Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To Buenos Aires via just everywhere

Ta da!!  I made it to Buenos Aires in one, relatively sane, piece.  It was a long journey, even by my standards.  But almost everything went smoothly and I even made the really tight connection in San Francisco with a few minutes to spare.  It's now 4am here and my body clock seems a bit out of whack ;)

Exmouth was crazy hot when I left - well over 40C. Why our airport was built without air-conditioning I will never understand. It was totally disgusting having to wait there in the heat. Everyone was all nasty sweaty by the time we got on the plane and the plane didn't have its air-con on when we first boarded either. The plane was late, of course, and so we got to sit in the terminal for an extra 30 minutes. On the tarmac we got to sit there inside the plane with no air on for another 10 minutes while the flight crew waited for "paperwork". This kind of stuff really drives me nuts...there's no real reason to have your people sit in the stuffy plane while waiting for clerical things. We could have loaded after the paperwork was done. Icky way to start the trip - glad I had extra clothes with me!

My first stop was Perth for six hours.  A woman on the flight from Exmouth was also on a red-eye out of Perth and she talked me in to checking out the luggage lockers.  This is actually a very good idea as last time I flew through Perth Qantas told me that I couldn't check in until 3 hours before my flight.  The directions on the lockers weren't the clearest possible but after a few minutes of trial and error we finally got it all to work.

Of course, when I went to the Qantas desk, the nice lady told me that check in was SIX hours ahead of the flight, so I trekked back out to the lockers to get my stuff. Oh well, it's good to know for next time! She was able to check my luggage, after checking with a supervisor, all the way to Buenos Aires, so I was very happy about that. I still had to collect the luggage at SFO to go through customs, but I didn't have to drag it all through the San Francisco airport to recheck it on American.

Perth domestic is a very comfortable airport. Blows the international terminal away. Lots of comfortable seating, a good bar and cafe (expensive, naturally, but at least you get good service and adequate food!) and a few shops open to stroll through. The wait was pretty long, but I was happy with my book.

I was told that the flights were full, but ended up with all four centre seats to myself from Perth to Sydney. I didn't sleep but I did get to stretch right out and was pretty OK that morning. My friend, Luke (from One Fine Day Photography) met me at the airport and we headed down to Circular Quay.

I haven't been to Sydney since my Dad and I went way back in 1986. It was a glorious morning and Luke and I did a big walk before finding a cafe open for breakfast. We chatted and people watched as the city started to wake up and get busy with all the 9-5ers heading in for the day. Luke grabbed some net time to tidy up a couple of things before we headed off for a trek down to the opera house.

I was slack and left my camera in the car, only bringing the baby Olympus 720SW with me. I know I should have taken the opportunity to take some keeper shots of this interesting and beautiful area, but I was feeling a bit tired and couldn't be bothered carrying it all around! Random building above us at breakfast

A little weekender boat was moored up with the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the background.

Sydney Harbour

Parking in Sydney is stupidly expensive. We found a garage with an Early Bird Special before 0730 so we jumped in there for $22. When we got back to pay and leave, it turns out it was $47 for the two hours we were there! Always read the *whole* sign! And the machine wasn't playing nicely so we had to find the little man and it took about 15 minutes to get everything sorted out.

After our parking adventure, Luke found a shopping mall so I could get a few last minute items. I couldn't pass up a quick drive-by shot of this fully decked out little scooter

Luke had to head back to work so dropped me at the airport a little early. Sydney airport is terrible for restaurants. There's just nothing there. I found a bar with tapas choices and booths next to big windows so I snagged one of those and settled in for my three hour wait.

At least I had a good view

I was fading a little bit after a cold beer, a sandwich and basking in the sunshine
but wasn't doing too badly for being 33+ hours with no sleep!

My flight from Sydney to San Francisco was full, but the seat was pretty comfy so I managed to snooze on and off. The flight crew was reasonably cheerful and helpful, which is always a nice surprise on Qantas. We were, of course, late leaving Sydney so I was having a mild freak out about being able to make my next plane. We made up some time on the way so I had about 1.5 hours to get through immigration, get my bag (this is why I really wanted to only pack in a single bag!), get through customs, recheck the bags, check in at American Airlines and get through security to the gate. I made it with a few minutes to spare - kudos to American's check-in staff who were very helpful and friendly - so I grabbed a burrito before the gate, knowing they wouldn't feed me on the plane to Miami.

I made a tactical error and got the chipolte chicken, thinking it was just their grilled chicked with different spices. Nope, it's a messy stewed type of chicken. Very tasty, but very messy! I tried my best to eat without spilling as I waited for others to board, but finally gave it up after about 1/3 of the burrito...I was almost out of clean clothes to change into and still had a long ways to go!

The flight was jam packed but I had a very nice woman with her five month old next to me. The little girl was a total cutie and smiler. A good thing on a 5 hour flight. She was enamored with me for some reason and kept grabbing me and cooing. She also loved my travel blanket and jumper. Five month olds are surprisingly strong when the grab your arm and pull!

Miami airport is a bit of a surprise, too. Very few restaurants and the one I did end up at had five things on the menu. But I was hungry and I had a bit over an hour to kill so I ordered the ever popular quesidilla and a Key West Sunset Ale. I also had to change some traveler's cheques to US dollars so that took a little time...a pack of gum here, a bottle of water there LOL

I like American Airlines domestically in the US. Haven't had any problems, the inflight crew have been attentive and so far the planes I've been on have had plenty of leg room. International from Miami to Buenos Aires was another thing. The crew couldn't have cared less and were simply surly. Forget hitting your dinger, no one was coming. At one stage mine was on for over 45 minutes before I finally went to the back of the plane to try to get some service. The flight crew were all sitting in the back row, drinking coffee and yakking it up. I had to wait for several minutes before one even bothered to get up to see I needed something. Really not acceptable.

I did have two seats to myself on the flight so was nice and comfortable curled up with my book and snoozing on and off. We landed in an overcast sky with slight rain on time in Buenos Aires. Collecting luggage was a breeze and immigration was simple. Customs was non-existent. I tried to hand my form to several customs agents but they just waved me through, I didn't even stop. Seemed to be the norm.

I landed a little earlier than Amber and there is a nice waiting area with comfy chairs just outside customs, but before you head into the public part of the airport. I waited for about 45ish minutes and then I saw a big stack of luggage with a little blonde head coming around the central kiosk. Amber had a huge stack of luggage because she also brought a piece full of my stuff.

We grabbed a taxi to the hotel and got checked in. We then popped out to the shopping mall so I could pick up some gym shoes (thanks to Tilly for eating mine!) and grab a bite to eat. Afterwards, we met up with a few more members of our group and had a drink downstairs as we got to know each other. I started to fade halfway through my bottle of water, so excused myself and went up for a nap. I skipped dinner out with them as bed was just too inviting.

Tomorrow, I guess later today in fact, we are headed up to Iguazu Falls. Our flight was changed late in the evening so now we don't leave until about 1330 this afternoon. It means we miss out on several of the things we were going to do, but I'm still going as I'll probably never be this way again. Amber is pretty disappointed because she had scheduled all of this precisely because she missed out on these things last year!

The connection here is pretty good so I'll try to get a post done before we head out to the ship on Saturday. Hopefully I'll have some nice photos from the falls and Buenos Aires...I promise not to be so slack for the rest of the holiday!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great recap and pics! Enjoy your trip!