in transit: SYD

8:30 am, Wed 22 Sep: Finally on the ground after 14 hours in the air with United. Looong flight, did manage to sleep some but usually in awkward positions. I had a window seat. I had imagined I’d have a seat neighbor with whom to chat, but no such luck; although the flight was advertised at the gate as “completely full”, several seats were empty near the back. Thus I whiled away the long passage more or less in silence. The flight attendants didn’t get the memo that I was vegetarian, so for dinner I had an iceberg lettuce salad and oatmeal cookie which were charitably donated by people nearby. Neil Gaiman’s American Gods was on the reading docket. It’s good.

My first good look at the new continent came after we descended through a thick cloud layer at about 6 am local time. I saw sheer cliffs of black rock dropping down into a dark blue ocean…

Customs was surprisingly painless; they didn’t even open any of my bags. Still, it turns out the decision to leave an extra half hour (for a total of two and a half hours) to make the connection was the right one; if I’d left only two hours I’d never have made it, since my bag was one of the last off the carousel from UA 863 SFO -> SYD, and since the queue for Qantas domestic transfers was much slower than I’d expect it to take in the US given the number of agents available. I don’t have a ready explanation for this so will have to average over many trips. Then of course there was a shuttle bus to the domestic Qantas gates, which took a while to load and which the driver had to parallel park with painstaking care before we could unload…

Also it turns out I had to check my green bag; they allow only one bag to be carried on (instead of a “carry-on” and a “personal item”), and it has to be under 7 kilos (15 lbs). Looks like my days of flying without checking any bags are over. Frustrating.

Current plan is to have brunch at an airport cafe, while away a few hours on the old laptop, then take the bus to downtown Canberra such that I arrive at my lodgings (a hostel in City Center) around 1 pm, the earliest they can check me in. Then I go exploring, and perhaps this evening go in search of a phone plan online.

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About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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