Marie and I made our way to Chicago around 8:30 or so, after a 5 hour road trip from Wausau after the gift opening on Sunday the 5th. We checked into the Sheraton hotel (about 10 minutes from O’Hare) and made our way to our room. We stayed at the hotel so we could keep our car parked at the hotel instead of O’Hare for the week. We got into our room, repacked a few things for the honeymoon (lightening our baggage load by a bit) and got ready for bed. The shuttle to take us to O’Hare ran from the hotel every 20 minutes. So we set our alarm for 4:00 am (as our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:00am and we were to be there 2 hours early) and went to bed.
Woke up what felt like 45 minutes later but actually turned out to be 4am and got our stuff ready to go. Wearily made our way to the lobby where there were about 8 or so other people with bags packed to head to O’Hare as well. Took the shuttle to the airport without incident and quickly got into line to get checked in. We had our forms of ID (Driver’s licenses and birth certificates), airline tickets, information packets and various other pieces of information in hand to be checked in. Everything went smoothly and I even got a seat near an emergency exit, so I would have an empty space directly in front of me instead of a seat, for added leg room. So far, so good.
We made our way to our gate and sat for a good hour and a half, waiting to board our place. We played some cards and talked for a bit, but I was pretty nervous to concentrate on anything. I hadn’t flown since a family trip to Florida about 10 years ago, and was a little worried about puking on the plane. Well, not on the plane, but in the plane.
We got our boarding call and got onto the plane. It was a little cramped and freezing, but it was cool at the same time. We got situated and waited to get off the ground. The trip was fine, but I did take a Dramamine after I felt a little queasy. We were served breakfast on the flight, I got the cheese omelet and Marie had the apple pancakes. The scariest part was the food was really, really good.
We touched down in St. Lucia around 12:30 or so and de-boarded the plane. The plane was going on to Aruba after the St. Lucian people got off, but for some reason everyone had to get off the plane (I think they said they had to clean it or something). We collected our luggage and went through customs with our forms of ID yet again.
Point of trivia that is probably only of interest to me: Just prior to going through customs, I had to use the bathroom. There was a small men’s room in the airport and the first thing I noticed was the urinal I used was made by Armitage Shanks, a toilet company that Green Day has a song named after (it was on Insomniac). I sort of wish I had my camera, but bringing a camera into the men’s room wasn’t the impression I wanted to give to the natives (or my fellow travelers, for that matter).
Anyway, after customs we rounded the corner and came to a shuttle stand where we found the area for our hotel (Wyndham Morgan) and had our bags loaded into the extended van. We talked to our vacation rep and got into the van. The airport we flew into was in the southern part of the island, and it was about an hour and a half drive from the airport to our hotel. The drive to the hotel was pretty cool, because it was along the coastline and we got to see so much of the island that we would have missed had we flown in closer to the resort. The terrain was very hilly and beautiful and we got to see a lot of the greenery of the island.
We arrived at the hotel and got our bags out of the back and proceeded to check in. It was strange to be in an open-air front desk of a hotel, I’m just so used to having walls. We got checked in, an employee with an extended golf cart loaded up our luggage and drove us to our room (#202). We got our stuff, entered our room and noticed that as nice as the room was, the two twin beds didn’t really fit into our honeymoon plans. We called the front desk and soon had our new room (#484) with a nice, king sized bed. Our room was, despite being pink, well decorated. We had our own private balcony, a safe, refrigerator, it was very plush.
We got settled and unpacked some of our things, relieved to have a place to call ‘home’, if only for a week. By this time Marie and I were pretty exhausted and hungry (with not having any lunch), so we went to check out the food scene. There are two restaurants on the resort. Both were buffets except for the one restaurant (Tradewinds Restaurant) requiring reservations for dinner. So we headed to the other restaurant (Palm Grill), has some great Italian food (we later found out that each night was a theme night) and headed back to our hotel room to crash. We went to bed around 7:00 or so at night, happy but wiped out.
We awoke the next morning to housekeeping knocking on our door. A quick look at the room’s clock radio revealed that it was 6:30 in the morning. We called out for them to come back later and were shocked to realize that we slept for almost 12 hours. I turned on the TV and made my way to the TV Guide channel (St. Lucia gets the TV broadcast from South Florida) and saw that it was not 6:30am, but really 9:30 am. We learned that our clock radio didn’t keep time and that we were more exhausted than we originally thought.
Since some of the days blended together in my memory, here is a list of the highlights:
Marie and I ate like royalty during the week. Both restaurants had fantastic food and lots of it. Since it was an all inclusive resort, we didn’t have to worry about budgeting for our food and drinks, which was nice. There was a bar open in the lounge from 10:00am until 1:30am, so we could basically get refreshments any time we wanted to. While Marie and I were waiting to check in, a woman from the lounge walked over with a ‘welcoming drink’ for the new arrivals. Marie and I instantly became intoxicated with the non-alcoholic fruit punch and lived on it for the duration of our honeymoon. It had a slight hint of banana and strawberry and was a little thicker than regular fruit juice. Only complaint about the drinks was that my Coke was watery more often than not, but I guess we were roughing it.
