North America 2009
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Man what a trip. The trip has been the trip of a life time for me. My first intentional business class trip. Relaxing in business is like nothing you can imagine. Its so good to be up front, not crushed between dozens of people begging for air. To be able to relax back and get some rest and actually arrive off a flight feeling good makes all the difference.
I met so many new people, made so many new friends, and did some things i never thought i would do. Everyone keeps asking me what was my favourite place, or what was my highlight. I just can’t choose one. I did so much that there was heaps of highlights and so many places mean so much to me.
I travelled on 4 different airlines, 4 Countries (if you count the trip to cairns which i am), 26 US States, 2 Canadian Provinces and about 4200 photos all up. This trip is epic and now that I am home i can rest (although i just spent 5 days in cairns doing just that, a holiday to get over a holiday).
Now its back to reality, back to work and back to the morning commute… *sigh*
Current Location: Home
Monday 26th October
After the rough landing in Tokyo I was glad to be on solid ground. I found my way between terminals (had to wait a little bit) and headed for the QP (Qantas Club). The Qantas club looked pretty good, just how I expected it. Was good to see VB in the fridge (good little touch of home). Really didn’t want to drink anything after that flight. Was pretty Jittery and it was getting to me. I jumped online and started writing the trip report for the HNL-NRT leg and I was all over the place. I managed to get myself a shower and try and calm myself down but looking out the window at the weather did not help. Eventually I just had to suck it up and get on that plane. We boarded late as the plane we were meant to have went to Kansai instead.
Tokyo Narita to Brisbane (NRT-BNE)
Qantas/JAL/Jalways – QF390/JL761/JO761
Boeing 767-300 – JA620J
Business Class – Seat 2G
Push Back: 2155
Take Off Roll: 2215 – Runway 34L
Top of Decent: 0705
Touch Down: 0735 – Runway 01
Was at the front of the boarding queue so was about 3rd onboard (stuck behind old slow people). No pre departure drinks (must be a JAL thing) but everyone was seated quick enough. We pushed back and taxiied out. It was a bit all over the place as the wind was pretty heavy. I was able to watch the take off from the nose camera (which has to be the coolest thing on board). The take off was not as bad as I expected. We were up out of the crap pretty quickly. We had the drinks service once in the air and I didn’t feel like drinking so just had a sprite (what a waste of the possibility of good booze). Started watching transformers 2 while dinner was being served (food was really good, way better than delta) and by the end of the movie my eyes were closing. I think i may have dozed off for about an hour or so. By the time i came to we were about 4 hours out, and this is where we hit the turbulence. It was a bit rough (not as bad as the landing into tokyo) but you could see that we were flying through a thunderstorm with the lightning striking in the distance.
After it calmed down I started watching “Bucket List” and before you knew it the breakfast (snack) service was coming out. Pretty soon we were skirting down the Queensland coast and starting descent into brisbane. The flight attendants kept saying we would get turbulence coming in but it was very light. Pretty soon we were flying over brisbane and I was able to watch the landmarks go past on the Nose Camera. Touching down had never felt so good, to be home in my own town (even if only for 2 days).
We landed on 01 which meant a nice long taxi to the International Terminal and the gate. By the time we pulled up to the gate, people looked antsy to get off. We pulled up to a gate right next to duty free and right in front of immigration. Managed to pick up my duty free without to much hassle since I managed to lose the collection receipt (somehow). Used the express lane cards to get through Immigration quickly but when I collected my bag (which thankfully made it through Tokyo much to my doubt) and tried to use the express lane for Quarantine and Customs, they wouldn’t let me. O well i will keep the express cards for next time ;). Since i was declaring the Candle Nut Lei i was given in Hawaii I had to go through all the lines and then I find out because its Candle Nut it will cost me $30 to get it fumigated, so i told them to dump it, I couldn’t be bothered paying that for something worth $7 and for something that was given to me (the quarantine guys are probably wearing it right now).
Soon enough I was out through the doors and in the waiting arms of my loving parents who came to pick me up! Gotta love a warm welcome. It was good to be home!
Sunday October 26th 2009
A decent wake up this morning for a pick up at a decent hour. The shuttle was a touch late which was ok in the end as I made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Check in was a bit of a riot as there was people everywhere and as I approached the Priority line, their computer went down so she sent me to the main line. Problem!! I have to interline my bags. So i found a supervisor and he put me to the front of the line.
