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

Friday, January 29, 2010

A long 'un round the wrong 'un

Wow. Did I really used to blog all my travelling? 'cos I'm trying to write about this trip and finding it pretty hard. Everything just seems so fucking dull. So, y'know, I wouldn't really bother reading on if I were you.

My cab to Heathrow turned up 10 minutes early. What kind of cab driver does that? Thankfully I was ready to go. Air New Zealand check-in was great, considering I was being an awkward bastard. I was flying the return portion of a paid (ie, with money) Auckland-London ticket, then immediately starting a miles-bought one way, err, Auckland-London ticket. With a stopover in Sydney. I asked if they could check my bags through to Australia and they did; in fact they went further than that, and checked me in and issued my boarding pass for the flight across the Tasman. Quite surprising, to me, considering it was Wednesday and that flight wasn't until Friday afternoon. "We like to do things properly", she said. She also said that seat 1A was Victoria Beckham's favourite seat, but if she happened to be on NZ119 on Friday I needn't worry about getting kicked out.

The Star Alliance lounge at Heathrow terminal 1 is a pretty fucking pedestrian affair. But of course there's free grog, and I had my first alcohol of 2010 there. 20 days in -- probably the longest I've ever gone without a drink and without being on medication since 1992. I could have gone to the BMI lounge as well, but I couldn't be arsed moving. Some other time.

My flight was from, I swear, the furthest fucking gate possible. Bah. And because it was US-bound, I expected a lot of hassleful secondary security checks since the failed pants-bomber bloke at Christmas caused another round of jerking knees. And indeed there was a secondary security checkpoint there, but I was waved straight past it. Not sure if that's because I was flying business class, or if they were just being selective. Anyway. Took advantage of priority boarding and got on the plane, then changed seat to 5k 'cos a couple wanted to sit in 6k and 7k. Dunno why really -- you can hardly class any of the seats in the nose as "together" apart from 1A/1K. Oh well.

I was at least 10-15 years younger than everyone else in the cabin. I also appeared to be the only one travelling alone, which did fucking wonders for my self-esteem.

Air New Zealand have the in-flight entertainment running on the ground, gate-to-gate. So I started watching Zombieland before take-off. Good film, I liked it. I also wrote "Zombieland needs to be a film" on my pad, which seems a bit fucking stupid. Clearly I meant video game. Public Enemies was my next choice, and I was thoroughly disappointed with it, so didn't even try and struggle against the urge to doze off.

The starter for the meal was the nicest beef I'd ever tasted. Later, when I was looking back at the menu to properly note down what I ate, I saw that it was actually duck. You should all FEAR and RESPECT my appalling, unsophisticated palate. This is why I should never go to fancy restaurants which cost £350 a head.

They dimmed the lights and a bunch of people slept. Why? It was a daytime flight: 3.45pm departure, west-bound, 7.15pm landing. Even for those of us carrying on to Auckland, it made no sense to kip on this flight.

Third film was Whatever Works. Larry David's so full of win. There's a death metal gig scene where the band is called ANAL SPHINCTER. You can't put the toothpaste back in the tube.

Inglourious Basterds was, hmm, well it was OK I guess. Better than Public Enemies. I like Brad Pitt. Why did I write "Piers???" in my notebook? I wasn't even drunk.

I gave up on films. Listened to some of the radio channels. HATED the DJ's voice. By fuck I cannot stand strong Kiwi accents. I also watched a bunch of the moving map stuff, 'cos it's a bit fancy, certainly in comparison to the BA one. They didn't turn it off while we were over the USA, again contrary to expectations.

Lots of Simpsons, an entire season! Kept dozing, which was starting to annoy me, as I wanted to save my sleep for the second flight. HELP ME, MAYONNAISE!

At LA I had to go landside in order to go airside so that I could use the business class lounge. Thanks to the huge fail that is US airport security, this took me, er, a total of 35 minutes. From still being on the plane to being in the lounge. Customs, immigration, security, the lot. Why does this stuff get such bad press?

Couldn't get a shower in the lounge, too busy. So instead, I drank vodka. 42below Kiwi fruit flavour. Gorgeous.

The flight left LA at about 9.30pm local time. Still Wednesday 20th January. THE PAST. This leg was taking me to THE FUTURE, from GMT-8 to GMT+13, landing at 0715 on Friday 22nd. Take that, Thursday! I fell asleep before take-off, basically as soon as the security demo was done. One of the attendants woke me up to ask if I wanted to eat; I didn't, but now that I was awake I turned my seat into a bed and laid down. Had about 7 hours kip, possibly the most I've ever had on a single flight (though it wasn't uninterrupted). I was awake when we crossed the international date line: one moment it was 5am on the 21st, then it was 5am on the 22nd. Timezones are so full of win.

At Auckland airport it took 7 minutes from still being on NZ1 to get through transit security and upstairs to the lounge. I had breakfast - fruit and stuff. I also had beer, and took a photo of myself I actually quite like. I would have had vodka but they only had Smirnoff and I'm a snob. Grabbed a shower, another beer, sat in the "no mobiles" section and glowered at the prick who walked into it chatting on his mobile really loudly.

Victoria Beckham didn't kick me out of seat 1A, but a bloke did ask if he could swap. His colleague was in 1C while he was in 1F. I shunted across. No biggie. Man, I put away a LOT of Steinlager on this flight. The attendant just kept bringing me new beer, already opened. "Oh, you're dry!" and "I got a stash of them for you". Definitely pissed by the time I arrived.

It was 35 celsius in Sydney when I landed. The train to the city is not air-conditioned. Nor was the station. Carting my luggage while wearing a long-sleeved hoodie was perhaps not the best plan. I was a sweaty mess by the time I got to my hotel, but that didn't stop them merging my two bookings (6 nights paid for with points, 3 with cash) and upgrading my room. Sydney Opera House view! 42 hours, 4 timezones, 3 flights, all done. Got on the blower to my brother and went for beer. Hello, Sydney!

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