Sunday, May 21, 2006
You can plan all you want, but sometimes honeymoons take on a life of their own. We asked for real-life stories from readers. Here are some of the best.
My husband and I were married on Mount Desert Island, Maine, and nearly all our guests had to travel far to get there. Conscious of how much effort and money they had put into making the long journey to Maine, my husband and I felt obligated to spend every waking minute with them.
When the big event was finally over, the only thing we wanted was some time to ourselves. But our families were going to stay in Maine a while longer and hoped to see us again after the honeymoon, so we couldn't go far. We finally booked a little bed-and-breakfast on Great Cranberry Island, off the coast of MDI. We took the mail boat out there and spent three lovely, quiet days hiking, playing croquet and sitting on the pebbly beach as the sun went down.
Our families, and all the affection and annoyance and joyful chaos that came with them, were only a few miles away. But with that little ribbon of the Atlantic separating us, they may as well have been on a different continent.
Deborah Chen Pichler
* * *
Paris -- the very name symbolizes romance, and my husband was so excited as he planned our honeymoon there. We stayed on the Left Bank, toured museums and cathedrals, climbed the Eiffel Tower and walked all over the city. Since this was my first trip to Europe, my husband wanted everything to be perfect, and it was.
As we were leaving the city, I turned to him to express my gratitude and devotion. And then he said, "We'll always have Paris. Here's looking at you, kid."
"What type of statement is that?" I asked him. "It certainly isn't romantic, and in fact is somewhat cavalier. This is the way you want to sum up our trip?"
He looked at me with horror and told me he had waited his entire life to say those words on his honeymoon.
Needless to say, we rented "Casablanca" the night we got back.
* * *
After 10 days on the gorgeous island of St. Lucia, we were supposed to leave on Sept. 11, 2001. After making so many comments about wanting to stay, we unfortunately got what we wished for. No planes flew into the United States for days, and it was a bittersweet ordeal being in a foreign place when you know what tragedy is taking place on your own soil.
Six days past our original departure date, we heard about a secret charter plane leaving in the middle of the night. We made our way onto this flight and the pilot told us that our country was not the way we left it. We always bring that thought with us when we travel now, and appreciate every moment and every day we have.
Michelle and Bill Thyen
* * *
We went to Grand Cayman Island, where we had 2 1/2 beautiful days, and then it started raining. Everyone said that it never rains for more than a few hours at a time there. Well, eight days, two hurricanes and a tropical storm later, it cleared -- just in time for our flight home.
Our lesson? As long as there's no lightning, a hot tub in the rain is still nice, and early-morning walks on the beach in light drizzle aren't bad either.
We went back for our one-year anniversary the following year -- and yep, it rained again.
* * *
Oh man, where to start.
Two round-the-world airline tickets, six countries, 23 days and one husband who had never been out of the country. I had the flu in London and gave it to him by Paris. But there were great moments: a hotel room with views of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre, the carpet talk from "Mike" in Istanbul, a sunrise hike around Ayers Rock.
There were also some moments that in hindsight are hilarious: our budget hotel in Knightsbridge, London; walking about 15 miles in Paris; losing my luggage in Geneva; navigating Kyoto with a hand-drawn map and finally finding our inn, where the only English spoken was "No shoes in my hotel!"
We'd do it again in a heartbeat.
* * *
We married way back in 1960 and traveled to Bermuda for a week's honeymoon. We had a beautiful room with a balcony overlooking the ocean. Signs were everywhere: "DO NOT PUT ANYTHING ON THE BALCONY RAILING." Of course, New Jersey folks do not read, much less obey, most signs, so I hung our bathing suits and my husband's athletic supporter on the railing. When they were dry, as I was bringing them in, I dropped the supporter down on the balcony below.
Horribly embarrassed, I knocked on the door below and rushed past the couple occupying the room, grabbed the supporter, apologized and ran out again.
The next day we saw the couple in a store in Hamilton, and I saw the man nudge his wife and point to me, explaining that I was that crazy person who had invaded their room the day before.
* * *
In 1987, a retired Peace Corps volunteer ( moi ) married the daughter of an airline pilot. I took charge of honeymoon planning. We settled on a week on Crete followed by a week in the Scottish Highlands.
Our goal was the small town of Hania, on the northern coast of Crete. The "plan" was to arrive around 6 p.m. and scope out the hotel possibilities, rather than making a reservation sight unseen. That's how we RPCVs travel. This is not how daughters of airline pilots travel, but I got the benefit of the doubt (for the last time).
Because of a canceled connecting flight, we arrived in Hania at nearly midnight. We caught the small airport bus into town, and I finally spotted a hotel where, for an amazingly low price, there was an amazingly crummy room available. The next morning I was up and about early while my bride slumbered (despite the bedbugs). It was not only the first non-travel day of our honeymoon, but also her birthday. I brought her back fresh yogurt, along with news of a very nice room in a very nice hotel available for immediate occupancy. As soon as she stopped crying, we went directly there.
The rest of the trip in Crete went well, except for the cheap local rental car and the hotel we chose a few days later that featured motorcycle races and honking just below our window until 2 in the morning. We had more of that soothing fresh yogurt and fruit for breakfast.
* * *
We spent our honeymoon on St. Thomas. As many Caribbean hotels do, ours asked that we close the sliding glass doors in our room to save electricity.
One day we decided to order room service and eat out on the terrace, with its great view of the harbor and downtown Charlotte Amalie. After signing for the food, I dutifully shut the sliding door as I stepped out, and watched as the security bar fell down from its upright position and locked us out on the terrace. It faced the harbor and not the hotel grounds, so it was unlikely that anyone would hear our calls for help.
My wife immediately said, "Don't eat the food," presumably to keep it for our breakfast for the hours or days we would be stuck out on the terrace in the sun. Since eggs get cold quickly, I opted for immediate gratification.
Luckily, sometime later workers came up on the roof several floors below to check out a roof vent or fan. I could only think, "How often is anyone ever on this roof?" We hollered at the crew, using hand signals to try to explain our situation.
Ten minutes later, we watched through the glass doors as the lock on the room door slowly turned and our rescuers entered the room. It's a good thing we hadn't used the inside deadbolt or put out the "Do not disturb" sign, or our dried bones would still be out there.
* * *
On the last segment of our two-week honeymoon in Costa Rica, my wife and I drove from the gorgeous Arenal Observatory to Hotel Punta Islita, a secluded resort on the Nicoya Peninsula. We got a free upgrade to a massive Toyota Prado.
On the way to the resort, we found a 50-foot section of the road had washed away into an adjacent stream. I tried another road -- same problem. This is where the real fun began. For the next half-hour, I attempted reversing the mammoth SUV back and forth to get out of the foot-deep mud, while my wife silently panicked and wondered how we would ever get to our hotel. Finally, I got out of the car, sank past my shins in mud and walked back to the nearest town.
Using sign language, I told a local man that I was stuck. He flagged down a friend, and the three of us spent an hour and a half digging mud and placing rocks under the tires. We broke several ropes and shovels, but the SUV wouldn't budge.
One of the men then headed back into town and returned on a cart pulled by two thousand-pound oxen. They pulled the SUV out on the first attempt, and the men made some money for their time, efforts and Costa Rican generosity.
We finally made it to our hotel. The manager offered us a towel, which was just right for my wife. But after seeing me covered in mud with no shirt or shoes on, he offered me a hose.