Checked in and it was off through the Loss of Dignity line again. Belt off, shoes off, watch off, laptop out. Getting used to it, thankfully the 2nd last time I have to do this on the trip. Through security, and its off to find the lounge, took ages to find it as their was not much signage and it was tiny. Very very small. While in their one guy was fully going off at the ladies in the club saying how shit it was etc etc. I didn’t really have much time before I had to go to the gate. And they do things wierdly in Hawaii. They board you into a big gated room, then shut the gates, then let you on the plane. Wierd.
Honolulu to Tokyo Narita (HNL-NRT)
Northwest/Delta – NW323
Airbus A330-300 – N818NW
Business Elite – Seat 2A
Push Back: 1230
Take Off Roll: 1300 – Runway 8R – Reef Runway
Top of Decent: 1545
Touch Down: 1700
We boarded through Door 1L and it turned out this was the only door open, so it was gonna be a free for all for everyone getting on and blocking the aisles in J class as they passed through. I originally had a seat mate but after a little while he moved over to an empty seat.
We taxied out to the Reef Runway and we had a long taxi with a big line up behind us as well. Passed the Golf course which runs through the airport and also saw the Hickham parking bays but they were on the other side of the plane
As we took off we made a right turn heading west with a good view of Waikiki. Seatbelt sign stayed on for quite some time (most of the flight actually). I had to have the Japanese meal due to my allergy and that meant that i had to eat eel. So i really only ate the rice. It was a bit of a dissapointment. So instead, I reclined the seat (when i could) and watched a movie.
Several movies later, we were on our descent into Tokyo. It was a long descent with almost 45 mins in a holding pattern due to weather on the ground. It was also one of the worst decents I have been in. We were all over the place getting thrown around. I was not feeling so happy by the end of it. My stomach was fine but the jitteryness was up pretty high.
After getting off the plane, I managed to find my way across the airport and hopped on the shuttle to terminal 2.
Current Location: Qantas Club Narita Airport
Hawaii has been an amazing experience. I have loved every minute of it. To give you a bit of a run down of what happened here goes.
Wednesday. Arrived around lunch time into the hotel, I was stuffed. I had eaten and drank myself all the way over here. It was great. I was really to tired to do much. No laundry at the hotel so I was really worried. However the guys at the front desk advised me that it was not even a block away for a big laundromat. Awesome. So that took up a little while. After that i got back into the aircon, watched some tv, surfed the net and read my book. Around 6pm i headed downstairs to the bar next door for some food and another Mai Tai. Gotta love it! I passed out around 8pm. after like 18 hours awake.
Woke up early (dammit) and walked down to Mac 247 for some breakfast. It was only a short walk away thankfully and this was one of the places that was showed on Man Vs Food. I got in and checked out the menu. Not as cheap as i had expected but the Mac Daddy Pancakes (which was the challenge item) were pretty cheap at $15. So i gave it a go. A few minutes later out they came. Damn they were huge. About the size of a manhole and there was 3 of them.
I made it 2/3 through one pancake but even that was shamefull. I had tried it and thats what counts. I was pretty impressed with the place. I walked back to the hotel and got myself ready for the pick up for the USS Arizona memorial. It was a short ride out to the memorial and we had to wait about an hour but this time was used by going through the museum. When it was our time for the tour, it started off with about a 30 minute movie followed by a 10-12 minute ride over to the memorial by boat. The boats were run by the US Navy as the memorial is on an active navy base.
The memorial is surreal. You are meant to be extremely quiet and respectful and it was a very solemn kind of place. You only had roughly 10 or so minutes on the memorial before a boat was back to pick you up. Once back it was quickly through the gift shop and back on the bus for the tour the Punchbowl War Cemetery and then through downtown Honolulu. Once back it was off to explore for a little bit (afer grabbing a Puka Dog). That night I walked over to try and get into Duke’s Canoe Club but it was PACKED! Bugger that. Back to the Big Kahuna for a drink and a burger. Quiet one again tonight as it was gonna be a really early morning.
7am pick up for my tour (the days just keep getting earlier) and it was off on my Lost/Movie Location Hummer tour. It was great! I was sitting up front Shot Gun in H2 as we went all over the Eastern edge of the island to check out the movie sites. Took heaps of photos and lots of fun photos with props to recreate movie locations. Loved it! Once I was back i dropped the camera off and went off to try to get into Duke’s for lunch. Thankfully one whole bar was empty so after a few beers and a sandwhich, I was done.
