"b1bob Down Under" Sydney by b1bob
Sydney Travel Guide: 5,798 reviews and 13,510 photos
The trip to Australia was part of a two-week tour of the Pacific Islands. It was my first and only time there. I will always remember how strange it felt having to bundle up in July, not to mention getting up close and personal with some of the animals unique to the area. I'm willing to go back again, but I believe I'll go in December or January.
On boarding in Papeete, I noticed the flight crew looked familiar. They were in fact the same ones who rode down with us Friday night from Los Angeles. They took a weekend respite in Papeete en route to Auckland. On reaching our climb, they served peanuts and soft drinks. Furthermore, the showed "Road Runner" movies and "Kindergarten Cop". However, I didn't care to see the latter as they showed it on one of the film nights at university a few months before. During that movie, they served breakfast which consisted of a sausage omelette, with tomatoes and mushrooms, all manner of fruit, raspberry yogurt, and a roll with butter and grape jelly. It was the first REAL breakfast I had in flight for some time, contrary to the continental breakfasts they serve on international flights almost on landing. These sorry excuses for meals consist of hard rolls, jelly, coffee, orange juice, and fruit. We crossed the international date line round about the time I finished breakfast. Because of the date line, I saw very little of 1 July 1991, but on crossing it again later, I knew I would see two of 9 July. It was still almost impossible to sleep in coach, but I forced myself for an hour, waking up with a predictably sore neck.
We landed in Auckland at 8.09. Passing through customs was more of a task that I counted on because they are so paranoid in New Zealand that something an international traveler might bring in could cause some sort of disease which emperils the livestock. They didn't trust the x-ray machine, they went through everything by hand, even dirty laundry. This really peeved me to no end, but not as much as that jerk back in Tahiti. I had my film in my pockets and my camera on my person to avoid controversy about the film. I didn't try to hurt anybody because I was eager to meet up with Jonathan who was waiting for me on the other side of the wall. Next time, I will strategically put mousetraps in my bags and watch the agents get their prying hands snapped. By the way, because I didn't see Mr. Rath for the lion's share of the layover, I had the pleasant conjecture that they temporarily detained and reprimanded him for bringing his floral lei from Tahiti.
I passed through customs to find Jonathan and his younger brother Anthony. Jonathan came to get itinerary information in Australia and New Zealand when we would return for a longer stay in a few days. They got to meet my family and most members of my group. What really griped my cookies was Grandma continuing to call Jonathan and me (we were both in our early 20's) "boy". We planned to meet again when we returned to New Zealand on 6-10 July. I gave him the t-shirt I bought in Los Angeles. Jonathan invited me to join him at the Auckland airport McDonald's. I only took water because I never fool with McDonald's overseas and I try to avoid it when I can at home. No doubt Brian Baker of Westminster found it too. After the liquid lunch, I was shopping for key chains for Javier's collection. I saw on the weather that it was only 50° (cold for July, but it should be noted that the seasons are reversed south of the equator) and Michael Landon had just died. Jonathan made what would have been a long, boring layover seem brief. I was then and am glad now that Jonathan is my friend.
Our flight to Sydney (Air New Zealand 103) was scheduled to leave at 3.00. There were some in our group who were a bit wary of our flight number "103" because it wasn't all that long since the Pan Am 103 disaster. At the terminal, Mama rung Grandma Terry who was minding the dog in order to keep her up to date and to ask after the dog. The scrambled egg gimmick worked- Schatze ate like normal since then. Furthermore, she said it was 100 degrees (38°C) in Southside Virginia. We left without appreciable delay. On reaching our climb, they served lunch which consisted of lamb, potatoes, a medley of peas and carrots, a roll, and chocolate cake. Because it was a comparatively short flight (almost the same distance as between Richmond and Denver), that was the only choice.
We landed in Sydney at 4.03 (local time). Passing through customs was nowhere near as problematic as in New Zealand. When everybody passed through customs and was safely on the coach, the sun was fixing to set. Although I knew it was winter down there, I was still not used to seeing the sun set that early on 2 July. On the way to the hotel, we got to know, Sandy, our Australian guide. She was very young and perky, no doubt a morning person. They switched our hotels on us at the last minute. It was problematic because members of our group gave out their itinerary to their families before departure for contact in case of emergency. In such a case, trying to reach their loved ones would have been like hunting a bull elephant with a water pistol. I learned later that Jonathan tried to reach me at the hotel I believed in good faith we would be staying.
Despite the change, I liked our hotel called Bersen's. The rooms had plenty of room with a good tele and a desk I would be needing for all the postcards I would write. On taking a shower, I noticed that south of the equator, the water goes down the drain counterclockwise whereas here it goes down clockwise. I missed supper because lunch sank to my stomach like a rock. Furthermore, I was tired. I was ready to go to bed round about 8.00. As to Mr. Rath's wake-up call, before going to bed, I had the presence of mind to cancel it for him. I found out that when Mr. Rath got back that he wandered by accident into a Sydney gay bar. I don't know if that was a shuck-and-jive to get me to change rooms, but if it was, it failed worse than the Dukakis campaign.
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