Just over three months ago, I married my best friend. We had the party of a lifetime and yes it was, like everyone says it will be, one of the best days of your life. After the busy lead up to a wedding, all the planning and emotional energy that is invested, you are well and truly in need of a holiday. We usually set our sights on summer holidays in some tropical paradise, lazing beachside. Change is always good, so for our honeymoon we planned the perfect European honeymoon itinerary and boarded a plane bound for London, in the middle of winter.
It took less than a few days to fall a little in love with this winter wonderland. Writing a to-do list for London could be never ending. Exploring Oxford and Regent Street is a must, Notting Hill is super cute and they have great markets and there are always lots of shows on at West End which is an experience in itself. Then there is the British pub scene, steak by an open fire never tasted so good. One of the keys to a successful visit to London is to master public transport. We tended to use the tube or go by foot but open top buses or city bikes are both great too.
London’s healthy food scene surprised me a little. Daylesford Farmhouse was one of the best. A farm-to-table eatery serving fresh, seasonal food sourced from their own farm. I thoroughly enjoyed my super green eggs benedict breakfast because we headed back for dinner the next day. From the grilled sea bass to the superfood salads and warm cider, everything was tasty and cooked beautifully. I also loved the little deli-style marketplace where you can stock up on healthy pantry essentials or order a meal to go.
The Good Life Eatery is a must visit for anyone who appreciates health-focused cuisine. The worst part about this place is that you literally want to order everything. Acai bowls, gourmet sandwiches, smoothies, warm protein salads and excellent coffee. Did I mention the selection of guilt free desserts? This will be one of my first stops when I head back to London.
I always tend to find myself at farmers markets when I travel, I love seeing the different produce and it’s usually when you stumble across the tastiest morsels! If you are anything like me, The Borough Market will actually blow your mind. Do yourself a favour and don’t eat before you visit as there are so many great food stalls, not to mention samples of cheese, meats, fresh produce and mulled wine. It’s like a big open air food safari!
Bath is a really cool city about two hours out of London. A great ‘wellness experience’ was visiting the Thermae Bath Spa. Submerge yourself in open hot thermal rooftop baths rich in minerals such as calcium and magnesium whilst taking in the beautiful skyline. Then head to the Aroma Steam Rooms; four chambers with different cleansing scents. There are also massage and spa services available as well as the Springs Cafe Restaurant and tidal pool.
We said farewell to England and headed for France and Italy, two countries that are renowned for pizza, pasta and wine. This made me somewhat nervous about what to expect when it came to healthy food choices. I was however pleasantly surprised, they aren’t exactly spoilt for choice like we are in Sydney but there is definitely room to make healthy choices at most places you eat.
Val d’Isère, France
Ski villages have this amazing feel to them, and Val d’Isère had honeymoon written all over it! It was one of the most romantic places I have ever been too. We skied, we ate, we skied, and then we ate some more. It was the perfect balance between fitness and food, now that’s my kind of holiday!
Given I’m a huge foodie you can imagine how excited I was to discover a health focused kitchen smack bang in the middle of the village. The Arctic Café serves an amazing menu of nutritious food. Naturally, I went there most days! My go-to meal was the protein salad with chicken which came with roasted veggies and homemade hummus. Hot chocolates are a must at the snow, especially when they are white chocolate served with almond milk! Loved their smoothies and healthy mountain snacks too.
There is also a really good fitness facility called Le centre Aquasportif right in the centre of the village. They have multi-visit passes allowing access to the pools, weights and cardio area. There is also a wellness centre, squash courts and yoga available.Generally, our workouts were only about 30-40 minutes and we stuck to the upper body as our legs were getting more than a fair workout on the slopes!
Rome quickly secured its place as one of my favourite cities in the world. We spent our days meandering the streets soaking in as much of the history and culture as we could. As a tourist, I love to walk, we stayed two-minutes walk from the Pantheon which was a good central location to get to all the main sites.
We ate mostly at traditional Italian trattorias that we stumbled across whilst sightseeing. The Italians are so passionate about their food and we discovered that it’s actually quite easy to make healthy food choices as long as the menu comes with an English translation!
I’m highly recommending one café called Ginger. It has beautiful, modern décor and a really cool vibe to it. If the weather allows, sit street side and people watch, it’s what you are meant to do in Rome and it’s quite fascinating. Sip coffee or an Aperol spritz and you will totally look like a local. This healthy haven serves salads, smoothies, fresh juices and many more nourishing dishes made with mostly organic, locally sourced ingredients. It was a very, very welcome change from the pizza and pasta menus we were used to.
My one piece of advice? There is so much to see in Rome from local street markets to the Colosseum and Trevi Fountain so make sure you have a little bit of a plan so you don’t miss out on anything. Oh, and seriously do not leave without trying authentic homemade gelato. It will change your life.
A European winter is a very special, unique adventure and I loved every stop on our European honeymoon itinerary. You know what they say though? There is no place quite like home and the Sydney Sunshine on my face did feel pretty damn good!
Emma Esslemont is a physiotherapist, personal trainer, wellbeing blogger.
She is a self-confessed fitness and food fanatic with a passion for living a healthy lifestyle and helping others to do so too.