Sunday, 30 June 2013

T-0: Leavin' on a jet plane

Up early and all packed. A last email and then Beess & Co home delivery for ricotta pancakes with berry compote and mascarpone cream cheese with the family

As it turns out, Lilla appeared to be not too worried about my departure...

Nice face Lill-o the photo-bomber
Well the cheeky monkey's apathy didn't last. Apparently she balled her little eyes out after they left the Qantas club, all the way back to the car. Nee-orrr. 

Rubes biggest upset: leaving Playstation in the family zone. I told him he is the man of the house in my absense and that he needs to look out for Mummy and Lilla. He tells me he's "all over it" - OK then. 
Just after the posse leaves, the flight is delayed out of Canberra by an hour. In true TdF style the screen said "mechanical" - what, like Schleck?? JUST GET A MOVE ON!!! I'm starting to think, ok I've got less than 40 minutes to make this connection now and if I miss it, on the first weekend of school holidays, there ain't going to be any options of moving me to other flights in any class - I'm stuffed. 
Finally we leave Canberra - my little silver lining is that I see the first rays of sun for what seems like weeks.

So we get to Sydney, it's bucketing as we walk across the tarmac - lurve lurve lurve those DASH-8s (said nobody ever) - and we've still got to transfer to international by bus. 

We're clearly running late (as in the big jumbo is supposed to be departing in 14 minutes) and as I arrive at the transfer gate there's no movement. They've got us queueing like - I don't know - it's just a big queue OK - and the crowd is cresting the wave of anxious and heading towards...well it's like that feeling the building you're in is about to burn down and there's only one exit and about 2,000 dudes wanting to get through it. Panic is not far off, then people start losing limbs and trappling each other. 
Anyway it's not really the transit "lounge" anymore because everyone is standing and they're more than alert - they're alarmed - and kind of only just holding back from surging the gate. 
The first chap gets scanned and is through the gate to the bus when they yell "stop, stop - just wait there sir". Here we go...

The Qantas transit bus driver has decided, "you know what? It's the end of my shift, bugger you lot, I'm off" and literally drives off with the bus - EMPTY!

Well the nice Qantas transit bus check-in lady has maybe 120 people about to go fairly pipe-bangin' medieval on her whilst she's on the phone to transport management and Qantas operations (in her not so quiet voice) saying, "get me a damn bus up here stat, I've got 100+ 1310 departures here the bus driver has just buggered off". It's clear to me: we're in trouble.

The next bus arrives and we're off to international. There's more than mild panic at Gate 23 as 4 staff are there to greet about 8 of us boarding QF5 to Singapore saying: "hi Mr Gillman-Wells, umm, well, we're trying to re-check you in...". "Whoa there, wotchu mean RE-check". "Well because we didn't think you'd make the transfer so we took you off the flight, and umm, all your luggage, and well, now we are trying to get you back on and we think we can do it, but umm, not your luggage, and if we can't there's no other flights for at least 48 hours - but we're pretty sure we can". 

Powerless. No luggage and NO BIKE for maybe up to 2 days and I'm not even on the flight yet. Man - that's no way to start the TdF100 - please not in the support vehicle.

It takes 20 minutes to fix my ticket, I'm the last one to board and the jumbo leaves 35 minutes late. I'm trying to fathom how one muppet bus driver has caused my potential non-riding start to the tour and perhaps delayed millions of dollars worth of passengers, cargo and timetable world wide. Crazy. 

When it comes to the movie selection, there's only one choice now - Tarantino. And what a little emotional saviour Django turns out to be. A little graphic blood letting to soothe things down and with Tarantino you know you are just waiting for that Dusk till Dawn moment and it's ON! There was no disappointing here - and like the karma that's coming for the bus driver, the apocalyptic ending feels so righteous - 5 stars. 

Once in Singapore we're back on track for the itinerary (not the luggage) and onto a Finnair A330. Not bad at all - a little short seated in the sleeping configuration but if you're over 6' I guess that's always a problem. 

Now let's address sleep on planes - can you do it? I'm usually pretty good these days but I tell you, it took a while to nod off as I adjusted to personal space issues. If you think this guy seems close enough to be spooning me...he was!! Little bit more work required there please Finnair. 

Arrival into Helsinki was smooth as silk. Don't you love coming into clean, organised nordic Europe? (I've never been here before so I mean that in the least wanky way possible). Passport control is so simple, efficient and quick, everyone seems pleasant, there's no's like, "yeah c'mon in - we're open and we're more than pleased you're here, or not, whatever - just whatever you want, cheese and rye perhaps?"

Airline lounges in Europe: just sexier.


Still got some thick nasal fluid activity going on - but feeling a lot better. One transit to go. 

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