Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Trip of a Lifetime

We have talked off and on for years about traveling to Australia and New Zealand. First of all, the countries look amazing, and second Jim had a landscape architecture professor at Iowa State who relocated his family to Melbourne 30 or more years ago. He has always invited us over for a visit. We decided it was time to finally go as none of us are getting any younger.

The planning began in 2015, but between scheduling issues, health issues on the other end, and dealing with American Airlines, it took until July of 2016 for the trip to get booked. We wanted to use frequent flyer miles to upgrade our seats, because I told Jim that the only way I was getting on a 15+ hour flight was if my seat was in business class. The airlines really do not want you to be able to use those miles you collect, so it took quite a while and a lot of flexibility to make the tickets happen.

Because there was no business class on the plane from St. Louis to Los Angeles, we were given first class seats. We didn't complain! We had over 4 hours to kill at LAX, but the Admirals Club made that bearable. We boarded the next flight at 10:20 p.m.for an 11:00 departure. Neither of us had been in business class, so this was a real treat. The single cubicles, for lack of a better word, had wide, comfortable seats that could fully recline for sleeping. We were given slippers, pajamas, and a toiletry kit to keep, and a large pillow, comforters and Bose noice cancelling headphones for use during the trip. There was a remote control for the large personal LCD screen in each seat. Plenty of storage space was provided in each cubicle. The food was good as was the service.

Neither one of us slept much on the flight, despite the comfortable arrangements. We arrived in Sydney a little ahead of schedule, enjoyed the streamlined epassport services at the airport, and quickly collected our bags. The longest wait was in the que to get a cab.

We are staying at the Sir Stamford Hotel, which is located in Circular Quay. Fortunately, despite the early hour (8:00 a.m.), they had our room ready. We enjoyed a cup of hot coffee (tea for me) on our terrace, freshened up a bit, and then headed out to explore. This location is excellent, and we quickly found ourselves at the Sydney Opera House - the most iconic symbol of the city. Having seen it so often through the years in films or videos, it was surreal to be standing in front of it. For today, we just enjoyed walking around the outside, but we will definitely go back for a tour.

We found a lovely place along the water to have lunch, and then did more walking before making our way back to the hotel room. Two days of no sleep are catching up with us, so we will just chill tonight before taking the city by storm tomorrow.

For some reason I am not able to post photos to the blog. As I am too tired to figure that out right now, I will look into this tomorrow. Hopefully I can figure it out!

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