Mexico to Australia – The good, the bad & the ugly


After 17 glorious days in Mexico with family and friends for the wedding we’re ready to start our honeymoon adventure travelling around Australia’s east coast.

Being in the tourism industry we live much of our lives at odds with a hangover, so it seemed fitting to start our honeymoon in the same fashion. The night before we left Mexico was my fathers 60th birthday AND my parents 38th wedding anniversary, and with 40 odd close friends and family there, we had a great party! At the time of course it was a great idea! especially sharing the bottle of Johnny Walker Platinum with dad and a few of his buddies, needless to say waking up at 6:00am the next day was rough.

With our bags packed and final goodbyes given we set off to return our trusty rental Jeep Wrangler in Cancun. This seemed like a fairly easy task, we have rented vehicles on multiple occasions in the area and were always able to easily locate the rental offices near the airport….. This time not so much! To be fair we never really looked into where the Cancun office for America / Tulum / Cancun (all the same company) Rent a Car was so we must accept some of the responsibility on this one. We had left Tulum at 8:00am giving us plenty of time to get the Jeep washed (it was in desperate need of a clean) make the 1.5 hour drive to Cancun and be at the airport for our 1:30pm flight, well planned we thought!

We pulled off at Playa Del Carmen at a seemingly quiet little car wash service to clean up the Jeep in an attempt to mask the fact it was not always on a “paved” road. We pull into the tent and we’re surrounded by 6 teenaged boys rags and buckets in hand. The oldest looking one asks what kind of clean we want and for $80 pesos they were off! It was incredible, seriously loud dance music starts and like something out of a music video these six kids get to work with incredible efficiency and in about 10 minutes the Jeep is sparkling.

We continue into Cancun still with plenty of time to return the car and get to the airport to make our 1:30 flight. After 40 minutes or so driving around the airport and surrounding area we give up and use McDonald’s for in my opinion the only thing it’s good for, free quality WiFi. The rental office is not by the airport, there’s one in downtown Cancun and another in the hotel zone about 20 minutes from Cancun international, so we speed to the hotel zone now getting worried about making our flight on time. Once again the staff at Tulum Car Rental were fantastic and extremely helpful. We explained the time crunch and the shop manager had a 5 second once over of the vehicle then got one of his staff to drive us to the airport so we wouldn’t miss our flight. By the time we arrived at the airport it was almost noon so we were cutting it close, to our delight the line up at the Delta Airlines counter wasn’t too long so we were safe…..

We get to the counter and are about to apologise for running a little behind when the Delta desk agent says “wow, you’re early” We laughed thinking he was poking fun at the fact we we’re rushing to make clear security and make our flight when we realised that he wasn’t kidding. He handed us an itinerary that was not even close to what we had booked! Our original flight plan looked like this;

CUN – ATL Departing 1:30pm – ATL – LAX Departing 7:30pm – LAX – BNE Departing 11:30pm. This was a great series of flights, no long layovers and we were avoiding the hassle of Sydney and a domestic flight change in Australia which entails a bus service to another terminal that seems to be 15 miles from the international one.

Our NEW itinerary however looked like this;

CUN – LAX Departing 7:30pm – LAX – SYD Departing 8:00pm the following day! – SYD – BNE.

WE WERE LIVID! If these changes had been made to our entire itinerary why were we not contacted? If we had known this ahead of time we could have spent the day on the beach in Tulum, planned a day of sightseeing in LA and told people expecting to pick us up in Brisbane about the changes. After some deep breathing we decided that there was nothing we could do at this point and had to suck it up, after all what is travel without a challenge or two. If you have never been to the Cancun airport, you really don’t want to be super early for flights as you are essentially stuck there as it will cost about $50 US Dollars to get into town. So as you can tell from the above photo we “relaxed” in the airport for the next 7.5 hours.

We arrived in LA and quickly made our way to the Delta customer service desk to tell them what had happened and that we were not impressed, our main concern was trying to find a hotel room in LA on a Saturday night before American Thanksgiving. After what I will call a spirited debate the staff at Delta were able to set us up at the Airport Marriott for $79 (we are still “debating” on who will foot the bill) and on the bright side we now had a full day to spend in Los Angeles.

The next morning we checked out early, left our baggage with the concierge and asked front desk what to do for our one day in LA. The desk agent was fantastic she gave of a list of options then gave us free bus passes to get us down to one of her favourite areas in LA called Manhattan Beach. Despite the hassles with our flights we ended up having a fantastic day at the beach. Manhattan Beach is a small coastal town located between Santa Monica and Long Beach, it’s a trendy spot with lots of great little shops and restaurants. We spent our day wandering the main drag with little side ventures into the residential streets to admire the homes and high-end cars that fill the area. For lunch we went to one of the coolest little dive bars I’ve ever visited called the Shellback Tavern. Located right above Manhattan Beach Pier this little surf pub has it all. Great food, friendly service, old wood floors and a bar and cash registers that haven’t been updated since it opened. The servers working the floor knew just about everyone who walked through the door, from teenagers to a couple who sat beside us who I’m guessing were at least in their seventies. Combine the views, ambiance, service, food quality and the fact that menu prices range from $3 – $15 this is a must do if you’re passing though LA.

Shellback Tavern the best give bar in So Cal
Shellback Tavern the best give bar in So Cal

After a what turned out to be a fantastic day in LA we returned to LAX to catch our flight to Sydney. We were delighted to find out that the flight was nowhere near full which meant that we had a full row of three seats for just the two of us! 14.5 hours later and we were in the beautiful land down under. Wasting no time we rushed through the terminal to fulfil a couple of Aussie cravings we both were having

Caramello Koalas, BBQ Shapes and beer!
Caramello Koalas, BBQ Shapes and beer!

The trip had started off on the wrong foot, as we felt like we were robbed of a day in Mexico but all in all it worked out for the best. It goes to show that especially when travelling, if you just smile and roll with it, you never know where you might end up!

Chat soon Ewan & Carly

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