Sunday, January 11, 2009

January 11th, 2009 - Sydney, Australia to Christchurch, NZ

Today was an early morning to make a 9:50 international flight over to New Zealand. To make the timing a little tighter, as we were checking bags, I heard myself tell the guy we each had one bag only to remember that in San Francisco we'd had an extra small bag that had some trekking poles we'd borrowed for the trip. So after check in, we undertook a goose chase around the airport, going wherever the next person told us to. When we finally arrived at Menzies, the baggage handling company for United in Sydney, the office was deserted. Feeling like we'd made a good effort of it and with boarding time approaching, we decided to go to plan B. Lee, if you're reading this, there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that if they're not there when we come back through Sydney, we lost your poles. The good news is, if we lost 'em you're getting a new pair that will have been tested in New Zealand and will be collapsible enough to fit in a roller duffel.

Easy 3 hour flight to Christchurch with more in-seat programming. We watched “Nick and Nora's Infinite Playlist” (best line when talking about a band not having a drummer - “Right now they're one arm short of a Def Leppard cover band.”). Nice views as we were in a long descent of the southern alps which include (though I don't know if we saw) Mt. Cook.

From the hotel, we walked through Hagley Park avoiding golf balls from what appeared to be a public course to the city centre and the cathedral. Well, mom and Ann saw the cathedral, and I had a kebab in the square (yes, Flight of the Conchords fans, they do really have a lot of kebab stands here).

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

In the afternoon, we met the trip leader, John, and the rest of the group. A mix of people, all fairly seasoned travelers. Everyone shared stories of past trips and of their lives at home over a dinner at a restaurant in town. Definitely shaping up to be more of a regimented/hand holding trip than I might have signed up for on my own, but John seems to have fine tuned the trip really well over the years and is open to tweaking the experience to work for each person. He's been doing some variation of this trip for something like 20 years and while he's developed an itinerary, keeps things flexible. Ann described it as a well-planned road trip.

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