Day 1: Boots on the ground!

All in all, the 15-hour flight wasn’t bad. Premium economy really was a godsend…big seats, more recline, decent food, excellent in-seat entertainment, top-notch service…I can’t imagine making that trip in economy. I even managed to steal a few hours of sleep, as did Nellie, so when we arrived we weren’t zombies. It took a little while to clear customs and collect our bags, but then lo and behold — Australia!

My brother met us at the airport, stuffed all our bags into his little VW convertible and drove us to his place, not far from the airport. We dropped our stuff and jumped back in the car, eager to take advantage of our energy while we still had it. He drove us through the CBD (central business district, aka “downtown”) and across the Sydney Harbour Bridge to Kirribilli where we got some great views looking south across the harbour.

We did a walk around the Cremorne Reserve where we got more great views, and saw three kookaburras (which aparently is quite a big deal). I also nearly walked face first into a spider web, complete with large spider. Happily, I stopped just short; it would not have done to have begun screaming like a little girl just a few hours in to the visit.

We drove back across the bridge, parked in The Rocks (which is a neighbourhood and not, as Nellie had hoped, a pile of rocks on which to climb) and had lunch & a couple of beers at the Lord Nelson, thus beginning our effort to sample all the best beer places in Sydney. We also discovered that using the term “pot” of beer (which means a half-pint) doesn’t mean anything in NSW the way it does in Queensland, and combined with my Canadian accent, ordering one just gets you a full pint. So you go with it.

We drove back to my brother’s place where, despite my best efforts, I had a bit of a nap. I woke up long enough to shake off the woozy, eat some tasty salmon for dinner, and then crash hard. In Australia. W00t!

Day 0: Behold, Virgin virgins

We’re about 14 hours into this trip now. I’m typing this as we sit here in the Alaska Airlines Boardroom in terminal 3 at LAX, a godsend if ever there was one. More on that in a minute.

The early phases of the trip were a snap: no traffic facing the cab, barely a line at the Air Canada counter, and literally no line at customs so our spiffy new Nexus passes didn’t feel like major coups. But they’ll prove their worth yet, I’m sure. We had a bite, boarded and were off.

The flight went by quite quickly. The main excitement was when some crazy little Japanese man tried to force Nellie out of her seat and into his. Or his wife’s. Or something. Anyway, it got sorted and we were off. A few chapters of Game Of Thrones (I’m all caught up now!), a Saturday Globe and Mail and a couple episodes of Big Bang Theory later we were on the ground. Early, even.

Of course, early did us no good as we had a bloody long layover in LA. Not enough time to actually go into the city and see something, but too much to comfortably hang around the airport. Especially an airport as shite as LAX. Seriously, it may be the ugliest airport I’ve ever been in — at least what I’ve seen (terminals 2 & 3) and nearly devoid of things to do, especially before going through security. Luckily the Virgin Australia agent took our bags early and pointed us to the international terminal next door, which had restaurants and shops.

We were starving, so my burger and Nellie’s beef dip went down in a hurry, as did our Sierra Nevada pale ale and Pyramid hefeweizen. We took our time and observed the massive Turkish airlines queue and did a little shopping before finally resigning ourselves to return to terminal 3 and head to the gate. At this point we still had nearly five hours to kill.

Despite forgetting my Priority Pass lounge access card at home, I did manage to find my membership number, so we got access to the only lounge in the building: the Alaska Airlines Boardroom. And seriously, it’s so good that we did…comfy chairs, views of the runways and the mountains in the distance, free wi-fi, TV, snacks and coffee* and clean washrooms…it would have been a rough ~4 hours in the crappy-ass chairs downstairs by the gate.

In about an hour we’ll head downstairs and board our flight, and then begins the 15-hour flight. I’ve never been on a plane for that long, but I’ve never flown premium economy either. When I climb out from under the post-flight stupor I’ll let you know how it went.

* Apparently I drink coffee now?