Searching for locations: We’ve just arrived in Beijing International Airport, China

Instead of making a grand entrance, arriving in style and being greeted by important dignitaries, we are slinking in via an airplane, late at night. It’s hardly the entrance I’d envisaged. At 9:56 the plane touches down on the runway.  Outside the plane, it is dark and gloomy and from what I could see, it had been raining.  That could, of course, simply be condensation.

Once on the ground, everyone was frantically gathering together everything from seat pockets and sending pillows and blankets to the floor.  A few were turning their mobile phones back on, and checking for a signal, and, perhaps, looking for messages sent to them during the last 12 hours. Or perhaps they were just suffering from mobile phone deprivation.

It took 10 minutes for the plane to arrive at the gate. That’s when everyone moves into overdrive, unbuckling belts, some before the seatbelt sign goes off, and are first out of their seats and into the overhead lockers.  Most are not taking care that their luggage may have moved, but fortunately, no bags fall out onto someone’s head. The flight had been relatively turbulent free.

When as many people and bags have squeezed into that impossibly small aisle space, we wait for the door to open, and then the privileged few business and first-class passengers to depart before we can begin to leave. As we are somewhere near the middle of the plane, our wait will not be as long as it usually is.  This time we avoided being at the back of the plane.  Perhaps that privilege awaits us on the return trip.

Once off the plane, it is a matter of following the signs, some of which are not as clear as they could be.  It’s why it took another 30 odd minutes to get through immigration, but that was not necessarily without a few hiccups along the way. We got sidetracked at the fingerprint machines, which seemed to have a problem if your fingers were not straight, not in the center of the glass, and then if it was generally cranky, which ours were, continue to tell you to try again, and again, and again, and again…That took 10 to 15 minutes before we joined an incredibly long queue of other arrivals,

A glance at the time, and suddenly it’s nearly an hour from the moment we left the plane.

And…

That’s when we got to the immigration officer, and it became apparent we were going to have to do the fingerprints yet again.  Fortunately this time, it didn’t take as long.  Once that done, we collected our bags, cleared customs by putting our bags through a huge x-ray machine, and it was off to find our tour guide.


We found several tour guides with their trip-a-deal flags waiting for us to come out of the arrivals hall.  It wasn’t a difficult process in the end.  We were in the blue group.  Other people we had met on the plane were in the red group or the yellow group.  The tour guide found, or as it turned out she found us, it was simply a matter of waiting for the rest of the group, of which there were eventually 28.Gathered together we were told we would be taking the bags to one place and then ourselves to the bus in another.  A glance in the direction of the bus park, there were a lot of busses.

Here’s a thought, imagine being told your bus is the white one with blue writing on the side.

Yes, yours is, and 25 others because all of the tourist coaches are the same.  An early reminder, so that you do not get lost, or, God forbid, get on the wrong bus, for the three days in Beijing, is to get the last five numbers of the bus registration plate and commit them to memory.  It’s important.  Failing that, the guide’s name is in the front passenger window.

Also, don’t be alarmed if your baggage goes in one direction, and you go in another. In a rather peculiar set up the bags are taken to the hotel by what the guide called the baggage porter.  It is an opportunity to see how baggage handlers treat your luggage; much better than the airlines it appears.


That said, if you’re staying at the Beijing Friendship Hotel, be prepared for a long drive from the airport.  It took us nearly an hour, and bear in mind that it was very late on a Sunday night.

Climbing out of the bus after what seemed a convoluted drive through a park with buildings, we arrive at the building that will be our hotel for the next three days.  From the outside, it looks quite good, and once inside the foyer, that first impression is good.  Lots of space, marble, and glass.  If you are not already exhausted by the time you arrive, the next task is to get your room key, find your bags, get to your room, and try to get to be ready the next morning at a reasonable hour.

Sorry, that boat has sailed.

We were lucky, we were told, that our plane arrived on time, and we still arrived at the hotel at 12:52.  Imagine if the incoming plane is late.

This was taken the following morning.  It didn’t look half as bland late at night.

