Twenty five years before Pauline and I shared an incredible anniversary trip to South America we started married life with the proverbial honeymoon from hell. It was almost enough to make us wonder if international travel was really for us!
You can read about our 25th anniversary trip elsewhere but for now, sit back and join us as we relive our honeymoon. You might wonder how we headed overseas again as well.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we apologise for the inconvenience but, as a safety precaution, we will be returning to Sydney”
The nightmare begins
After 12 months of planning a dream Honeymoon this is the last thing you are wanting to hear four hours in to a flight to Los Angeles. Sure the flight is 14 hours end to end but we were almost half way. Couldn’t we just push on and check out the problem when we get to LA? Or how about stopping in Fiji to give it the once over? I’m sure I can see the islands from my window.
But no, nine hours after strapping in to my seat to set off on our first big adventure together, Pauline and I were unbuckling to start our Honeymoon in Sydney, the place we were hoping to leave behind. The rumour going around “cattle class” was that the sewerage in First class had developed an issue and the entitled silver-spooners at the front of the plane refused to complete the trip with a hint of unpleasant odour in the air. We can live with it in the cheap seats so why not them? Just give them all another glass of Chardie!
Now many people would be excited about a night in Sydney, but for a couple of near locals, it came in at a very distant, and sad, second place to Disneyland.
So we arrived at our hotel at 7pm and told we would be departing the hotel at 5am the following morning. Not exactly the Honeymoon I had planned so far, but there was plenty of time for improvement yet.
Although things didn’t start well the next morning when someone from the hotel rang with our wake up call an earlier than requested.
Surely it gets better
24 hours later than expected we finally arrived in Anaheim, with Disneyland no more than a stone’s throw from our Hotel. Things were looking up…. until they weren’t. We had just been informed by the check in staff at the Hotel that our reservation had been cancelled due to us not arriving on schedule. So much for our tour company’s promise that all arrangements had been reconfirmed and everything should be hunky-dory. “Should be” ended up the right term, but “probably won’t be” would have been closer to the truth.
But, who cares? We were going to the “Happiest place on Earth”, an hour or two waiting in the lobby for them to organise a new room wouldn’t kill us. However, by the time it was sorted we could see it was not worthwhile wasting one of our Disney days for the last few hours before closing time. So the first 48 hours of the greatest holiday of our lives had now passed, and we had seen Sydney and the lobby of the Howard Johnson. Awesome!
We woke to a glorious morning, the sun was shining, we were refreshed, and Disney was about to open its gates for us. Nothing was going to stop day three from making up for a slow start. We were like two big kids as we walked to the entrance. We talked excitedly about the rides we wanted to get on, the Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain, and had studied the map so we could head directly there.
The Happiest Place on Earth?
As we collected out tickets I noticed a sign displaying the rides currently closed for maintenance…. and the dark clouds gathered. Three rides were out of commission for the week, and two of them happened to be the Jungle Cruise and Splash Mountain!
The next few days in Anaheim went pretty much as planned, Disneyland was still amazing and we discovered the joy of IHOP. We don’t have IHOP in Australia sadly and it has become a regular stop every time we get stateside.
Viva Las Vegas
Our next stop was Las Vegas and, although our original flight had been cancelled and replaced by a crappy alternative of having to connect in San Jose, we jetted in looking forward to experiencing the bright lights and glitz we had seen so often on TV.
Well, little did we know, Vegas was in the middle of a transport strike so we waited and waited again until they finally managed to squeeze us on a bus to our Hotel. The city certainly doesn’t look that glitzy during the day. It is somewhat better nowadays but in the early 90’s it was pretty gross.
But that was OK, at night it will surely kick in to gear and hey, check out this amazing hotel we are staying in, the Hacienda Casino, it’s huge and even has a waterfall inside the lobby! We were excited again. We had never experienced anything this grand before and headed around the waterfall toward our “garden view” room.
The corridor was very, very long. Something to be expected in a hotel with thousands of rooms, but the further we walked the less we were in an opulent hotel and the more it became a supermax prison.
The transformation was complete when we opened the door to our room. Three locks on the inside of the door, frayed carpet, and barred windows that had become the final resting place for a large family of flies. The “garden view” was nothing more than a dead sapling in hard, dry dirt, and a car parking area as far as the eye could see.
This hotel has since been demolished and I assure you, it got what it deserved!
Anyway, no matter what had come to pass, we would end our Honeymoon on a high note, five nights in sensational Hawaii. There was nothing that could go wrong and we were just going to relax before coming home to face the real world. Famous last words!
Our flight was delayed (again) and we arrived in Honolulu at midnight, but who cares? It was Hawaii! We stepped off the plane…. and almost suffocated. The humidity was so thick I half expected to be handed some scuba equipment to help us make it to the terminal.
Now I’ve been to Asia a couple of times and their humidity is up there with the best of them, but this took it to a whole new level. We were presented with a fresh flower lei, but even the native flora wilted within minutes in these conditions.
After collecting our luggage we were ushered to the waiting area for our hotel transfer and eventually headed off to the Aston Monarch. On arrival we waited… and waited… and waited, before being informed there was a slight problem in that our hotel had been double booked but everything was OK, they were confident they could get us another hotel shortly.
I understand “Island time” but shortly was still used rather loosely. At 2.45am we arrived at the Aston Beachside where we were informed we were very lucky and had been allocated the last room.
Unfortunately this was a small room in the back with two single beds, nothing like the room we had booked and certainly not room you are hoping for as a honeymoon couple.
Anyway, it would do for a few hours sleep so we cranked the aircon down to “arctic” level, and collapsed on the bed. What a day, and Aloha Hawaii!
The next morning we enquired about changing rooms. They offered us a better option but we would have to wait until midday before it was available but vacate our current room immediately. So we lost another half day!
Except for the day we drove across the Island specifically to witness the thundering waves at Pipeline on the North Shore, only to find surf smaller than we have in our local lake. A disappointment, sure, but the scenery was still incredible.
Hawaii did have one final grain of salt to rub in to that wound when, two days later, we sat in our room watching the news reporting the ten foot waves pounding the coast at Pipeline.
And then it was over. What should have been our dream Honeymoon turned out to be much closer to a nightmare, the stuff of legend. We can see the funny side of it 25 years later, and we laugh with those who laugh at us when we tell the story to friends.
We are fortunate to have traveled a lot and had some amazing adventures. But this debacle of a vacation has probably given us the most laughs and memories. It could have been worse, we could have not gone anywhere!
Can anyone top that for a Honeymoon? We would love to hear your story, it might make us feel better about ours.