We made it to Sydney!…What a city!…

He’s so happy. Gosh, we love this life!  I took this photo in the rain when we found an overhang on the sidewalk on George St. in Sydney .
OK, my hat was lopsided, but it made it possible for me to take a few photos in the rain. Fashionable? No. Functional? Yep.

OK, here’s how it went. On Sunday afternoon, we checked in for our flight using a bad wifi signal, from Suva, Fiji to Sydney, Australia, a four-hour non-stop flight.

Our flight confirmation paper documents stated our flight on Monday, January 4th was at 11:15 am. We booked several flights in and around Fiji using a local travel agency while we were living in Trinity Beach, Australia last June to September. 

It was the first time we’d used a travel agency to book any of our travels, other than Vacationstogo.com which we use to book cruises, mainly for their great prices and service.

The first four flights were fine. Yesterday’s fifth flight was “confirmed” in writing for the above date and time. As soon as we were online at Fiji Airway’s site to check in on Sunday, there was no flight listed at 11:15 am as stated in our documents, only one flight at 8:35 am with the same flight number as indicated on the documents. 

We were able to check-in thus affirming that somewhere along the way either the agency gave us the wrong information or the flight was changed and we weren’t notified. They had a record of our email and phone numbers for both Fiji and the US.

Immediately, we hustled to change our shuttle to Suva, Nasouri Airport from a 7:45 am pickup to a 5:15 am pickup which for us, is a bit challenging. Although we get up early most days, getting up at 4:15 and out the door, an hour later is not our thing.

No problem on the shuttle. They’d arrived at our door at 5:15 for the 90-minute drive to the airport. Hoping to arrive by 6:45 am, we’d have time to go through customs and immigration and an expected huge queue at the international flights when we realized it was the first Monday after the holidays and the tiny airport would be swamped

If we didn’t get checked in and dump our checked baggage by 8:05 am they’d literally “close” check-in and we’d miss the flight.

Awakening at 3:45 am, I bolted out of bed without the alarm on my phone never going off, and jumped in the shower, bleary-eyed after only about four fitful hours of sleep. Minutes later, Tom was awake and we dashed around the house, tidying up, closing our bags moving everything back to where it was when we arrived. 

When the driver appeared at 4:55 am we were ready to leave. Good timing.  Arriving any later we’d have had a problem at the tiny airport, which was more packed than we expected with mostly Fijians heading back to their homes in Australia. Oddly, we spotted only one person that appeared to be Caucasian among the hundreds waiting in line.  We were right at home. 

Taxidermy croc for sale in a shop window. My lower legs and feet are also shown in this photo. In the rain, I wasn’t particular about getting good shots.

(For some odd reason, wherever we may be, we always feel as if we belong. What’s the deal with that? The acceptance and welcoming we’ve received worldwide have been astounding).

When our turn popped up, we were hardly surprised to discover our luggage load was severely overweight. We didn’t have to step on the huge old-fashioned scale this time, only the bags.  We were presented with a bill over and above the already paid cost of the flight for FJD $936, USD $438! Even the rep winced when he told us how much it would be. 

Yesterday, we took the elevator to the hotel’s rooftop for a few photos in the rain. This was not our ship which hadn’t arrived yet.

At this point, we’ve come to accept that this is “the nature of the beast.” That’s why we love cruising so much (among other reasons)…no baggage fees. Sure, our readers may cringe and say, “Oh, I could get that load lightened enough to avoid excess fees.” 

Please, dear friends…walk in these shoes…these few pairs each, and see what you’d be willing to get dispose of. Not much. It’s bare-bones. I don’t own a bathrobe, a dress, or a bathing suit cover-up. Tom doesn’t own a suit coat, a pair of dress pants, or a robe either, which we both love wearing after a warm shower.

This is the Metcalfe Bond building.

We each have two pairs of jeans, several pairs of shorts, and a variety of tee shirts along with a few casual dressy shirts for dinner on cruises and otherwise. I have two lightweight casual skirts that I can dress up with one of two scarves and a belt. It’s truly bare-bones.

So…we pay the price, accepting the reality that we care enough that we look presentable in many situations with what we may have on hand. We’re not backpackers. We’ll never be backpackers. 

Finally, we were seated and buckled in on the fully packed 737 jet. Sitting next to me at the window was a man who had to weigh at least 400 pounds, 182 kilos, tall and burly. His thighs were the size of two of Tom’s. 

The Sydney Harbour Bridge. While taking this photo Tom suggested I zoom in for the people walking across the top of the bridge, as shown in today’s photos.