This is the back entrance to Building No 4 but is quite representative of the whole foyer, made completely of marble and glass.  It all looked very impressive under the artificial lights, but not so much in the cold hard light of early morning.

This the foyer of the floor our room was on.  Marble with interesting carpet designs.  Those first impressions of it being a plush hotel were slowly dissipating as we got nearer and nearer to the room.  From the elevator, it was a long, long walk.

So…Did I tell you about the bathroom in our room?

The shower and the toilet both share the same space with no divide and the shower curtain doesn’t reach to the floor.  Water pressure is phenomenal.  Having a shower floods the whole shower plus toilet area so when you go to the toilet you’re basically underwater.

Don’t leave your book or magazine on the floor or it will end up a watery mess.

And the water pressure is so hard that it could cut you in half.  Only a small turn of the tap is required to get that tingling sensation going.

It’s after 1:30 before we finally get to sleep.

As for the bed, well, that’s a whole other story.

The trials of travelling: A typical flight, and arrival

Travelling is always a good source of material to add to the writing store.  Writers collect anecdotes, descriptions of their fellow travellers, more the idiosyncrasies than an actual physical description, and of the experience, though it is all the better if it turns out to be really, really bad than good.
This equally applies to experiences in hotels, with hire cars, tourist spots and especially with fellow travellers.

Start with the airline.  This can make or break the start of a holiday and could be the difference between a great start or a horrid one.

We can usually accept the sardine arrangements, the lack of leg room, being within earshot of a screaming baby, or put up with the constant kicking in the back of the seat by the wretched uncontrollable child sitting behind you.

It’s having the person in front fully reclining their seat in your face that gets your goat.  For an hour and a half or eight hours, it is still the biggest bone of contention when flying.

We are taking one airline down to Melbourne the one that makes a big deal out of the full service it provides, and another airline back, formerly a low-cost airline but now trying to match its so-called full-service rival.

The flight down is smooth and the food was reasonably good.  The landing, even though the pilot was battling sharp crosswinds, was very heavy and left us in no doubt we had reached terra firma again.
 I’ve been on worse.

Hire cars are a rich field to pick over and I’ve read about some interesting experiences involving even the best.  So far I’ve not had a problem.  I pre-booked as far in advance as possible to get a small fuel-efficient vehicle.  Sometimes we are upgraded and while they think they are doing you a favour it is not necessarily the case, especially when you finish up with a large car that barely fits small provincial French roads one lane wide.  It does happen.

There is also the waiting time at the car rental desk, particularly when it’s the rental company you picked, while other company desks are empty.  You also quickly discover that most of the people in the queue didn’t think of pre-booking a car, which to my mind is expecting trouble with it being the peak holiday period.

We had to wait in a long queue after taking a chance it would be less crowded at the pickup point than at the desk in the airport terminal.  It was no surprise to discover that a lot of other travellers had the same thought.

We get a small spritely economy car that is clean and has no sign of being in an end-to-end freeway crash.  It will do us nicely.

But, there’s always more to the story…

The Perils of Travelling: The Case of the Missing Passenger

It is not always a problem with the aircraft that causes delays.  Whilst often it is a case of technical difficulties, but this time it wasn’t.

We are missing a passenger.

Yep, on a plane that carries 301 passengers, we were missing the one.  And because they have not made the boarding cutoff, their baggage has to be offloaded.  Since there are 300 plus other bags to sort through, it will take time.

Scheduled departure time 8:45, an announcement about the offloading at 8:35, it’s now 8:50.  Ok, now we’re closing the front door.  Let’s see what happens now.

8:52, the captain says we’re sorted, but…

Oh, the dreaded we’ve missed our slot and now have wait for the next.  Last time that happened, in France, we waited an hour.  This is Brisbane, not so large an airport so it may not be long.

9:01, we’re pushing back.  Finally a slot.

But…

There are five other planes in front of us, so it’s all adding up to a delayed arrival.  9:15 and still taxiing.

