy splendour that seeps into one’s consciousness like a soft billowing cloud.
A scenic drive leads to this flower-spangled valley where the Himalayan rose blushes virtually unseen in fugitive crevices, and snow-tipped mountains look down on apple orchards with low-hanging fruit. Lush meadows unfurl a green welcome in summer and forests of dark green pine resemble belts across the protruding bellies of massive mountains. In Sangla, (2,600 m), the temptation to just kick back and gaze at the scenery can be overwhelming.
Instead, venture on a trek to Rakcham, a village situated at 3,000 m above sea level, where you arrive after a four-hour trek. The chortling Baspa river accompanies your foray along ravine-hugging paths and you can stop for a picnic lunch in a forest of poplars, as hushed as a cathedral. The ultimate prize is to arrive at idyllic Rakcham surrounded by rippling fields of buckwheat. Or catch a local festival at Chitkul, the last village on the Indo-Tibet border…
Come evening, linger by the river and listen as it whispers its secrets to the wind.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Kruger National Park, which hugs the western border of South Africa, can be intimidating in its vastness, and an unparalleled experience, too. It’s a destination that promises untrammelled landscapes and cossetting in luxury safari lodges where each day ushers in new wonders.
Stay at a high-end safari lodge where white-gloved service, fine dining and spas in the wild come with thatched-roof accommodation that oozes style and understated luxury. Some come with their own private plunge pools and don’t be surprised if a gentle giant strolls past for a sip. You are in their domain, after all.
Embark on early morning safari drives to see wildlife that inhabits the seemingly infinite bush veld — handsome African lions, elephants, buffalo, leopard and rhino that sashay and strut like models on a catwalk, while other mammals like Thomson’s gazelles and wildebeest add to the drama. Up above, hundreds of species of birds flit and swoop while the dense bush may conceal a pair of watchful but shy giraffe, long necks sticking out from behind a tree.
On evening game drives, revel in a sundowner in the wild, hold hands to keep the darkness, bristling with unseen game, at bay as you raise a toast to your love!
Kyoto is like a Japanese kabuki theatre stage set; much like the art form that is characterised by riveting showmanship and dramatic stage props. Two thousand Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines sandwiched between sleek high-rises, vast malls and atmospheric restaurants make it one of the most exciting cities to visit in the country.
Arrive there on a bullet train, hurtling at a speed of 270 kph, and plunge into Kyoto’s heart — the restored Ninen-Zaka area studded with old wooden houses, traditional shops and restaurants. A meal in a local eatery there comes with hearty whiffs of nostalgia.
Stroll in the city’s leafy green gardens, listening to birdsong and nature’s ageless symphony; partake in a ritualistic tea ceremony in a vintage temple; stay in a traditional Japanese inn or ryokan where old-world courtesies are the norm. Visit a tea house, and watch a performance by a maiko or apprentice geisha as she sings a soulful Japanese ballad.
Straddle the past, present and future simultaneously… only in Kyoto!
Honeymoons are a time when you want to stop the world and get off… And in a world that’s mapped and charted, there are still places that allow you to steep yourselves in solitude and a sense of togetherness. Colmar in north-eastern France’s Alsace region is one of them, a Franco-German beauty that Germany and France grappled over for centuries in the past.
Today, echoes of both countries resonate in colourful Colmar which faces the Black Forest region of Germany across the Rhine river. Walk past medieval half-timber houses and colourful Renaissance homes, adorned with geraniums in window boxes, and you might feel like actors in a Grimm’s fairy tale, inhabiting another century. Vintage wrought iron tradesmen signs still adorn shopfronts and beer halls, wine gardens and world-class museums are inviting on long sunny afternoons.
Indeed, Colmar is France’s jealously guarded secret where you can stroll arm in arm into the past and present with ease, and swing between tranquillity and worldly pleasures like a pendulum.