After two weeks of snaking through the south-west to see friends and family before taking of to “The Land Down Undah” for a year I boarded a plane in Seattle headed to Sydney by way of LAX. The anticipation of starting a new journey (as well as a 27 hour travel time) grew as my departure time grew closer.
First stretch: Alaskan Airlines
Who knew Alaskan Airlines was so nice?! Not only do they have charging docks at almost every seat in their waiting area, they also offer great food at a price that doesn’t leave you broke before you hit your destination. I was able to get the Mediterranean Tapas option which was hummus, whole grain crackers, raw almonds, 72% Endangered Species chocolate square, dried apples/apricots and olives for only $6 as well as my complimentary drink.
Luckily, I don’t suffer from travel anxiety about flying like a lot of people do, but if I did I would want this flight crew for every flight. The stewards were joking around and very relaxed- professional, but fun. During the “In Case of An Emergency” schpeel (which is normally my least favorite part of the flight) the two women demonstrating were having a competition of who presented it best. When your job is showing people how to fasten a seat belt it never hurts to make it as fun as possible.
LAX: To Hell with Your Construction
Whoever designed LAX needs to seriously be flogged! Not only has it been “under construction” every time I’ve visited in the last three years, but the lay out is just god aweful! I exited my lovely Alaskan flight feeling positive about my journey only to be seriously deflated by all things LAX. After finally finding someone to tell me where the Qantas terminal I realized it was no where near where I was. I made the trek down to the main level, out side to the pick up area and around the entire airport only to go back into the “Tom Bradley” terminal. It was so far I thought someone was playing a cruel joke since every other terminal is “4” “5” “6” and such. Just when I thought, “Surely, I’ve passed it and the person told me wrong.” I saw “Tom Bradley Terminal”. It was at least 3/4 of a mile.
I checked in with the Qantas country and double checked they had gotten my special meal request (you’ll see why this was important later). Wandered through security and traipsed down the halls to find Gate 34 just in time for boarding… so much for changing into “comfy clothes” before my 15 hour flight.
Qantas: You were so promising
Once boarding my Qantas flight I quickly discovered I was a window seat sitting next to an open middle seat. Anyone who has flown knows that this discovery was better than finding oil in your pasture. Fifteen hours on a plane and I don’t have to be smudged up against some stranger? HALLELULAH!!
Shortly after I realized that an attractive man was in the aisle seat. “Hello Mister!” Thank god for the open middle seat because it was just what I needed to break the ice. Each person that approached our row we would look at them, then look at each other, then to the open seat. Finally I pipe, “You’re also praying every new person doesn’t walk back here aren’t you.” And with that quip Mr. Williamson and I chattered on for the next nine hours. Normally I don’t like talking to people and I don’t like small talk, but the wonder about being trapped in a plane is it seems to cut right to the chase past all the B.S. “So, what do you do for a living?” crap.
Mid-way through our yammering it was “Supper time” (Aussies don’t say dinner apparently). And though I had special requested an ovo-lacto vegetarian meal, and confirmed it with the check in desk, my meal was no where to be found. “Sorry ma’am, it hasn’t came through yet, let me check with the other galley,” was the stewardess’s remark after I replied, “I’m supposed to have a vegetarian meal,” to her “Chicken, or beef?” comment. I was then informed it would be another 30 minutes… and an hour later I got mushy peass with zucchini and pasta. No sauce. At that point I was just happy I was eating.
With three hours until touch down, when it was supposed to be the start of “brekkie” we were informed via a painfully long speech that the refrigeration system on the plane had gone out just after take off and they hold very high quality standards and out of concern for a possible food borne illness they would not be serving us the “brekkie” listen in the flight itinerary. We would however get a muffin and tea or coffee and the lovely flight attendants were able to “save a couple of cartons of milk by putting them on ice.” Seriously, the guy made the task sound like a feat of Hercules.
“Good morning everyone, this is your captain speaking. It appears winter has finally hit Sydney as we are coming into some bad weather and it will be rainy and 14*Celcius (about 54*F) when we land.” Ohhhh lovely!! I go on and on about how “Sydney winter is like San Diego, it will be 70* (21*C) and beautiful the first few months. Yeah, mother nature was not having any of that… it poured!
“Hi, welcome to Sydney. I’ll try and kill you now.”
So, that’s not exactly what Cherokee (my wonderful, beautiful cousin) said upon picking me up at the airport, but it might as well have been. As I mentioned it was pouring rain when I landed… and breezed through customs might I add. Thank god they didn’t find the kilo of coke. *Phew*
(Obviously that is a joke, I don’t need to be blacklisted or strip searched in case any of you have TSA connections.)
So, finally meet Cherokee… yeah, I moved to a new country to stay with a person I’d never met. Good thing her and her husband and the 3-year-old are trusting. I could be a psycho murder for all they know… though I’m sure if you ask them they’d say the jury was still out.
Meet Cherokee and we’re off to Avoca Beach, about 90km north of Sydney. But, I’d just gotten off a plane for 15 hours and hadn’t had much to eat, so before we could exit the city limits I had a hypoglycemic attack where I nearly regurgitated and passed out. Yeahhhh, I love getting clammy and nauseous. So we quickly pulled over and got some water and bread. Blood sugar levels back in check, we were back on the road.
We were barreling up the F3 in a X3 at approximately 90km per hour when suddenly the tires lost traction and we hydroplaned. We were on a three-lane road in the far right lane and managed to do a 420* flip across the three lanes and end up in the emergency lane of the far left lane. As we made the first counter-clockwise turn into the lane to our left a white car nearly t-boned us but luckily the driver’s quick reaction and the momentum of our spinning avoided the collision and every other driver on the road managed to avoid us. We came to a stop half a meter (18″) from a solid rock wall. So, she didn’t say she would try and kill me, but she might as well have.
Between that and the hypoglycemia I don’t know how I kept my muffin down.
Hopefully this post wasn’t to scatterbrained for you all. In the next day or two I’ll post about my first week here.