The fact that we went on a honeymoon is a bit of a miracle. Honestly, I didn't think we would be able to afford anything. And being the travel/adventure lover that I am, I was dying to go somewhere outside the US. And obviously, that ain't cheap. We talked about where we would go if money were no object. We both really wanted to see more of Europe, but we didn't want to spend our honeymoon pressured to see all the sights. I love exploring and seeing new things, but after just finishing college and getting married, I knew all I would want to do was relax. And eat a whole lot of food. We briefly considered a cruise, but I'm super prone to motion sickness, so I was terrified of puking the whole time. We decided to just find an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. Warm beaches and lots of food. That's all we wanted.
We ended up snagging a super great deal for seven nights at Sandals Grande Riviera Resort in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Like, the price was amazing. Also because we didn't get a private villa with a butler like a lot of people do (next time!). But it had everything we wanted: transportation to & from the airport, unlimited food & drinks, tons of pools and lots of beach. And you didn't have to worry about tips or anything.
We left for Jamaica two days after the wedding. We spent the day after the wedding in Raleigh. It was a day to rest from the wedding and get ready for a long day of travelling. I HIGHLY recommend taking a day before you leave for your honeymoon. It made a world of difference, and we had so much fun shopping for last minute honeymoon things and hanging out around the city all day. Plus airfare is so much lower when you fly on Mondays.
We woke up super early on Monday excited to go. All the flights were on time and everything was looking good. We walked to the ticket counter to check our bags, when I noticed our flight to Charlotte was delayed about 45 minutes. We had a pretty short layover in Charlotte before our flight to Montego Bay, so I got a little nervous. The ticket agent assured me everything would be fine, we should still make our connecting flight and that international flights will often wait for late planes to make sure all passengers get on board. And he didn't even make us pay for the overweight suitcase (which had NOTHING to do with my seventeen pairs of shoes I crammed in). So we took a deep breath, grabbed our passports, and walked toward security.
By the time we got to our gate, the flight was delayed another fifteen minutes. My heart started pounding. It would be a miracle if we made our connection, because the Charlotte airport is huge. I may be a shy, quiet, polite person, but when I get upset enough, watch the heck out.
So I marched myself and my floral skirt up to the ticket agent to let them know that this is my honeymoon and I paid to sleep in Jamaica and by golly I WILL get there tonight. Amen.
Unfortunately, it seems every other passenger on our nonexistent plane was having the same problem. Dozens of people around me had reservations on some faraway island that American planes only fly to a handful of times a week.
All other flights to Charlotte that day had been cancelled. Ours was now delayed another two hours. The weather was perfect. There was no reason for the delays. Our plane to Jamaica would leave Charlotte before we left Raleigh. The agent made an announcement demanding that everyone take a seat and they would call us up by shortest connection time. I sat and called my parents and sobbed. We've been through so many airport hassles and disasters, and I knew they would know what to do. After thirty or so minutes, they hadn't called our names. I knew we had to have the shortest connection time. And I was not about to wait any longer.
With whatever gumption I had left from the wedding reception, I marched back up to the counter with James, cut in front of several people (it's my honeymoon! I do what I want!) and unloaded.
"ExcuuUUUUUsssseeeee me but do you realize this is my honeymoon?! Figure out a way to get me to Jamaica IMMEDIATELY"
One lady told me to sit down. Oh no she didn't! I stood my ground. They let me know that an international flight will not actually wait for late passengers (which I figured all along. When have the airlines cared about anyone?!) They still weren't listening, so I did what any girl does in this situation.
I ugly cried.
Right there, for all the world to see.
And it worked! Those poor boys, they don't know how to handle sobbing girls. So the male ticket agent heard me out. At first he told me that all other flights to Montego Bay were full.
He finally started looking at other airlines, other airports, called other airports, and helped other people while he waited for answers. We probably stood next to him for over an hour to make sure he figured something out.
In the meantime, our plane to Charlotte finally arrived. He told us to go to Charlotte, and that he thinks he got us tickets from Charlotte to Miami, and Miami to Montego Bay. But we had to check with the agents at those airports to confirm our seats and get boarding passes.
So we got on the flight to Charlotte, feeling stressed and a little relieved.
Then, as luck would have it, two business men walked up to us and flashed their boarding passes to inform us we were sitting in their seats.
Turns out, the wonderful US Airways double booked both our seats.