He occupied his seat and half of mine. I was in the middle, Tom on the aisle. Heavy breather. Poor guy was cramped. I did everything I could to contribute as much of my seat as possible to allow him to be somewhat comfortable. Instead, I was cramped and uncomfortable for the entire four hours sitting almost sideways on my seat. Tom offered to switch with me. I refused.

Instead of thinking about it, we played Gin. I wound up winning for Fiji. That helped. They served breakfast. I ate the scrambled eggs when they said were gluten-free but nothing else. It was fine. We were fine. There was no turbulence over the vast sea. A baby in the seat in front of us cried and fussed a lot.

Finally, we landed in Sydney. The plane had to wait 40 minutes for a gate. It was raining hard and we were glad there would be a “tube” instead of the usual steep metal steps outside the plane. It was worth the wait. We didn’t complain.

Brave souls, walking across the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, known as the Bridge Climb. Please click here for details. This might be fun for those that don’t mind heights. 

We breezed through immigration and customs after a long wait for the bags. Once out the door, we grabbed a van and made our way to the hotel, the Old Holiday Inn, a very nice hotel with mixed reviews. Very close to the port of Sydney, we were happy. Free WiFi with a strong signal. 

Tom was chomping at the bit to watch the Vikings game which was live on Aussie TV.  The TV wouldn’t work, nor would the phone in order to report it.

Mr. Overly Grumpy himself reappeared as I dashed off to the front desk to report the two issues. In no time at all, a maintenance guy appeared in our room, removing the bad phone replacing it with another, and got the TV working. 

Tom was so worked up he had to take off his shirt. I never take my shirt off when I get worked up. It must be a guy thing.

Notice the cruise ship in the background.  Our ship hadn’t arrived yet but is certainly there now.  How exciting! This building only had the letters “ASN” listed on the building.

Soon, the game was on and he was happy again, with a bit of tail between his legs. I stayed unruffled but gloated a little over my (mostly) continuing “overly bubbly” demeanor, weird in its consistency. How could I not?

In essence, we balance each other. When I was fussing over the prospect of getting up so early after our oddly discovered flight time change, Tom was calm and cool, making every effort to ease my concern over the prospect of having a bad night’s sleep. When all was said and done, I was fine, certainly eased by his ongoing emotional support and reassurances.  We each had about four hours of sleep.

We needed a number of preventive items for the cruise, just in case, and had to find a nearby chemist and an ATM.  We needed hand sanitizer wipes, (we already have those for cleaning surfaces in the cabin and elsewhere), nasal spray (specifically for travelers to prevent infections which we’ll report back if that works), cough medicine with codeine like an ingredient legal in AU, Benedryl, a mascara (mine was empty), and a few other odds and ends.

Our ship has arrived!  Tom took this photo a few minutes ago when he went back up on the roof.  So close but so far away with our luggage.

After the chemist, a several-block walk in the pouring rain, with success in finding varying degrees of the list on my phone, we found an ATM. It wasn’t working. Tom was worried. I wasn’t. We went back to the room to call Wells Fargo to find out the problem with our debit cards. We’d already notified them where we’d be traveling over the next year.

Calling Wells Fargo on Skype, there was no problem with the card.  We had to find another machine. Tom headed out on his own leaving me in the room while he dashed back out in the rain.  Within 10 minutes he was back with a handful of Aussie dollars. He was happy now.

Sailboat entering the harbor.

Not wanting to go back out in the pouring rain, we dined in the hotel’s restaurant, a fixed price menu that proved perfect for me; Caesar salad minus croutons or dressing;  salmon filet and steamed broccoli and spinach with butter. Tom had leek onion soup, steak, potatoes, veggie, and rolls. He especially liked the roll. His cruise dining habits have begun. Lips zipped here.

Soon, we’ll be off to the ship. Tom had hoped we could walk our bags using carts to the port but the hotel doesn’t have carts or porters, plus we’re way too far away and also the pouring rain continues and there’s no way that makes sense. We’ll get a taxi to take us the distance of four or five long blocks.

Thanks, dear readers, for following us to Sydney and now onto the Celebrity Solstice. We hear the seas are rough!  Sounds exciting!

Photo from one year ago today, January 5, 2015:

Longs Drugs, permanently closed and boarded up due to pending lava flow on the Big Island, close to where we lived for six weeks. We’d shopped at this store the day they closed for some huge bargains but felt bad for the employees who’d be out of jobs.  For more details, please click here.

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