Saturday, May 24, 2008

Welcome to Perth!

Perth is an insanely clean city. The cleanliness starts at the airport and never seemed to end. That was the impression I had of the city in the midst of Karen and I trying to get back on schedule. As you know from the previous post, Australian Travel, we missed our flight. Everything worked out except for the minor detail that we were supposed to meet the rest of the team at the Perth airport to head to the Stadium to get our credentials. Oh yeah and there was the tiny detail of the room being in Karen's name so they couldn't check in without her.

The two of us caught a cab and rushed to Challenge Stadium with no idea how to find anyone else. Karen had international texting added to her phone, but it wasn't working. Thanks, Sprint! There was no way for us to contact anyone else. As with everything else thus far, God worked it all out.

As we pull into the Stadium, I happened to glance around and who should be standing at the shuttle stop? You got it. The rest of the team. Everybody was there waiting to get the shuttle to the hotel. Karen yelled out the window to catch their attention.

We still had to get our credentials. Jenni ran over to show us where to go in hopes that we'd be finished in the next few minutes to catch the shuttle with everyone else. No such luck. The Aussies are really nice. They're also really chatty. Needless to say, we missed that shuttle.

Lea and Dawn caught it, but left Sylvia behind with Jenni's bags to wait for us. The next shuttle wasn't due for an hour so Jenni and I made the most of it.

This is the sign at the entry. You can see the stadium in the distance.

The other side of the sign with less shadow.

This sculpture is part of the fountain at the entrance.

Jenni seated at the fountain in front of the stadium.

This is the view looking away from the stadium.

So from just these few pictures you can see what I mean about the city. Incredibly clean.

After our mini photo shoot, we headed back to Karen and Sylvia who were trying to figure out how to get to the hotel without waiting for the next shuttle. Jenni, who is simply brilliant, thought to get a map of Perth from the airport so we put our heads together to piece together a travel plan.

We hopped on the next bus with all of our luggage (which caused the bus to leave some folks behind...) and headed off to the train station where we were told we'd be able to take the train to downtown Perth. After only one bus and a train, we'd finally made it into Perth.

Karen made the executive decision to send Jenni and I to the info desk at the train station to figure out where we needed to go from there. After being assured that the next bus we needed would stop, "right over there," Jenni and I headed back upstairs to relay this delightful news to Karen and Sylvia.

Unfortunately, "right over there" never seemed to materialize as we traipsed through the train station, across a glassed in walkway, around a mall (yes, a mall) and back down to the street with all of our luggage. We'd covered two levels of the same block nearly in its entirety.

Down at the street again, we looked up to see the bus stop...on the level we'd just left. With no clear direction regarding how to get back up there, we set off down the block then up a steep hill to the sign. Thankfully, the bus arrived within three minutes and we were able to take a load off for a moment.

Now that we'd found the bus, getting to our hotel was embarrassingly easy. In fact, it stopped right in front of our home for the week. Go figure.

So a mere two and half hours after leaving Challenge Stadium we finally made it to our destination. Thankfully, we were far from disappointed with the Mounts Bay Waters Apartments Hotel.

Australian Travel

At long last, April 16, 2008 arrived and I was all set to head to Perth, Australia for the 2008 World Masters Championships. Well, more or less, anyway.

I got to LAX with plenty of time to check in and make my way through security then on to the gate. Having heard Karen's story about the swimmer whose luggage didn't make it on the plane, I carried all important swim gear on the plane with me. Just in case...

I didn't seem like I was at the gate for very long before the plane started boarding. I don't know how I managed to sit calmly and wait for my section to be called. I was sooo ready to go. Before long, I saw Karen in the line and went to join her. Had no idea we were on the same flight leaving L.A. We chatted until we got on the plane then headed for our separate seats. And sat. And sat.

We were waiting for another passenger to arrive from another flight. I was sitting in the middle. The lady in the window seat and I were getting excited that the aisle seat was still open. No sooner had I moved to it than the woman we'd been waiting for boarded and claimed that space. Oh well.

The flight was just over 14 hours and it didn't bother me at all. I think I was still too excited. I slept a little bit and watched three movies I hadn't seen yet. Before I knew it, we were landing in Brisbane, Australia.

Karen and I cleared customs in Brisbane. Well, Karen cleared them, I got sniffed out by a dog. Qantas had given us a snack pack during the flight. As that had been my sleeping period, I kinda just stuffed it in my backpack without looking inside. Of course there was a pack of dried fruit inside that the dog smelled. They confiscated it and wrote something on my customs card, then sent me on my way.

I was happy to see that my checked bags made it as well. After answering questions about what type of water I'd used my SCUBA gear in previously, the Aussies allowed us into their country.

Karen and I rushed for the train to take us to the domestic terminal. Unfortunately, we were already on the train before Karen learned from another passenger (I swear the woman never meets a stranger) that we could've rechecked our luggage back at customs so we wouldn't have to lug them over to the domestic terminal. This little bit "didn't know" came back to bite us in the butt when we didn't get to the domestic terminal in time to check our bags. We missed our connection to Perth.

Everything worked out fine since Qantas was able to put us on the next flight that left about an hour later. We hung out in the airport and chatted. I was excited to see that my favorite restaurant, Burger King, is Hungry Jacks in Australia. Love the home of the Whopper!

We headed to the gate where Karen worked on her solo without too many strange looks from other passengers wondering what that strange woman is doing in the corner. Before we knew it, we were on the plane and off to Perth.