Tuesday, January 31, 2006

A little late...

I shoulda put this in at the beginning of my trip. Oh well. It's a hit counter! To see how many people visit my blog. Of course now it's pretty useless now that my trip is over, but wait! My trip *isn't* over! Let's recap the last week just to put things into perspective and make mention of a few details I left out. My trip in Australia ends, I party with team Spring Break until midnight when I have to catch my cab to the bus stop completely drunk. The bus is a six hour drive to Brisbane, then another 30 minute train ride to the International Airport where I fly out of at 8:15am. On the cab ride over to the bus stop I tell the cabbie that I'm flying out of Brisbane to Christchurch, NZ and that my flight leaves at 8:15am and he warns me that it's very risky to be arriving that late. He tells me to catch a cab to the airport as soon as I arrive in Brisbane and to not bother with the train; that I won't have enough time. He waves $5 from my cab fare because he had picked up another woman who shared part of my route to the bus stop which I thought was rather nice. But I don't heed his warning or advice and end up just missing the train upon arriving on time in Brisbane six hours later, still a little drunk and hung over. I'm a little bit nervous while waiting for the next train which is skedded to arrive in a half hour at 6:27am. The train arrives on time and I get to the airport at around 7am. You're supposed to arrive 2 hours before your flight, I was only arriving an hour before. As I leave the train and head toward the international terminal there is a woman checking peoples' train tickets. Say what? Apparently you need to have your train ticket to show *after* you get off the train. Well I had never heard of such nonsense before and couldn't find my ticket. I start getting short with the lady and am really annoyed now because I'm already late for my flight and I'm just about to shove over another 12 bucks just so I can get by the ticket lady when I find my train ticket. I find my way to my airline check in and fill out the little international card for customs and am relieved that the line is so short for my flight checkin but then a little disappointed that after all that fuss that cabbie made I'm still waiting around for my flight to board when I was thinking at least I won't be waiting around unnecessarily for this flight since I'm cutting it so close. During the boarding process I was warned that, upon arrival, I would need to show customs that I had a flight out of New Zealand. I didn't really pay attention to this as I was only going to be spending a few days in New Zealand and didn't remember having a problem arriving in New Zealand at the beginning of my trip. I get to customs in Christchurch and I'm in for a bit of a rude awakening....

They thought it was a bit suspicious that I
claimed to be staying in NZ for only a few days. They
gave me the royal treatment so to speak searching my
stuff and checking my cameras for traces of drug
residue on them (??) and grilling me expecting to get
me for drug trafficking or something along those lines.
After they finally gave me an opportunity to explain
myself they finally let me go. The customs guys ended
up being nice once they were convinced I wasn't part
of a drug ring and I ended up recommending to the
guy to buy the new David Gray album when it caught is
eye after he had been rummaging through all my stuff.
I didn't bother mentioning the Strip Music, though, as
I thought it might just add unnecessary confusion to
the situation.

I arrived in Christchurch tired and beleagered after the drawn out debaccle with customs and booked a flight from Christchurch to Auckland for the following morning at 10:30am. Despite the short notice, the flight was only $75 US. Because it was a domestic flight I wasn't too worried about arriving super early. I figured 9:30am would be good. Right before I left I thought I should find out how often the shuttle buses went to the airport. It occurred to me I hadn't even found out how far it was to the airport. I was told every half hour, and then it occurred to me if the shuttle bus had just left the next one wouldn't be coming until 10am and my flight left at 10:30am. Oops.... I make my way to the shuttle stop and as I'm approaching a man comes up to me and asks if I'm going to the airport. I say uhh.. yeah, and he tells me to put my stuff in the van, we're leaving in two minutes. Well I enjoyed that thoroughly, finally I'm cutting things close! The shuttle arrives at the airport about 20 minutes later. I have 40 minutes before my plane leaves. The shuttle bus driver tells me I'll have plenty of time. I contrast that with what the cabbie told me. I take his advice and take my time, stopping to inquite about rental cars on the way to baggage check in. As I enter my departure gate I hear the PA system announce last call for my flight and I'm the last one to arrive. I look at my watch and it's 10:15am. The plane started taxiing at 10:25am. It's good thing I didn't arrive at the departure gate at 10:30am thinking I'd still be able to catch my flight. The Alps look awesome from the plane window and it feels great to have had the last week of my trip so haphazardly booked and rushed and to get away with cutting the flights, bus and shuttle so close. Then in Auckland my trip up North was also rushed and I return the rental car within the 59 minute grace period after the 3:30pm return time I was meant to be back at Avis by. I left plenty of time to make my 7:40pm flight to LA as I wanted half a minute time to just process the fact I was actually leaving this wonderful country and my trip was suddenly over. Three months rushed by in a whirlwind of nonstop adventure and sightseeing. And to be honest, I'm beat! I need a vacation from my holiday.

It was so nice to be back in New Zealand those last few days after being in Australia for five weeks. It allowed me to just experience New Zealand without any expectations as I had when I first arrived. It's the little things about New Zealand that make it such a unique and special place, such as a Maori saying hello from the sidewalk when I was driving from the Airport to the city center. It was kinda weird not having anyone saying good bye to me as I left New Zealand. I said goodbye New Zealand and boarded the plane. I watched it disappear from my window seat one last time as the plane pulled through the cloud cover to reveal the sun setting into a white endless sea of clouds.


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