9:30, 45 minutes late we finally take off.  Let’s see how this affects our arrival time.  The flight time is advised to be 2 hours and 25 minutes.  This means if the flying time is correct, we should be landing in Auckland at 13:55 pm, local time.  New Zealand is, by the way, two hours ahead of Brisbane.

11:45, (or 13:45 local time) we commence our descent.  Landed at 14:10 local time.

It could have been worse.

What am I saying? We have now to negotiate immigration and baggage, and that’s a whole new can of worms.

Who said travelling isn’t fun?

The Perils of Travelling: Every plane trip is, well, different

The course of plane travel can run like clockwork, or rapidly come apart at the seems.

Every time you go to the airport, it can become an adventure.  Checking in, battling the airline’s kiosk, printing and attaching bag labels, going to bag drop, remembering that every airline does it differently.

Hong Kong airport is huge and there are endless boarding gates.  Being dropped off in the zone that belongs to the airline you’re flying is simple.  The next step is to find the aisle letter where your flight is checking in and then do the automated boarding pass and baggage label.

If it’s international travel which it is today, there’s the added stress of negotiating immigration and the duty-free stores.  We followed the rules, got there early, had the usual problems at the kiosk requiring the assistance of two Cathay Pacific staff, and finally made it to the initial departure concourse.

Next, there’s the temptation of overpriced airport food if you’re hungry which we are not.  But we have a McCafe coffee to satisfy a caffeine fix before the flight.

The shops are all expensive at the initial departure concourse, so we decide to see if there are other shops near our departure gate.  To get to our particular departure gate we descend to the train and get off at the 40-80 station.  It’s a short journey, and once back up on the concourse level we find a collection of more affordable shops where we buy every man and his dog a selection of sweets.

From there it’s a couple of travellators, which sounds rediculously short, but are, in reality, very, very long, to our gate and we get there ten minutes before boarding is supposed to commence.
Today we are traveling on an Airbus A350-900, a relatively new plane so you would think there couldn’t be anything wrong with it.  We had the same plane coming to Hong Kong and was, literally, plain sailing.

We find a seat in the gate lounge and wait along with everyone else.  I’m still surprised at the number of able-bodied people who take the disabled seats for the sake of being closer to the start of the line and worse was a woman who not only took up one of the seats but also another for her cabin baggage which was extensive.

Boarding starts late, and routinely for the first and business, and disabled passengers.  The rest now start to line up in the economy line.  Some people haven’t moved, perhaps they know something we don’t.

We eventually join the line and go through initial formalities while waiting.  And waiting.  As the minute’s tick by nothing is happening other than what appears to be growing consternation by the gate staff.  The tipping point for immediate concern is when the previously boarded passengers begin to come back through the boarding gate.

One of those who had been on board came our way and said there was a problem with the plane.  They were told it was due to technical difficulties the official non-scary description for your plane Is broken.  Because of consternation among the queued economy passengers, there was an official announcement that advised of the technical difficulties, and boarding would be delayed.

We all sit back down, but this time there were a number of disabled and elderly people who needed seats, and our able-bodied lady and her baggage didn’t move.  Shame on her.  We are lucky that where we were in the waiting line it was adjacent to nearby seats putting us closer to the head of the line when it reformed.

Now we were able to watch the other passengers jockeying for position to race to be first in the economy class boarding queue the second time around.  I think they realize they have the same seat if they are at the front of the line or the back.  Because we were all asked to sit down, those at the front of the queue would now find themselves at the end if they’d decided to sit and wait.

After a delay of about an hour and a half, we are finally boarding.  The worst aspect of this delay is losing our slot in the departures and I’m guessing this was going to have an effect on our actual takeoff time.  It appears to be the case.  Boarding does not take very long and shortly after the doors are closed we’re pushing back from the gate.

From there, it becomes a chess game when we get a slot.  We are in a queue of planes waiting their turn, and before the main runway planes are separated into two queues, and we are in the second.  Since we are the only one, I suspect we’re in the delayed take-off queue, and sit watching four or so other planes take off before we finally get on the runway.

