Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Aussie Diary, Day 1

(The view from our room on the 30th floor of the Shangri-La Hotel Sydney)

So, I figured I should write down my thoughts about this trip somewhere. And what better place than your own blog? This trip has been in the works for over a year, my time at Amex afforded me the opportunity to make some connections and take advantage of a few deals which has paved our way here. If not for Amex, I could have never afforded this trip. So to them I am grateful. Our trip started at 230om Friday when we departed Jacksonville. We then flew to Dallas. The layover in Dallas was only supposed to be 90 minutes or so, but weather delayed us an hour. That was OK, though, since we were flying into LA and there a 5 hour delay awaited us, so, whether we wait in Texas or Cali, its all the same. We finally got to LAX around 8pm, our flight to Brisbane was scheduled at 11:50pm. We have a lot of time to kill. Its at this time that our bodies are figuring out "hey, shouldn't we be going to bed now?" since it was 11pm Florida time. But we had to deprive ourselves of sleep until the flight so that we could sleep on the way over. We ate in the airport Chili's, I drank lots of coffee, and we finally made it onto the flight. Now when i booked the flight 6 months ago, I booked an aisle and a window seat for Steph and I, hoping that the middle would remain open and we've had more room (its worked a few times, actually) but it was not to be this time. So I, ever the gentleman, gave up the aisle to Mr. Random Aussie (since Steph loves window seats like its made of chocolate cake or something) and i took the middle seat. Middle seat, in economy, for 12 hours across the Pacific. My knees were not happy with this decision. But fortunately for me I was able to crash almost immediately, I don't even remember takeoff. And I was able to get a solid 6 hours. In flight movies watched we're Knight and Day, which was funny and entertaining, and Toy Story 3, I had heard good things about it. It was good for a kid flick. So, we get to Brisbane and we have to collect our bags to go through customs. Well, it seems as if this was the world's largest flight, and our bags were obviously loaded 1st, since they now are almost the last to some off. We waited almost a half hour as a never ending deluge of luggage came pouring out from the baggage trench. And guess what? We missed our connection to Sydney as a result, but not before passing the dog that they employ to sniff for banned substances in your bag. I had a few thoughts passing this dog "1) How nice. A dog with a job. I wish my dogs had jobs, they could help pay some of these bills. 2) I wonder how many bags he sniffs in a day? It has to be thousands! 3) I hope the dog isn't overworked. Are there laws to govern how long a dog can work? Who is supposed to advocate for better working conditions if you're getting ridden like some k-9 slave? Is there a doggy union?". These thoughts about the dog came in handy since we couldn't take the 930am flight as booked and now would have to wait for the 115pm. So, thoughts of dogs with jobs filled my thoughts for the next few hours. But at least now we were in-country. I was able to now begin soaking in the Australian experience (as much as one can in an airport). The first thing I notice is that the prices of things are really inflated. $8 for a hologram bookmark??? (The US dollar and the Aussie dollar are almost equal in strength). At this point I'm hoping that this has more to do with the fact that I'm in an airport. The second thing I notice is that I keep bumping into people as I try to pass them on the sidewalks. It doesn't occur to me until later that I am in a left-hand drive country, so, people veer left when trying to negotiate passage on a sidewalk, and here I am, silly American, going right and screwing up the whole dance. Lesson learned. Third thing, Aussies pronounce their vowels very strangely. I can't even imitate it well, but I hope to be able to by trips-end. Ok, so, we finally get to Sydney. We catch a shuttle bus that claims to go to every hotel in town. You tell the guy where you want to go and he takes you. No map. All in his head. It was amazing to watch. It was a nice wat to soak in the city as we zig and zag through the streets. Our hotel is overlooks Sydney Harbor, the famous one you've seen in every picture of Sydney your entire life, but nothing prepares you from seeing it with your own eyes. My heart skipped a beat when I saw the bridge as we rounded a corner. The images are powerful. We arrived at the hotel and since our free room is on the club level, we check-in on the 30th floor. The two people at the desk have a large window behind them and what I saw is much like the picture above, stunning harbor views. Our room has the same view, and its beyond belief. I know 10 years from now it'll be hard to believe that I was here looking at it, but I was and I am. Steph and I are pretty beat at this point, but we are determined to take in some of the city before e we crash. So, we go for a walk in The Rocks district, which is amazing. We pass great restaurants and shops and an active archaeological dig. We wander down to the water front near that huge cruise ship you see above, its all very intoxicating. Europeans with broken English asked us to "make" a picture for them, we do. We wake a few self portraits with the Opera House in the background, as one is obliged to do. Then we decide to scrap our plan to go all the way over to the Opera House since our feet hurt a lot and we're dead tired. We stop at a pizza place near the hotel for dinner and Steph and I actually bought and consumed a couple of beers. Those of you who know us will understand how big a deal that is, since I might drink 1 beer a year and she, to my recollection, hasn't had on in the 4 years we've been married. Then it was back to the hotel to crash. We'll see what today holds in store...

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Jack you are too funny...the comments on the dogs in the airpor t were hilarious! The way you talked it sounded like I was right there with you and enjoying it almost as much! Waiting for your next blog when you wake up and start exploring! Have fun and be safe!