After preparing for over a year, it was all a mad scramble at the end. But while frantic, it was because my friend Maggie was waiting to drive me to Tullamarine (Huge Thanks, Maggie!), not because I was afraid of missing the flight. The most expensive accommodation of the whole trip happened before I even left town. A night at the airport ParkRoyal (formerly Hilton) had everything tastefully on tap – for a price. And yes, I’d do it again. A leisurely breakfast then a casual stroll across to check-in. Not after worrying that I’d left my tablets behind – couldn’t get off scot free!! In the queue (with 500 – or was it 25?! – 10 year old netballers) and the butterflies started. The surreal feeling of doing something I never ever expected. USA and Canada here I come!
The flight to Auckland was as smooth as could be – in a very nice 777. The tight timeline worked out OK … time for a loo break and then to the already-boarding next plane. This was a 747, OK but not as nice as the other. But infinitely better in that I had a window seat and the next of the three was empty – for the whole flight. There was a bit of turbulence off and on but nothing too scary. Sensible meals. After brunch on the Auckland flight it was dinner then breakfast on the way to SFO. Little sleep, as is usual for me. By the time the blinding sunrise had dimmed a little I caught my first glimpe of US coastline. A short while later – safe landing.
After picking up every tourist brochure I could lay my hands on I treated myself to a hotel shuttle – dropped off at the door of the cheapest accommodation of the trip! There are no frills here. A decent coat of paint and new carpets decently laid would have the place looking a million dollars. It is however clean and dry, the water pressure is good and the water plenty hot enough. WiFi is supposed to be $6 per night but I’ve been given it for $5 all up for the rest of my stay – in celebration (not sure that’s the expression I’d use) of the demise of Osama bin Laden.
The adventure has begun.