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Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel Prague

So there it was hanging in my closet. I wore it all day yesterday, cost as much as a small car and now it will sit in my closet as a constant reminder I am no longer single. I thought my wedding dress should be in a museum, it is that gorgeous. My old friends from high school certainly noticed and were maybe even a bit jealous as I walked down the aisle. I shall just admire it while I practice saying “Mrs” instead of “Miss”. I am married. I am married. It’s a shame I can’t take it on the honeymoon. I would wear it on the plane if I could. You see my guy, sorry, husband surprised me for our honeymoon. He booked with Heather at Classic Travel a trip to Prague. Beautiful and stunning Prague.

And the hotel? Why the Augustine Hotel Prague of course. It was the perfect choice. It is located close to the historic Prague Castle, the gorgeous Wallenstein Garden, the famous Charles Bridge and within easy reach of the city’s many tourist attractions. Prague’s Ruzyne International Airport is a short 30-minute drive away. The hotel was created from seven different buildings including the 13th Century Augustinian St. Thomas Monastery, after which the hotel is named.

Several practicing friars still live in a separate part of the monastery, adjacent to the hotel grounds. All bedrooms have stunning views over the courtyards, the monastery chapel or the Prague Castle. Whatever room you’re in, you will be pleased. For relaxation, the hotel’s spa has four treatment rooms, sauna, steam room, relaxation area and an 80sqm fully equipped gym so my new husband can keep fit. I refuse to allow him to ‘let himself’ go as I have seen other husbands do.

Food wise, his favorite part of the day, the Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel offers a delicious menu at Lichfield Restaurant which overlooks a large courtyard with outside seating for use during the summer months. We also had the choice of two bars; the Lichfield Cafe & Bar and our favorite the St Thomas Brewery Bar, housed in the cellar of the former Monastery brewery building.

Currently the Augustinian Library boasts one of the most extensive collections of ancient books on medicine in this part of the world. In cooperation with the monastery, we were offered a one-of-a kind opportunity to go on a tour guided privately by one of the friars, usually directly by Father Juan. Subject to availability any guest can do the same.

So we got home from the honeymoon and the fabulous memories of Prague to start our married life. Or as my mum said at the wedding “when the real work starts”. But just so you know I still find ways of wearing that wedding dress without my husband knowing. So I recommend staying at the Rocco Forte Augustine Hotel Prague and also doing dishes in your wedding dress. Both make me happy.

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Hotel De Rome in Berlin

So there we sat in silence. An argument had erupted. After 40 years together when you have an argument they tend to end quietly. We were a lot more feisty once upon a time. Maybe it’s because you know each other too well. Maybe it’s because I was right and she was wrong. I have been bringing up my travel bucket list now daily. Used to be once a month but now, because time seems to be going faster, I have chosen to bring it up constantly until I get the nod of approval from her.

She sighed, looked at me, shrugged her shoulders and then gave me the nod. Finally! I had wanted to go to Berlin ever since I was a little boy and now I finally can. I had already bought the tickets and they had been sitting in the cookie jar for three weeks. I had called Classic Travel and spoke to a charming lass known as Heather who told me to start at Hotel de Rome which is located on Bebelplatz, off Unter den Linden and is one of the few luxury hotels in Berlin located in an original building, and part of the new one, offering me and my stubborn wife an authentic Berlin experience.

Most of the rooms have high ceilings and classical proportions. All bathrooms have separate walk-in showers and mosaic marble detailing above double ended baths. I have to say that even my wife loved that. It also, lucky for me, brought her romantic side out, which I hadn’t seen in a while.

The Spa has a steam, sauna and relaxation area, and a fully equipped gym. In a stroke of genius design the original vault of the bank has become a 20 meter swimming pool, which is wonderful on my more mature bones and they have a range of therapies, health and beauty treatments that are provided in the six treatment rooms. I didn’t see my wife for half a day one day.

The Hotel de Rome’s restaurant looks onto a large terrace which is used for al fresco dining during the summer months and offers cuisine based on traditional Mediterranean cooking. The bar has a contemporary feel and it features a long bar overlooking Bebelplatz. The Opera Court is a grand room with its original glazed ceiling and is popular for coffee and afternoon tea, her favorite part of the day. The friendly and helpful staff told me that during the summer months the roof top terrace offers a breathtaking view over the stunning city of Berlin.

