Chris's Honeymoon Diary

Well, it finally happened... after 14 years our very own Chris and his very patient other half, Liz, have got engaged. They are due to marry in the very place where they were spontaneously engaged and they have chosen to spend their holiday of a lifetime at the stunning Excellence Riviera Cancun... this is their story.

The Final Chapter: Champagne & Celebrations

The Day

Me and my best man, Christian - A picture of composure surely?

Finally finished work on Thursday afternoon, I've just got 24 hours of freedom now until the big day and that is just as well since I've just found the "To Do" list that Liz has left me! So first things first, it's off to pick up the suits and meet one of my Groomsmen who's flying in from Germany with his family. Mid afternoon, suits have been collected, (re)fitted and delivered to the boys. Just time now to finish off the speech and plan for an early night…

19:00 Friday – OK, quiet night is not going to happen, have met up with some more of the groomsmen, got them checked into their hotel for the night and it's off down to the local for a couple of beers and to watch England vs Sweden in the Euro 2012 finals. Needless to say the pub was packed, as the evening wore on more and more of our male wedding guests made their way down to the pub to have a second (impromptu) stag-do with me. A great way to spend my last night as a single fella!

Diane, Jaclyn, Gemma and Leighton rocking out to Guns n' Roses

04:00 Saturday – It's fairly obvious that that was all the sleep I was going to get! Don’t know what else to do as all the jobs have been done. At 07:30 I give up, go and wake up Ruby (the dog) and take her for a 7km run to clear the cobwebs (and the nerves). Back to the house in time to wake up my Best Man for bacon butties before he nips off to get "The Surprise". 2 hours later he turns up with a new Mercedes Benz for (as he so eloquently put it) "my final journey".

12:15 Saturday – Time to go now, one final check (fifth and final check) that we have the rings and the speeches and it's off to the church to greet the friends and family that are coming to share the day with us.

To her credit Liz was only 15 minutes late and, after 15 years together, I was pleasantly surprised that she was so punctual – For those who know her, this is the equivalent of the rest of us being early for something! The rest of the ceremony went without a hitch and even Ruby (who was staying with a family friend for the day) came to the church to see us.

Vegas Baby

The Wedding Breakfast was everything that we could have hoped for, after all the careful planning about who to sit with whom and where to put the tables no-one seemed to mind and just got down to the task of socialising and eating and drinking. Between the meal and the evening reception Liz and I were commandeered by the photographer for a few informal photos (and a couple of glasses of champagne) until our evening guests started to arrive and the peace and quiet was broken by the arrival of "The Blue Bay Crew".

The rest of the day continued in this vein until well into the early hours when Liz and I said our last goodbyes at around 3am.

A day in the spa followed with our bridesmaids and my best man (a great way to get over any late night when champagne's been consumed!) And then it was home to finish off the packing ready for the honeymoon…

The Honeymoon

Bellagio Fountains

We started the honeymoon at Gatwick on the Tuesday morning when, after dropping off our bags, we went to the v-room in the South Terminal for some breakfast and hot chocolate before boarding our Virgin Premium Economy flight to Las Vegas. Onboard the flight was very comfortable and having seats in "The Bubble" on the 747 was a nice treat and made us feel really special, and after a couple more glasses of champagne (this was proving to be a familiar theme for the 3 weeks) we were well and truly relaxing into the honeymoon.

 

Las Vegas

Hoover Dam

Las Vegas was like nothing I'd experienced before. Flying over the deserts of central USA to see the skyscrapers and hotels of the "Sin City Strip" developing on the horizon was stunning. When we arrived into Las Vegas we got a short taxi ride from the airport to The Bellagio where we checked in for our 4 nights.

We managed to do so much whilst we were in Las Vegas for the 4 short days, from walking the endless miles of Casino floors to the original Las Vegas of Freemont Street on a Friday night, from the incomparable Cirque De Soleil to the natural majesty of the Grand Canyon by air, Las Vegas has so much to see and do (even for the most cynical amongst us!)

After 96 exhausting hours in Las Vegas it was time to pick up the car for our 2 day drive to San Francisco. The first leg of the drive was from Las Vegas to a small ski resort in East California called Mammoth Lakes.

Our car and some of the beautiful Yosemite National ParkBefore we could contemplate the evening meal though there was a small matter of Death Valley to negotiate – now far be it from me to tell the Americans what to do, but re-naming it "Ohmygoddoyouknowhowflippinghotitishere Valley" wouldn't be the worst of ideas!