All around us, planes seem to be going by and taking off while we wait, and wait, and wait…

On the plane, we discover one of the toilets is out of action so perhaps that was the technical difficulty.  It’s not full so one toilet down will have little effect. 

Leaving in the early afternoon will get us into Brisbane late at night.  It was meant to be around 11 pm, but with the delays, and possibly making up time in flight, it will now be after midnight when we arrive.  Fortunately, we have a 24-hour airport.

The flight from HongKong to Brisbane is without event.  Lunch after takeoff, then a few hours later, an hour or so before landing, we have dinner.  Both of us are not hungry.

We land after midnight, tired but glad to be home.  I guess it could have been worse.

Travelling after a pandemic: Destination Hobart

 Brisbane to Hobart by … is it Qantas or not?

I knew there was a reason why we don’t travel anymore.

And now, everyone is letting go of the Covid shackles, and the airports are overwhelmed.

Yesterday, the Qantas baggage system broke down and caused endless delays.  Today, we’re in a queue that’s literally a mile long, just to be screened before we even get into the terminal.

And, we are in a smaller plane operated by Qantas Link, the main airline’s feeder.  Confusingly, it has two names, National Jet Systems, and Qantas Link, the name painted on the aircraft.

Our plane is a Boeing 717, but it is actually an MD 95, made by McDonnell Douglas before Boeing took them over.


And so, it begins…

Boarding time comes and goes, as it always seems to, this time that age-old excuse, the flight attendants are on an incoming flight that is delayed but is on the ground.

That could mean almost anything, but in this case, we’re told, that they are coming from another satellite some distance away.  Well, at least they will get some exercise.

9:56. The attendants arrived.  They just got off the plane from Newcastle, so it can be confusing, going from destination to destination, well, at least for me it would be.  For them, it’s all in a day’s work.

I asked for early boarding because Rosemary cannot walk very well, so it remains to be seen if this happens.

It does, and it’s a slow walk downstairs, and upstairs, but we have to wait because there is a sewerage spill and while waiting to get clearance to board, we’re getting a birds-eye view of the poor man who has to clean it up doesn’t make the wait any easier.

By 10:10, we were on the plane and seated.

We’re organizing a wheelchair and assistance at Hobart, to make things easier.

Minutes later our traveling companions are boarding.

Some confusion reigns, we are sitting in the wrong seats, row 5 instead of row 6.  A bit of seat shuffling and everything is good.

10:30:  The sewerage spill has been cleaned up.  The front door is still open, but they just connected the tow vehicle.

10:33: Doors closed.  10:35:  Push back.  10:40: Heading to the runway.  10:45: Take off, or is that wheels up? It’s not on the new second runway, perhaps because there are so many complaints from the residents nearby.

11:00: Time for a snack.  It’s Tomato Salsa with corn chips, almonds, and pretzels.  60 grams worth, small but reasonably tasty.

Now we’re left to our own devices, as there is no onboard entertainment, and the plane is too small and too old to have onboard Wi-Fi.

Perhaps a siesta, but the seat is too uncomfortable to find a position that will allow it, so I guess a bit of writing is in order.

That and staring out the window and noticing that we have been hugging the coastline almost all the way south, except for when we were crossing Bass Strait, 32,000 feet above the waves.

Bass Strait is not a waterway you want to willingly cross at the best of times, and I have, once, crossed it at the worst of times, and it wasn’t fun.

1:00: Startin that, you would expect from such conditions.

I had expected, given the forecast for rain and heavy winds that we would have a treacherous landing but it was not, the rain had passed and the wind not as bad, and got on the ground without much ado.

It was exactly as the pilot said, 1:30 pm.

We were the last to disembark, with a wheelchair at the end of the disembarkation ramp, there are no air bridges here in Hobart.

My first impression of the airport, it’s like a country town with a tin shed, though the terminal looks a lot different inside than outside. And they do have international flights.

Our bags we out by the time we reached the baggage carousel, then it was off to the car rental counter for an effortless and pain-free pickup.

The worst thing was the distance from the terminal to where the car was parked.

