We landed in Sydney last Thursday morning, hit the ground running...and have been running ever since. But finally, I am able to sit down and take some time to write and post...
We arrived early - 4 hours before our flight was due to leave - images of our stressful initial, will-we-make-it flight out to Montreal still playing in our minds. T dropped me and our six bags (+ surfboard) off at terminal 5 and then went to give the hire car back. Driving up to the drop off point at the terminal, we noticed a sign for Avis car rental return which we had never seen previously, so before he headed off to the car rental return main place in the deepest darkest depths of the Heathrow maze, he thought he would just check if he could drop the car off at terminal 5.
Strolling back 45 minutes before I expected him to return to me and our pile of bags, it turned out he could.
If only they had been there a couple of years ago, saved us the stress of that Montreal flight.
Turns out they have always been there....
Well, it's something to note for future reference: Avis have a car rental place situated at Terminal 5.
The guy put most of them through, and then exclaimed: "It was Sydney you guys were going to, not Singapore?!"
Turns out he had just checked the bags through to Singapore, and not on the connecting flight to Sydney, which meant we had to collect them at Singapore airport and then check them in again.
Which meant going through border control and all that palaver.
We had hours at Singapore in between the flights but still, it was more than a little annoying.
We then went to buy some whiskey. Rather partial to a wee dram now and then, there is a type we particularly like but it is only available in duty free. (So everyone who came to visit us in Montreal was asked if they could pick up a bottle...)
The guy serving us asked where we were headed.
"Hmm." "Sorry, you can't take this I'm afraid".
Turns out you can't take liquids of more than 100ml in size in your hand luggage when traveling to Australia via somewhere, wether its Singapore, Dubai or another place. Perfume (although that would be a lot of perfume if the bottle was over 100ml!), cosmetic-liquid items - they all have to be under 100ml.
Australia don't accept the clear, sealed duty free bags.
Well that was a blow.
But then I had an idea.
"What happens if we put the whiskey in our check baggage - will we be allowed then?"
"As long as it doesn't exceed the duty free allowance."
(2 x 1l bottles of whiskey = 1l per person = allowed.)
So it turned out having to collect our bags at Singapore and then check them in again wasn't such a bad thing after all!
2 bottles of whiskey bought, we then headed to the lounge, and sat down; the next stage of our journey out of our hands.
It will probably be the only time in my life I will be able to say this, but it was the First Class lounge!
The expense of moving countries paid off in the form of air miles, and these, together with a companion voucher (which meant we paid for one flight with air miles and then got another flight free), we were able to fly First Class from London to Singapore!
Singapore to Sydney we had to 'downgrade' to Business - but that's not exactly a hardship!
Soon after the plane took off, a glass of chilled champagne and a small bowl of warm mixed nuts helped us choose from the menu.
A crisp, white table cloth was placed over the table, salt and pepper, butter, glass water glass, china plates, proper solid cutlery laid out, and a cotton napkin laid over our lap.
We were served an amuse bouche to begin with.
We could then choose when we wanted dessert - if we wanted it straight after the main, or preferred to wait a little.
We chose to wait.
We were given some cotton pyjamas. They didn't have a small, so I had to make do with a medium, which was a little large on me! I did fear the bottoms may fall down, but they held up thankfully.
When we were ready for some shuteye, the flight attendant came and turned down the bed - moving the chair into a flat position, laying over a padded under blanket, then making the bed with a white cotton pillow and duvet cover.
But then the cabin seemed to get hot, and I started feeling pretty sick (the ME getting me back for my busy weeks) so that was it for sleep for me, unfortunately.
The night seemed to go pretty quickly however, and soon it was time for breakfast.
I opted for a couple of slices of watermelon and berries, T chose the full English, again served with a table cloth, china and glassware.
As we landed into Singapore, it was time to say goodbye to First - what an amazing experience!
In the business lounge, we had a shower, some food, and of course when in Singapore, tried a Singapore Sling:
The second leg of the journey was the shorter one - only seven hours.
We were given pyjamas again, but mine were a size L - no way I was going to be able to stop them from falling down around my ankles! - so I opted out.
With the time difference, despite us feeling as though it was mid-morning, this was an overnight flight so we had opted to eat in the lounge and then try and get some sleep on the plane as soon as possible, so again, we were given an under blanket and a duvet.
No sleep came to me this flight, but it was nice to be lying relatively flat.
A slight queue at Immigration meant our bags were on the carousel - and all bags (and board!) had arrived safely!
T's sister was there to meet us - the first time we have landed in a new country and known someone to be greeted by!