I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Oh my god I can't believe it, I've never been this far away from home

The Kaiser Chiefs succinctly explained my predicament in that chorus, and it's true. As I type I look at my watch, seeing that it says 6.20pm on Friday evening. As I look at the screen, I see my still-in-UK-time laptop telling me it's 7.20am on Friday morning. The good news is: it's nearer pub time for me than it is for everyone back home. Bit odd being so far in the future though, innit.

Talking of UK time -vs- where I am, here's a tip I really need to learn sharpish: if I want to get up at 7.45am, I should either (a) set my phone to local time, or (b) set the alarm to UK time plus offset. But not set my UK-time phone to go off at 7.45am UK time. Like I did this morning. Good job I'd been awake almost constantly from 3am(!); even better job that going another 2 hours further into the future means being knackered is fine, 'cos I've got a short waking day.

Anyway, so, I'm sat in the Mercure Hotel Windsor, Auckland. I'm on the top (8th) floor (lift only goes up to 7, bah), with a view of the bigger and better proper Mercure Hotel directly out of my room. Either side of it I can see car parks, business buildings, and also the sea. I wasn't after a view and am not that fussed about it not being particularly great. I am, however, impressed by having breakfast thrown in with my room rate, and a kitchenette. This room is almost suite-esque, having a door between the living roomy bit and the bedroom. Bit of a shame that there's no TV in the bedroom, but I'll live. The Kiwi accents on Sky News NZ behind me are already winding me up.

I realised on the cab ride from the airport that I didn't take enough advantage of the lounge in Sydney. That was the only international flight I'm taking from that airport (and therefore the only flight from that terminal), and despite fatcatting it up I'm not allowed into the lounge when flying domestic. So instead of just grab a slice of carrot cake and a small glass of diet coke I really should have done more. Not to worry, just gives me an excuse to come back in business class at some other point (hey, Yahoo!, send me to Australia, I'm finally up for it ... )

I really could have done a bit more too, since the flight boarded late. I was just about to leave when the lady on reception mentioned it over the tannoy, saying people should sit tight in the lounge. I was fidgetty and all packed up by then though, so 10 minutes later, before boarding was announced, I made my way to the gate. It was rammed and still not boarding, but as soon as I sat down they announced that those with children under 5, those requiring assistance, and those flying business class could board. So on I got, straight into the seat 1A, window on the left of the front row Sir.

Business class was empty. Maybe 8 people in total. Not a single other person in row 1 so I could have taken my pick, but it also leads me to believe it's not prime real estate for those in the know. But I don't really care -- I chose the seat because of the number, not because it might be the best place to sit, and as it happens I thought it was fine. I had windows, more legroom than I could shake my legs at, and total privacy. Staring at a wall isn't interesting, so I didn't: I watched Thank You For Smoking, which was pretty good.

Presumably at least in part because of how empty the cabin was, I thought service was superb. Being referred to as Mr Foreman is always a winner, the food was spot on (trout with potatoes and tomatoes, fruit salad, two ciabattas, a selection of cheese with biscuits and some strange dried fruit I couldn't identify except for the date). Before we'd taken off I'd had a glass of champagne with a refill, and when I asked for a beer the attendant presented me with one can of each on a tray asking me to take my pick. I chose the only one I'd never had before: Hahn's.

Hahn's is alcohol free.

It was only a short flight, 2h30m or so. We'd taken off late for various reasons, some of which weren't even known to the pilot who was in full-on fair dinkum Aussie mode.
Ah, we'll be taking off to the East, which is the wrong way, and then turning right. Mind you I've been wrong about that before, traffic control might tell me to turn back towards Sydney, so I don't really know. Just sit back and enjoy the flight.

Cracking views of Sydney and the coast was followed by a whole bunch of ocean and clouds before our descent, a "high speed descent" requested by the flight crew. New Zealand is a bit cloudy at the moment, which is a shame, but I still got a cracking view of coastline and loads of small islands. I was watching the map display for a few minutes after the film stopped and got really confused, as it had every stat correct except for the distance left to the destination. If it was to be believed, there was 27 minutes until landing and only 3854 miles to go. Hrm.

Loads to do in Auckland. It's Friday night and I'm in livelyville (I think!) so might go out on the hunt for a beer or two, perhaps some metal or maybe the casino. Although what I really need to do is have a shave and a bit of a relax. Saturday must surely be as lively as Friday, and I might even want to get on a boat tour at 9.15am or summat daft like that. Then of course there's the small matter of having shitloads of photos to upload but a 50mb per 24hr data limit to contend with :-(

Oh, and the last 3 days to write about. D'oh!

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