Travelling after a pandemic: Destination Hobart

Hobart in June – Winter – Day 1 – Saturday

Overnight the rain began and hasn’t stopped.  It is cold, and the heater in the room is not quite adequate for the space it has to heat up.  Fortunately, the bed has electric blankets, and it was warm, lying wake listening to the raindrops.  That warmth makes it difficult to get out of bed, but this is a holiday, and we have to get motivated.

We have a balcony, and from there the bleakness of the early morning is stark, but at least the rain is light if not a fine mist.

Worse, it alternates between this fine mist and a short downpour, which means the umbrella goes up and down until you give up.  Later, the rain is not heavy, and just tolerable.

We head off to the Salamanca markets, happening only on Saturday morning.  Unable to walk long distances, we drive, about four minutes from our apartment, but miss a turn, it takes 10, then and 5 to assess the parking situation which, in the end, was the easiest part of this expedition.

The hardest part, walking among the very large crowd of people defying the rain and cold.  I can tolerate large crowds but today, they seem to want to stop suddenly, and just stand and talk in the middle of the walkways making it difficult to impossible to maintain any sort of continuity.

There were hundreds of stalls, the most predominant, micro distillers for some odd reason, selling expensive spirits for about $90 a 700ml bottle, which I regard as overly expensive.  My son has made Bourbon some years ago and it cost him about $10 for 4.5 liters, so it must be a lucrative sideline, even after you’ve added the excise.

There were a great many food stands, and choices, one of which was a curly potato skewer, which was interesting to say the least.  On a meat pie quest, we found a stand that sold pies, but they were warming a new batch, and the waiting line was about 50 or 60 people long.

I went back a half-hour later and they had sold out.  They must be one of the highlights of the market to be so in demand, and that people would stand in the cold and rain just to get one.

Having been defeated by aches and pains, the cold and rain, as well as the large crowd, and the absence of anything we wanted, it was fortunate that time had expired on our parking space.

We had contemplated finding a restaurant to have lunch, deciding it was time to have a proper meal rather than a snack, there didn’t seem to be any places open, and the cafes were packed.

This sparked off an odyssey to find a decent restaurant.

After leaving the markets, we find a road that follows the coastline.  Aside from houses either side, and at one point a marina and the Wrest Point casino, which was not a place we intended to visit, the further we went, the less chance it seemed of finding what we were looking for.

But we did find a tourist attraction, a shot tower, and a museum.

And a tea room that had afternoon tea.  Not exactly what we were looking for.  That said, and feeling like going any further would not fix the search parameters, I go to Google maps and search for restaurants near us.

There’s a Vietnamese restaurant, 6.1 km back the way we came, and being the best choice out of five or six others, we go.

And here’s the thing, it’s just around the corner from where we’re staying.  Go figure.

 But, there is a twist, we drive past one of the hotels that were recommended to us back at the apartments, so we go there, the Hotel Doctor Syntax.  We figure we’re more likely to get the vegetable component there than the other place.

It turns out to be a master stroke, getting steak, pork belly, roast potatoes, gravy, asparagus, and seafood on the side.  All having generous servings as one would expect from a hotel bistro.

The food must be great because they were full and had to turn people away.  We were very lucky to get the last table but one, and that one didn’t last very long.

After a long, leisurely lunch surrounded by warmth and atmosphere, we had one more stop.  Coffee and cake at Daci and Daci, a café recommended to us.

It was worth the experience, although it took some fortitude to fit it in after such a large lunch.  I suspect before we go back for a second visit, yes, it was that good, we will make sure we are less full of lunch first.  The cake I had was delicious but very filling.  The coffee?  Excellent.

Travelling after a pandemic: Destination Hobart

Hobart in June – Winter – Day 2 – Sunday

It is not raining when we woke, but it had been most of the night.  After a cold start, the weather, seems to have improved, if only for the time being.

Today’s expedition is the Cascade Brewery, which doesn’t have tours at the moment because of staff issues with Covid, but does have a bar and restaurant.  There is also a historic site, an old women’s prison, and botanical gardens.  I’m not sure how far we’ll get in the gardens, but the bar and restaurant is looking good.

