Pie in the Sky

I'm typing this while onboard a plane. There's a lot of that coming up. Most annoyingly, right now, there's loads of turbulence. I'm tempted to leave all typos intact and see just how bad everything turns out.

So. Friday. Time to start a 3 day hop, skip and jump. A flight each day, each longer than the last. 3 consecutive days of waking up in one city, going to sleep in another. 3 consecutive days which will end in different countries. I'm going home.

First, though, I'm up early for some uncling - except not. I'd promised to be up for 6am, only to wake up just before 7am with a fuzzy head in a slight panic. Went upstairs and, oh, neither niece is up and about. Well fine! Alex turns up soon though, claiming to have been awake for a while but really I reckon I woke her up by flushing the loo in the room next door. We're whispering so as not to hassle the still sleeping Harry, but it feels pointless considering we're going to play with the Star Wars BB-8 Droid rolling all around the wooden floors.

This thing's ace! It was my present to the whole family last Christmas, but I'd never actually seen one in the "flesh" and now I totally want one myself. C'mon Amazon, discount them on Prime Day next week...

Harry wakes up and we continue droiding; there's also breakfast. Alex tries to teach me that microwaving Weetabix is a thing and I'm, like, no, what on earth are you on about you crazy girl. But Sal arrives and says uh, seriously, it's totally a thing, how are you 43 and didn't know about this? So I have a bowl and, y'know, it actually works. Has everyone been keeping this secret from me?

Harry thinks she's hungry but her stomach disagrees. Poor girl is still a bit ill. There's time for some "me and the nieces" photos and for me to give them the paltry gifts I'd bought for them, before Sal and Harry head out to drop Alex off at vacation care.

Unflattering t-shirt is unflattering. I left it in Australia.

While they're out I get changed because, obviously, I'm going for a run. Fastest of the week, I hit 5km in just under 27:30 and feel awful and great all at once. Diet Coke, a 15 minute wait for a bus and I'm back with an hour to go until I need to leave again. Shower, change, pack. Packing is easy because since I have a big bottle of gin to take home, I have to check a bag in - so that means I don't need to play the Russian doll game with my other two bags that I did on the way over.

Pepper eyes me suspiciously as I depart.

Sal drives me and Harry down to Manly, to park illegally outside Kevin's work. We've done a circuit of all the streets with free parking, and about 8 times a spot has been stolen by the car directly in front of us. This is hilarious. Hugs to the girls, me and Kevin go for lunch in 4 Pines because I want my send off to be that Habanero chili beer I sampled on Tuesday.

The Habanero beer is off. They ran out last night. GOD DAMN IT. So I settle for, ah, I can't even remember what it was. 2017 best bitter? It'll be on Untappd. More important is the food: we get 3 small plates for A$20 to share, and the spicy cauliflower is amazing.

Kevin walks me to the wharf and I load up on sugar from the gelato stand in the 10 minutes I have until the Manly Ferry. This is going to be a festival of transport methods to get to my hotel tonight: it seems to me that in order I'll be using car, ferry, train, plane, bus, then tram.

The ferry ride is exactly the same as all the previous times I've taken it this week, and I'm sitting inside because of all my luggage too so there's no same-y photos of the bridge 'n that. We do go close to the front of the Opera Houe though.

At Circular Quay I'm basically straight onto a train, taking up 3 seats with all my shit, and soon enough I'm at Domestic station. Up at departures I see there's bag drop which doesn't involve people. You print out your own sticky long tag, attach it, go put it on a conveyor yourself. Neat. People suck.

At security I'm really slow to unpack all my pockets and stuff into numerous trays, but even despite this I end up making it to the Qantas business class lounge at 2pm. Not bad from the 1245 ferry! All the savoury food looks shit so I grab some mango and almond tart plus a brownie, a beer, and settle down by the window to blog and plane spot.

Blogging requires wifi. There are networks called "Qantas Lounge wifi" and "Qantas Lounge wi-fi", which seems really fucking shady as if someone is phishing like crazy.

The Q400s are so cute!

An A380 gets tugged past. The tannoy keeps springing to life, telling people about all the cancellations. While I blog someone comes to take away my empty bottle and plate, and offers to get me another beer. This is unheard of and I obviously accept!

Rather than wait for the boarding announcement I set off just a couple of minutes earlier than necessary, and of course the second I'm in the main departure area my phone lights up with a zillion apps telling me there's a 5 minute delay. I walk to the gate and the queues, multiple, are huge. Grr. But, hang on, what's this - there's a little Qantas museum ("Heritage collection") right here? Excellent!

There is no-one else in the heritage collection at all, making it extra quiet and I can still hear the gate announcements.

Queensland And New Territories Aerial Service. Qantas, see?

The glory days of when only well dressed middle aged white men were allowed to fly. Up the patriarchy!

Oh god how I wish onboard lounges, and haircuts, like this still existed.

Planes planes planes planes planes.

Before I get all the way round, they announce boarding so I scoot back downstairs. The priority lane moves very fast - no passports, just show your boarding pass, and two people scanning everything. So, very soon, I'm in seat 2A of this long-haul-plane-for-90-minutes service. Plainly I gamed it to pick a flight I knew would have a flat bed, you all saw that coming.

I'm convinced it's more spacious and just generally better than last time I did this (last year), but upon checking my photos from then it seems I'm wrong. But feeling better is good anyway so I choose to ignore evidence.

