Stefan and Erika Svanstrom are just back from a honeymoon from hell. The newlyweds had planned a long trip that would start in Singapore in early December and end in China four months later. With their baby daughter in tow, the Svanstrom's packed up and prepared to leave on their once-in-a-lifetime journey.
For starters, on December 6 a snowstorm socked in many major airports in Europe and the Svanstroms -- Stefan, 38, and Erika, 32 -- ended up spending the first night of their honeymoon stranded at an airport hotel. They eventually left Germany for Singapore, then went on to Bali -- where they flew right into a monsoon.
"We were going into the valleys in the north and saw bamboo trees coming up and roofs were coming off houses," said Erika Svanstrom.
Fire, Flood, Plague and Pestilence
Their next stop was Perth, Australia, where they narrowly missed both a cyclone and devastating bush fires. Then it was on to Cairns, where they ran smack into Category 5 Cyclone Yasi. The Svanstroms were evacuated from their hotel to a nearby shopping mall where they had to wait for the storm to pass.
"We slept on a concrete floor with hundreds of other people," said Svanstrom.
Not exactly four-star accommodations.
As the Svanstroms were leaving Australia for New Zealand, another near miss. This time, just before their flight took off, an earthquake struck Christchurch, their destination. The couple had to detour to Auckland and drive the rest of the way. Their view of Christchurch was confined to the airport. The roads to the city center were impassable.
"When you see it all summarized it seems awful. We were very fortunate to get out alive and safe. We definitely learned to expect the unexpected," said Erika Svanstrom.
Of course, the Svanstroms are adventurous sorts, preferring hostels to hotels. The couple even planned a trip to South Africa when Erika Svanstrom was five months pregnant. But they never got there either. More devastating bad weather caused the cancellation of that trip.
In all they've traveled to 16 countries together. And perhaps it's that sense of adventure that kept them going forward with their itinerary, instead of catching the next flight back to Stockholm as their worried relatives requested. But turning back was a thought they said they never considered.
Disaster in the Pacific
By far the worst part of the trip was the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan. Where were the Svanstroms when the earthquake struck? In Tokyo, of course.
The couple was eating lunch with their baby when they felt the ground shake. The Svanstroms ended up walking from one side of the city to the city lost power.
"It took us three hours. All the stores were empty of fresh food and we were wondering how we were going to feed our baby. I was a bit anxious then," said Svanstrom. But the couple ended up finding some rice and milk and decided to stay put, knowing they had little choice because it was almost impossible to get a flight out of Japan at the time.
Eventually the Svanstroms and their baby made their way to China where they spent an uneventful few weeks before flying home. Since then they have had a chance to reflect on their journey.
"I also think that every crises that you survive makes you stronger, and the bond between us has grown with every challenge we've met. In a way, we are also very humbled by the experiences, since at the end of it all we still are faring well. Although we've had some bad luck, we still have our lives," said Stefan Svanstrom.
But the bad luck isn't quite over yet. On her way home from work this week, Erika Svanstrom's commuter train got stuck - – the result of a storm in Stockholm.