Happy Holidays! As I sit here surrounded by saguaro, with a panoramic view of Superstition Mountain and 12 family members crammed into one rental property, I find myself preoccupied by two pressing questions. Is it cacti or cactuses? and Where are we going on our honeymoon?
My fiance and I have done quite a bit of traveling lately. I’ve been mistakenly typing “my finance” more often than I should (even though I’m a travel consultant, airfare is expensive). First I was in Las Vegas for an industry conference, then Boston, New York and Seattle for Thanksgiving, then Jamaica for a site inspection and a couples getaway, and finally now, the week after Christmas, Arizona. With the wedding only six months away, it’s high time Dan and I to start ironing out the details of our honeymoon. I’ve been feeling like Cinderella, investing all my energy in helping other brides plan the perfect post-wedding retreat, yet somehow unable to visualize myself at the ball. In fact, I’m typing this by the fire grate, staring into cinders.
Most of my friends and family assumed that I had the whole honeymoon thing under control. But it’s like those popular trompe l’oeil pictures they used to sell in the mall back in the 90’s — the more you concentrated on the hidden image, the less likely it was to distill into view. It’s only when you relaxed your eyes enough that the 3D shark or wolf emerged from the background. (Apparently, stress has caused me to imagine our honeymoon as a predator). I’m finally managing to relax into a decision.
I’ve spent the last month like Goldilocks, trying on honeymoons. When we were in Negril for four nights, we stayed at an all-inclusive resort in a garden verandah. We lolled away the days strolling hand-in-hand along the seven mile stretch of white sand, eating an excess of conch fritters, and tipsily attempting exercise classes. It was a romantic and welcome break from routine. We left our computers at home and unplugged from the relentless pulse of updates. But by the fourth night, we had an unexpected realization: Dan and I want a bit more adventure on our honeymoon. I’m not saying I’d like to be mugged again in Barcelona by a sinister Moroccan — just that we want our honeymoon to involve an element of uncertainty.
And yet just last night, Dan’s aunt and uncle and cousin lost their way on an afternoon hike. What they lacked in breadcrumbs they made up for in cellular service. They called Search and Rescue and hunkered down by a dried-up river bed. Five hours later, they were ushered down the mountain in the freezing dark. Even though I’m surrounded by my finance’s — I mean fiance’s — family, which is a far cry from honeymoon conditions, I’m still making crucial modifications to my planning: I don’t want someplace cold, and I don’t want to make the local news. “You’ve got to know where you’re going!” the Channel 5 announcer admonished. “You’re right,” I thought. “Dan and I need to pick our destination.”
We’re moving toward a final decision: Slovenia and Italy (Ljubljana and Venice, to be exact), with a sprinkling of Stockholm, Sweden. We’re going to take 10 days soon after the wedding and incorporate a healthy mixture of spontaneity and organization. We’ve discussed our priorities and come to the conclusion that we are the type of couple that craves mushy pockets of alone time, but likes to balance that with people-watching and cultural immersion. For couples getting married in 2012, I would offer the following instruction as you prepare to ring in the New Year: talk through imaginary honeymoon scenarios and see where you land!