Monday, February 11, 2013

My Excellent Adventure Down Under

Part I, The Beginning

So here I am, ‘down under’, in Sydney, Australia. Everybody wants to go to Australia. It’s been on my bucket list, too. So how did I make the trip? Well, let’s start with the backstory, shall we?

Flashback to August 2012. Hubby comes home from work one day with the dreaded announcement “I’ve been laid off.” Such a familiar phrase uttered too many times in too many families far too often these days. You try not to panic but the reality is; you’re panicked. Anyone know a company looking for a great CIO in SoCal?? We were very fortunate that my husband had severance pay. So he set about looking for work, and I set about vowing to pinch pennies as best I could. A few weeks later, hubby mentions that he had been offered a job in Australia. Really? Do we want to go? For a variety of reasons at that time, for that particular position, the answer was no.
December 2012 comes along, and Australia is mentioned again, this time for a different position. The idea is intriguing and frankly, there are no other jobs knocking on our door at the moment. The decision is not an easy one in many ways. I am/was the chief babysitter for our grandson and for many reasons, this was a difficult choice for me, least of which was the position it put my daughter and her husband with daycare. I’ve been a single mom; I know how hard and expensive it can be. Fortunately, our grandson was already enrolled part-time in a preschool that he just loves so from his perspective, staying in school longer was a great idea; my daughter also understood what a unique opportunity this was for us, so the decision was made that yes, this time we would go. Another factor was that we weren’t actually moving to Australia; we would be going for several trips over the course of 4 months or so, so why not?

I have never traveled to a foreign country before. I have a passport, because my husband has had to travel and we felt I should have one in the event I needed to go to wherever he might be. I have been into British Columbia but at the time, you only needed a driver’s license to go over, so that little passport of mine didn’t have a single stamp in it. What in the world do I take? We would be gone this first trip for 7-8 weeks. That’s a long time for someone like me who’s only used to quick trips to visit relatives! And then it hit me:  pack for a long vacation, silly! So we did. But then there’s travel insurance, notifying credit cards and bank accounts, making sure I can pay bills online in Australia, and details, details, details. Every time we thought we had things pretty much under control, something else would appear that needed to be attended to. Eventually, we plowed our way through all those things and finally, at last! we were on our way to LAX on Friday afternoon, January 18, 2013.

We had not had to go through international security at LAX before, well, at least for me and it had been pre-9/11 for my husband, so we decided to get to the airport early. Can’t be too careful, dontcha know? We were scheduled to fly out at 11:30 p.m. and yes, there we were, at LAX by 5:30-6. No comments, please! Interestingly, there are no real restaurants after you go through international security, so we had a nice, leisurely dinner before and then walked on through. It was probably the easiest trip through security I’ve ever had to make! Not a huge line, no extra-nervous TSA agents, just do the normal strip-down of shoes, etc and walk through the x-ray machine. That was easy!

So, there we were, feeling like we were the first ones at a party (an L.A. thing) and no one else in sight. It was kinda nice, at first. Eventually, other passengers for other flights showed up, as well as passengers for our flight. First flight left, and there we sat. Other flights came and went and then, yes, you guessed it, the delay announcement. Our plane was coming from New York and apparently, bad weather won so our flight was delayed 2 hours! Ok, we were already going to be flying all night, but sheesh, I usually go to bed at 10! This was going to be way past my bedtime! But you deal with it, because you have no choice. Just as 1:30 a.m. approaches, we’re told we have yet another delay- the plane simply isn’t here yet. Oy vey. Finally, we board our plane and get ready for takeoff. It’s around 2:15-2:30 a.m., and we settle in for a 14-hour flight. Hubby and I don’t sleep well on planes, but let’s just say we made it unscathed, landing in Sydney on Sunday morning around 11:15-11:30 a.m. When you fly from the U.S. to Australia, you fly over the International Date Line, so although we left on Friday night (Saturday morning), we lost most of Saturday somewhere over the Pacific Ocean and ended up in Sydney on Sunday. Just don’t think about it too hard.

We’d been told by several people we know that have traveled internationally that one of the best things you can do for yourself after a flight like this is to NOT go to sleep. We did pretty good, getting to our hotel/apartment in downtown Sydney, unpacking, keeping busy… until about 4:30-5, when I sat down on the couch. We were meeting my husband’s boss for dinner at 5:30… and if hubby hadn’t had better resolve than me, we would have missed it. My eyes got so heavy! But we made it, dinner was lovely, and we headed home to bed.
Stay tuned.....

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