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San Franciscans Shana, an executive assistant, and Bryan, a recruiting manager, considered a beach vacay, but its similarity to their June 2012 Maui destination wedding gave Europe a leg up. There, they embraced city life, trekked between cliff-clinging villages, swooned over painted sunsets, and savored historical sites, feasting and befriending locals along the way.
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The Best Stay
"Remezzo Villas on Santorini was where we most felt like honeymooners," Shana says. "Our gorgeous whitewashed, cave-style room had an outdoor hot tub and a huge private terrace with chaises. Every evening, we’d sit outside drinking wine from a store up the road and watch the sun go down."
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Dining in Style
The lovebirds ate at the Imerovigli Tavern in Santorini.
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Trails to Try
"You can walk from one village to the next in Cinque Terre -- the name translates to 'five lands' -- and though recent flood damage made some passages tricky, we did as many as we could,” Shana says. "All of the views, as you're going up and down stairs, across mountaintops, and through the hearts of these hamlets, are extremely beautiful."
Adds Bryan: "One section, from Riomaggiore to Manarola, is called the lovers' walk because couples have, for decades, hung padlocks on the fences and inscribed their names on the walls." Shana says: "We wrote ours!"
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"We ate street food everywhere we went," Shana notes. "Gyros in Prague, pizza in Milan, and kebabs in Greece." This spice blend, shown here, was picked up at a shop in Cinque Terre.
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Word to the Wise
The best way to get the inside scoop when you're on the road? "I always talk to the locals -- they know the area best. You hear about the coolest places in the city and get a feel for their culture. In the end, you’re left with a really authentic and unique experience," Bryan says.