Inflight entertainment is gate to gate so I start the film I want to watch but know is longer than the flight: I Am Not Your Negro. I mean, jesus, not that I'll ever truly understand the realities of racism from either point of view (the racist or the victims) but I was fucking shocked at the film clip of the woman saying "God forgives adultery and murder, but He won't forgive integration". What. The. Living. Fuck? It's a powerful film and made me really sad.

The cabin smells fantastic. Pre-departure drinks are still water or sparkling water. The captain says we have ATC delays, plus windy conditions will mean it's a slow flight today. We taxi for ages before finally taking off.

Once airborne we head out over the coast and head north, which means I get a fantastic view of the exact coastal walk we did on Tuesday.

Kevin, correct me if I'm wrong. I know I've skipped Tamarama...

A personal welcome from the flight services manager comes, though it's for someone else because he gets my name wrong. Never mind. Food is offered, and despite wanting cheese I can't help but opt for pie because it lets me title this post as I have.

It's a lamb pie with artichokes and green beans and tomato ketchup. There's sourdough bread and a bar of dark chocolate and a beer, of course. After the food service I decline, in order, tea, coffee and water until they finally relent and offer me another beer. THANK YOU.

Inland we're going over mountains with actual snow on them for a bit. Then, out on the left hand side, Melbourne appears. I'm on the left. Shame my phone takes such awful low light photos through windows while moving.

I've still got a beer glass next to me as we land, and it almost goes flying because they apply the brakes very very hard. By the time we reach the terminal I'm desperate for the loo and can't get off fast enough. Not like I'm in a hurry anyway, since I've got my bag to collect. It comes out 11th, and then I wander out to the SkyBus stop. I bought a ticket while sat in the lounge back in Sydney, for the St Kilda service. No tram after all.

Wait here (for half a bloody hour) ...

This was a mistake. The city service is every 10 minutes, the St Kilda one is half hourly and I miss one by 30 seconds. Grr. When it finally arrives it's slow, but mostly empty and the driver announces he's going to switch things round: what's usually the 4th stop will be his 1st stop. That's good, because that's the stop nearest to my hotel. I knew this by following our progress on a map, and also because we drove right past it a mile ago. Gah.

I'm desperate for the loo again. This bus stop is on the very edge of St KIlda, near a bunch of restaurants and bars and opposite an Adult Shop. My hotel is just down one long straight road and I've got 3 bags - two on my shoulders and one I could roll, but I hate the noise of rolly bags on pavement so I carry it. A mile in 15 minutes. Fitness!

By the time I reach reception I'm a sweaty flustered mess, which startles the guy manning the office. But he gets over it quickly enough, takes a deposit off my card and hands me the door key to room 101. Fantastic, the closest room. It seems smaller than advertised and has no windows, but whatever: there's a double bed, a loo, a shower, a minibar and a TV. Ooh, a minibar!

Wait, I don't need the minibar. I'm staying above a pub. I should go to the pub. So I leave the room, briefly reading the "be considerate" guidelines posted to the back of the door. They want guests to enjoy their stay, so there's a maximum of 5 guests you're allowed to bring back to the room. OK then.

A brief scoot around the local shops and to the ATM, I discover an off licence and a bunch of places to eat. Could be useful, probably not though. Into the pub, I grab a seat at the bar. It may be 8pm on a Friday but it's not that busy. Loud though: lots of "footy" on the TV, which means rugby because Australia. This place has a 70 metre bar and 45 beer taps, so I ask for "the darkest beer you've got" and get a White Rabbit. Damn it, I've had this before.

Oh, there's a bar menu. Oh, the 45 taps only actually serve 13 types of beer. There are so many just because it's so long. Also most of the beer is shit. Damn it. Never mind. I order fish and chips, and then a pint of kolsch. Who serves kolsch in pints? The whole point of it is to serve it in small amounts so it's permanently French. Sorry, Cologne/Koblenz-dwellers.

A loud man pitches up next to me in a horrific bad-Christmas-jumper style top which is actually in support of some rugby team or other. Adelaide Crowns? They're on TV, and apparently at half time there's a raffle. The winner gets $100 credit for two people in the restaurant next door. Kinda hope I don't win.

I don't win. I get one more beer, and am pretty pissed by the end of it. Chatting to several folk back home, and wondering how to get back to the airport tomorrow. Google public transport directions are less than helpful.

7+ hours and I can't leave until Sunday evening? That seems really quite wrong. Anyway, by now I'm actually pretty drunk so I figure it's time to go pass out in bed. It is after 10pm you know! But I make the mistake of putting the TV on and the channel which happens to come on straight away is showing Shark Tank - Australia's answer to Dragons' Den. Best have one of those minibar beers then.

I love Dragons' Den, but Shark Tank is shit. There's some good bits - the basic premise still works, and there's some proper heat between two of them because one bloke is a total arsehole. But they skim through everything way too quickly - people drop out instantly, and everything feels rushed. I do like the bollocks of a man who wants 2.5 million dollars for a 13% stake though (I think that's what it was).

Once it finishes I manage to stay awake long enough to put a podcast on, but not long enough to turn the lights off. At 0130 I feel wretched. Hope my 6am alarm wakes me up!

Created By
Darren Foreman

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