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About Australia…(part 1)

September 19, 2011

Well, we’ve been home for a week and I finally transferred just under 800 pictures from the dSLR, point-and-shoot, and 2 iPhone cameras onto my computer. I’m still wading through them, but I figured if I go one day at a time I might make enough progress to actually post about it (and putting my husband on a plane to the East Coast suddenly freed up a lot of my time – who knew?!) 😉

So, here we go…from the beginning:

Our flight left Alaska at 12:50am on Thursday, September 1st. Wednesday evening we dropped the dogs off at the kennel (they were SO excited to see all their puppy friends), finished packing, and headed to the airport around 10pm. Our friends and neighbors Zach and Emily were nice enough to offer us a ride to the airport. We checked in, grabbed a late-night dinner in the airport, and then boarded our plane to LAX.

We arrived in LAX around 7am, got our bags, and began our 14-hour layover. Yes, 14 hours. We chose not to leave the airport for several reasons – For starters, our flight from AK to LAX was on a different itinerary than our flight to Australia, so we had all of our luggage with us until the airline opened up check-in for the next flight – which they had not done when we arrived at the airport 14 hours early. Also, we didn’t really feel like spending time wasting money in LA just to keep ourselves busy. We preferred to save our money for our actual destination. And finally, we were exhausted.

Lucky for us, LAX has a great USO!! I had never been to a USO before, but it was such an amazing relief on this trip! We had a safe place to keep our giant bags, internet/computer services, food and drinks (yay, coffee!!!), snacks, a movie room, and best of all – a nap room! We went into the nap room where we each had an oversized leather recliner with a clean blanket and pillow available. I took a 7-hour nap in that room, and it was just what I needed. After our naps, we had another snack at the USO, then headed over to check into our next flight.

We checked in to our non-stop flight 3hrs early so that we could ‘upgrade’ our coach seats to an exit row before they filled up. The airline charges for exit row seats, but it was SO worth it for the 16+ hours we spent in the plane – and we actually had more leg room than the business class seats anyway.

I wasn’t sure how much sleep I would get on the plane, but I ended up sleeping for about 10hrs. I woke up for the meals though! 😉 I also watched 3 movies on the plane on my personal entertainment center which helped the time pass pretty quickly. Oh, and we made friends with our flight attendant (Kirk), and our seatmate (Sarah).

In preparing for our trip I had heard a lot about how Sydney and Melbourne have a rivalry about which city is better – and thought it was hysterical that Kirk and Sarah proved that to be true! Kirk was from Sydney and Sarah was born/raised in Melbourne. When Sarah found out we were spending the whole trip in/around Melbourne, she offered to write down some recommendations for restaurants, etc… We thought that was very nice of her! (as a matter of fact, we couldn’t get over just how NICE everyone was everywhere we went!!). She first mentioned the recommendations about 30 min. into the flight, and I had decided if she forgot I wouldn’t harass her about it. Well, about 2 hours before we landed she asked me for a pen and paper and she filled an entire 8.5×11 sheet of paper front and back with recommendations for us. She even included the type of food at certain restaurants, what area of the city it was, price ranges, and whether or not they took bookings! She also included her mobile number at the top and said to call her if we needed anything! She was awesome! 🙂

We finally landed in Melbourne just after 6am local time on Saturday, September 3rd, got our bags, went through customs, and headed for the rental car area. (Fun fact – you cannot bring any food with you into Australia – including pre-packaged items). The one thing I forgot to print out prior to our trip was our rental car reservation info and I couldn’t remember for sure which company I had gone with- and after a good 36hrs of traveling my brain was fried. We just went from company to company asking if they had it, and after some shenanigans that involved using the international data plan on my phone – we found it. 😛

And then we were off to the hotel! Just an aside – I’m so thankful that Howdy does such a good job driving! Just like in Britain/Ireland, Australians drive on the left-hand side of the road, from the right-hand side of the car. For those of us used to driving on the opposite side, it can be a lot little stressful. But Howdy handled it like a champ and I was very glad that he took on that responsibility. Of course, when we were in Ireland in ’07 he was driving a standard, and had to shift w/ his left hand on the teeny-tiny Irish roads – but we had an automatic this time, and the roads are wider, so this was much easier for him!

We made it to the hotel, which had a fantastic location in the City Center, and they gave us a complimentary upgrade to a room with a balcony! I loved the lobby:

And we were so excited about the room (esp. getting to take a nap in the heavenly bed!):

But before we could nap, we headed out for a short walk in search of a snack:

*whew* I’m going to stop here for now. There’s a lot of detail, more for my own memory’s sake…and it’s not our full first day in Melbourne, but it covered a lot and is pretty long, so I’ll post more soon! 🙂

7 Comments leave one →
  1. September 19, 2011 4:39 pm

    welcome back!!!! can’t wait to read more about your trip 🙂

  2. Lauren Coburn permalink
    September 19, 2011 7:03 pm

    yay! keep it coming!

  3. September 21, 2011 8:56 am

    Amazing! I’m so jealous. Can’t wait to see all the pictures!

  4. September 22, 2011 3:50 am

    Love the hotel room!


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