I managed to do a touch of scouting out shopping spots for the gift shopping i needed to do and then headed back to the hotel to get myself ready for the luau. I think i over dressed a little as most people were wearing thongs and shorts. Dammit! The pick up for the Luau was early. But I didn’t mind. I was looking forward to getting into some Mai Tais! There was a few very stunning looking girls on the bus (two of them i swear were jailbait!) and when we got to the Luau there was even more once the Hula girls were around.
The luau was great. got to watch the sun set, cocktails in hand while I enjoyed it all. Such a good time! I met some really nice people, filled myself with good food (poi tastes like ass) and watched plenty of hula dancing and other polynesian dances. It was a good night and after lugging home my photo, cocktail glass, mug and leis it was all good.
Today was meant to be my bludge day. got up late, skipped breakfast, walked down and checked out the US Army Museum of Hawaii and enjoyed it. The museum was great. It was housed in an old Coastal Battery and was still in places in original condition because they couldnt destroy the place, the wrecking balls just bounced off.
I had been really wanting to try some authentic Hawaiian local food. what the locals eat. I attempted this the first night trying a “loco moco” which is a Hamburger Patty (or in my case pulled pork) on top of 2 scoops of rice, covered in brown gravy and topped with 2 fried eggs. I had heard of a place called the Rainbow Drive Inn. It was apparently what all the locals raved about and they were right. took me a bus to get out there but it was worth it. I had the Mix Plate Lunch which was a piece of BBQ Beef (teriayki beef), piece of boneless chicken, piece of Mahi Mahi (fish) with Tartare Sauce, 2 scoops of rice and a scoop of Macaroni Salad. Omg… Awesome. Thats all i can say!!
In the afternoon i caught up with Cat & Falon and we had a drink in the Aircon and then after that I did some shopping. It was great. I bought all the gifts i needed to buy for REALLY cheap. So awesome. Then last night I was a bit tired after a big day of relaxing so watched a few movies, found another good place to eat straight across from my hotel. Tried the Spam Musubi which is like Spam Sushi. It was pretty good, I didn’t mind it.
All in all, a good quick stop over on my way home. I wish i could stay longer, but I know I will be coming back.
Anyway time to get moving, about time for my flight to Tokyo to board. Its a long way home from here for me. On to Tokyo then 5 hours on the ground and then off to Brisbane. Should be home in about 24 hours Next update will be in Tokyo.
Current Location: Delta Sky Club Honolulu Airport
States Visited: 26
Aloha my friends. I am in the land of romance and palm trees (and im alone ). Hawaii is pretty cool. I am enjoying it a lot. I have seen the USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbour (no carrier in town unfortunately) and the Punchbowl Cemetery. Ive also been out in a Hummer scouting out the Lost and Movie sites here in Hawaii. Ive also been out by the ocean celebrating at a traditional hawaiian luau.
Its so good over here. I love it so much I don’t wanna leave tommorrow. At the moment i am just giving you guys a quick update. I will prolly blog more from the airport tommorrow.
Current Location: Aqua Waikiki Wave
States Visited: 26
Wednesday October 21st
I am really starting to hate early mornings. A 545am pick up this morning and i thought it would be a private transfer… nope. had to share a van with someone. Which was wierd cause the price was the same as what a private should of been. It was a quick ride to SeaTac and I was dropped off near the Delta check in and within moments i was checked in and headed towards the Dignity loss area. I had planned ahead though. I was wearing shoes that did not have laces.
Security was pretty painful today. I beeped. So off came the belt to and the watch, next thing you know they will ask me to remove my pants. Once i finally cleared TSA i went looking for my gate. What i had forgotten was that SeaTac has two Satellites the “North” and “South” So hear I am walking towards the A gates thinking im going in the wrong direction till i see a sign pointing towards the Train and the “S” gates. I was like wtf. Then it dawned on me. I need to get a train. So I jumped onboard and headed off to my gates. First time that I have had to get a train inside the airport to get to my gate.
So once I am at the S gates ive got about 90 mins till boarding so rather than do much as I am really tired, i just find the nearest seat, plonk my butt down and relax. I managed to keep reading my book which was good and pretty soon they gave the boarding warning.
