NSW Trip: Day 1: Getting to Sydney

25 10 2009

We left home around 6 AM for the 2.75 hour drive to our friends’ place in Perth, where we parked the car and from where we caught a cab to the airport (our friends were at an event so couldn’t take us like they usually do).

It was SUCH a relief (and a novel experience for me) to not have a laptop bag! I could just walk right through the hand luggage screening and not deal with the hassle of pulling a laptop out and then getting it back into my bag while others were also clamouring for the limited countertop space.

After hanging out for an hour or so at the Qantas Club, we caught the 11 AM flight to Sydney. There were quite a few police at the Gate — several members of the Finks motorcycle club were on board, heading back from some sort of gathering they’d had in Perth the previous few days. They were sitting quite some rows back from us, and as far as I could tell, were absolutely no problem to anyone. When we got to Sydney, there were NSW police waiting at our Gate too — probably for the same reason.

The more I read about the loss of services on airlines, the more I appreciate Qantas. Ours was a CityFlyer lunchtime flight and we were served a hot lunch, with free wine and soft drinks. Here’s what we had on our lunch tray (just a reminder of what it was like for the Americans who have lost these services over the past 10 or 20 years):

  • Soy chicken with rice and veges
  • Bread roll and butter
  • Cheese and crackers
  • Small Toblerone chocolate
  • Water
  • Wine
  • Soft drink
  • Ice cream afterwards
  • Tea/coffee

We arrived in Sydney as expected around 6:30 PM, but it was well after 8 PM by the time we left the airport to drive about 500 metres to the hotel. Why? Because Europcar tried to give me the run around! I had checked out car rental prices on the internet and found that if I booked via Alamo (US), the deal for a car supplied by Europcar was cheaper than Europcar’s internet price. I’d called Europcar Australia some weeks earlier and asked if they could match the Alamo price. They said they couldn’t and to book through Alamo, which I did (it was some $150 cheaper).

When we got to the Europcar counter, they had my booking for a standard size car (‘Toyota Camry or similar’) but wanted to put us into a Hyundai i30 (?) hatch, which they said was *their* standard-size car! No way. First, the hatch didn’t have a boot (trunk for the Americans), and I insisted on a vehicle that did as we would be travelling and I didn’t want our luggage to be visible. So then the Europcar agent tried to get us into a Hyundai Elantra. Um, no! That’s not a ‘Toyota Camry or similar’. So I insisted that we get a ‘Camry or similar’ as we were going to be travelling a few thousand kilometres in the country and needed a decent car for country driving.

Eventually we got what I’d paid for — a silver Toyota Camry. The agent (who was very nice, by the way) said that a Camry was their full-size car, and so he’d give me a ‘free’ upgrade for the price I’d already paid with Alamo. Oh, and I’d booked a GPS too, and while we were waiting for a Camry to ‘become available’, the agent showed me how to attach it to the windscreen, turn it on etc.

With all that hassle, it was close to 8:30 PM by the time we found and checked into the hotel (Quest Apartments, Mascot), which is right near the airport. We’d seen the Ibis Hotel just two blocks away and walked there for dinner (Quest doesn’t have dining facilities). The food was great but the service was poor, except for the trainee who was good.

The Quest room was good ($125 a night). Small-ish, but you expect that for an airport hotel. It was very quiet too — I thought the windows might be  double-glazed, but they weren’t.

Here’s the ‘barcode’ painting above the bed in our Quest room — I wonder how much they paid for that masterpiece?:

20091025_Quest_Mascot

Next stop: Dubbo…

 


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