I remember when travelling around the world once a year was enough to satisfy my wanderlust. Those were simpler times…and certainly less expensive ones. But last year’s mid-summer European adventure was enough to convince me that maybe there’s room in my schedule – and my travel budget – for two, month-long trips each year.
My first choice for this summer’s trip was actually Europe. A week in Greece with the girls and then perhaps an apartment in Paris for a few weeks before heading back to the hectic football season schedule that awaits in September. But with summer fares to Europe holding fast in the $1,200 neighborhood and Greek protests threatening to spoil my fun even if I did splurge for a flight, dreams of Europe quickly faded. Sigh…Read More
Today, as I was harmlessly enjoying my vacation, an alert reader pointed out to me that I have been severely slacking off in the website-update department. A quick check of the website revealed that – lo and behold – this appears to be true. In my defense #1) I am really bad at keeping up with the website when I’m travelling with someone else, and #2) I am on vacation. But, my friend Shannon headed home today so I’ll try to do better from here on out. Now, on with the Sydney update!
First of all, getting to Sydney from Atlanta is the hard part. For us, it involved a flight to San Diego, then to Los Angeles and finally a 15-hour marathon flight over the Pacific. (Could have gone direct to LA, of course, but the ticket was almost $200 cheaper thru San Diego. Go figure.) We left Atlanta on Saturday afternoon and – after crossing the International Date Line – landed in Sydney at 6:30am Monday morning. Luckily, we were able to get bulkhead seats on the trans-pacific leg so we both managed to get a little sleep. Overall, the flight wasn’t nearly as bad as expected.Read More
One of the coolest things about heading to Auckland is how we got there: on the newest edition to aviation greatness, the A380. The largest passenger airliner in the world, the A380 made its maiden flight on April 27, 2005 from Toulouse, France, and made its first commercial flight on October 25, 2007 from Singapore to Sydney with Singapore Airlines.
In addition to Singapore, it’s now flown by only 4 other airlines worldwide: Air France, Emirates, Qantas and Lufthansa. Emirates conveniently operates a flight between Sydney and Auckland and it was too good an opportunity to pass up. (Since U.S. carriers won’t be flying it anytime soon, I figure you have to take these chances when you can.)
A couple of interesting facts about the A380:
- The Wright Brothers’ first flight was shorter than the A380’s wingspan.
- Airbus couldn’t find a plant big enough to build the plane, so it was built in bits in Wales, Germany, Spain and France and shipped it to an assembly in Toulouse, France.
So we headed to the airport in Sydney early Thursday morning excited not just to get to Auckland but for the “A380 experience.”Read More
My trip from Auckland to the South Pacific’s only remaining monarchy got off to a bit of a bumpy start. After a very pleasant 2 ½ hour Air New Zealand flight, we were just about to touch down on Tonga’s sole runway when the plane suddenly jerked upward, straight back into the night sky. It is at times like this that my desire to hear a reassuring announcement from the captain is outweighed by my concern that he has more important things on his plate at the moment.
As a frequent flier, I’ve been involved in 2 aborted landings before. The first, coming into Atlanta when another plane crossed the runway before us. And the second, coming in for a landing in New Delhi, India – where I can only assume (based on my observations in Delhi traffic) that a bull must have wandered onto the runway bringing all landings to a halt.Read More
Trivia Question: You’ve just landed after a one hour flight. Upon landing, you change the date on your watch but not the time. Where are you?
Well, if you started in Tonga – after a quick crossing of the International Date Line – you are now in Apia, Samoa. And after three adventurous days in Tonga, that’s exactly where I found myself…at midnight on Tuesday, no wait, Monday (landing at midnight only confused the situation further).
I will be spending 4 nights in Samoa. The first two in the capital of Apia on the main island of Upolu and the last two on Samoa’s sparsely-populated, wilder-side – the island of Savaii. Flights are not daily in Samoa but when one comes in – even at midnight – the airport is abuzz.
Despite the late hour, I am excited because I have elected to spend my two nights in Apia at a Samoan legend, the historic Aggie Grey’s Hotel & Bungalows (now known as the Sheraton Samoa Aggie Grey’s).Read More
After 7 nights of “roughing it” in Tonga and Samoa, I was longing for all the comforts of a 5-Star resort. Fluffy pillows, A/C, hi-speed internet, TV and the all-important hair dryer were calling my name. And after a quick 90 minute flight from Apia, Samoa to Nadi, Fiji, I was back in the land of the South Pacific tourist machine.
I’d been to Fiji once before, on RTW #2. It was the last stop on a particularly arduous trip and – to be frank – I was exhausted by the time I got there and barely left the hotel’s beach during my 2-night stay. Yet, I still claimed to have been to Fiji. Turns out, I hadn’t even come close.Read More