Deja vu. Goodbyes, a security and passport check, a bus ride aaaaand no turboprop airplane :) Wow, this time we might even fly over Slovenia.
Team Sydney, the three person cell of combined age of more than 150 years, prepared for take off. I was sitting next to an emergency exit which means I had 20cm of legroom more. For a tall guy like me, it’s a lifesaver. The flight was shaky, but uneventful.
Frankfurt met us with cold and rain. We got out, drove on a train to another terminal and sat for a drink in front of our gate. Leo, the eldest team member, started talking about his early life and how his brother, one of eleven kids, emigrated to Australia. It was during 1950s while he was still very young. He traveled by ship for 35 days. 28 hours we were about to make seemed like a blink of an eye. We finished our drinks and headed for the gate.
Hour 4, Qantas
Australian airline Qantas is the second oldest in the world, dating from 1920s. During boarding their Boeing 747 I noticed most of the staff was 40 or older and almost of them were men. And not just any men - they looked like the whole James Bond lineup. Suits, well groomed, had class. Only a darker beach tan and an Aussie accent gave them away. When I think about it now, they probably have a storage on an airplane where they keep women’s underwear that’s thrown at them during a flight.
I was sitting between two people, but when the pilot said that there were many free seats and we could relocate after the seatbelt sign turned off, I became a man with a mission.
The taxi and the take-off took a while, but when the sign turned off, I was in a low start and ready. Fifteen seconds later I got myself a seat next to an aisle which allowed me to extend my legs. It was a time for a meal after which the lights were turned off and that was the cue for us to go to sleep. It was midnight local time and the sleep came easy.
I’m wide awake after only three hours. This is not good; we still have seven hours to go. I started watching a few TED videos on my phone. Luckily for me, they weren’t very good (I’m complaining about that lately), so it was as fun as trying to memorize renaissance history in high school. In other words, I dropped dead like a log.
Just a note for future flights. Foam ear plugs can isolate four extra powerful jet engines, but a baby’s cry will cut through them like a hot knife through butter. Babies are trolls; cute, but still trolls.
I slowly woke up when the staff turned the lights on. I found myself pushed out of my seat by a granny who occupied three seats already. Her husband was stretched over the whole row behind us, so she wanted to follow his example. And I was in the way.
A smell of the second in-flight meal spread through the cabin and the granny woke up with a smile. At least someone had a good and uninterrupted sleep. Meals were hot and tasty, and they kept me full during the flight. When the crew took away our dishes, the pilot announced a technical stop in Singapore for cleaning and refueling. I really needed it; more than twelve hours of sitting made some parts of my body numb.
Hour 18, Singapore
I rushed through the gate and headed straight for the bathroom. I won’t go into any details, but beware of the toilets. They aren’t triggered by handles, but by proximity sensors. You have to sit very straight all the time to be close to the wall. If you bend forward even a little, it will flush. Guess how I found that out. On the other hand, I welcomed the surprising refreshment.
A fresh shirt, wet wipes and a toothbrush can be a resurrection on such long flights so be sure to pack them with you.
Two things caught my attention: free Internet, and kids in military uniforms and bulletproof vests, holding machine guns. Other than that, just an ordinary airport.
I went through the procedures and paperwork with Leo and Mary, and then helped them by translating on a security check. We boarded the plane again and were ready for the last leg of the trip.
Hour 20, Are we there yet?
I got the middle seat again, but this time the flight was full, so I was stuck. The fact that I wasn’t sleepy at all made it even worse. It was midday back home and while most of the passengers were sound asleep after a meal, I’ve managed to go through a 250 page book about Sydney, watched a few videos and then started another book. The seven and a half hour flight was slow. Really, really slow. S. L. O. W. Sssssllooooo … OK, you get the picture.
I was so happy when I saw Sydney for the first time during descent. It marked the end of this too long voyage. From Sunday 17:35 in Zagreb (the first try) to Wednesday 6:55 in Sydney.
I took Team Sydney through the passport and customs control, and then to baggage claim. I reported some stuff they thought could be suspicious, so a dog had to sniff me and my baggage. He looked at me, winked and reported (barked) nothing.
Leo’s family was waiting for us outside. They were so happy to see Team Sydney arrive safely and they thanked me through tears in a mix of Croatian and English. I wasn’t prepared for this much affection, but was very happy to help the people in need. We parted ways and I headed off for the train.
Sydney, here I come.