ADVENTURE, GROWTH AND LOVE: WHY EVERY COUPLE SHOULD TRAVEL TOGETHER BEFORE (AND AFTER) THEY ARE MARRIED.

We love to travel, probably as much as we love to take photos (which is why we became destination wedding photographers). There is something so inspiring about exploring a far off destination, experiencing a whole new culture, and breathing in each beautiful moment with the person you love the most in the world. These shared memories and experiences bring another level of intimacy to a relationship. Adventuring has been such a big part of our marriage and our business!

The 2019 wedding season was a doozy for us, we photographed more weddings and elopements than we have ever done in our lives. 55 to be exact, wowza that’s a lot of weddings (more than 1 wedding per weekend, but who’s counting). We have never been SO BUSY–and it was AWESOME. Needless to say that after a year of driving all over the state of California photographing back to back weddings, while constantly on our computers emailing and non-stop editing we were ready for a little break. 2019 was monumental in so many ways, but we knew that we needed to plan a real vacation for 2020 in order to recharge our souls, reconnect in our marriage, and prepare us for another busy wedding season. If you’re feeling a bit of burnout in your life–we highly suggest planning an adventure!! (Even during this crazy home isolation time–dreaming of an epic trip 1 year from now will help keep your sanity and give you something to look forward to and be excited about!!).

Here are a few reasons why we believe it’s SO important for couples to travel together:

  • It’s seriously so much fun dreaming and planning a trip together–from picking out the destination, to researching accommodations to planning things to do. The anticipation of endless adventure bonds you together!!
  • Couples who travel together live in the romance of spontaneity. You never really know what you are going to experience, or the unforeseen magic and adventure around each and every corner!
  • The memories you create together are uniquely yours and will last you a lifetime! (Anthony and I are always like ‘remember that restaurant’ or ‘remember that time…’ or ‘can you believe we saw/experienced that…’)
  • Traveling is revealing, not only of the world, but also of each other. You discover your strengths and weaknesses and find out how to complement each other more.
  • Inevitably something is going to go wrong while you’re traveling, you miss your train, your hotel cancels on you, or you find yourself in the middle of a world pandemic and your travel plans are changing every second of every minute of every day and you’re thousands of miles away from home. You learn to laugh together, roll with the punches, and pull your heads together and strategize. You lean on one another in new and different ways, and you are beyond thankful that you’re not alone during such a crazy wild time of fear and uncertainty. #covid19

OUR TRAVEL PLANS TO EUROPE:

It’s been exactly 1 month since we arrived home safely (and coronavirus free) from Europe; during our time oversees we had so many plans that changed–our Plan B turned into Plan C and then to Plan D. The Covid-19, coronavirus pandemic, rocked the world and our travels in ways we had no way of foreseeing.

The original trip to Europe was suppose to be 1 week in Greece (just the two of us), and then Italy for 2 epic weeks of food, wine, adventure, relaxation, and family. Anthony’s parents are celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary on May 24, 2020 and we had planned their vow renewal to take place in Tuscany!

Forty years is incredibly inspiring–Don and Cheryl DeLaura have a marriage and a relationship that we strive for. 40 years of wedded bliss and they still hold hands, steal kisses in the kitchen, have dinner together every night, laugh on the couch, play outside, go on adventures and weather life’s storms together. We wanted to celebrate their journey (alongside our brother Frankie and sister-in-law Cassie) and for countless months, planning our Italian adventure was all we could think and talk about!

From Rome to the Almalfi Coast to Tuscany, Florence and to Cinque Terre it was to be a family vacation like no other. We rented the most beautiful villa on a winery in Tuscany, with horesback tours, cooking classes and painting with vino. We were to explore the Amalfi coast from a villa that overlooked the mediterranean sea. We were planning on visiting a small town called Alfedana where Anthony’s family came from. It wasn’t until the day we flew to Greece we cancelled Italy due to the Covid-19 outbreak. It was heartbreaking to say the least..

But we were en route to Greece, the entire leg of our trip was paid for and so we went…. and assuming this may be our last international trip for quite some time, we are SO GLAD we did.

MAKE SURE YOU SCROLL ALLLLLLL THE WAY TO THE BOTTOM TO VIEW OUR VIDEO MONTAGE FROM THE TRIP!!

FIRST STOP: SANTORINI

Santorini is what dreams are made of:

Santorini is literally everything you ever imagined, and more! The whimsical dreamy white homes built into the cliffs of a volcano is literally one of the coolest, most beautiful places we have ever been! It’s so cliche to say that the pictures don’t do Santorini justice, but in this case it’s absolutely true. There is nothing more magical than watching the sun dip behind those white abodes during sunset. Especially when you’re sipping on delicious assyrtiko greek wine from your own private hot tub!!

