A 20th Anniversary Honeymoon

Twenty years ago we were in Paris celebrating our honeymoon. A decade ago we were back in Europe celebrating our tenth anniversary. I was hoping that we could do the same for our twentieth.

Unfortunately, the covid pandemic threw a spanner in the works. Until last week we couldn’t even travel out of greater Sydney. Okay, technically we could fly out with international borders opening earlier than planned at the start of the month. The logistics and costs of testing and quarantine, plus the risk of infection and delay mean that such travel is as yet impractical for tourists such as ourselves.

Then there is the fact that Alex is now in high school and can’t just take a week off at this point in the term. 

The best we could do was book a room in the hotel where B and I spent our first wedding night, the Novotel Brighton Beach. I was going to book the exact date, but the people of New South Wales were getting vaccinated faster than expected and the reopening of schools was rescheduled for mid October, not November, throwing a spanner in even those plans.

So I booked it for the closest weekend.

Like our wedding night, a spa room, which was then upgraded to a suite on the very top floor. Not quite the same, this time with balconies north and west looking towards the city, airport and the suburbs with less of Botany Bay in view. Still very nice.

The hotel itself is slowing undergoing a refresh. Our room was very tired, with a threadbare carpet and worn furniture. I expected this and did not mind, because it brought back memories of two decades ago and all our other stays since.

After a meal of fish and chips by the beach we spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel. I sat outside on the outdoor area, watching the aircraft take-off and land at the airport. Traffic is still much reduced than from before the pandemic, with interstate and international business and tourist traffic much curtailed.

I wasn’t there just for planes potting. It felt so wonderful to just sit and relax outdoors with a high view out towards the horizon, to feel the sun and the sea breeze on my skin. The faint whiff of jet fuel, the roar of the engines. After being trapped in my home, in our local area, for so long it was a relief to be experiencing something different.

Staring out at the airport I imagined that I was there, recalled the days of our honeymoon when flying was a thrill rather than a fear. When the airport was a place of expectation, excitement and dreams. 

The hotel delivered champagne (wasted on us as we don’t drink) and a plate of little cakes as congratulations on our anniversary. It was very much appreciated.

After our large, late lunch and afternoon tea we were not particularly hungry. I wanted to order room service, but B was determined to go out. Like on our honeymoon it was difficult to find a restaurant. Most were full, but we found a small Thai place with some space tables. The food was really, really good too. Just a pity that we lacked the stomach space to fit it all in. 

We took advantage of the jacuzzi in the bathroom. It’s been a long, long time since I had a bath (we usually shower) and I was taken back to Japan. 

Then I continued with my airport gaze, watching aircraft disappear into the dark skies, remembering late night journeys. I suddenly felt like the airport, the city skyline behind it, was another country altogether, so separate from the suburban lands that surround them.

Finally the last flights departed and I went to bed.

After a decent sleep I woke this morning to be greeted by grey skies and a few drops of rain. Then it was such a pleasure to have a hot breakfast buffet. The fruits and pastries were good as well. Such a nice change from my usual bowl of cereal in the mornings.

Sadly I couldn’t get my favourite spot by the window. One the next table along was a family that looked terribly familiar. Alex agreed. Had we seen them on the television? Elsewhere? It bugs me not to know!

The substantial breakfast meant nobody wanted lunch. We returned to our room, the skies spitting with rain, to let Alex study for his upcoming exams. 

B was somehow bored and just wanted to go home. Alex thought he could study better there as well. I could have stayed another night or more. I was happy being somewhere different with great views, could have wandered along the beach, could have watched a movie or continued reading my book. One night is not enough. 

Twenty years is not enough either.