Seattle to Honolulu (SEA-HNL)
Northwest/Delta – NW219
First Class – Seat 4A/3A
Boarding: 0735 – Gate S8
Push Back: 0815
Take Off Roll: 0830 – Runway 16L
Top of Descent: 1055
Touch Down: 1120 – Runway 8L
This was my first time in Delta’s domestic first class. We boarded the 757 into the 2nd door so i got to be all elite and turn left at the end of the walkway.. not right. I had been originally sitting in seat 4A and was just getting settled when a flight attendant asked me to move to 3A so a couple could sit together. I didn’t mind as it was still a window and it was going to be full anyway so might as well.
Once I moved over i was offered a drink. Orange Juice or Mai Tai. Hello MAI TAI’s! This would be the first of many for this flight. My seat mate for the flight turned out to be a Deadheading pilot. For some reason he was dead heading out to hawaii rather than flying the aircraft out. We had a little chat about my traveling and it was pretty good.
Once boarding was finished the doors were shut and we pushed back quickly. Not much of a taxi and soon enough we were off the ground, out of the seattle rain and up above the clouds. We had the seatbelt sign on for quite some time (as it would turn out it would barely come off during the flight). Soon enough the drinks cart was rolled out first (hello 2nd Mai Tai). I had read plenty of complaints on flyertalk about First Class meal service and how poor it was becoming. When breakfast service started, I was pretty impressed. I was given a choice between a hot or cold breakfast. I was hungry so hot it was. I was given a cheese omlette with two sausage looking thingys and some potato wedges. O and a bagel. I am going to miss bagels (but thats for another time). I couldn’t complain about that. Add in some coffee and you have yourself a decent breakfast.
The movie for the flight began and thankfully they use only single prong headphone sockets so I just plugged in my own headphones and started listening to the movie. The movie was called Imagine this. I had not heard of it before, turned out to be an Eddie Murphy movie.
The flight was pretty uneventful. Watched a movie, finished my book off and had 3 more mai tais (and a 2nd cup of coffee). As we decended into Honolulu I could see the islands off on my side of the aircraft. What i missed out on was the view of Waikiki on the other side of the aircraft. However what i missed out on I more than made up for as we flew in over Hickam AFB’s strips. For me this was better as sitting their on the ramp were two F-22 Raptors. I was ecstatic and I snapped quite a number of pictures of all the aircraft on the ramp.
We landed nice and softly and taxied off to our gate. I forgot to read the rego off the door as I hopped off the aircraft so that was a bit of a bummer but then as I was walking down the long walkways at the airport I realised there was no glass. All of the walkways are fully open. How awesome!!! Gonna enjoy that part of spotting on the way out
After the long walk to the baggage claim I saw someone holding a sign with my name. I knew I had a pre booked and paid for transfer to my hotel, but didn’t know it was meet and greet. Then I saw it. The purple lei… o no!! It was a little embarrasing that I was travelling on my own and with a guy putting a lei around my neck. I grabbed my bag off the carosel (eventually) and then it was off to the hotel.
The Anaheim hilton was fantastic. Such a great hotel room they gave me. I can’t believe the room they gave me. It was so huge, even bigger than the room in DC. Now that i have left Anaheim, everything I stay at I am going to compare to it. It sucks.
After spending the day shopping on Wednesday it was great to be able to relax and just check out the shops. I shipped home so much stuff that it was $350USD. holy crap!! turned out to be two packages.
After sending the packages off we headed up to the Arrowhead pond, i mean the Honda Centre. Home of the Mighty Ducks, i mean the Anaheim Ducks. What confusion!!!! Always making changes. The game was good. I had never been to the ice hockey before and it was so much fun. Lots of big hits against the walls and one fight where a player got his helmet punched off (and i got it on video).
Thursday I went up to Universal Studios. It was not as good as Disneyland with not as many rides and stuff but it was still fun. More lines to wait in *sigh*. It was a long day though and i was beat by the end of it. Managed to get myself to go on a long drop ride (Jurassic Park) and i scared the shit out of myself. I was totally freaked out. Was still a good day anyway.
