Tuesday, 30 September 2014
30.09.2014 - 02.10.2014
Today was our last day and after a great breakfast we collected our bags and filled in time in the lobby. At just after 09:15 our shuttle driver arrived and assisted us with our luggage. He already had one passenger and had two more pick-ups to do. Out into the traffic. Wrong word, traffic implies movement, there wasn't much of that. I'm convinced that the pedestrians were making better time than we were.
After a lengthy time of stop-start bumper to bumper we were stopped by a police barricade. Something was happening on the East side and we couldn't go the way the driver had planned. He tried a number of alternates but was blocked again and again. He finally fought his way to Park Avenue and drove a long way North and with lots more turns arrived at the pick-up. The intended passenger was a no-show, he called it in and off we went for the final pick-up. At one stage he had to fold in both his exterior mirrors and assisted by the driver of the truck that was parked he managed to squeeze us between the parked cars.
Picked up the final passengers and we're off to JFK Airport. By this time we'd spent the best part of an hour doing the pick-up and our scheduled drop-off was 10:30. With some adroit lane changes, high speed stretches and bullying in on the other lanes we made it to Terminal 7 just after 10:30. Beats me how he managed it. Not that we were in a rush, our flight was not until 14:55.
Found the Cathay Pacific desk and waited for what seemed like hours but wouldn't have been much more that 45 minutes. Checked in our baggage, two large cases and the duffel, through to Sydney. Seat allocation and boarding passes for both legs of our flight home. Through the security check without too many dramas but I still can't work out why I have to remove my boots. Found our way to the departure gate at the end of a long concourse and settled in for long wait. Bought some lunch and waited as the crowd gathered for this flight. The flight was delayed due to the late arrival of the aircraft but we were seated not long after 15:00. For those keeping track, that's about 6 hours and we haven't gone anywhere.
It took some time to manoeuvre the aircraft across the airport and finally we were airborne. On Demand movies in multiple languages, complete series of TV shows and my favourite the moving map. Our course to Hong Kong was over the polar region crossing Canada, Alaska, Russia and China. We finally touched down in Hong Kong just after 19:00 local time having spent 16 hours in the air. Travel time so far is 22 hours.
Through an abbreviated security check and we locate Gate 69 where we await the boarding call. Just after 21:15 we start loading the aircraft and we depart on schedule heading for Sydney. Travel time is now roughly 24 hours, a bed would look good about now !!
An uneventful flight to Sydney were we landed at about 08:20 after another nine hours in the air. Total flying time is 25 hours, total travel time about 33 hours. We find our way though Immigration and baggage collection and join the endless queue for Quarantine checking. One of the officials approached us, pulled us out of the line and asked if we had anything to declare, no we didn't, so she stamped our cards and directed us to the Yellow Exit.
No queue, no delay and we're on our way to the Murray's Coach bay. We were booked for the 11:15 coach but the flexible fare ticket allowed us to get on the 10:15 coach. Fully loaded and right on time the Coach set off for Canberra at 10:15 - add another two hours - now 35 hours in transit.
Along the by now familiar route onto the M5 and out through Sydney to the Hume Freeway. Lots of roadwork still but large sections should be ready for the Christmas Holiday crush. A straight forward run to Canberra with lots of signs of new growth as Spring taking hold.
Arrived at the Coach Terminal to be met by Natalie, Amy and Emalee. Add another three hours so now 38 hours on the go. Each of the girls taking charge of a piece of luggage and off to Nat's car. Home to Nat's where we transfer luggage and have quick cup of coffee. Jenny manages to bring Natalie totally undone with a custom built bear from New York.
We head off to the Olympus Motel just down the road as we're in no fit state to drive home. A quick shower and we hit the bed around 15:45. For those who have kept track we've now been on the go for close to 40 hours.
There's a lot more that could be said about this part of the journey but these extremely long flights at the end of a relaxing cruise wipe out any residual euphoria from the cruise experience. The flights to Copenhagen and the return from New York are the longest flights we've endured. I've asked out Travel Agent to look into changing our next two flights and see if we can have a break in Honolulu along the way. I suspect it will be very expensive, but if it isn't we'll certainly opt for extending the time away by a few days.
This was written some time after the event and I have no relevant photos to link to.
Thanks to all who have viewed and followed I hope it has provided an interesting read.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony