Four airports, three different planes, 22 hours in the air, one delayed flight, one missed flight, and one last-minute rental car later, I'm pleased to announce that we have made it to New Zealand safe and sound (insert sigh of relief here.)
Traveling, man. It's truly a labor of love - not to mention a test of your ability to problem solve on your feet. In my experience, it's best to plan for the worst case scenario, i.e. missing all of your connections, and then be pleasantly surprised when things go according to plan.
Our first flight from Minneapolis to LAX was uneventful, which is always a blessing when you're traveling. No news is good news, as they say. I'd give us a +1 just for making it to the right airport. (Unfortunately, yes. We did once go to exactly the wrong airport. That was fun.)
However, our second flight got off to a bit of a rocky start. There were late passengers and technical difficulties, which on their own are enough of a problem, but together they're just bad news bears. We ended up sitting on the plane at the gate for an hour and a half, were asked to de-board the plane, and shortly after were asked to re-board the plane (there were a lot of not-so-happy-campers, let me tell ya.) Two hours and 15 minutes past our schedule departure, we were finally on our way.
I won't go into extreme detail, but oh my POD is first class amazing. (See what I did there, eh?) Pods are a beautiful thing, especially when you're stuck on the plane for 14 hours - which is how long it took to get from LAX to Sydney International Airport. Not pictured: my extremely sexy compression socks that go ankle to knee. Yum.
Rough breakdown of the 14 hours spent in flight:
1.5 hours eating
12 hours sleeping
30 minutes awake/using lavatory
My god, do they wine and dine you in first class. I'm talking a full fledged five-course dinner, snacks on snacks on snacks, breakfast, and lots of bevies. I wasn't hungry for literally any of it but I ate every single thing that came my way - and that was A LOT. I figured that once my mom leaves me in 12 days I'll be back to eating PB&J, ramen and hard-boiled eggs on my budget so I mind as well make the most of it while I can. And let's be honest, I've never been one to turn down free food. Ever.
Aside from taking off late, that was the most pleasant flying experience to date. Once we touched down in Sydney, though, it was back to reality. A splash of cold water to the face, if you will. Due to our plane leaving LAX so late, we missed our third connection and were automatically put on a later flight. Highlights from flight #3 - another meal and I got to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (for the fourth time...)
After copious amounts of speed walking through the airport, being redirected to go stand in THAT line rather than THIS line, and failed negotiation attempts we completely missed our final flight from Auckland to Taupo. SO close, yet so, so far.
After weighing our options, we decided on renting a car and making the three and a half hour drive from Auckland to Taupo. Three sold-out rental car stations later (of course, right?), we finally found one that still had cars to rent. Thank you sweet baby Jesus. We only had one near-death experience during the whole drive (reminder: those crazy Kiwis drive on the left side of the road), so we'll mark that leg of the journey as a W. Needless to say, that night was one of the best nights of sleep of my young life.
I know y'all have some crazy travel stories - throw 'em at me. I'd love to hear.
Stay tuned for more dysfunctional adventure stories from the travels of Jenna and Jane. Sleep tight, you guys.