Sunday, 6 February 2011

Day 1 - 30 Hours of travelling

Firstly I need to say that this is the first time I have blogged from my iPad using an app call BlogPress, and I don't know what it is going to look like once I hit the Save button, so please don't hate me if it is not what you are use to seeing.... Wow... what a big day. I am sitting in bed in hotel in Kelwona and just trying to remember in what order we did things today. Kim picked us up from home at about 9:30am on Saturday morning and drove us to Holsworthy train station (in the Klueger). All the bags only just fitted in the boot. We caught the 10:13am train from Holsworthy to the International Airport and on the way in we had an elderly Italian gentleman serenading us with his harmonica.

The kids were great on the train and didn't once whinge about having to drag their big suitcase from the car to the train or from the train to the seats in the airport were we sat waiting from Mum & Dad and Karmen, Tayla & Jack to join us. They were catching an airport shuttle from Cabarita.

Finally Mum & Dad, Karmen, Tayla & Jack arrived (after receiving some sad news about the death of a long-time Lansvale neighbour... and for those of you who know the track record my parents have with overseas trips and friends/family passing away you will appreciate that I am shredding their passports when we return home from this holiday.... hehehehe!!!!). Karmen, Tayla & Jack and Darren, Riley, Kody & myself checked in at the Qantas Economy Counter while Mum & Dad went to the Qantas Business Class counter. After joining the first of what will be many queues, we caught up with Mum & Dad who had managed to secure fast passes through Australian Immigration along with passes for ALL of us (yes, even the kids) to go into the Qantas Business Class Lounge. Wooooohooooooo!!!!! No paying $12.00 for a hamburger at Sydney International Airport for us. We were treated to Morroccan Lamb on Cous Cous, Salads of all kinds, fresh fruit (kids loved the strawberries) and help yourself to the alcohol (bourbon & coke for me). Then I discovered the Moet. That was very nice!!!

The kids were then treated even more special when the wait-staff served then french fries in a paper cone, followed shortly by mini chocolate ice cream cones. Talk about a FREE LUNCH!!!! The kids were extremely well behaved in the lounge. They boys sat and played their iPods. At one point one of them succeeded in a hard level of a game and they all let out a big cheer. The other business class passengers nearby laughed so hard and said how cute it was and how good they were behaving.

Then it was time to board the plane. We separated from Mum & Dad at this point as the Business Class in the new A-380 is on the upper deck while Economy (or cattle class, as we have come to call it) was on the lower deck. No, not in the belly of the plane with the baggage... although I reckon the service down there may have been better than what we got in Economy. Once seated, Kody took advantage of the time we had to check out the emergency procedures manual..... he has only had three days at school and can't even read yet, but he still managed to understand most of the pictures.

Riley & Kody have never been on a plane before so I knew that taking off was going to be a "camera moment". Look at their faces.....

Karmen, on the other hand, is a terrible flyer and she was sitting in the row behind me. Look at her face, and Tayla & Jack....

Riley took this photo out the window on take off. Janet & Peter, Glenn & Clair were somewhere on the water beneath us on Doe-Gon (a boat) waving us a fond farewell.

So, coming back to the service on the flight. I was under the impression (from previous experience and from the website) that children were issued a "pack" full of things to do on the plane. Our kids never got it. When the meals come around, they only had two children's meals, not four. The flight crew obviously think it is beneath them to take away any rubbish. Everything you get comes in a plastic bag, but do they give you anywhere to put it? No. Do they come past and remove it? No. As a matter of fact, unless they were actually giving you a meal, they rushed through the cabin and hardly looked at us. Mum & Dad came down to cattle class and took two kids at a time up to their seats in business class. Now they want to know whey we aren't sitting up there!!!! Too cute!!!! After meal service we all tried to sleep. The only successful one that actually got quality sleep was Kody. I reckon it's cause he was small enough to curl up into a ball on one seat.

Saturday turned into night and when the sun came up... it was Saturday all over again, thanks to the international date line. I took these great pics of the very colorful sun rise out the window.