FUN FACT: There are more churches than houses on the island of Santorini. The blue dome churches set amongst cascading whitewashed buildings is the perfect setting to watch the sun go down. The town of Oia, is the place to be to watch the sunset–it’s the most crowded spot at sunset–however if you go during the off season there are WAYYY less people!

SANTORINI WINE TASTING #alwaysatawinery

If you’re obsessed with wine (like we are and you have your own hashtag #alwaysatawinery) you’ll love wine tasting in Santorini. The main (and most delicious) varietal is the Assyrtiko grape which is similar to sauvignon blanc. The hot, dry climate is perfect for growing grapes. When we arrived in Santorini, we couldn’t figure out where the vineyards were–it wasn’t until we went on a wine tour at Estate Argyros that we were educated about how the vines are grown in coils on the ground, rather than on a trellis like you typically see–so running through a vineyard with a flowing white dress (which is always Kendal’s dream) will not be exactly what you were expecting. 🙂

We would highly recommend visiting Estate Argyros this beautiful estate was Established in 1903, and has 120ha of vineyards of ungrafted vines averaging 70 years old, including some of the oldest vines on the island which are over 200 years old. Their tasting room is GORGEOUS and the wine is simply delicious!!

TRAVELER TIP: We rented a car for the entire day (only $30) and we drove around the island stopping at the different beaches (The RED sand beach and the BLACK sand Beach) and visited the wineries and sites of our choice–which saves you about $100 per person!

PRIVATE HOT TUB AND EPIC VIEW–WHERE DO I SIGN UP????

One of the BEST parts about our trip to Santorini was our accommodations! I mean, COME ON, we had our own private hot tub, out on the cliffs with an unobstructed ocean view, and it also happens to be located in the BEST spot in all of Oia to watch the sunset!!! We have stayed in a LOT of hotels/air b&b during our travels but the CALDERA HOUSE was probably our most favorite!! If you want some hotel porn, check out the CALDERA HOUSES not only are they stunning, but their locations are epic, and the hosts bring homemade breakfast each morning!! They also gave us restaurant recommendations, booked tours, and told us about the epic 6 mile hike from Oia to Fira!! The hike takes about 2 hours and is totally worth it; we must say that the views on this hike rival Big Sur’s views!!

WHEN IN SANTORINI-DO A PHOTOSHOOT

Of course there is no way that Kendal could visit Santorini and not don a flowing white dress for some sunset photos!!! We set up our tripod and Anthony clicked away! There was NOBODY around, so needless to say visiting Santorini in the Off season (even if it’s quite chilly) is worth it!! A huge THANK YOU to GRACE & WHITE for the letting Kendal play dress up!

NEXT STOP: THE ISLAND OF HYDRA

Hydra is perhaps the most beautiful port village in all of Greece. The small, boat filled harbor lined with cafes and restaurants is surrounded by a village of houses and mansions that rise up the hills like an amphitheater. We arrived via Ferry, (the ferry ride takes about 1.5-2 hours from Athens–we used Direct Ferries to book our tickets) and stayed in a gorgeous stone house for 3 nights. One unique thing about the island is there are NO CARS, therefor, the only way to get around is by foot, boat or donkeys! We went on hikes, sat outside and sipped on local Greek wine and ate fresh caught seafood!

The island is super romantic and the sunsets are out of this world. The photos that we took during sunset blew our minds–just look at the pink light bathing the island. The island of Hydra has a ‘locals’ feel that Santorini lacked; in Hydra it seemed as though we were the only tourists…very few people spoke english–so we were able to experience the culture of Hydra from a ‘Greeks on Holiday’ perspective. We were able to really relax, unwind and enjoy our vacation (well for a few days)!

Greece has been on our bucket list for as long as we can remember. Of course we couldn’t go on vacation and NOT do a photoshoot–it would literally have KILLED Kendal to travel to such an epic destination and not have a gorgeous bride/groom to photograph! If you want to see photos from our photoshoot in Hydra CLICK HERE (it’s worth the click, the photoshoot was magical!! READ MORE about Hydra and see all of the photos HERE!!!)

CLICK TO SEE MORE FROM THIS PHOTOSHOOT

ATHENS:

You can’t visit Athens and not see the Parthenon! Enough said!

But seriously, we are so glad that Athens was part of our journey, what a cool and lively city!! There is so much to do and so much to see–and we were SUPER THANKFUL that the city never seems to shut down… we arrived in Athens at 2am and were starving from our long haul flight from California and luckily restaurants were still open and people were still milling around. Our boutique hotel was located in the city center and we felt totally safe walking the streets after dark!