The amount of history and things to see in Berlin is astounding and I was very fortunate to cross it off my bucket list. We both had an amazing time and the staff at Hotel De Rome were so lovely I can’t speak highly enough about them. You know what, a week after we got home I went to the cookie jar and you know what I found? Two tickets to Paris inside. I turned and saw her sitting at the kitchen table with the biggest smile on her face, and then she gave me a nod.

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Maroma Resort on Fantastic Beach

I had been taking an art class for a few months and now the day had come. I was great at the pencil fruit bowl, sculpture, pottery and even the life drawing and let me tell you, when theres a nude person in front of you drawing is the second thing on your mind. But now’s the day when we do beach scenes. Landscape is fine, desert not a problem but the beach or water is very hard to capture. It never stays still and not too mention its clear. My teacher told me to breathe and go and find some inspiration on the weekend.

A quick phone call to Heather at Classic Travel and I was on my way to Maroma Resort & Spa to get inspired.

Located on the Riviera Maya, Maroma Resort & Spa is a luxurious hideaway and very popular for honeymooners. There are a lot of great new hotels in the area but I wanted an authentic colonial feeling and Maroma is that and an Orient Express Hotel. It is nestled at the edge of the beach on the Yucatan Peninsula, bordered by the world’s second longest barrier reef.

The resort is made up of several white stucco buildings, two or three stories in height and are joined by stone pathways which are lit by over 100 candles or torches each evening to create a beautiful and romantic atmosphere. All rooms offer either an ocean or a garden view and the bathrooms feature oversized tubs which I just love. They are known for their Spa, and since it considered one of the best in the area I had to go and experience it. It’s called the Kinan Spa and combines both Zen and Mayan concepts. They even have one treatment room with a 360-degree view of the ocean and jungle.

El Restaurante, which was built by Mayan masons, offers indoor and outdoor seating with spectacular views of the white sandy beach. It offers all day dining and is renowned for its breakfast. I can feel the inspiration flooding me by the second.

Well I went home and painted my beach scene. I impressed myself how well it turned out. The teacher didn’t think so but what would he know. He didn’t have a fabulous relaxing time at Maroma in Mexico like I did. 

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Jamaica Inn

So this is what it has come too. Standing outside all night long for another envelope to be opened. The new iPhone was being unveiled today and hundreds of people lined up on the street to be among the first to have it. I could not believe what I was seeing. It was just a phone and yet people waited in line for hours in what ever weather was going on. Yes it is technologically advanced and you can run your whole life on something that fits in your hand but before mobiles were around everyone managed just fine. I wondered if I could.

I called Classic Travel and spoke to my travel agent Heather and told her that I wanted to go somewhere to relax and not be around technology so much. She took a moment and then said she had the perfect place for me. Jamaica Inn. It is a very traditional Jamaican family owned hotel located on a 700 foot soft white sand private beach in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

All The rooms are suites that face the beach or are literally on the water. They all have verandahs that are out-door covered living areas that have a sofa, wing chair, breakfast table, writing desk and coffee table. If you’re in one that faces the water you can see and even feed the fish. Every morning I would bring bread crumbs back from breakfast and those fish would just jump up out the water to get them. But the best part is that there are no TVs, radios or clocks. That’s right, good-bye technology and time and hello relaxation and bliss. I was a little crazy but after one day I felt I was going back in time and I loved it.

They do have a restaurant with really delicious and what tasted like old-fashioned home cooked meals Jamaican style. Dinner is served on the patio under the stars. Living in a big city you rarely see stars, which is a shame cause its very romantic. Too bad I was by myself.

Some activities offered include The KiYara Ocean Spa which is on the cliff’s edge and all treatments are in private thatch roofed huts overlooking the Caribbean. That is pretty unique. I recommend having a facial and the deep hot rocks massage. I was so relaxed I was doing cartwheels on the beach.

Or there is golf, shopping, arts and crafts, polo or any number of water activities and the friendly staff can help assist you organizing it all for you. Everyone is so friendly but not intrusive. Sitting on the quiet and private beach was pure bliss. They also make sure your drink is always filled and they even bring your lunch to you if you don’t want to leave. All good things must come to an end and before I knew it I was back in the city. I opened a bottle of wine, turned on the TV, grabbed my iPhone out and tweeted about what a gorgeous place I was just at.

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