The Australian Odyssey: SFO-AUK

We were hungry, but we were ready, so we decided to just go to the airport and eat there. Airplane food tends to be horrible, but airport food is normally at least bearable. On the train heading to SFO, an incredible example of a hipster geek presented itself. We counted the following “authority indicators” testifying to his most definite geekiness. The first 5 were immediately obvious, but then he just kept pulling things out during his 10-minute ride:

  1. One of those trendy fold-up bikes
  2. A t-shirt (that looked like it had been worn a lot)
  3. The fancy courier satchel with the old-school car seatbelt buckle on the strap
  4. Designer goatee
  5. Dark-rimmed, square-framed glasses
  6. iPhone (of course), in a hard case of some sort
  7. HP Tablet PC, which he managed to use in laptop and PC mode, just to prove the point
  8. EVDO card, which came out after about 1 minute of disconnected computing
  9. iPod, in one of those dorky jogging arm-straps…
  10. with custom Shure (I think) headphones

The guy was a treat. Anyway, after almost missing our train switch on BART (thank you stranger for telling us we had to change trains!), we made it to SFO without real incident and it was time to check in. I was on Air New Zealand, so I went to my check-in counter and walked straight to the front of the non-existent line. Robin had to wait forever for United’s line.

Once we were both checked in, we skipped through security with minimal lines then went to the “Mexican” place in the international terminal for some food and a drink. Eventually it was time, so we headed to my gate for my departure (Robin’s was 2 hours later). I checked to see if I could get an Exit Row seat, but I had no one else sitting on my row so I opted to stay where I was. Turns out that “where I was” was wedged between 3 babies, on a row of seats whose armrests could only be raised half-way up (they were all like that for some reason — really annoying). The 2 babies in front of me were screaming as if they were being feed slowly into a blender feet-first. It was horrible. Howling. The little girl behind me was silent, for the entire flight. She was wonderful. The other 2 eventually wore themselves out and passed out I think. Noise-canceling headphones and loud music/movies are amazing. Speaking of movies, Air NZ have a similar system to Singapore Airlines where you can pick your own viewing, so I watched:

  1. An episode of Everyone Hates Chris (The Guidance Councilor), which was pretty funny,
  2. Beowulf, which was absolutely horrible as a movie, but had pretty impressive animation, and (animated) Angelina Jolie naked, so it wasn’t all bad,
  3. We Own The Night, which was quite a good movie, and
  4. Some other movie, that obviously wasn’t very good because I can’t even remember what it was.

Squeeze in a couple hours of uncomfortable sleep and then I was here (where I’m writing this) in New Zealand… 12 hours and 46 minutes after leaving SFO.

I had promised myself that this time I’d do more with my 9-hour lay-over than drink coffee and walk around the airport, so I grabbed a bus into Auckland and checked it out. Turns out that at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning, Auckland is completely dead. Who’d have thought? I got off at Quay Street (Queens Wharf) and ended up walking all the way back to the YHA (stop 13 on the bus route) on City Road. So basically I zig-zag walked through the entire city. Almost everything was shut, and there weren’t many people around, but it was an interesting walk and a good way to waste use a few hours. I chatted to a Swedish girl while waiting for the bus at the YHA. She’d been there for nearly 2 months and was on her way to Wellington and then over to Australia for 2 months. 4 months of traveling sounds pretty good.

Back to the airport again, through security without a problem again and straight into the departures area. They’ve finished the renovations they were working on last time I was here so things are shiny and clean, but still feel really empty :-). I had my first real Australian food (a steak and cheese pie!) and a Lift Plus to keep me awake at least until I get on the plane and now I’m writing this. I guess I’ll do some work because I have 2 contracts to work on right now.

More from Perth.

  1. Beau said:

    It’s pretty safe to say that this ended up being right up there with Thailand as the best trip that Robin and I have been on so far.

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