Thursday, April 12, 2012

Touchdown! – Aeronautically Speaking


The long, long plane ride from San Francisco to Sydney, Australia produced a jumble of sleep and a half-conscious state of befuddlement and exhaustion.

Flying business class means no lines at the lavatories, an attendant available to provide water (or anything else you may need) anytime, and a suggestion – totally unsolicited – that a Bailey’s was just what was needed to induce sleep. The drink proved enjoyable, but I cannot vouch for its effectiveness in producing sleep.

I watched two movies and took another nap. Breakfast was served, the coffee much needed, decent tasting and appreciated.

Landing proceeded smoothly. Suddenly our 15-hour ocean crossing was over. We collected our belongings and shuffled off the plane towards customs. Although lines seemed long, they moved quickly and before we knew it were standing at the baggage carousel awaiting our luggage.

Bags moved up the conveyor belt and fell onto the carousel, travelling around and around until owners pulled them off. We watched and waited. The belt stopped. The carousel kept moving. Our bags never appeared.

That is because our bags were still in San Francisco. A customer service agent worked hard for several minutes feverishly striking a lot of computer keys. She handed us new luggage tags and told us our bags would be on the San Francisco flight leaving 4:00 p.m. Australian time. They would be delivered to our hotel. We received vouchers for $50 a day per person compensation from the airlines.

Hopefully our bags arrive tomorrow. (There is only one flight a day from San Francisco to Sydney.)

But we were finally Down Under, in the Land of Oz, the Southern Hemisphere.

Too exhausted to figure out bus and train routes, we opted for a taxi to the hotel. Fortunately we were able to check in early. A few minutes after 8:00 a.m. we entered our hotel room. Hub immediately collapsed. It would take several hours for him to recover enough to stand up again.

I showered, dressed in my well-worn clothes and, after testing out the Internet service in the lounge (free) and not in the room ($20 a day), went shopping for clean clothes.

Our hotel is ideally located in the heart of Sydney’s CBD – downtown business and tourist district. Less than a block away was a pedestrian mall – a brick street with stores on either side at street level, several floors above and a couple of floors below ground. Street performers entertained the crowds. It seemed endless and overwhelming. Apparently Sydneyians love to shop.

It is difficult to find reasonably priced clothes in any big city, and Sydney is a large metropolis. But I persevered and found most of what I needed on sale at Myers, an Australian department store chain. A few items – men’s underwear in particular – proved troublesome. No sales and the cheapest pair over $15 Australian/US dollars (the $AU almost equal with the American dollar.).

I returned to the hotel room with our new clothes and immediately changed. I woke hub up and insisted he get out in the fresh air. We walked around and had lunch at an espresso café. Small coffee shops can be found on just about every street in Sydney; little hole-in-the-skyscraper places with a couple of small tables inside and anywhere from one to several outside. Some were strictly takeaway (Australian for take out).

We completed our first walkabout (Aussie for walking around/hiking), getting a feel for this busy, vibrant city, then headed back for naps before dinner. Along the walkabout we found a place with almost reasonably priced men’s underwear.

We met my cousin’s daughter and her husband for an early dinner. They took us to an ‘authentic’ Australian pub where the Thursday night dinner special included steak, fresh green beans and roasted potatoes for $15. A bargain anywhere.

After dinner we strolled along the harbor area and got our first glimpse of the famous Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

We returned to the hotel early, our bodies dragging as they slowly recovered from jet lag, travel exertion and exhaustion.

3 comments:

  1. I would have been sleeping, like your husband, and Art would have been out shopping, like you.

    Enjoy!

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  2. I definitely would have crashed. After a long trip like that--changing time zones--I would be too disoriented to go out shopping. And then, there's the whole thing about the water swirling in the 'wrong' directions as it goes down the drain, Big adjustments. Have a marvelous time.

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  3. Traveling down under...my sister's dream. I couldn't stand the flight from here. I suppose the planes go over the North Pole.

    Dianne

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