2019 tour travel blog

Bennelong Bridge from Rhodes

Sascha's apartment block, third building from the left

Not a lot of sleep, someone in the room was snoring (lightly), and the person in the bunk below Tony thought it was him, and kept prodding him through the night. It was muggy, and the mosquitoes had a right old feast despite lashings of bug spray... (note to self, get better strength stuff in Aussie!)

We were up at 03:45 to get ready to catch the bus. Coffee is soon made and put into travel cups, and we snack on pizza left overs from the night before. We have a chunk of cheese and that comes with us too. Our room mate Dave from Manchester is heading t the airport with us too, and we head out to reception to find that there are another 20+ people also waiting for the shuttle. An oh shit moment, because we all need to be on this one. We have allowed plenty of time, but we still feel uneasy. Motel management has assured us we will all get on, and that he has told the bus company they need a bus just for the tour group, and that has been arranged. Yeah, right. Sure enough the 04:20 bus arrives, and there is only one.

A bit chaotic, but we three manage to get on first. The Malaysian group starts boarding so Dave and Tony start playing tetris with the bags to get everything in (no luggage storage underneath). Some of the cases are on wheels, so we are sitting there with feet up against bags to stop them rolling up and down the aisle.

We have one more stop and three others get on, then it is straight to International as there is not anyone for Domestic flights. Dave and Tony figure it is easiest to tell the tour group to stay seated and we will "chain" the bags off, that way people will not be trying to find their own bags and hold everything up. The tour leader explains to the group, and they appreciate our help, but not everyone "gets it". Still, it is less chaotic than the free-for-all it could have been, and we are inside the terminal well before 5am. The luggage scales we brought with us have turned out fairly accurate, and there is a bit of minor repacking before check-in. Pockets are stuffed to bring carry-on down to the correct weight!

Check-in done and dusted, we head off to security and immigration (don't smile for the camera at the e-gate). Cynthea no longer sets off the alarms when we go through the scanners, wonder why that is? They tell her that they have not changed anything...

We have a bit of downtime to relax before our flight at 07:00, but there is a delay due to some staffing issues. We head off on NZ101 about half an hour late, our aircraft is a 777-200, with a 3-4-3 seating plan, we are in the middle row. Wifi is available onboard, and today there is a free trial. We have to agree to play fair, no streaming or uploading videos. It all works very well. Good selection of free entertainment, Tony “watches” a George Ezra concert, and Cynthea watches some TED talks. A wee bit of a snooze, and we are there before we know it, only 10 minutes late. But when we go to park another flight has delays leaving, and we are on the tarmac over half an hour more. It is after 9am by the time we get to park up.

No hassles through customs and immigration, despite having been on the farm the day before. They take our word for it that we did not pack shoes covered in sheep shit into our luggage.

We go to set up our phones and the deal that they Tony he could get is not available after all. Tony plays nice and we get a bit of discount off of a couple of plans that include data. Tony’s Aussie sim card was already working from NZ, but when we swapped Cynthea’s Aussie sim card into her phone it wouldn’t work. Her NZ sims would still work in that phone though… go figure? We get a back up phone and the Aussie sim works in that, we may get time to sort it out later on, but we had spent over an hour trying to sort this out, without any joy.

A bit of a mission sorting out the trains, the first information board is bugger all help, so we just head for the station. Valerie is texting asking where we are, and Tony forgets to use his Aussie number to reply, at 80c a text the credit on the NZ ph drops quickly. Bugger.

Staff by the automated ticket office tell us to go to Glenfield and change there for Cabramatta, AU$20.50 each, bloody rip off! Around 11am we catch the train, and just after noon we are at the station watching for niece Verna. We are shattered already. Hot and sunny, the humidity is not making us feel comfortable either.

A short drive to Valerie’s wee unit, we have lunch and chat, followed by a nana nap while we wait for niece Sascha to arrive at tea time. It is Chinese for tea tonight, then home with Sascha. We are staying the week at her unit in what she calls Legoland, the old Olympic village from the 2000 Olympics, on Wentworth Point.

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