We have been so extremely busy with preparations that I haven’t even had time to post that we’ve started. But we’ve more than just started, we’re already in New Zealand, our third country on our itinerary and we are lovin’ the scenery and weather. What hasn’t been easy is the rigorous schedule I’ve managed to put us on with only nine days to take in all the splendor of New Zealand.
But let’s go back a week to when it all began. With all our belongings safely in storage, we stayed with Sheri’s closest friend, Carol, on our final night in the U.S. We arrived late because of all the last minute packing we were finishing, but were treated to a wonderful home-cooked dinner. The next morning, we took the Amtrak train from the station in our hometown up to Vancouver, BC. We added an extra day before our flight to Sydney because, in the wintertime, you can never be sure that the train will actually make it. Track closures due to mudslides are quite common, so we didn’t want to be scrabbling on our first day.
We arrived just before noon and had a leisurely day in the city, but still had a couple of errands to run. I managed to accidentally pack one of my travel shirts into storage and also noticed that a brand-new pair of Smartwool socks had already begun to unravel on the top hem. So we used Vancouver’s great bus system and went to the Tilley store near the Broadway area. I bought another travel shirt and pair of socks and we headed back to our room at the hotel when I realized I had left my camera bag at the store when I was trying on the shirt. I pulled out my phone to call the store and noticed there was a missed call and message from them already. We hurried back to the store and retrieved my bag, averting a near disaster. It was only possible because I put my name and phone number inside the bag, in case an honest good samaritan found it. Canadians are so nice.
That evening, we celebrated with Champagne, caviar and smoked salmon overlooking the glow of the Vancouver skyline still lit by the multitude of holiday lights. We ended the evening by taking care of some last minute travel insurance. I know, romantic, right? The next day, we finally opened all the holiday cards we received from our friends while nursing a cup of mocha in the coffee shop around the corner. After reading through them, we stuffed the cards and letters in a big envelope and sent them to my brother-in-law. Why? I don’t know, because, like most people, we eventually recycle them later.
Because we were so busy with packing up our belongings, we hadn’t seen some of the new movies that were recently released, including the new Star Wars film. So that afternoon, we headed out into the cold rain over to the nearby cinema, stood in line (still), and finally saw The Force Awakens. After the movie, we collected our bags and took the Skytrain to the airport, arriving about two hours before our flight. We spent our last couple hours in North America sending out last minute emails to relatives and tenants, and posting some updates on Facebook.
At about 11:15 p.m., Sheri and I boarded our flight, bid adieu to Canada and began the first flight of our journey around the world, from YVR to SYD. Knowing we had only a day to adjust to the Sydney timezone, we stayed awake to our normal 2 a.m. bedtime, we each took a Valium, and managed to get about 6 hours of sleep on the plane. We arrived 15 hours and 1 day later feeling road weary, but not completely wiped out like we do when traveling east. The easier adjustment for us by traveling westward was one of the main reasons we chose this general direction to go around the world. After an hour clearing Australian immigration and customs, we headed to Sydney’s train system, bought an Opal card since we would be in Sydney for a couple of days, boarded the train and headed to our hotel.
After dropping off our bags, we walked around Hyde Park, explored the area near our hotel, drank a couple of pints of the local brew at a nearby pub, and headed back to our hotel to plan for our next day. Although we knew we were in Australia, since everything is still in English, it didn’t really feel like we had left the U.S. Our next day, we bought a pass on one of the hop on, hop off bus tours of Sydney and got to see a bit of the city before heading off to the Sydney Opera House to see a performance of La Boheme. It was my first time at the Opera House and Sheri’s first time inside. It was quite a treat that took 6 months of advanced planning to get our seats, making this only the second international opera venue we’ve experienced.
The next day was spent entirely on travel to Auckland, where our New Zealand adventure began. More about that in my next post.