So, with some moxie I pulled out of somewhere, I told them to find another dang seat. This is my honeymoon and I'm not moving an inch!
Once again, it worked! They turned around and parked themselves somewhere else.
We got to Charlotte, and the gate agent thought it would be funny to tell us we didn't actually have seats on the plane when we did. And then I nearly had a panic attack. And then he slipped us first class boarding passes.
Suddenly, the sun was shining a little brighter and the birds were chirping.
We relished first class. The drinks before we even took off, the meals, the leg room. It was fantastic.
|Hanging around in the Miami airport.|
I have to say, I hate the Miami airport. You have to go through security just to get to another terminal. And I'm still convinced we were the only two people who spoke a lick of English. Miami really is just northern Cuba.
We hopped on the plane and smiled to ourselves as we nestled in our cozy first class seats that we didn't even pay for. We ate another meal as the sun set behind us, played some travel Scrabble, and took a nap. We landed in Montego Bay around 10pm. About 7 hours later than we should've arrived, but I was exhausted and just ready to grab my bags and get to the resort.
We went through customs and walked to baggage claim. James' suitcase came right out, so we stood around and waited for mine.
Until we were the last ones there. No suitcase.
We found someone to report my missing bag. He tried to track it, but no one seemed to know where it was.
Enter meltdown here.
My bag had my contact solution, all my clothes, toothbrush, all that jazz. It's Jamaica, you can't exactly walk to a CVS.
We were given a phone number to call in the morning to see if there was any new information. We walked to the Sandal's area in the airport so we could get on our bus. The representative for the hotel told us this was unfortunately quite normal. Lots of missing/stolen bags.
We got on our bus where we were told it would be a nice two hour drive to the resort. With a bunch of screaming, drunk people.
Enter partial meltdown here.
Poor James, I think he was sick of me already.
We finally got to the resort, and I was so tired I don't remember what happened. I think it involved sleep deprivation induced crying and begging someone to let me out of orientation so I could just find my bed and sleep.
Turns out, our room was right above the piano bar. So it was after 1am and I was laying in bed (sleeping in James' shirt and boxers because that's all I had) listening to the pianist play his heart out while everyone merrily sang an 80s song.
Enter another meltdown here.
|View from our balcony!|
The morning came several short hours later. I remembered I had nothing to wear, so James went down to the buffet breakfast and brought a plate of food up for me and went to the gift shop to buy me some twenty dollar contact solution and a toothbrush.
All I wanted to do was swim, but alas, no swimsuit. We called the number and my suitcase had been found (hallelujah!) in the US. They promised us it would be on the next flight to Montego Bay and then delivered to the resort.
That afternoon we checked the front desk for my suitcase every fifteen minutes, I swear.
I had to go to lunch in my full sexy honeymoon glory, aka:
one of James' v neck shirts tucked into my floral skirt from the day before, TOMS, a very messy bun, glasses, and no makeup. What every husband wants to see on his honeymoon.
But I tried to make the best of it. The food was surprisingly good, the resort was gorgeous, and all I wanted was my suitcase.
Which arrived right before dinner...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And nothing in it was stolen, which was my biggest fear.
We spent the next few days perfecting our pool/beach/food/nap rotation.
We got it down to a science.
We never did get a fantastic night's sleep, thanks to the aforementioned piano bar.
But the days made up for the restless nights. The week at Sandal's was seriously perfect. Free fruity drinks and diet coke with fresh lime juice all the live long day. Plus, have I even mentioned Jamaican coffee?
To. Die. For.
Unbeknownst to us when booking, the resort had two sides, split in the middle by a major road. There was the beach side (Riviera) and the Manor side. We stayed in the Manor house, but had amazing ocean views and the best pool with a swim up bar. It was a little more low key, so we loved it. To get to the beach side, there was a two minute bus ride, and the bus came every ten minutes. We were back and forth all day long, and it was great.
One thing I love about Sandals is how safe it is. Everything is gated, and there are guards at every entrance. They had plenty of activities, such as booze cruises and hiking and zip lining in the jungle, but it was hundreds of dollars PER PERSON for any activity. No thanks. We didn't have room for that nonsense in our rotation. Or money. But whatever. Plus, I heard many people were accosted by the not so friendly locals. No thanks again.
next: our last few days of honeymoon bliss, followed by airport drama like no other!
PART TWO HERE
PART TWO HERE