Ok, so none of that is technically true. I mean, by the time you read this it will be true, but currently I am writing this 74 days (June 21, 2016) before I am slated to leave for this very trip. I’ve just been itching to do SOMETHING to make me feel like this trip is actually happening and so I thought that writing this little intro would be a fun way to imagine this future trip and to pass the time on my day off.
This trip is set to be the culmination of years of yearning to travel to this part of the world. I’ve been an Australia and a Qantas nerd for as long as I can remember. I have no idea why. Regardless, this trip was born out of an unexpected “failure.”
My initial plans for a summer vacation were to go to San Diego Comic Con with my friend Dan. However, when we were unable to procure tickets to SDCC, I was suddenly left with $2,000 of earmarked “vacation money,” and nowhere to go. I spent the next few months trying to figure out where that should be.
The usual destinations revealed themselves to me; Seattle, London, Tokyo, Dubai and of course Australia, but I suddenly had no desire to travel. This was a strange sensation as I am always interested in traveling. I don’t know if I was depressed or having a mental block but I was completely uninterested in taking a vacation.
Then one day, while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across a post from my friend Tom. This, by the way, being the same Tom I had met with my friend Pete while we were on Mini Takes the States back in 2012. I remembered that Tom was traveling around the world and thought it might be cool to meet up with him somewhere on part of his adventure.
As it turned out, when I reached out to him he told me that he was currently living in Victoria, Australia and would be living there until December. He said that if I wanted to try and meet up with him, that I was welcome to come and visit.
That was all it took. My “travel bug” was reignited and I instantly began searching for the cheapest flights to Melbourne. Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I searched the website flights dot Google dot com. I always check flights from JFK as well as from Logan when searching for low airfare internationally, because I know that, since JFK is a bigger, higher volume airport, their is usually a better selection with fewer stops, sometimes direct flights, and at a lower price.
I ended up finding a flight that I was in love with. The flight was on Etihad Airways and involved taking their beautiful new A380 from JFK to Abu Dhabi. Followed by a 10 hour layover in Abu Dhabi, followed by a direct flight to Melbourne.
Now to most people, a 10 hour layover seems like a nightmare but to me, I saw it as an opportunity. If Anthony Bourdain taught me anything, it’s that a layover is a great chance to see a city you may have otherwise not explored.
Already I was planning how I was going to take a bus (or whatever) into the city, go to Ferrari World, ride Formula Rossa and any other rides I would have time for, before heading back to the airport to continue my trip to Australia. This planning was all taking place on June 9th.
The next morning though I was waiting to hear more from Tom, I was too excited. I hopped on my computer and tried to book the flight on Etihad’s website. However, apparently flights dot Google dot com had fucked me over. Apparently there was no such flight available. I was really bummed and so I jumped over to ‘ol reliable Kayak dot com. After searching a few different options, I ended up on a well faired itinerary. After looking at it and mulling it over for a few minutes, I pulled out my credit card and booked the trip.
What had I just done!
I hadn’t really discussed this with anyone. I hadn’t really thought it through that much. I hastily dropped ~$1,600 on roundtrip airfare to Australia. This was crazy. But then again, was it? I had been wanting to go there for a very long time. I had the money saved up. I knew I was going to take some form of a vacation this summer. What was I freaking out about.
After the shock and excitement wore off. I settled in to the fact that I was finally going to be going to Australia! I needed to watch The Rescuers Down Under and Finding Nemo as soon as possible.
I spent the next few days, letting Tom know my plans, figuring out where I wanted to stay and booking them, and looking through travel books and taking notes of what sights I wanted to see in the limited time (I’m not used to having to worry about taking time off, as in paid vacation days, from work before) I would have for this trip.
My itinerary is as follows:
Fly from Boston Logan International Airport at 3:15pm (EST) on Sunday, September 4th. Arrive at Los Angeles International Airport at 6:45pm (PST): 6.5 hour flight
3.5 hour layover at LAX – this is where I currently am in my journey
Fly from Los Angeles International Airport at 10:15pm (PST) on Sunday, September 4th. Arrive in Melbourne on Tuesday, September 6th* at 7:00am local time: 15.75 hour flight
Spend Tuesday to Thursday (3 days) exploring Melbourne.
