I have been reunited with Arabella and we’re having a fabulous and very special time together but first I have to tell you how about the journey from Sydney to New York traveling with QANTAS at the wrong end of the plane.
After the long day of packing and organising and stocking the freezer with home-cooked meals, I had a short sleep and then at 6.30am we arrived on the doorstep of a friend who had offered to look after Alfie for the day. Jenny came of the door in her dressing gown looking all bleary-eyed but full of smiles wishing me a great trip. Thank you gift must be purchased for Jenny!
After check-in Carl and I had time for breakfast at the airport only I didn’t eat anything because airport food is horrid and overpriced.
And then it was time for the farewell and I thanked Carl for letting me go and he promised me he would take very good care of my girls who had been on high alert ever since they saw the suitcase emerge from the cupboard.
As I was stepping onto the 747 I handed my boarding pass to a steward and he looked up at me and said, ‘You don’t look like you belong all the way back there’. And I said, ‘I know, there’s been a terrible mix-up’. And he said, ‘Glass of champagne coming down to 65K’.
So I headed down to my seat going past business class, economy plus class and then carried on to the very end of steerage where I found my window seat. There was a chap sitting on the aisle who due to the lack of space had to get out of his chair to let me through to my seat but the mercy was that the middle seat was spare. When traveling in economy, don’t you love it when not every seat is occupied!
I had just finished sorting myself into the tight confines when along came the steward holding a tray with a single glass of champagne which he handed to me. I thought he’d been joking! I was instantly all smiles. He gave me a wink and took the long journey back to first class. And the champagne was in a glass, not served in plastic!
I thought the chap beside me might be a tad jealous of my special treatment but he was unaware due to already being asleep. He slept for most of the 12 hours it took to get to LA. What a gift!
And then we took off and I read my new Bridget Jones book. Hard to believe Bridget is now 51.
Lunch was served at 11.30am. There were three choices, Chicken Salad, Shepherd’s Pie or Penne Pasta. I went for the penne that was vegetarian and served with a green pea sauce with charred red capsicum and parmesan. It was piping hot which was lovely but a little bland however, these days in economy you have to be grateful for anything more than a dry biscuit.
After lunch I kept reading my book and then along came Jerry, the steward, with a toiletry bag for me. He said, ‘I think you might need this’. I took it all excited and beamed at him, ‘You’ve made me feel very special. Thanks so much’. And he said, ‘Is there anything else I can get you? How about another champagne?’ And I said, ‘Absolutely’.
And if the chap beside me hadn’t been asleep he could have said, ‘Could you make that two?’ but he missed the moment. In the toiletry bag that’s given to business class passengers, there were socks, eye shades, ear plugs, toothbrush and toothpaste, and Malin & Goetz apothecary products including a hand and body lotion, a lip gel and a face moisturiser. While I was still admiring my gifts, Jerry reappeared with my champagne. I enjoyed it while watching a quirky movie, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Dinner was skipped as day quickly became night. Lights were switched off and we were supposed to go to sleep but it was only about 3pm in Sydney so unlike the chap beside me, my body-clock wasn’t ready for sleep so I watched 127 hours. Just as he was hacking his arm off Jerry reappeared and asked me if I’d like to stretch my legs in the first class galley for a while. I shot up out of my seat and walked through curtain after curtain after curtain, making my way to the front of the plane. Jerry offered me a drink and I was able to chat to the stewards and move around a bit which was greatly appreciated. I couldn’t help but glance into first class where the fortunate were stretched out in their beds wearing complimentary pyjamas and pressing buzzers asking for cheese platters and, ‘Do you have any more of those yummy tarts?’ And the food emerging from the galley certainly did look appetising.
I’d seen enough and it was back to watching an arm being hacked off with a blunt knife. Two hours before we landed in LA, breakfast was served. There was a choice of continental or the hot breakfast and it is a matter of working out what would be the lesser of two evils. I went for the hot breakfast and was served a frittata that was rather rubbery.
LA isn’t a nice airport. It’s unfriendly and austere and the queues at immigration are just ridiculously long and slow-moving. Security levels seem to be raised every week and now on top of asking you why you’ve come to the US they now scan all your fingers and thumbs and take your photo.
The customs queue stretched for about 100mtrs but it moved reasonably quickly. I sent my baggage on for the next stage of the journey then had to go through security again where I had to remove my jacket and my shoes, then have a body scan and a frisk by a woman who kept pushing on my stomach so I said, ‘It’s just fat’.
It was now midnight in Sydney but 7am in LA. We took off at around 2am Sydney time. My saviour, Jerry, was no longer on board as we had a fresh crew who didn’t think the passenger in 65K needed any special attention. But the absolute bonus was that the aisle-sleeper had disembarked and now I was in a row with no other passengers. I was able to lift up the armrests and lie down and try to sleep. I managed about two hours then lunch was served – at 4am Sydney time, 11am LA time or 2pm if you’d already moved your watch onto New York time.
There were only two choices, fish or an Israeli couscous chicken salad. I had the salad which had cos lettuce, celery, couscous and grilled chicken. But no dressing. It definitely needed some dressing. The sourdough roll though was a highlight. However the smell of the boiled or steamed fish permeated the cabin with a horrible smell that lingered for a couple of hours.
I slept for another hour then we landed in Terminal 7 at JFK. Miss Arabella had told me she was arriving in Terminal 4 so I caught the air-train to her terminal but couldn’t find her. She finally worked out she was at Terminal 2 so there was another trip on the air-train before we finally met up beside ourselves with excitement.
And then it was into a taxi and off to Fifth Avenue.
I’m having such a great time I don’t want to think about going home just yet but when I do board the plane, I’d love to welcomed aboard by Jerry.
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