Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Come away with me...

Christmas in Sydney

Those of you who followed the breaking news on FaceBook overnight will be aware that I have successfully accomplished the amazing feat of actually getting out of snow-bound Europe to sunny Sydney. This was not easy, and I am eternally grateful to the Traveller's Fairy for looking after me, as always.

I will not dwell on the terrible scenes that were Heathrow Terminal Three on Monday evening, UK time. Entrance to the Terminal was barred at the doors for anyone who's flight was due to depart more than three hours hence, with the result that people were left queuing in the snow, baggage and children strewn about them. The Qantas website and recorded phone information was telling me that QF2 was departing that evening. Off I set. Luckily for me I had a clever driver who took various back ways through carparks and side roads to avoid the traffic gridlock. We reached the Terminal - step one. Then we found a porter who showed me how to get past the door guards. Step two. Strewing ten quid notes about me to various benefactors, I made it to Qantas First Class check in. Step Three. Then the real difficulties began. The scene was Third World chaos (and I won't even try to describe the Economy Class area - 'queue' is not appropriate - it was just a sea of struggling travellers).

Dante's Inferno, aka Terminal Three
First I was told that QF2 was cancelled, and I should 'go home' and return tomorrow night. I thoughtfully stood my ground. I observed. A certain Australian entertainment celebrity arrived with his personal porter and entourage. Carefully, but swiftly, he edged his imperious way to the front counter (no mean feat through the struggling hoardes), and captivated the attention of the one lone Qantas Customer Service lady who had drawn the short straw for tonight's shift. Soon, he and said entourage were checking in. I observed this modus operandi with interest. To cut a long story short, I got to know this very nice lady (let's call her 'Dawn', since that was her name) and soon she returned with a boarding pass to an earlier flight, which was in fact already boarding, but minor matters like that mattered not at Terminal Three on that dark,dark night. I wasn't sure where exactly this flight was going, but pausing only to tell Dawn that I loved her, I got on it anyway.

I recognise that place....!

So this is what's going on in Sydney...
The new flight was an A380, a very big aircraft, and it was packed to the gills with grateful passengers. The celeb was sitting behind me. Of course it took several hours to get into the air, and the atmosphere in the First Class cabin became quite convivial, as everyone changed into the little grey pyjamas they give you, and drank far too much excellent champagne. Canapes were served. Eventually we were de-iced and took to the air. A cheer went up! Many hours later I discovered that we were in fact transiting through Singapore - a few more delays while they stuffed as many more people on as they possibly could, and we arrived in Sydney only a few hours late. There were a bad few moments when my bags didn't appear for about an hour, but eventually they did and I was home free - with the Harrods' Christmas pudding safely through customs.

Christmas Tree in the QVB

Ah, the sunshine and the light! The locals say it has been cold, but I'm telling you they know nothing. Thanks you to Peter for picking me up - although I did point out that I am used to the pick-up person standing in arrivals with my name on a little placard...Soon I was reunited with my BMW, a happy moment for us both. Fortunately I found that I could remember how to drive. Pausing only to spend 1.5 hours in the chair at my dentist, I am now ensconced in my little home in Cremorne for the next few weeks, well placed for catching up with everyone. Home free!

George & Market Streets - what have they done?
I leave for two minutes...

Heathrow pic from
A380 pic from


  1. Welcome back you lucky thing! What have they done to George and Market streets?! I haven't been in Sydney for a few weeks and haven't even seen the new Westfield up yet.