March 3-5, 2017 – Stillwater, Oklahoma to Sydney, Australia
March 3 – I was up at 4:45 a.m. and was on the way to the airport at 5:15. I was going to drive my car and leave it at the airport for Chris, Patsy’s son, to pick up later, but Patsy decided to drive me instead. I was the 1st one to check in for the 6:57 a.m. flight. I couldn’t check my luggage through to Sydney because the Stillwater to Dallas flight had been booked as a separate ticket. That was okay though as I only had one suitcase to check. It was a full flight to Dallas on a 70 passenger plane.
When I got to Dallas, I retrieved my suitcase, found the terminal to terminal shuttle and went to the United terminal. There I checked my suitcase, got my boarding pass and headed for the United Club. I hung out there for 4 hours until time to board my Los Angeles flight. I went to the gate only to find that the flight was delayed 2 hours because of equipment problems in LA. That was okay because I had a 4 hour layover in LA. I went back to the United Club for another 2 hours and then headed to the gate again. This time, the plane was there, and we took off.
When we got to LA, I still had a comfortable margin of 2 hours to make the switch. The gate for the Sydney flight was just a couple gates down from where I came in so I again headed for the United Club to hang out.
The boarding for the Sydney flight was a little chaotic because they were boarding the Melbourne flight at the next gate, and it was really easy to get into the wrong line. However, I got into the right line and was soon on board. I flew business class so was one of the 1st on board and was able to get settled and have a glass of champagne to celebrate the trip before take-off. I had a window seat which I prefer, and the new planes that United is flying have better humidity control as well as ambient lighting than the older ones. In addition, there are no shades on the windows. They can be dimmed by a button and lightened up the same way. They are sort of like transition eye glass lenses.
My seat mate got the only upgrade from economy to business and was very happy about it since it is a fifteen hour flight. The food was good and the service was impeccable. When it was time to sleep the seat laid flat so that it was like being in a real bed. We even had real pillows. The blanket was like a duvet, and for someone who is always cold on airplanes, that was great. So, it was to sleep for 6 hours. When I awoke, it was still dark outside. So, I put on the headphones and looked out the window and watched the top of the clouds turn pink as sunrise began to happen. That I was the last I remember until the flight attendant asked if I wanted breakfast.
March 4-5 – When we arrived in Sydney, it was 8:45 a.m. on March 5th. The 4th just disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. It had been a smooth flight with very little turbulence. I had the map of the flight up on the screen. We had flown just a few miles shy of 8,600 miles. At times we had head winds of 85 mph, but mostly, they were around 50-60 mph.
The airport here is not as big as I had thought it would be, but it was really crowded. They have 2 airports here – an international and a domestic one – and even then the international one was really crowded. The line for passport inspection looked like it might take an hour or more to clear. However, I have a new passport which has a chip in it so I was able to read my passport into the machine. That is, I could have if the chip had read. Since, it didn’t they directed me to the epassport assistance desk which had a very short line. In no time, I was on to pick up my luggage. It was on the carousel by the time I got there so I got my suitcase and headed for the exit. I had nothing to declare, but I was picked at random for a luggage check. They had about 4 or 5 people stand in a line with their luggage. A customs officer with a dog went up and down the line checking the suitcases. Then we were free to exit into the terminal. The Oceania representative was there. Patsy had said that she would wait for me at the airport as her flight got in before mine. However, the Oceania person said that she had sent Patsy on to the hotel. There were 2 more people from my flight which she was to meet so she sent me outside to sit down to wait until she rounded up everyone. She soon found one of the women, but the other woman was nowhere to be found. After waiting for a while, we went to another gathering point for Oceania customers in the hopes that she would be there. However, she wasn’t, but there were 4 more people there. So, they sent all of us on except the lady who was the traveling companion of the “lost” one.
On the way from airport, the 2 couples and I introduced ourselves. Jack and Bev are in 4001 which is 2 doors down from us. Jerry and Connie are in 4002 which is on the other side of the ship from us. We are in 4005. Jack and Bev had wanted a penthouse or balcony room, but like us, did not get one. Jerry and Connie had had a balcony room but was offered over $8,000 to downgrade to an oceanview. It was too good a deal for them to pass up. They were an interesting group. Jack is a retired Navy pilot, and Bev was a school teacher. Connie is a retired rabbi, and Jerry is a retired professor of pediatric/neurologic medicine who specialized in Tourette’s syndrome.
I met Patsy at the hotel, but we didn’t get a lot of exploring done. It was raining off and on, mostly on. We did get to the Sydney Opera House and saw the Harbour Bridge. We had lunch at the Burger Project in a shopping center near the hotel. We, then, stopped at a gelato store for dessert. They had the most interesting flavors including “Having a gay old time”. We wound up getting sorbets. Patsy had coconut and pandan while I had coconut and roasted almonds. Both were really good. We found a creperie where we think we will have breakfast in the morning.
We came back to the hotel and took naps. It was just not a day to be out exploring. We hope to do a little in the morning before the shuttle from Oceania picks us up at 11:30 to go to the ship. There are quite a few Oceania folks in this hotel so it will probably be a pretty big group. If it’s not raining in the morning, we hope to do a little more exploring.