The weather was beautiful the whole time we were there. It did rain every day, but usually for no longer than 15 minutes. Except for the time Marie and I rented a paddle boat, were out in the water and got thoroughly drenched. The sun was pretty intense, so we took refuge in the shade and didn’t spend a whole lot of time in the sun. We got to swim multiple times everyday and had a great time in the sun. Weather was in the 80s the whole time we were there, and our air-conditioned room felt good after a day on the beach.
Other resort dwellers:
I was surprised to notice a lot of European vacationers and English accents while in St. Lucia. It was nice to have some diversity in our fellow vacationers but the plethora of Speedos was, at times, more than I could bear. Everyone was nice and considerate, but I was surprised at the number of kids on the resort. Never a bother, but why bring a toddler to a Carribean island on vacation?
I think that Marie and I did a great job on picking our destination and the resort as well. It was very well kept and clean. The staff was always friendly and helpful for us Yankees.
Points of interest:
On Tuesday evening, after dinner, we were approached by a local merchant selling seashell jewelry (he quickly tied a necklace around my neck and an ankle bracelet around Marie’s ankle). He also gave me a heaping handful (were talking my hands, so it was heaping) of loose shells as well, all for $10. I figured that he was a local guy, just trying to survive and it didn’t bother me. The next night, he was in the same spot, only this time a security worker was talking with him. The merchant was yelling loudly at the security guard in another language. The resort has a rule that merchants can’t operate on the resort itself and I think the merchant got ‘caught’ selling shells. On the one hand, I can see the resort’s desire to keep it’s customers safe from being conned, but here is a guy trying to make a living, just like the workers on the resort. I think the guy should have been allowed to sell his stuff, but it wasn’t my call to make.
On Wednesday Marie and I spotted a pirate ship on the horizon. I claimed it was from The Goonies while Marie remained adamant that it was from The Princess Bride. One of the many ‘debates’ we had while on vacation.
On Thursday, while walking into the Sea to go swimming, I stepped on a crab (or a large crayfish). It freaked me out, since I thought it was a rock, but probably not nearly as much as it freaked out the crab (or large crayfish). Sorry buddy. I did see him scurry away so I didn’t squish the little guy.
Also on Thursday, Marie and I saw a furniture commercial for a place called Badcock’s. Yeah, I’m serious. 1-800-Bad-Cock. Call them up and see if they have T-shirts or something. Thursday night we also got to see a local band ‘rock out’ which was really cool. They were intense and played a lot of good tunes, mostly stuff we knew. Marie and I slow danced and also joined the congo-line. As if I wasn’t sweaty enough!
Friday we watched The Big Lebowski before dinner (we got HBO and Skinamax). What a thoroughly fucked up movie. I didn’t really like it but thought John Goodman was funny as always.
Sunday we watched Payback, an almost equally-as-fucked up movie as TBL. Games of Connect Four and Boggle also took place, with Marie winning the bulk of them.
The Trip Home:
Monday we got packed up and ready to leave. Checked out of the hotel and took our van back to the airport. Got our stuff loaded up and were ready to go home. Since the trip to St. Lucia included a stop off in Aruba after we got off, we had to head through Aruba on the way to O’Hare. I’m sure Aruba is a nice vacation destination, but their airport is pretty fucked up. We landed, filled out an immigration form, got our baggage, went through immigration, re-checked our baggage, went through customs, picked up our baggage again!, checked in our baggage again and went to board the plane. It was thoroughly confusing but what the hell, we made it. Trip back to O’Hare was pretty uneventful, I got even more leg room (Marie and I were close to the stewardess’ area, so we had about 2 feet of leg room in front of us,) which I gladly took advantage of. We landed in O’Hare around 10:00 at night.
After getting our luggage, we took the shuttle back to our Sheraton hotel to reclaim the car. Originally we planned to stay over at Liz’s house (in Chicago) but I was so ready to just go home and crash, I decided to bite the bullet and drive back to Oshkosh at 11:00 at night. We phone Liz to let her know, got the car packed up and hit the road. The trip home was rather uneventful, with us arriving into our parking spot outside our apartment at 2:00am on Tuesday. We grabbed our stuff, went inside and pretty much crashed.
In retrospect, it was a perfect honeymoon. The destination was great, spending the majority of our days lounging on the beach, drinking pina coladas and reading was pretty great (I read Animal Farm, The Street Lawyer, Living the Simple Life, an Adbusters magazine, an Utne Reader magazine, and an Oprah Magazine during my vacation). We just knew we had a lot of work to do once we did get home with taking care of post-wedding stuff.
Incidentially, Marie and I took the time over the course of the honeymoon to descretely moon each other, thus making it an official 'honeymoon'. Yes, it rocked.