After a slight delay (6 days) I am now starting my Australia blog. I flew into Melbourne on the 28th of February and then after spending two days there took a three day road trip over the Great Ocean Road, which winds along the southern coast of Australia, and then up to Adelaide. Now that I am in Adelaide, I am getting adjusted and settling into my new life as an Australian (or, considering that no word longer than two syllables is left unabbreviated, an Aussie).
My trip was relatively uneventful, or at least as uneventful as any journey over 25 hours long and that involves 6 hours in the LA aiport can be. I did have quite a shock when the night before I was supposed to leave I received an e-mail flight confirmation listing my flights from Portland to LA and LA to Sydney. Considering I'd bought a ticket to Melbourne, this was kind of a shock (in terms of distance it would be like booking a ticket to LA and instead flying to Seattle). After a frantic phone call or to, I figured out that "nonstop flight to Melbourne" actually meant, "flight to Melbourne with a 1 1/2 hour layover in Sydney" (reason # 24 to fly United). My chagrin at the extra hours added on to the trip were offset by my relief that I would indeed eventually end up in Melbourne at sometime in the near future. The flights were on time enough, though the trip to Sydney took an extra 45 minutes because we were flying against 100 mph headwinds for most of the time. While it slowed down the flight, it did make it extra exciting--it's the only time I've ever felt that if I didn't have my seat belt buckled I actually would have fallen out of my seat, a kind of "6 flags meets airplane travel."
Even though we were taking the same plane to Melbourne, when we got to Sydney we all had to exit and go through security twice, after the first security check, we went to our gate only to find it boarded up and a sign telling us to go through a different gate. When we got to the second gate we found a line about 3 km long consisting of about 300 members of the Australian hockey team, all of whom apparently packed their entire knife collection in their carry on luggage. At the gate there was a line of arthritc old ladies going through everyone's carry-on with a pair of tweezers. As I pointed out to the woman routing through my back pack, I'd just gone through security about 3 minutes before. She looked at me apologetically but told me it was the way the system had been set up. (reason # 31 not to stop over in Sydney). The whole process took so long that I made it back on my flight just as they were announcing the last call for boarding. I boarded the now almost empty plane--we were on an international jet for a commuter flight--and made it safe and sound to Melbourne.