Sunday 02 February 2014 – Hong Kong / Sydney and Auckland, New Zealand.
Last week had finally seen some wintery weather arrive, a cold wind and rain made walking the streets of London on the first week after I finished work less fun than I would have liked. Though, I did make it out for a quick look at some street art and the purchase of a new record.
The great news for the week was meeting El at Camden tube station after she finished work on Thursday and heading off to Heathrow Airport to start a two week trip to New Zealand – 22 hours of flying to Sydney, with a lay-over in Hong Kong.
The first leg took eleven hours and was not too bad, the plane was only half full so we were not rammed in like sardines as usual. Service was good and the food and drink not too bad, though of course I did not sleep as much as I would have liked. We arrived in Hong Kong on time and were whipped off the plane and with a group of others taken aside and asked if we would like to be put on an earlier flight to Sydney – we did ! This meant only an hour of transit time – yay.
I had been to Hong Kong once before, in 2007, and did not have the best of experiences. No fault of Hong Kong’s, but I spent eight days of my five day trip in a private hospital with a serious bacterial infection of my liver. I am quite keen to go back there and see the city, it looks amazing, but there was no time on this trip to stop. I did snap a couple of photos out the window of the airport terminal. Good to see the smog has not left the city!
The flight to Sydney was another nine hours, not as long as the first leg, but those hours really dragged and made the flight seem a lot longer. The plane was also very full which always make the flight less pleasant. It was a nice plane though.
We arrived in Sydney two and half hours earlier than originally expected at 7:00 am, it was a bit of a haul though customs but we were soon out of the airport and on to the (very expensive) train to Circular Quay. We had a hotel in “The Rocks” area of downtown Sydney and were very fortunate to be able to get in to our room so much before normal check in. After twenty four hours of travelling a shower was definitely top priority.
We had heard that the view from the roof was pretty cool so we headed up there before we left for a walk. El ha has not been to Sydney before, but as we only have twenty four hours we wanted to focus on the harbour area.
Apparently sunrise over the opera house was well worth the early rise, but there was a very large cruise liner between us and it, hopefully it leaves before then.
We went for a walk around the opera house and over to the botanical gardens when we got a call from El’s Sydney friends and we arranged to meet them in Manly where they were having lunch, which worked for us as we were heading over there later in the day to visit my friend Nicole.
I love the ferry ride to Manly, one of the best harbour crossings, it has great views of both the Opera House and the harbour bridge and on a great day it just a magic trip. It was a great day.
We had a very nice lunch with El’s old London friends, Mel and Ian and then shared a bottle of bubbles with Nicole before heading back over to the city side in the late afternoon. We were both knackered after the flight and feeling the effects of jet lag and no sleep. It was great to be able to catch up with Mel and Ian and Nicole in one of Sydney’s best locations, plus get to see the harbour all in one go. Stupidly I did not take any photos in Manly, though I did get a few when I was there last year.
We had a walk around the harbour side for half an hour and then meandered back to the hotel to try and get some sleep in, before getting up at 5:45 for the sunrise at 6:15. The cruise liner had left while we were out.
We had a reasonable amount of sleep, but I was definitely a bit thick in the head when we got up on time for the sunrise. It wasn’t particularly spectacular, but it was pretty and I am glad we got up for it.
After a monster breakfast in the hotel (well, I had a monster breakfast) we took a cab to the airport, it was only slightly more expensive than the train – and so much easier! We had a late-morning flight to Auckland that was frustratingly delayed, though not by much. With the time difference we did not arrive almost 6:00pm. The airport was busy and it took ages to get out, which was annoying. Auckland airport always seems to be a slightly different configuration each time I fly in, and this one didn’t work at all well – massive bottle neck at customs….
My sister picked us up and we drove up to my mum’s where the whole family were waiting to join us for tea. I was very happily surprised to see my daughter was there, she arrived back in New Zealand for Christmas with her BF and I was not expecting to see them until next week. It was great to see all three “children” together in one place for the first time in over five years. They are lovely !
It was wonderful to see my family again, and introducing El to them was a wee bit nerve wracking, for everyone I suspect, but it all went well and it was a nice evening. Two weeks will seem like a very short time I think.