Friday, 23 April 2010

Thurs 8/4

Up early this morning to clean up and pack. I had serious doubts about fitting everything into the cases from whence it came, but we managed .. just! Better not buy too many souvenirs in Sydney or we'll be paying excess baggage for sure. Maybe we could just leave one of the kids behind and put the extra stuff in their seat .. hmmmmm, food for thought. Will get back to you on that one ...

Managed to get everything shoved into cases and cleaned up by 9:30am so we headed over to Mark and Bec's to give them the leftover food and to say goodbye. Had a quick chat then got into the car and headed into Cairns, where we had a (very) early lunch at McDonald's (blech!) on the Esplanade. I wanted to do a bit more shopping browsing but we had run out of time, so we went to find a petrol station, to avoid paying the $3 a litre the rental car companies charge!

As I mentioned before, Cairns airport is undergoing a major renovation/extension and as a result, the directional signage was open to interpretation. As you can probably guess, our interpretation was wrong and we ended up delivering the rental car to the right area .. if we were flying international.

The international terminal is not that far from the domestic terminal .. as the crow flies. As we aren't crows, we had to walk there and it worked out to be about 1.5kms. Now I can hear you saying "1.5kms isn't that far" but with our four suitcases, five backpacks, CPAP machine and Peter's 'manbag', as well as the fact that a lot of it was outside, over rough surfaces and in the rain, by the time we fronted up to check in, I was sweating like the proverbial pig (has to be the proverbial pig, because real pigs don't sweat!)

After giving the nice little man at Qantas all of our suitcases and assuring him that I wasn't going to pass out or worse, throw up, from heat exhaustion, we went up to the thankfully air-conditioned departures lounge to await our flight to Sydney.

We took off from Cairns at 1:10pm and had a nice smooth flight until we started our descent into Sydney, when the plane turned into a possessed metal bucking bronco, determined to rid the bellies of all of those in its belly of their lunch. According to the captain, it was mild turbulence. but according to my insides, it was the kind of 'mild' you get after eating a five alarm chili meal .. nothing mild about that people! I'm not normally a nervous flyer but it was enough to have me gripping the armrests on my chair whilst thinking to myself: must.not.scare.children. Luckily the children were distracted by the injustice of only two out of the three having window seats.

Andrew managed to get this shot of Sydney Harbour as we came in to land:

Once we'd survived the mid-air rodeo, landed and walked halfway back to Perth, again, to collect our bags, we then tried to find the rental car office. The office inside the terminal was unattended and had a sign that told us to make our way to their carpark office, with no directions on where that was. After getting caught up in the parade of lemmings crowd of people heading for the exits, I managed to spy the competition's office and figured, quite rightly, that our hire company couldn't be too far away.

We happened to walk in on someone returning their hire car and having a major hissy fit about the fact that they were to be charged for some damage to the vehicle. She was arguing that the damage was there when they picked the car up and that the staff had failed to notice it before it was given to them. She then started spouting on about how they hadn't done their jobs properly and why should she be late for her plane just because they were all stupid. I resisted the urge to point out that she wasn't going to win herself any fans, or any assistance from the 'stupid', inept staff and just had a nice little dialogue in my head instead.

"Did you not read the instructions on your rental form? You know, the ones that state to please inspect the car before leaving the lot and report any damage not noted on your copy to the office staff? The same office staff who were available to you at the ungodly hour of 2am when your flight landed, just to make sure you would be able to get your car? The same office staff who are now staring at you with disbelief and pure loathing while managing to keep their thoughts to themselves?

While you're noticing those looks, you may want to take a look at your partner's face. Can you see that expression? The one that says, 'for heaven's sake, shut up! You know we did that damage so for the love of all things holy, shut up before you get us arrested for making a scene'? Can't see that one? Well guess what sweetheart, everyone else can! Leave while you can!!"

After watching that little meltdown and telling the very apologetic woman who served us that some people just needed a good kick in the pants, we managed to get the keys to our car. this time we ended up with a Ford XR6, with Victorian license plates. Andrew was happy because he's a Ford man. Peter was happy because having the Victorian plates meant the NSW drivers would stay out of his way.

We found the car, inspected it (see stupid lady .. that's how you do it!), then spent the next ten minutes trying to work out how to open the boot. With the Commodore, you push the boot unlock button on the remote and the boot actually pops open. With the Ford, it just unlocks the boot but you still have to find the button on the boot itself to open it.

With that sorted, the boot fully loaded and the GPS programmed, we headed off into the organised chaos that is Sydney traffic. The GPS asked if we wanted to avoid the toll roads and knowing absolutely nothing about the toll system here, we decided to take the safe option of avoiding the toll roads and the possible fines. I worked out that we went an extra 19.7 kms to save what turned out to be a $5 toll. Better safe than sorry though!

We arrived at the unit (one in a complex of 25) and found the garage way too small for the car. After a quick look around, we parked the car in the car wash bay and lugged everything inside. Peter was getting very cranky at this point, so I made the executive decision that it was now officially time to get food.

We went back out to the car to find it was raining quite heavily. Must have brought it with us from Queensland! Headed off to the local shops hoping to find somewhere to get some dinner and found a food court. After a heated 'discussion' with the oldest and youngest boys about what they could have (Peter had decreed no more chicken nuggets and chips), I ended up storming off to find out what else was there and returned with two extremely healthy Wendy's hot dogs. At least they ate them and didn't complain!

Did a quick food shop for breakfast and lunch the next day, then headed back for a shower and bed.

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