Aussie floods, Christchurch, Japan – the catastrophic honeymoon tour

A A A

It may go down in history as the ultimate honeymoon from hell.

Click HERE to upload graphic (220k jpg)

When Stefan and Erika Svanstrom set off with their baby daughter on what was to be their holiday of a lifetime last December, they were hoping for balmy sun-drenched beaches and the enriching experience of different cultures on the other side of the world.

The couple, from Stockholm, had only been married in November, and their four-month trip to Australia, New Zealand, South-east Asia, Japan and China was their honeymoon.

But as Ms Svanstrom, 32, put it yesterday: "Our holiday turned out to be a bit more than we bargained for." Swedes are renowned for their cool, unexaggerated style. Ms Svanstrom and her 38-year-old husband are obviously no exception. They, along with their baby daughter, Elinor, found themselves living through some of the most devastating natural disasters the earth has experienced in over a century.

Their honeymoon from hell started with a connecting flight from Stockholm to the Bavarian capital, Munich.

The Svanstroms immediately ran into a violent blizzard which the German media dubbed "the storm of the century" and they ended up stranded at the airport while they waited for the weather to subside. "We thought things will get better," Ms Svanstrom told the Swedish newspaper Expressen. "We thought we are in love and told each other: just think of the beaches we are heading for in South-east Asia."

Unfortunately for the Svanstroms, things got progressively worse. Almost as soon as they arrived in Indonesia on the island of Bali, their hoped-for sunshine was blotted out by torrential monsoon rains. In January, the family decided to cut its losses and head off to Western Australia's capital, Perth. But that city was struck by fierce bush fires hours after they touched down. Holiday snapshots taken by the family and posted on Swedish media websites yesterday showed Ms Svanstrom wheeling her daughter Elinor in a pram in what appeared to be a suburb of Perth, where she seemed about to be engulfed by a cloud of bush-fire smoke.

The Svanstroms escaped to Queensland, but things got even worse. After they arrived in the city of Cairns they were hit by Cyclone Yasi, one of the worst ever experienced in the state.

"We escaped by the skin of our teeth," Ms Svanstrom said. "Trees were being knocked over and big branches were scattered all over the streets."

She recalled how the three of them were evacuated to a shopping centre where they were forced to spend 24 hours seeking shelter on a concrete floor along with 2,500 other people who had fled the cyclone. In Brisbane, the Svanstroms saw some of the worst flooding the city has ever experienced. Their disaster tour took the unwitting family on to Christchurch, New Zealand.

They arrived hours after the city was hit by February's 6.3 magnitude earthquake. "The whole town was a war zone, we couldn't visit the city as it was declared off-limits," Ms Svanstrom said. At this point her mother, now somewhat concerned, called her.

Their horror holiday was crowned in Japan, where two days after their arrival they lived through the devastating earthquake on 11 March and subsequent tsunami which struck the Fukushima nuclear-power plant, raising fears of a meltdown.

"The trembling was horrible and we saw roof tiles fly off the buildings," Mr Svanstrom told Expressen.

The family arrived back in Stockholm on 29 March after finally enjoying some peace at their last destination in China. "I could only laugh," Ms Svanstrom said. "Marriages have to endure some trials, but I think we have been through most of them."

Sport
Mourinho lost his temper as well as the match
sportLiverpool handed title boost as Sunderland smash manager’s 77-game home league run
Voices
Sweet tweet: Victoria Beckham’s selfie, taken on her 40th birthday on Thursday
voices... and her career-long attack on the absurd criteria by which we define our 'betters', by Ellen E Jones
Arts & Entertainment
Billie Jean King, who won the women’s Wimbledon title in 1967, when the first colour pictures were broadcast
tv
News
Snow has no plans to step back or reduce his workload
mediaIt's 25 years since Jon Snow first presented Channel 4 News, and his drive shows no sign of diminishing
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Life & Style
food + drinkWhat’s not to like?
Voices
Clock off: France has had a 35‑hour working week since 1999
voicesThere's no truth to a law banning work emails after 6pm, but that didn’t stop media hysteria
Arts & Entertainment
Maisie Williams of Game of Thrones now
tvMajor roles that grow with their child actors are helping them to steal the show on TV
Life & Style
Lana Del Rey, Alexa Chung and Cara Delevingne each carry their signature bag
fashionMulberry's decision to go for the super-rich backfired dramatically
Arts & Entertainment
Kingdom Tower
architecture
Life & Style
Sampling wine in Turin
food + drink...and abstaining may be worse than drinking too much, says scientist
Arts & Entertainment
Game of Thrones writer George R.R. Martin has been working on the novels since the mid-Nineties
books
News
Easter a dangerous time for dogs
these are the new ones. Old ones are below them... news
News
Brand said he
people
Voices
Actor Zac Efron
voicesTopless men? It's as bad as Page 3, says Howard Jacobson
Sport
Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Novak Djokovic in the Monte Carlo Masters
sport
Arts & Entertainment
The monster rears its head as it roars into the sky
film
Voices
For the Love of God (2007) The diamond-encrusted skull that divided the art world failed to sell for
its $100m asking price. It was eventually bought by a consortium
which included the artist himself.
voicesYou can shove it, Mr Webb – I'll be having fun until the day I die, says Janet Street-Porter
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Apprentice IT Technician

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...

1st Line Technical Service Desk Analyst IT Apprentice

£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...

1st Line Helpdesk Engineer Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...

Sales Associate Apprentice

£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...

Day In a Page

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe: Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC

How I brokered a peace deal with Robert Mugabe

Roy Agyemang reveals the delicate diplomacy needed to get Zimbabwe’s President to sit down with the BBC
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'

British Muslims's Happy video attacked as 'sinful'

The four-minute clip by Honesty Policy has had more than 300,000 hits on YouTube
Church of England-raised Michael Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith

Michael Williams: Do as I do, not as I pray

Church of England-raised Williams describes the unexpected joys in learning about his family's Jewish faith
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

A visit to the Front Line by the Prime Minister's wife
Comedian Jenny Collier: 'Sexism I experienced on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

Jenny Collier: 'Sexism on stand-up circuit should be extinct'

The comedian's appearance at a show on the eve of International Women's Day was cancelled because they had "too many women" on the bill
Cannes Film Festival: Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or

Cannes Film Festival

Ken Loach and Mike Leigh to fight it out for the Palme d'Or
The concept album makes surprise top ten return with neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson

The concept album makes surprise top ten return

Neolithic opus from Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson is unexpected success
Lichen is the surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus, thanks to our love of Scandinavian and Indian cuisines

Lichen is surprise new ingredient on fine-dining menus

Emily Jupp discovers how it can give a unique, smoky flavour to our cooking
10 best baking books

10 best baking books

Planning a spot of baking this bank holiday weekend? From old favourites to new releases, here’s ten cookbooks for you
Jury still out on Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini

Jury still out on Pellegrini

Draw with Sunderland raises questions over Manchester City manager's ability to motivate and unify his players
Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

Ben Stokes: 'Punching lockers isn't way forward'

The all-rounder has been hailed as future star after Ashes debut but incident in Caribbean added to doubts about discipline. Jon Culley meets a man looking to control his emotions
Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

Mark Johnston: First £1 million jackpot spurs him on

The most prize money ever at an All-Weather race day is up for grabs at Lingfield on Friday, and the record-breaking trainer tells Jon Freeman how times have changed
Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

Mad Men returns for a final fling

The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit