Sunday, March 27, 2011

Finally to Sydney... (part 2)

After stuffing ourselves full of yummy Mexican food (and margaritas) we headed back to the centre of Auckland.

I was tired but torn between going straight back to the hotel, or out for more drinks with the crew. I really just wanted to sleep, but our first officer was so keen to show us this bar he liked and all of the other crew but one of the girls piked out, so we went.

It was nice but by midnight my eyes were closing, I couldn't laugh at any more jokes and so off to bed I went. Slept like a baby, then woke up the next morning and made a trip to Gloria Jean's for an iced chocolate and free wifi. Looked around the cute little gift stores but didn't buy anything. Soon it was time to go back to the hotel to get ready for the flight back to Sydney.

As always, it was a quick flight and busy. Back at the hotel I made the usual pilgrimage to Woolworth's to stock up on some more groceries, then to McDonald's for wifi. This is probably a sign of the jetlagged hostie's forgetful brain, but I am pretty sure that on this trip was when I met up with my friend skyhighboysyd and the lovely Bernie from Twitter. We did a look round the shops, stopping in the toy department in Myer where B got some cool Lego for the kids. Had I had the room in my suitcase I probably would have bought some too.

Cute "Year of the Rabbit" banner on the street.

After farewelling those two there was just time to get a few more errands in before I needed to go back to the hotel and get some sleep before the flight. Unfortunately for me, I only dozed fitfully for a couple of hours and never really fell asleep. It was gonna be a loooong night. I got up, showered and put on the uniform, getting frustrated that I couldn't seem to tame my hair and it was getting all frizzy.

We piled onto the bus, listening to iPods or BBM-ing our friends back in Dubai during the ride to the airport. Security were particularly grouchy and I got interrogated for over 20 minutes by a new guy who clearly needed to re-take the test on regulations for screeners. He told me there were liquids in my bag, when I knew there clearly were not aside from my clear LAGS bag, which was separate in the tray as required. He refused to tell me what he was looking at on the screen and put my bag tbrough THREE times, refusing my offer to physically show him the contents of my bag so he could see for himself. He then took away my bag another time and when it came out of the machine he started going through it.

At this point I asked him to stop and bring the bag in front of me, and search it in my prescence (as required under the regulations). Eventually the supervisor came over and asked what was wrong. I told her that he was now delaying me getting to the flight and she would need to explain to my senior why I was 20mins late, holding up the flight, and also that he had started searching my bag while it was out of my direct view.

It turned out he was looking at a bar of soap, which is neither a liquid or a gel. Clearly needeed to go back for re-training. The supervisor told him to stop and give back my bag, and apologised for holding me up "unnecessarily". Thanks, still makes me late though doesn't it? Whole thing could have been avoided if he'd just said where he was looking in the bag, I could have told him right away what the solid lump was & shown him.

Anyway, you see it's not just passengers who have to deal with the annoyances of screening procedures. It just annoys us more due to the security checks we undergo to get this job in the first place!! :) Having said that, I am always polite to the security people.

I finally got to the plane, luckily it was also a bit late and the incoming passengers had just disembarked so I wasn't too behind. We got onboard after the cleaners were done and did our checks, prepared all of the pre-departure items and welcomed our passengers onboard. I came back to the galley and heard one of the crew saying something about a "delay" while they replaced a small part of some kind.

The next thing we knew, the captain was on the PA apologising but that unfortunately the flight was cancelled for safety reasons. First we knew about it! In the end, something had been picked up by the engineers & first officer at the last minute, and the airline in consultation with the manufacturer decided that they would rather delay the flight overnight to give them more time to inspect the issue. Of course, this is always the correct decision, you can't be too safe with so many people on the plane!!

The passengers took it amazingly well. With only a few audible grumbles, almost off of them got up, got their stuff, and filed back into the airport. Arrangements were being made to put them up in hotels and get their baggage back. As I was watching them go, an elderly lady came up to me, crying. She didn't speak much English. I managed to decipher that she didn't know what was going on and was worried by everyone leaving the plane. She didn't know where to go or what to do. I eventually managed via 'sign language' and drawing pictures of a plane and a sad face to tell her the plane was broken, and people were going home to sleep.

She gave me a piece of paper with a phone number on it, which was for her son who lived in Sydney and spoke English. She had no phone, and as I had credit on my Aussie phone to use up anyway I called him and explained what was going on. I then gave his mother the phone so he could explain to her. We went back and forth, me telling him where she needed to go to get new tickets and him telling her he would come to pick her up. She was so sweet, at least she stopped crying and as she left she gave me a big hug, aaaaw....

So, it was off the plane and back to the hotel. Problem was, the next incoming crew had already arrived and the hotel had no extra rooms for us. We got on the bus, not knowing where they were sending us. To our surprise (and I must admit, delight) the bus took us to the suburb of Bondi! As the accommodation was not an approved crew hotel, and merely a standby option, it was admittedly lacking from what we were used to. But- it had hot water and a bed. Sadly, the couple of cockroaches are something probably unavoidable near the beach, in a room with a door accessing outside in the middle of summer.

Despite it being past midnight, we were determined to go for a walk on the beach. Also, we were starving, and having been given no cash allowance (again because the hotel was not prepared for us and did not have enough money on the premises) we headed to the only thing open that was also cheap: McDonalds. Luckily, we got there 5 minutes prior to closing and persuaded them to cook for us, pleading our case that we hadn't eaten since before dinner and wouldn't get anything until breakfast time. The free wifi didn't hurt either ;)

We had great fun running down Bondi Beach, chasing sleepy seagulls and writing our names in the sand to celebrate our 'stranding'. As far as delays go, it could have been much worse.

Reluctantly, we headed back to our rooms to sleep. From arriving at the hotel to taking off again, we'd only get 12 hours so we had to make the most of it. As usual, I couldn't sleep, and the fact that the hotel had an open-plan style with an atrium lobby meant that you heard every noise and every door slamming. There's a reason aircrew only stay in certain hotels; this one was full of holidaymakers, people coming back from the pub and lots and LOTS of crying kids :P

Seeing as I couldn't really sleep anyway, I wanted to make the most of being at Bondi and got up early to go walk to the beach before it was time to be picked up. As we didn't get any per diem allowance, the company had agreed with the hotel for us to be able to eat at the breakfast buffet. The room was packed full of families and I was having trouble finding a seat until I finally recognised two other crew at a table, so I sat with them.

One little kid was riding a scooter thing in the dining room and left it in front of the buffet counter. One of the waitstaff asked the parents if they could please move the scooter and put it under their table. The mother was totally rude and I really wanted to point out that the staff could have asked them to take it out of the restaurant completely! Honestly...

Naturally we stuffed ourselves with as much food as possible (including the bacon & fresh fruit) before using the last of our remaining time to explore. As is my tradition, I wanted to buy a fridge magnet from that place to mark my visit. Funnily enough, I couldn't find any that said "Bondi Beach" in the style I collect, but I did find one that said "Australia: It's a Bloody Long Way". Sums my life up nicely I think!!!! :P

I headed up to the hotel pool area to take some pictures. Although the hotel was maybe 3 star, the view was definitely 5 star! Great scenes of the beach and Bondi in general.

I don't know how much the rooms are, but it would be quite cute for a holiday getaway for 5 days or so. The rooms actually had a sitting area and everything but a stove. Not a problem with some nice pubs, fish & chip shops & restaurants nearby.

Nice view if you can get it!!!! :P Sadly it was time for me to go get ready for the flight back to the sandpit. I'd had a good time in Sydney and I couldn't wait to get back. Sadly I don't have any Sydney trips for April, but hopefully as I move up towards top bid month I'll be able to get back there!

Going back to the airport.

Sight to make an Aussie homesick!!!

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