Saturday, November 28, 2009

Our neverending Friday

My last flat white of the trip

Friday morning in Sydney we awoke--as usual--around 6am. I fed the kids a light breakfast, showered and finished packing. I hit Big W (the Australian Walmart) for new coloring books and snacks for the plane while Josh kept an eye on the kiddos at the mall playland (big box and grocery stores are frequently located inside malls in Oz) and then we met up with Eleanor, Simon and Sam for breakfast at Bill's, the first place we'd gone to in Australia when we last visited in 2004, and the chef/cafe behind a couple of our favorite cookbooks.
From left: Josh, A, me, Z, Eleanor, Sam and Simon

After sharing plates of scrambled eggs, ricotta hotcakes with honeycomb butter and corn fritters, we headed over to Centennial Park (the Sydney equivalent of NYC's Central Park) with Eleanor and Sam (Eliza was at daycare) for a final hour under the intense southern hemisphere sun. I hadn't brought a hat or sunscreen, and my skin was starting to turn pink in 15 minutes. The stay-at-home moms were out in force and far more prepared for the heat and UV rays--they'd all set up picnic blankets in the shade and were laying out hats, suncream, umbrellas and water bottles.
Fair Z knows how to avoid a sunburn

At 12:30 we returned to Eleanor's and changed into our air travel clothes. It was 32 degrees celsius as we arrived at the Sydney airport--driven, as it turned out, by the most incompetent cab driver in the world. We should have known something was up when her words, after we'd belted in our kids, were "So you know the way, right?" We--the out-of-towners--had to guide her to the airport as she braked and signaled randomly through intersections, causing the usually polite Australian drivers to lay on their horns. As we approached the airport, she asked, 5 times, which airline we were taking. Each time we said "United" and she replied with "Okay, American."

We boarded our plane at 2:40 and took off, on time, at 3:30pm Sydney time. After 13 hours in the air, we arrived in LA at 9:30am. Nothing like flying over the international date line to get you to move backwards through time. LAX was a nightmare of standing in line after line with cranky kids, but our four hour 12:30 flight to Chicago was a (relative) piece of cake. We got home at 7:30pm, completing the world's longest Friday when we collapsed in our own bed at 10pm.

20+ hours of travel with two kids is really not much worse than 10 hours of travel with young kids, but the lack of sleep and constant catering to their whims is a real brain draining. I woke up this morning to the realization that, after paying our cabbie last night, I left my wallet in the taxi. Which means that, in addition to leaving Z's Leapster 2 (and all of its games) on a Jetstar flight from Byron Bay to Sydney, I lost my drivers license, ATM card, one credit card and $250 in cash coming home.

Oh well, I'm still calling the trip a success. More Australia posts to come. Soon. And more pictures can be seen here.