Fly from Melbourne International Airport at 1:30pm on Friday, September 9th. Arrive at Sydney International Airport at 2:55pm: ~1.5 hour flight
Spend Friday to Tuesday (5 days) exploring Sydney.
Fly from Sydney International Airport at 1:00pm on Wednesday, September 14th. Arrive at Dallas International Airport at 1:35pm* local time: ~15.5 hour flight
~5 hour layover at DFW – that’s gonna suuuck; maybe I can check out Dallas?
Fly from Dallas International Airport at 6:25pm on Wednesday, September 14th. Arrive in Boston on Wednesday, September 14th at 11:00pm (EST): ~4 hour flight
*This is why I named this post time travel. Due to the length of the flight combined with the drastic time-zone changes, I will essentially never experience September 5th 2016. I will instead be sitting, hopefully sleeping or watching a movie, on a plane while wondering why I chose to embark on a nearly 16 hour flight. Additionally, due to time-zone changes on the way back, it looks as though my flight from Sydney to Dallas will have only taken me 35 minutes. It is that sort of thing that boggles my mind about the concept of time. A concept I have yet to fully wrap my mind around.
What follows are the true events of my trip, written during or after they’ve actually taken place… and not several months before.
Sunday – September 4th, 2016 – 7pm (PST)
Holy shit, I just had the realization (false, I had it on 8/13 when I picked my seats *slash* wrote this paragraph) that I’m going to be taking five (count ’em, five) flights on this one vacation. Two domestic American (both the country and the airline) flights, two international flights and one domestic Australian flight. My flight from Boston to LA is (‘was’ at this point in time) on an AA operated Boeing 737-800. The flight I’m waiting for will be on a Qantas operated Airbus A380-800. My flight from Melbourne to Sydney will be on a Qantas operated Boeing 737-800 (fingers crossed I get “Retro-Roo“; although I think it only services Brisbane and Sydney, but who knows). My flight from Sydney to Dallas will be on a Qantas operated Airbus A380-800. And finally, my flight from Dallas to Boston will be on an AA operated Boeing 757-200.
THIS IS REAL. I am finally actually writing this at LAX. Apart from the kid kicking the back of my seat, the flight from Boston to Los Angeles couldn’t have gone smoother. Not only did the guy who checked my bag give me a window seat but also, the only other person in my row was seating in the aisle seat, so there was an empty gap between us. Also, I made a point to be the last person to board the plane so rather than find my seat and wait forever to push back from the gate, it only took 2 or 3 minutes. “We’re all going to the same place so it doesn’t matter where you are in line.”
Additionally, to my pleasant surprise my plane not only had IFE but also, had a really good selection to choose from. I watched Hello, My Name Is Dorris, Silicon Valley, Sing Street, another episode of Silicon Valley and Girls and we were there.
Theme Building at LAX
Upon my arrival at LAX, the first thing I did was to pay my respects to the now closed Theme Building. The last time I was in LA, back in 2011, I was fortunate enough to eat at the Encounters restaurant. However, it has since closed so I merely used it as a photo exercise before heading to the international terminal. There I got my boarding pass, again securing a window seat, and made my way through a very long but steady moving security line.
International Terminal at LAX
The international terminal is dope. I was very impressed by the shops and just how grand it is there. The first thing I did was to find my gate. There, my jaw dropped. Sitting on the tarmac was the Qantas A380 that would be taking me to Melbourne.
IT WAS MASSIVE. I knew from the numerous videos and pictures I’d seen that it was a big plane, but nothing can prepare you for just how huge it is. Immediately I ran to a better vantage point so that I could get a proper picture of it. After nerd-ing out for a bit, I found some food -I had a truffle burger at Umami– and then strolled around the terminal for a bit before making my way back to my gate to await my departure.