Let’s talk about expectations vs. reality.
Like the expectations held for the first night of a honeymoon. What comes to mind? Probably a candlelight dinner with outdoor seating consisting of the finest foods, under a starry sky, with strings of light overhead and possibly a live musician playing in the background. Perhaps some tender hand-holding across the table while staring into each the other’s eyes. Then possibly a honeymoon suite full of rose petals, curtains, and low lighting and special little towels folded in the shape of swans.
For some people this is exactly what they expect, and exactly what they get.
But what if I were to tell you that the reality of a honeymoon’s first night looks more like this: two people sitting roadside in a tiny broken-down car after 24 hours of non-stop travel, at night, in the rain, in the midst of dark forests, miles from any town, with nothing to eat but an old KFC chicken tender out of a box, and a half-eaten sandwich role they got for free on an airplane?
THE FOLLOWING ACCOUNT IS BASED STRICTLY ON TRUE EVENTS.
My husband and I wake up early on Saturday, as usual, around 5AM. We packed our last minute toiletries and the like, and had a friend drive us to the airport at around 6AM. Our plane didn’t leave until 1PM, but our ride had to drop us off early so she could make it back in time to sing for a wedding at her church at 11AM (which she was late for — but not as late as the bride lolz).
So our check-in booth didn’t even open until 3 hours before our flight took off. And we got dropped off at the wrong terminal to boot (apparently our airline was at two seperate terminals, and we were sent to the wrong one at first). We go through the whole check-in and security process, then desperately desired noms.
We were captive in one of the dirtiest, most crowded, most expensive, and worst airports in the nation (here’s looking at you, LAX) and they knew it. They KNEW they could charge two people $40 for hamburgers and they would pay it. Just to add insult to injury, the burgers were cold — like, just pulled out of the fridge cold. And their ‘garlic fries’ were so soggy they looked like limp noodles. I’m also 87% sure their milkshake was comprised almost entirely of Hershey’s syrup.
We finally board our plane, and fly to Salt Lake City. Where we book it to the other end of the terminal because we find out immediately upon entering Salt Lake City, that our next flight is already boarding.
Once we take our seats, we hear the announcement “according to regulation, we can’t begin this flight until we refill our water which we’ll need for this trip — for your bathrooms, and your coffee…”. They turn on their plane (which I didn’t know takes 14 gallons of gas to do??), shuttle one gate over, and take an additional hour to fill up.
Now at this point, my husband starts to get uneasy. He originally booked one more ticket from Heathrow, London to Glasgow, Scotland, and gave us 4 hours in-between to go through customs, turn around, and go through customs again to get on our last plane. With this refill, it set us back an hour.
We finally take off, and fly up, up, up over Canada and Iceland, and the Atlantic to finally land (over 10 hours later) in Heathrow. And guess what? We lost more time in the air! Also, it was at this point, technically Sunday because we lost a day flying. We finally park it, and run to the tram that will take us to the proper terminal for our next flight. We hop on, at the clock reads 12 noon: the time our flight to Glasgow is supposed to take off.
But wait, there’s more.
The airline’s policy is that if you miss your original flight, your return flight gets automatically cancelled.
We’re not done yet.
We stand in line at the help desk to see if they can put us on the next flight, or do something to amend the situation. Firstly, let me start by saying that the British do not do ANYTHING quickly. 30 minutes later, we speak to the representative behind the counter who says the next flight wouldn’t leave until 11PM and it would get us in at midnight. It would also cost half the price of one of our souls. She said the next affordable flight would literally be two days later — Tuesday.
“I recommend you look into train or bus tickets,” she said.
We did. For the same price as the outrageously overpriced flight to Glasgow we could get a bus that got us there 13 hours later, or take a 10 hour train. Not ideal.
At this point, we were exhausted from travelling over 18 hours, but we weren’t willing to give up a night already reserved for us in our cozy little Scottish cottage. After some brainstorming, we realized that we reserved a rental car in Scotland, but never actually paid for it yet, so we just went down two floors to the car rental facility at the base of our terminal, and rented a car for the entire week at a price cheaper than any of the tickets we just looked up. So we got a car, and drove the entire length of the British Isle, all the way up through Scotland, toward Ayre. It was an 8 hour drive total, which wouldn’t be so bad since I was used to making that same drive from NY to D.C., but we were already so tired we switched out quite often to power nap in the passenger seat.
Oh, on a side note: as if things weren’t interesting enough flying by the seat of our pants up to this point, take a moment to remember that everyone in the UK drives on the left side of the road. And we were driving stick. In a Fiat 500. On European roads which are wide enough for one vehicle, but expected to accommodate two-way traffic.
We hit hour 7; one hour to go. I am driving. It is raining. The sun just went down. My wheel goes ever so slightly off the road, and gets sucked hard into the mud. I correct the car, and get us back on the road, but not without hearing a sound I did not like to associate with any part of our car.
A mile down the road, the little warning light comes on, and the dashboard reads, “Check tyre pressure”.
We pull over, and my husband gets out to check the ‘tyre.’ It’s definitely flat.
So there we sat. In the rain. With our 4-way flashers on. In our Fiat 500. In the middle of DARK AF creepy Scottish forests with no streetlights overhead. It was cold. We were hungry. And I had to pee desperately.
Be it never said I didn’t find something to be grateful for though, in the midst of all that. I was grateful I hadn’t seen Quiet Place up to that point, because I would’ve lost my actual mind.
Fortunately, we purchased full insurance on the car, so we called roadside assist, and they said they would be there to help us within 60 to 90 minutes of sourcing us a ‘tyre’. We sait waiting for them to find a tyre, so that we could begin the official countdown to when they would actually arrive — knowing that we were a mere 58 minutes from our final destination.
Ultimately, yes, maybe someone’s honeymoon started with a seaside picnic, or a slow-dance, or a horseback ride through wine country. But those stories do not befit the life of a dragon. No, I much prefer to recount strange, heartwarming, and adventurous tales that no one else can tell, because no one else experienced them, and which were all the more meaningful because I had someone to share in them with me.
To wrap up this story, our roadside assistance arrived about 90 minutes later, replaced our tyre in 20. We arrived at our magnificent castle-side cottage not 1 hour later, and slept well until noon the next day.
Until the next installment, my dears.