At last, we’ve arrived Down Under. Last monday, we left for Schiphol (Amsterdam Airport) at around 8am. I’m not going to spend too much of your valuable time and dive into the emotions of Goodbye, so I’ll skip that and start somewhere when we pretty much decided that we haven’t had a clean and easy boarding like this in forever.
But then again, the plane was half empty, or should I say, half full. When it comes to planes, I prefer half empty, unless you run an airline of course. But the first leg (to Singapore) there was enough room and it all went pretty well, regarding the fact that I can’t sit still for a minute and my eldest for less than 30 seconds.
There was a load of onboard entertainment and I think I managed to see 2012, both twilight sage movies and some French comedy named OSS 117. But Tim was so focussed on not missing anything on the ‘Flight Plan’, he didn’t see a single movie. Whenever he was awake (which was almost the entire first leg), he’d watch that silly little plane move just a few miles. He’d check with the window if it really, really was a sea or land we were crossing. Anyway, I still had to wake him before touching down in Singapore.
In Singapore, they’ll let you arrive at one part of the airport and then walk all the way to the extreme other side, just to rub in the fact that you are going to the other side of the world (and make sure that they have time to get your suitcases from one plane to the other). Other than a long stroll (you know, walking) at a low pace with nothing else to see but tax-free shops, there was nothing to do here this time (we’ve been in Singapore before, and unless you are in business there, or have some strange obsession with shopping, Opal or Orchids, this is a great city to spend a day or two)
So, for the next leg in our flight, we were all the way in the back of an even nicer plane (this time we had USB, ethernet, power and other connectors in each of our seats, but alas, we were not planning on a flying network party, so we didn’t bring enough laptops). However, I know that most people will get annoyed by children on a plane, especially when they are loud. I personally don’t mind children anywhere, I do hate the loudness and this time it was a bunch of French 30-something loners going on a joint-vacation. I’ve never seen children act so childish as these grown ups did. At one point they even started to climb over their back seats into the seats behind them. Within a few moments, 20 or so french people were occupying 21 or so rows, with this act superseding the Germans, who only seem to dig holes for themselves.
Ah well, at least that was the shortest leg of both, and as I can’t sleep in busses, trains, automobiles (especially when I’m driving) nor airplanes, I was wide awake the remainder of that flight, which saw 20 sleeping and snoring French people, and 2 sweet little children (of which one did have to puke only once, hurray!), and a sleeping wife. As we rented a car from the airport to go to the inner city, I couldn’t even try to drink myself asleep, so I had to spend most of my time trying hard to sleep but ending up watching the ‘Flight Plan’, as Tim was watching before.
Anyway, 8 hours later, we’re through customs and quarantine and we didn’t even got filmed (it mentioned at the airport that it was a filming day for the channel 7 hit series ‘Borderline Security’, something we’d always watch in the Netherlands). We got our stamp that tells us that we’ve entered the country before the expiry date of the visum, so, with that final hurdle, we’re more or less ‘Australians’ now.
With our suitcases crammed into a Ford Falcon RX6 (lowered body, racing green, man, this is what the Dutch would call a ‘Sjonniebak’, and then some more. It’s so wide, tall and low, that, coming from a SUV like the Verso, you don’t see sh*t, in all directions. Which wouldn’t be so much of a problem except for the fact that I now don’t see in all directions at the other side of the road. I managed to get to the Subel Surrey Hills in Albion Street, Sydney. I admit I asked for valet parking once I got there 😉
And after a great pizza and beer at ‘Pizza e Birra‘s restaurant we went to bed at 21.00 or so local time. So, we actually got to be ‘early’ for our doing. Actually, I’m writing this post at 11pm local time, so what jetleg? When you travel halve the world without sleep, there is no such thing 🙂
The next day, we went to the emigrants bank department of the Commonwealth bank on 48 Market Place to get our first official Australian bankpasses. After a long, interesting talk about what kind of extra services and insurances we can (and should) get we left with 2 working bankpasses and an internet banking account. All those other things will come later. By the time we left it was also time to get lunch. This time we introduced the kids in the for them whole new idea of having a ‘food court’. I know much of the Dutch people I know don’t really know this concept. It’s like a court (centered area with seats) surrounded by little shops that sell food. So, it kinda differs from the Dutch snackbar because there’s a lot of bars and a lot of snacks and one single shared place to eat them all. So I got a salad from the Salad King, Melissa got a wrap from the Wrapping God and the kids got some chips from some Korean fishfood stand. (all the names are made up as I didn’t feel the need to remember them). I know they’ve tried this concept in the city mall of Nieuwegein, but it failed miserably when each of the entrepreneurs that should have shared their terrasses ended up in creating their own small terrasses. I guess the Dutch just can’t share anything but the bill or the costs…
Next we went to Harvey Norman (which is just below that food court). We bought the simplest prepaid phone money could buy (which ended up a drag to activate, as you don’t seem to buy ‘prepaid’ alone, you actually have a plan or 15 how to spend your prepaid money. I just wanted to make cheap calls, why can’t they put that on a box. ‘simple phone to make cheap calls, no internet, no facebook, no social media, no nothing but voice calls’, it just doesn’t exist, anyway, it’s activated now, if you’d like to have the number, just leave me a message ;-))
We also bought a navigation system. Back in the days, when you went to a strange city or country, you’d buy a book. We didn’t even bother, we bought a brand new navigation system for around $260. Guess what, it works and it’s been a gift from heaven (well, actually, a gift, we bought it ourselves, so it wasn’t a gift. And it wasn’t from heaven either. But calling something that’s a lifesaver ‘something you’d buy yourself’, just doesn’t cut it, does it?). Anyway, I startled the guy who sold it to me a bit when I said I really didn’t want the extra year warranty. ‘But you’ll get a replacement when it breaks in 2 years?’. ‘Yeah, but think of the idea that I already saved $55 for my next, new, fully featured one I’m going to buy when that happens!’.
Anyway, weaponed with the GPS and phone, we walked over to the wharf and made a picture of Tim and Zoë right at the spot where their grandparents’ boat had been at the beginning of March and then we went back to the hotel where we had the valet parking guys bring the car up from below the surface of Sydney. And guided by the newly acquired navigational device, we arrived at the Sydney Hills Holiday Park in Dural, in the north of Sydney, which will be our home for the following 3 weeks. And where I’m writing you this as we you can get WiFI for 30 days at $50.
So, hopefully, from tomorrow, I can start writing smaller posts. It’s been a crammed 2 full days with way too much stuff that happened to go unnoticed. We’re beat, we’re tired but we’re happy. The plan for tomorrow is to get medicare and to make a first investigation into the second hand car business. I’m keeping my eyes open while driving to see what kind of car seems to be popular here, or, more important, what kind of car seems to be fit to ride these roads for a long time. And I’ve got to say so, even though I hate our rental (I already burned the insurance on that one while parking in the Hills may help you misjudge just how much a sidewalk and street level differ so you can wreck your front bumper just enough), you see a lot of ford falcons…
Catch ya later!