Since 9/11 flying has become even more of an adventure than it was. When you get to the airport, you never know quite what to expect. No one asked us to take off our shoes, but for the first time we were told that the carry ons would be weighed and could not exceed 14 kilograms. Since the restrictions on the weight of checked bags, our carry ons (and everyone else's) have become heavier and fuller. When we got to security one poor woman with a scale was assigned this job of telling everyone that their carry on was too heavy. She was surrounded by a group of men with truly large bags and talking on the phone, asking for more help. She was so distracted, we just walked on through.
The distance from Auckland to Sydney is equivalent to the flight from Chicago to Los Angeles. We gained two more time zones while we enjoyed a hot meal and a movie. Why can't US carriers provide these services while others still can? The Sydney airport is large and very busy and we never did find the shuttle bus we were supposed to take to the hotel, but a gypsy van driver piled us and five other people into a van and brought us expeditiously to the hotel. Hotel 59 is typical of many we've seen in Europe. It has nine rooms in what used to be a spacious apartment. Each room is somewhat different and it has no elevator. Luckily we only had to lug the suitcases up one flight. After a month of camping it feels luxurious to have so much living space, but we will miss having our own transportation. It also is great to have a fast, reliable internet connection and a bathroom nearby.
Since we will be here for a week and arose at the 4am Sydney time, we weren't too ambitious this afternoon. All four of us needed a haircut and we found a salon two doors down that could accommodate all of us at the same time. It felt a bit like some of the sheep shearing demonstrations we've been enjoying. A laundry and many restaurants are also in this neighborhood, so all of our basic needs will be met right here. We picked up a pile of brochures and will begin to sort out how to spend the time here.