Chapter the First: ‘…down the rabbit hole…’

So, this is happening. After months of planning and a quite frankly ludicrously convoluted spreadsheet (thanks, Ann!), we are finally off! I worry that I have over packed  (undoubtedly) but at least I managed to vacuum my room before I leave for over a month (yep, a MONTH). It’s raining as I head out the door, and I’m wearing flimsy black open shoes, but, hah, so long, London, because I’m GOING places.

As I wait for ten minutes at an empty platform at Heathrow Terminal 4, I wonder if I will ever get to Heathrow Terminal 3 or if Greta will be going places without me. Oh good, we’re moving. Slowly.

All checked, superb, just stopping off at John Malone, and a quick dash into the BA lounge because that’s how we roll. 

Send-off in style

(Contrary to the elegant nature of this picture, I was so far removed from cool. We ate EVERYTHING in that place. I went back for more cheddar like three times).

The flight…well, guys, I don’t know if I can ever fly economy again. People come and introduce themselves. They give you champagne as a welcome. Kate Spade has made a make-up goody bag just for me. But the most important part, the thing that I mentioned to Greta literally every other minute, are the Quantas pj’s. I kid you not. They give you pj’s. In fact, I’m wearing mine right now. Still. I’ve literally not taken them off at all. I’m just representing Quantas everywhere I go. (Sad times, I had to take them off when we had our layover in Dubai, and when we got back on the plane I panicked at Greta that they wouldn’t give me another pair because ‘they handed them out right at the start last time…why haven’t they handed them out again? Am I not getting the pj’s again?! You can’t do this to me!! I need the pj’s!!’ Spoiler alert: I got the pj’s, guys. Panic over.

The most important part of this picture is on bottom. Pj’s.

The other significant highlight of the flight (not mentioning the all important fact that the chair goes all the way back) was dessert. We almost missed it the first time but luckily there were two apple crumbles left in first class  (though none for the suckers behind us though). On the flight from Dubai to Sydney, Greta immediately spotted the Chocolate Hazelnut Meringue. However, just to prevent any almost catastrophe like Apple Crumble Gate, I inducted Greta in the way of all things Slytherin.

“Did you enjoy your food?”

“We did! We’re saving room for the Meringue though, it looks delicious! I do hope there will be enough. We’re so looking forward to it. We almost didn’t get the Apple Crumble on the last flight.” *sad face*

‘You see’, I say to Greta, who has flown just as much if not more than I have, ‘now we’ve established our meringue needs, and should there be a shortfall, we’ve made ourselves visible as imperative meringue consumers.’ There was, of course, no shortfall. Meringue was had and it was glorious.

Chocolate Hazelnut meringue with glazed orange slices and crème frèche – (yep, remembered it word for word)

(By the way, the dessert wine was DELICIOUS. John, that one was for you, for expanding my palate!)

After watching not a SINGLE film (seriously, it’s me, it’s weird) I was very mean and didn’t let Greta sleep when she wanted, trying to stave off the worst of the jetlag by attempting to synchronise with Sydney time. Just before landing, this happened:

Sunrise into Sydney

Daisy fresh

Welcome to Sydney!

Welcome to Sydney, where we’ll be staying at the Shangri-La Hotel…except there is no one with a sign for the Shangri-La Hotel, or anybody with any sign with Greta’s name. We ask for help at airport information:

“Hi, yes, sorry, we’re waiting for a car to take us to our hotel? Is there another place drivers could be waiting?”

The lady looks at us.

“Are you sure? Did you definitely pre-book? I’m only saying that because it’s usually the people in the expensive rooms…”

Thanks. No no, we get it. We look scruffy. Really, thanks. You try being on a plane for 500 hours. After one more lap we’re about to jump in a cab when we spot an unobtrusive Intercontinental sign.

“Greta!” I say, “I think I remember seeing that on the confirmation email. Go ask!”

SUCCESS! Nick our driver has lots of lovely tips about the city, as we drive towards the Intercontinental  (glad we didn’t get into that taxi to the Shangri-La, could’ve been awkward…)

And then this: 

View from our room!!

And this:

View from the top of the members only hotel bar!!

I mean, it did take us about four lift rides to discover that the reason we could never get to our floor was because we weren’t securing our floor choice with our key card, but you know, we can’t all be perfect on the first go.

Quick stroll around Sydney as we try (and increasingly fail) to stave off the jetlag. Do you know how many joggers Sydney has? A lot. And they’re all on their lunchbreak in the Botanical Gardens. So, to follow the old adage ‘those who can’t do, comment’, we proceed to mercilessly make-up reasons why they could possibly be running (we salute you, Iverson. You can do it, brah).

And then this:

The indomitable Sophie McGonagall, ladies and gents!

So. Much. Love.

Sophie teaches us Disney songs in Italian, and Greta wows us with her rendition of ‘Be Our Guest’ – also in Italian. No really, ask her about it. And then it’s Bon Voyage once more as we get in another car back to Sydney airport, and this lady makes Greta root through her entire bag only to tell her that actually, batteries in a device are fine, nevermind, and then we’re here:

Middle-Earth!!

But, unfortunately, we don’t have Gwaihir (#nerd) so we have ages to wait until our next flight so I end up educating Greta in all things Ryan Gosling pre-Notebook. And then it’s so so late by the time we get to Auckland and that fun moment where you navigate in the dark in a shared dorm room, yay, but none of that matters because TOMORROW, we get the VAN.

Oh dear.

Hei konā rā,

xx

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