We spent our only day in Athens checking out the sites, daydreaming about what Ancient Greece was once like; the marble streets of the acropolis, the ocean glistening far off in the distance—you can feel the history floating in the air, the wars, the legislation, the amazing minds, the stories, the gods, the architecture and the art…all of the movies, the stories, and the history played like a movie right in front of our eyes.

TRAVELER TIP: The food in Athens was the best in all of Greece-there are so many Michelin rated restaurants! Make sure you download the Michelin Europe guide app before you depart; we use it whenever we travel to major cities!!!!

WHEN PLANS CHANGE: YOU JUST MAKE PORT OUT OF WINE

Greece was our first stop–then we were off to Italy–or that was the plan; when Italy was out of the question we went to Plan C… we checked the Covid-19 outbreak map and we tried to outrun the virus. Our brother and sister-in-law went from France to Spain and then headed to Portugal; we decided to skip Spain and went straight to the Land of Port.

You don’t have to tell us twice to visit wine country!!! We flew from Athens to Lisbon, rented a car and drove the 4 hours to the Duoro Wine Valley! The first thing we noticed about the Douro Valley is how stunning it is. We had NO IDEA that we were driving into heaven until we arrived at the grown jewel of Portugal–sitting high up on the rolling hill, we discovered terraced vineyards, rolling hills, a wild river snaking between the valley, the land of delicious port wine. It may be one of the most beautiful wine regions we have everrrr visited. While we may not have been in Tuscany, visiting Portugal was worth the trip!

A few favorite Port Tasting spots: Sandeman (the first few photos below are from the terrace just outside of the tasting room.. the Tawny Ports are to dieee for and the view is worth every penny) We also loved the Port from Quinta dos Corvos we checked out their tasting room and took a tour at their location in Porto! Porto, by the way, is magical.. it takes about 1 hour to get from the Duoro and is worth the stop; the charming tiled town is full of life, wine and color!

OUR LAST STOP: LISBON

We don’t have many photos from Lisbon–we took these few photos out on the balcony of our beautiful apartment the first day we arrived. Kendal was obsessed with the tiled buildings; wondering why all buildings aren’t made up of beautiful and colorful tile! It’s SO lovely! Sitting out on our little balcony, sipping on port, while listening to the town buzz beneath us, the sound, the feeling and the energy was invigorating!

We can more fully understand why city life is so appealing; there are a million restaurants and things to see and do around every corner! We met up with Cassie and Frankie (our brother and sister-in-law) that first night for dinner and shared a few blissful days of laughter and memories together. It wasn’t until the morning after President Trump announced his travel ban and closing the international borders that life started spinning out of control. We woke up Thursday morning to 40+ text messages and phone calls from our family and friends informing us that we needed to get home ASAP. (Note: during Trumps speech there had been no clarification that US citizens would be exempt from the travel ban–so it was believed that we would not be allowed home if we did get fly back the next day (Friday) at Midnight)

The immediate panic and fear of the unknown was suffocating. We spent hours scrambling and researching plans on how we were going to get home. The ban was to go into effect that following night at midnight and airfare skyrocketed to $6000 per ticket. (Who has $12,000 for 2, one-way tickets just sitting around??!!) It was seriously so insane. Our conversations became 100% about the Covid-19 outbreak. We felt so unsettled and so scared, we couldn’t think about anything else. The travel ban and the fear of the being trapped and the coronavirus crisis stole the joy from our trip, stole the joy from traveling. How were we going to get home. What was going to happen to the world, what about our weddings that we were suppose to shoot 1 week later, were we going to get stuck in Portugal??!!

The ocean never seemed SO VAST–home never felt SO FAR AWAY. How were we going to get home and if we did make it home, what if we were quarantined or detained, or even worse, what if we had contracted the Coronavirus. It was a very very strange time to be traveling..

We made it home two days later, we made it back safely and without contracting the virus; at that point we thought our problems were behind us; that getting home was the answer. That life would be fine as long as we were tucked away on our mountaintop. Boy were we wrong… but that’s for another blog.

Thank you to ALL of our family and friends who lended us support while we were oversees, called us, texted us, prayed for us, offered advise, and financial means. We love you and are so thankful to have you in our lives. We are ALL in this together…. Until our next world adventure, we will reflect and remember all of the amazing opportunities, destinations, and adventures we have been blessed to visit, experience and learn from.

WATCH OUR LITTLE BTS MONTAGE FROM OUR TRIP (SHOT ON IPHONE)

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