Getting to Sydney

30 10 2008

The drive to Perth on Tuesday was uneventful, though getting up at 5:00am less than two days after daylight saving time started wasn’t funny (4:00am in ‘God’s time’). I made it to my hairdresser on time and got the cut and colour done in time to get over to Wendy’s house by noon where I was leaving the car. Wendy drove me to the airport, and without any luggage (I packed light this time!) and with a preprinted boarding pass from my home printer, it was straight to the Qantas Club for me.

Some observations in the Qantas Club:

  • The ratio of men to women was about 10 to 1, which seemed much higher than usual.
  • The days of people dressing up a little to fly are LONG gone (and I’m glad they are); everyone seems to dress casually for comfort, including the guy in board shorts and thongs.
  • I might need a new phone ringtone ;-) Everyone with a Nokia seems to have the default ringtone, including me, so when one phone rings nearby, half a dozen people reach for their phone!
  • Internet access was spotty. I tried two terminals (they have LOTS now, which is great), and couldn’t access my email from my server or the webmail from my ISP, and my Gmail was doing some strange things. I later found that not being able to access the mail from my server was due to another issue… More on that later.
  • Workmen were doing noisy things with power tools on the plasterboard ceiling close to where I was sitting.
  • The soft drink post mix was out of order.
  • And what’s with stockings (knee-hi’s) these days? Nothing to do with the Qantas Club, but it was there that I noticed the brand new ones I’d put on that morning already had small holes and ladders. Not impressed at the waste of money.

The flight
This would’ve been one of the best flights I’ve ever been on with Qantas! It was a 747 so it took about 400 people. But only about 100 or so were on the flight, which meant that pretty much everyone got a 3- or 4-seat row to themselves! The most I saw in a 3-seat row was two people. Pushing up the arms between the seats and you could really stretch out! Excellent. And there was no competition for overhead locker space or armrest space. Sweet. I only had carry on luggage, so even the baggage carousel at the end would’ve unloaded quickly and people would’ve got their luggage nice and easy. We were served lunch – chicken chaseur for me.

Because it was a Jumbo, even in Economy we got in-seat screens, with several movies and TV channels available to choose from. I watched ‘Meet Dave’ with Eddie Murphy. A few laughs and no swearing – at least not on the ‘modified for flying’ version I saw. Then I watched an interesting and foot tapping doco on Ian Gillan of Deep Purple fame. We left on time (or even just a tad early) and arrived early. As I said, one of the best flights I’ve been on with Qantas.

The train trip in to the Sydney CBD
I decided to catch the Airport train into Sydney, and then, if necessary, catch a cab from the station to The Menzies, the hotel where I was staying downtown. Well, the train was an eye-opener. It was filthy, old, and very tatty. Lots of badly painted-over graffiti, scratchings on the windows (why do they DO that?), rubbish on the floor. Not a good introduction to Sydney for a tourist or traveller. And there were no announcements of upcoming stations until after we’d passed Central. Too bad if you had no idea where you had to get off as it wasn’t until you were stopped at a station (maybe 30 seconds) before you could see where you were. I continued on to Wynyard. According to the map I had, The Menzies was a block or two away, but in fact it was directly across the street from the station, so that was handy.

The room
The Menzies is a tired old lady, showing a few wrinkles around the edges. At one time it was one of Sydney’s top hotels, but not now. It’s nice, but nothing more. It’s also expensive (nearly $300 a night, corporate rate), but you’re really paying for its location. The room I was in was an Executive King, so I had certain expectations of its size and facilities. Only some of these were met… The bed was big and comfortable and the linen was silky smooth; the shower was hot and the water pressure was good; and it’s location was just around the corner from work. These were the critical things I look for in a hotel room and all were met. But there were some things that didn’t meet my expectations for the price and the ‘Executive King’ status. For example:

  • No drawers for underwear etc.
  • Small wardrobe hanging space – enough for one person with carry on luggage, but not adequate for someone with a suitcase of clothes, nor for two people.
  • Very dated tap fittings from the 70s and 80s. The rooms have been refurbed, but some things weren’t touched, like the cracked and broken tap handles.

    Broken tap fitting

    Broken tap fitting

  • It was impossible to adjust the air conditioning.
  • There were only two power outlets in the room – all bedside tables were screwed into the wall (!), and you couldn’t access the power outlets used for the bedside lamps.
  • The only internet access was expensive wireless ($13.20 per hour). Wireless wasn’t an issue for me, but if you didn’t have a wireless laptop you’d be stuck as there was no data port.
  • The bathroom had one tiny towel rail – had there been two of us in the room, we would’ve had nowhere to hang the second towel. I hung mine over the bathroom door as the single towel rail was filled with extra towels.
  • It took me about 5 minutes to figure out how to flush the toilet! It was operated by a power switch on the wall of the bathroom. Go figure. Once you know, it was easy, but there were no instructions on where it was or how to use it. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Switch to flush the toilet!

    Switch to flush the toilet!

  • The vanity area in the bathroom was right beside the toilet and the only place where you could put your makeup, toothbrush etc. was on a narrow edge right above the toilet bowl that you had to reach to get to. There was a real danger of your toiletries falling in!
  • Very long black hair on wall of shower recess that was there for the entire three night stay… those who know me, know that my hair is never more than 3 inches long!
    Hair on shower wall

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