Breakfast was served and again there was only two children's meals. Not Happy, Jan!!!!!! And before we knew it we were landing in Los Angeles.... LA.... LAX.... whichever one you prefer. We disembarked and Karmen & I figured that we would just meet Mum & Dad in the baggage claim. I don't know how we did it, but we were whisked through the Diplomatic counters at US Immigration and were fingerprinted, photographed and got the stamp of approval in no time. Mum & Dad on the other hand had to join the huge queue at the other end of the Immigration Hall. We went to collect our bags while we waited. Funny though, cause Mum & Dad's bags came out first, and they weren't there to get them, so we did, and when they finally got through Immigration our bags arrived. Then we all joined the even longer queue for US Customs. We were all together and then some official looking woman, point at Darren & me and said "You join this line". So we did, thinking we were again being fast tracked.... no such luck! We joined the queue, and took longer than Mum & Dad and Karmen, Tayla & Jack, cause we ended up going all the way to the other end of the Customs Hall. Finally through US Customs and we head outside at LAX... and breath that fresh air.... cough cough cough.... talk about smog. I noticed as we were landing that it was a little hazy, but we could still see the "Hollywood" sign on the mountains. Not so when we took off again only three hours later. We opted for a brisk walk pushing six trolleys full of luggage (and Kody propped on top of one) from the Main Terminal to Terminal 2 where we were flying out on WestJet from LA to Calgary, Canada. Check in the bags and then headed upstairs to the departure gate. Between landing at LAX and leaving LAX for Calgary we had allowed ourselves about three hours.... this was the perfect amount of time. With all the security checks they do, you need that much. We were in the queue for security (shoes off, laptop/iPad out, all liquids out, then through the full body scan) when we saw Bob, Diane & Casey waving to us from the other side. "Almost there" I thought.... ha! The security people were so slow. When we finally got to be checked, both Darren and I had to also remove our money belts from underneath our clothing, get patted down, that's right! Not just the handheld metal detector they usually use, Darren was patted down by a man and I got a woman... First they put on fresh gloves and then "copped a feel" and then walked over to a machine thing where they wiped a testing strip across the gloves and then inserted the strip into the machine. Darren was first... clear. I was next. "Beep! Beep! Beep!" The screen flashed red. My heart did flip flops. I was thinking "What on earth have they found? What did I touch? Where was I sitting? Who has been near me? Drugs? Explosives? What was it?" My mind was racing. The security women then kicked, yes kicked the machine with her huge black boots, leaving a scuff mark on the front panel. Her boss came over and said "It's not working, you'll have to use the other one." A wave of relief washed over me!!!! OK... you can all stop laughing at me now!!!! We boarded the flight on the much smaller plane and had an uneventful flight to Calgary. It was a short flight of less than four hours. We all slept.

Canadian Immigration was busy. So we queued... AGAIN!!! Finally we got to the counter. There were still people queued behind us but buy the time the Immigration Officer had finished with us we were the last people out of the Immigration Hall. He wanted to know what we did for a living, when our employers were expecting us back at work, and on and on it went. Finally at the end he asked why we were coming to Canada and when we reply "for a skiing holiday" he said something along the lines of "it's along way to come to go skiing!" Not a good advertisement for Tourism Canada!!! So, that was the second of three flights finished and with less than an hour for the final flight of the day we split up and went to find something to eat. We didn't really find much, but what can you expect in an airport at 7:45pm. Boarded our final flight from Calgary to Kelowna, a short 47 minutes. You just take off, get level and then land. I like a quickie!!!!! Bob had pre-arranged for a shuttle bus to pick us up from the airport and bring us to the hotel and sure enough, Brian, our driver was there waiting for us. He is also pick us up tomorrow and taking us up to Big White! Us, about 30 bags and however many boxes of groceries we purchase in the morning to let us the ten days we are in Big White for. Thank goodness he doesn't have any other passengers cause there won't be any room. I promise to take photos tomorrow of all our stuff to show you what I mean. Well, it is pretty late here now and I need sleep, so until next time..... Brenda PS: Can't say I miss you yet, cause I haven't been gone long enough. Hehehe!! - Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:The Sandman Hotel, Kelowna, BC, Canada


Clairwil said...

Hahahaha sorry Brenda I WAS laughing at your expense! Sounds like quite the adventure getting there and I'm very happy with our choice of flying v Australia now! Looking forward to the pics and updates xxx

Bob said...

Darren said that patting down was the highlight of the trip so far.....

JANETW said...

Gee Brenda I thought you and Darren would enjoy a little touch up, like clair had a little chuckle, but Mum text re snow in Kelowna I am jealous already.
Great plane shot Karmen, looked familiar.