September 14th X 2

Trip Start Aug 25, 2008
Trip End Oct 17, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Sunday, September 14, 2008

Did you ever see the movie Groundhog Day?  That's how I felt after an almost 13 hour flight on Qantas from Sydney to LAX.  I woke up this morning, September 14th, at 5am in Sydney and arrived in LAX at 6am the same day after flying all "night" in darkness.  What a difference a day makes when passing over the international date line.  It's neat how you can experience two sunrises on the same day with the help of a red and white 747.

I made my way to the Sydney Airport way too early at 6am for a 0945 flight because I was not able to take a later van ride.  Why you ask?  Well, because I didn't ask the right questions when choosing a hotel near the airport and I will explain so hopefully you won't make the same mistake down under.  Remember yesterday when I was telling you that even though we share a language with the Aussies, they operate in their own way?  I learned again at the Hotel Ibis that this is definitely a whole new frontier for my common sense.

You see, in Australia what is advertised is not necessarily what will be delivered to you.  I was calling around for a place that offered an airline discount near the airport and struck gold at the Hotel Ibis.  The friendly girl with the awesome accent promised me that a complimentary shuttle was there to provide airport transportation to the hotel and there would be "no worries" in getting us back to the airport on demand in the morning.  What more could you ask for than a cheap rate and a place that takes you to and from the airport for free?  She even said that there would be breakfast for us as well.  Man this was sounding too good to be true.

Thirty minutes later, we were checking in and once again another Aussie girl seemed to be mesmerized that two Americans were trying to get rooms at her hotel and she gushed about how neat our accents were.  Now that's a new one to me since  I always thought theirs were the cool ones.  I guess it works both ways.  The pleasantries quickly went south though and all of a sudden you would have thought we were the evil empire right there in front of her. 

We learned that in Australia "on demand" means a preset space available schedule and that "complimentary airport shuttle" only means one way to the hotel.  This was totally my fault though and I take full responsibility for any misunderstandings.  I should have known to ask the proper questions rather than just asking if they had a complimentary shuttle.  I know now in the future to ask if that means TO and FROM the airport and not just one way which defies common sense to me.  Also, that breakfast she promised?  You pay.  A lot.  $15. 

Hey, I know it's just $5 to take the van back to the airport but what a scam when that van has to go to the airport anyway to pick up people at 6am.  The front desk girl's only response to us was, "The Americans always seem quite upset to pay for a complimentary shuttle service."  I'll let those words just speak for themselves.  I guess our accents weren't so neat anymore to her.  Since Aussies seem to get their ideas of America from tv, it should have been no surprise then what my reaction was going to be when asked to pay for a free service. 

The hotel experience provided some amusement and the flight home was about as good an experience as an awesome airline can make 12+ hours in a big aluminum dart.  If you ever have the chance to ride on Qantas, I promise it will be a very decent flight.  I sat in economy but even there it was super comfortable with no one beside me either.   I looked around the gate for Tom and Emily but didn't see them or any of their other friends.  Wow, this was going to be bliss.  No singing, no kicking, no screaming.  Best of all the entire plane seemed to be a kid free zone once on board.  Aahhh.  Peace and quiet for 12 hours.  What more can you ask for?  

Well, I didn't see any koala bears, kangaroos, wallabees or dingos but I did see some amazing mountains and some beautiful beaches.  I was really hoping that a koala bear high on eucalyptus leaves would fall out of a tree while we were hiking since I was told that happens from time to time.  I am not sure if that was just some tale spun to impress these American visitors, but true or not but it just adds to the mystique of the place.  How many continents can claim animals that get high on natural substances?

My time down under was one of my favorite stops so far and I am glad that we skipped seeing Sydney because it deserves its own trip one day.  I didn't want to rush around and see all the sights and have no real motivation to come back.  Believe me, the long plane rides to and from the place were well worth it.   I just wish I had gotten to experience September 14th twice in the same place...Australia.
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