Friday it was an even earlier wake up and make my way up to the Anaheim railway station. It was such an easy ride down to San Diego. I upgraded myself (an extra $15) to business class on the train. It meant a bigger seat, heaps of leg room, and free “light refreshments”. It pretty much meant that I got free coffee, juice and pastries on the trip down. So after a nice breakfast (the coffee was good) I hopped off the train and was met by my friend Kenna. We headed off to grab some mexican food (i ate a san diego thing called a “California Burito” and it was pretty good) and then we headed off to Pacific Beach. To sit by the beach at the bar, catch up and have some beers.
We found a couple of cool bars and just relaxed and then the time came for me to head back and get back on that train home. After a quick trip home and the offer of a free wine (which i should of taken) it was back to Anaheim to pack my bags and rest before a really early pick up.
After the early pick up i headed to seattle (you can see more details of that morning in the trip report). This hotel is not as big rooms as in Anaheim but I guess i should stop judging. Its clean, comfortable, and has free wifi. Every time i stepped outside the hotel yesterday it rained. So i spent a lot of time inside. I did find an awesome place last night for dinner called “Rock Bottom” It was a micro brewery and I found a spot at the bar and had dinner while watching some college football. God i love the bar culture over here. You can eat.. at the bar. something you can’t do back home.
Today it was a reasonable wake up time, and i walked down to Pikes Place. I met up at the Starbucks down their thinking it was the first star bucks where i was meant to meet the tour. It wasn’t but it was still cool none the less. The coffee wasn’t to bad either. I did my Pikes Place Market tour and it was awesome. Got to go to Pikes Place Fish and got to see them chuck some fish around.
After the tour, which i highly recommend Savour Seattle tours, I jumped in a cab and headed to the football at Qwest field. It was so much fun. The crowd was nuts, they yelled so much to put the opposing team off 3 times. It seems thats the way they want it. Apparently it can get as high as 134 decibels in that stadium. I can tell you now. It was REALLY loud. But the fans are what make a seattle game. They are really really fanatical. They were booing their own team!! I mean seriously. When your doing bad you yell encouragement, not “GET THE HELL OFF THE FIELD YOU SUCK”
Tommorrow i am off to the Boeing Factory and maybe even the Museum of flight (depends what time i get back). Since i’ve cancelled my car hire (hadn’t paid for it anyway) if i dont get a chance tommorrow i will head down on the bus on tuesday.
Current Location: Executive Pacific Hotel Seattle
States Visited: 25
Saturday October 17th.
Early morning wake up and pick up for the departure out of LAX. 615 am pick up from my hotel in Anaheim (blergh i hate early wake ups) and i hop into the Supershuttle van for the ride into LA. There was like no traffic on the freeway so we were there in no time.
Check in at Terminal 3 was painless and i was through TSA in no time after the Dignity shuffle. I still swear that someone at the TSA is standing there saying “i wonder how we can make people lose more dignity” Once in the terminal i then realised it was rather spartan for what I was used to and it was pretty boring. So out came the book. Soon enough though it was time to board.
Los Angeles to Seattle (LAX-SEA)
Virgin America – VX781
Airbus A319 – N522VA “The 1-Year-Old Virgin”
First Class – Seat 1F
Push Back: 09:12
Take Off Roll: 09:16 – Runway 24L
Top of Decent: 10:50
Touch Down: 11:30 – Runway 16L
Pre departure drinks were offered.. didn’t feel like hitting the hard liquor at this hour of the morning so just decided on a beer and got a very wierd look from my seat mate (haha). We were soon ready for push back as everyone boarded. It was a 100% flight so no chance of getting some decent photos.
Once pushed back we were quickly on the active and the traffic seemed light so we were straight on and out of LAX. No time to Taxi and get extra drinks (damn). As we took off and climbed out we turned out over the ocean and headed north.
Once lights went off out came the TV and i had a good play with Red (although the food ordering options are switched off for First Class). We were soon offered some food and i didnt really have much of a choice either a cold cheese plate or a chorizo quesadilia. Took the chorizo and it was a pretty good breakfast (washed down with a beer of course).
Managed to watch two episodes of NCIS while in the air (didnt think i could get a movie in) and soon enough we were on our descent into Seattle. It was a bit of a bumpy descent with heaps of cloud about but soon enough we were on final approach and with wheels touching down we were at the terminal minutes later.
Made my way down to the baggage claim and after finding a rest room my bag was already out and then it was a quick call to the limo company and I was out of the terminal into the cold.