After some absolutely stunning food and really friendly service at Rafters in Mammoth, it was time to get back in the car for another 6 hour drive, this time through the northern end of Yosemite and then on into San Francisco. Even though it was mid-June we were so high up in Yosemite that there was still snow on some of the mountain-tops!

 

San Francisco

A Typical San Francisco Street

San Francisco was another city that had made Liz's "Bucket List"and we’d been planning to visit here for so long that it was a little surreal driving into the city over the Oakland Bridge and seeing the city spread out in front of us. Again, this was going to be an action-packed 3 days… we settled into the hotel after dropping the car off in the city centre and planned the course of action.

The first day we went up to the Golden Gate Park in the centre of San Francisco and took a 2 hour Segway Tour around the gardens and sites and after a little less than enthusiastic start from me I'm quite happy in saying that it's an amazing experience and one I will be doing again (as long and none of my friends are about to witness the hi-viz jacket and cycle crash hat!)

AT&T Park

Day 2 was down to the harbour and, after an exceptional lunch at Swiss Louie's, it was onto the ferry for a haunting twilight tour of Alcatraz. This was a real haunting experience, especially as the headphone commentary was done by inmates and guards that had been on "The Rock" in the 1960s.

Our last day in San Francisco was spent seeing the sights, from lunch at The Cheesecake Factory (at the top of Macy's) to cocktails on the Embarcadero and finishing with beer and hotdogs at AT & T Park whist watching the San Francisco Giants beat their local rivals the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 in a baseball match.

 

Excellence Riviera Cancun

Excellence Club Beach at Excellence Riviera Cancun

From San Francisco it was time to catch our flight into Cancun for the last 10 nights of our fantastic honeymoon where we'd be staying at the Excellence Riviera Cancun. On arrival at Cancun Airport we were met by the Jumbo Tours Rep who took our details and 10 minutes later the private transfer was whisking us away to the hotel. A short 25 minute transfer later we were met at the front door by the concierge who organised for our bags to be taken to the suite whilst Liz and I (and our 2 glasses of champagne) were taken to the Excellence Club Lounge for our private check in.

From there we were escorted by our concierge up to our Excellence Club Oceanfront Junior Suite where we were greeted by a beautiful flower arrangement, a fruit platter and (just to keep the theme going) a bottle of champagne on ice. In the suite there was a huge king sized bed, 50" flat screen tv (with DVD player) and a double Jacuzzi with separate walk-in rain-shower, this was topped off with the 2nd double whirlpool bathtub on the balcony… perfect!

Tulum Ruins

After breakfast on our first day in Mexico we went to see the hosts in the Excellence Club who arranged the times and dates for our Champagne Breakfast in Bed, Romantic Beachfront Dinner and also our Couples Massage, all of which were provided free of charge to honeymooners who upgrade to any of the Excellence Club Suites at their hotels – a fantastic idea!

For the next 10 days we were able to sample the delights of the 9 a la carte restaurants at the hotel; all of which were exceptional, but my favourite is still Chez Isabelle with the Fillet Mignon – although the Tepenyaki tables at Spice do run it close!

The Excellence Club pool was busy but we were always able to get a bed in the sunshine and the hosts Moises and Joel looked after us well and kept Liz's Champagne levels topped up when it looked like they were dropping. The peace and serenity of this exclusive area was well worth the money, especially after our night out in Playa Del Carmen to Coco Bongo's where we returned to the hotel around 04:30.

Cheers! - A glass of champagne after our beachfront meal at Excellence Riviera Cancun

We spoke to our Jumbo Tours rep whilst we were at the hotel and he helped arrange a trip to Dolphin Discovery in Puerto Aventuras for us. This was a great experience and although we’d been fortunate enough to have been in the water with Dolphins before, the experience at Puerto Aventuras is one I'd recommend to anyone who asks; plus upgrade to the Royal Swim and you get longer in the water and also lunch included in the costs. An absolutely great experience!

The last trip we decided to do this time was to the Mayan ruins at Tulum; it's a long drive from Puerto Morelos but well worth it when you get there (just remember to take some high factor sunscreen and some good mozzie repellent!) The views and culture you're immersed in here makes the whole experience worthwhile (despite the 6am start).

After all this exertion, it's back to the Excellence Club Pool to enjoy the last 3 days of our honeymoon with a couple of books on the Kindle, a glass of champagne (or two) and some great company. Now what did I do with those stamps for the Thank You cards…?

Chris

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