The first of many!
At the end of 2012, Mrs T and I set-off for a big trip – three and a half weeks visiting Australia and New Zealand. Our “excuse” for making the trip was that we wished to see two friends of ours in Melbourne who had got married during 2012, and whose wedding we had been unable to attend. An extension of the trip to NZ seemed like a sensible option, since we were going so far, and had always wanted to visit. A trip such as that has many highlights, and therefore I plan to blog about a segment of the trip, or an individual day, every so often for the forseeable future. My aim is to write about a new day or segment each week, but since this is the first post for 11 months, I suspect that that won’t quite happen. I’ll try to include some links to places we went or things we did, and also talk a bit about highlights of each location. I also hope to put a few of the more interesting photos up on Paul’s Photos.
The map above shows the scope of the trip. We flew out to Sydney with a 24 hour stop-over in Singapore, followed by a couple of nights in Sydney, then onwards to Christchurch, NZ. We spent nearly two weeks driving around the South Island, before returning to Australia to spend Christmas in Melbourne. Return to the UK included a 24 hour stopover in Hong Kong.
Day One – Departure
All our flights were in economy class with Qantas, the National airline of Australia, originally named as the Queensland and Northern Territory Air Service. Our outbound flights to Sydney were on the Airbus A380, and we were very impressed with the level of service provided – the meals were excellent with a good choice of wine with them. Seats were comfortable and there was enough space (I’m fairly tall). The seats recline quite a long way, which does mean that once the person in front of you has commenced relaxation, you pretty much need to put your seat back straight away to avoid having them lying on your chest! Having been anxious about such long flights, we found that overall the experience was not too bad at all.
Departure was from London Heathrow, and Mrs T’s father had kindly volunteered to drop us off. The journey to the airport was uneventful, except for the final roundabout off the M4 (onto the infamous Heathrow spur). The traffic light phasing on the roundabout had led to the whole roundabout being full of vehicles, so it took nearly 40 minutes for the traffic to rotate the 270 degrees around the roundabout we needed to go! All the exits were clear, but the roundabout itself was completely blocked. All it would have taken was one policeman to stop people trying to enter the roundabout for one turn of the lights, and it would have sorted itself out. Heathrow Terminal Three wasn’t as awful as it could have been, and we enjoyed a surprisingly excellent meal at ‘British Restaurant and Bar “Rhubarb“‘ once through security. Decent food, not cripplingly expensive, and very good natured (Polish) waiting staff. An enjoyable experience to send us off.
Once on the flight, we discovered the ‘plane was quite empty, and after takeoff we moved to a block of three unoccupied seats so we could spread out somewhat. After another late dinner (take-off time was 2130), it was time to try to get some sleep, before arrival in Singapore, c. 13 hours (but nearer a full day in solar time) later. More about Singapore in the next instalment, but here is a “taster”.