Wow. So after weeks of planning, a surprising amount of crying (that’s all on me) and 20+ hours of flying, we have finally arrived in Sydney. Packing up all our stuff and schlepping from one NYC hotel to another (in the rain, no less) were both pretty stressful, but our actual journey here was not only painless, it was downright pleasant! Since we flew out Sunday at 5, we spent Sunday morning grabbing bagels and walking around Central Park one last time. The firm put us up at the Essex House on Central Park South, which made for the perfect base of operations. It was a bit on the chilly side – unfortunate since I opted to go with flip-flops for the day and the entire trip – but fortunately the sun was out in full effect. Here’s my favorite spot, the Mall, just one more time:

The Mall in spring

The Mall in spring

And here is the Park, coming into full bloom. This is just how I want to remember it while I’m away:

Central Park looking east.

Central Park looking east.

So around 2:30 the car service came to pick us up. Here’s our stuff getting loaded into the black car. And yes, the hubs deserves a medal for how patient he was with me taking pictures of absolutely everything.

img_0029Then it was on to JFK, where we boarded a Virgin America flight to L.A. Since they don’t have a domestic business class, we got to ride in their first class cabin, which was sweeeeet. The moment I sat down in the reclining leather seat and realized I couldn’t even touch the seat in front of me with my outstretched toe, I felt pretty good. This feeling only improved when the flight attendant offered me a cocktail, and then another, all before the plane even took off. There’s nothing like vodka to calm a nervous flyer!

So we got into L.A. just on time, meaning we had a bit more than three hours to kill before our Sydney flight took off. We flew V Australia, which only launched in February and therefore doesn’t have a lounge of its own, so instead we got to hang out at the Alaskan Airlines executive lounge on the floor above our gate. They had a bar, a few snacks, and free Wi-Fi so it was a nice place to relax, but considering the husband’s colleague who flew Japan Air got a shower and a massage during her layover in Tokyo, it seemed pretty meh for a business lounge.

Anyway, we were escorted from the business lounge down to the plane around 11:15. V Australia is flying these new Boeing 777’s and I actually kind of laughed at how spacious the international business class area was. Not only were the ceilings so high I could barely reach the overhead storage bins (or lockas, as all the Australian flight attendants kept calling them), but each row actually got three rows’ worth of space to enable the seats to become lie-flat beds. Even better, when we were ready to go to sleep the flight attendants laid out mattress pads, pillows and duvets for us. I actually slept for about six hours during the flight, and I NEVER sleep on planes. It made the 14 hour flight go by a lot faster, and I was actually semi-coherent and refreshed when we landed at 7:30 am. Not that I wasn’t in desperate need of a shower – because I definitely was – but I never thought that I would actually feel kind of ok after 20+ hours of flying. The extreme comfort and high level of service that we received during both flights went a looooong way in improving my state of mind. My only concern is that I’m now totally spoiled for this summer when I have to fly back in steerage.

So we got in this morning, and it took us like all of ten minutes to get through customs and then the special “quarantine” line, where they ran all our bags through a scanner and asked me if I had any trail mix. Really, I’m moving to the country for two years, and that’s the only thing you care to ask me?? They asked the Korean woman in front of me if she had nuts; she didn’t seem to speak English so the guard tried to simulate eating and crunching to her, and I still don’t think she really understood what they were asking, but she got through as well. To think that I left two Luna bars on the plane for fear that they wouldn’t let me into the country because of some [apparently bogus] notorious rigidity! Anyway, after we passed through quarantine with our bags, we exited into the main arrivals hall and headed out to find a taxi. I’ll put up another post later about our first day in Sydney, but for now I’ll end with this picture, which is a little blurry since I took it with my iPhone while wheeling a heavy luggage cart in a line of people, but nonetheless gives me goosebumps. So far, so good!

"Welcome home." AAAAAAGH!

"Welcome home." AAAAAAGH!

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