We get there and decide on lunch first then a visit to the women’s prison.

Fail.  The bar and restaurant are packed and there are no tables left.  Time for a photograph of the old brewery, and move on.

Instead of going to the prison, just down the road, we go off in a different direction, to Mt Wellington, thinking it might give excellent views of Hobart.

Only a sign says the road is supposed to be closed, but it is not, so we and a dozen others are venturing up the road towards the summit.

The road was probably opened temporarily, but it is getting more treacherous as the snow appears and the road is wet.  We make it about 2km before deciding it’s unsafe.

The adventure continues because at the bottom of the hill we decided to go to Huonville, hoping to chance upon the apple orchards and all things apple.

It was an immense letdown.  There was nothing, except for one innocuous building with a sign out front saying it was open, but for all intents and purposes looked like it was completely empty.

Until you drove around the back to the carpark where there were hundreds of cars, and inside, totally packed.

It’s where everyone in Huonville had gone.

And not where we were going to get a distinctly Tasmanian meal.

We had to settle for another pie from Banjo’s in Sandy Bay.

Travelling after a pandemic: Destination Hobart

Hobart in June – Winter – Day 1 – Saturday

Overnight the rain began and hasn’t stopped.  It is cold, and the heater in the room is not quite adequate for the space it has to heat up.  Fortunately, the bed has electric blankets, and it was warm, lying wake listening to the raindrops.  That warmth makes it difficult to get out of bed, but this is a holiday, and we have to get motivated.

We have a balcony, and from there the bleakness of the early morning is stark, but at least the rain is light if not a fine mist.

Worse, it alternates between this fine mist and a short downpour, which means the umbrella goes up and down until you give up.  Later, the rain is not heavy, and just tolerable.

We head off to the Salamanca markets, happening only on Saturday morning.  Unable to walk long distances, we drive, about four minutes from our apartment, but miss a turn, it takes 10, then and 5 to assess the parking situation which, in the end, was the easiest part of this expedition.

The hardest part, walking among the very large crowd of people defying the rain and cold.  I can tolerate large crowds but today, they seem to want to stop suddenly, and just stand and talk in the middle of the walkways making it difficult to impossible to maintain any sort of continuity.

There were hundreds of stalls, the most predominant, micro distillers for some odd reason, selling expensive spirits for about $90 a 700ml bottle, which I regard as overly expensive.  My son has made Bourbon some years ago and it cost him about $10 for 4.5 liters, so it must be a lucrative sideline, even after you’ve added the excise.

There were a great many food stands, and choices, one of which was a curly potato skewer, which was interesting to say the least.  On a meat pie quest, we found a stand that sold pies, but they were warming a new batch, and the waiting line was about 50 or 60 people long.

I went back a half-hour later and they had sold out.  They must be one of the highlights of the market to be so in demand, and that people would stand in the cold and rain just to get one.

Having been defeated by aches and pains, the cold and rain, as well as the large crowd, and the absence of anything we wanted, it was fortunate that time had expired on our parking space.

We had contemplated finding a restaurant to have lunch, deciding it was time to have a proper meal rather than a snack, there didn’t seem to be any places open, and the cafes were packed.

This sparked off an odyssey to find a decent restaurant.

After leaving the markets, we find a road that follows the coastline.  Aside from houses either side, and at one point a marina and the Wrest Point casino, which was not a place we intended to visit, the further we went, the less chance it seemed of finding what we were looking for.

But we did find a tourist attraction, a shot tower, and a museum.

And a tea room that had afternoon tea.  Not exactly what we were looking for.  That said, and feeling like going any further would not fix the search parameters, I go to Google maps and search for restaurants near us.

There’s a Vietnamese restaurant, 6.1 km back the way we came, and being the best choice out of five or six others, we go.

And here’s the thing, it’s just around the corner from where we’re staying.  Go figure.

 But, there is a twist, we drive past one of the hotels that were recommended to us back at the apartments, so we go there, the Hotel Doctor Syntax.  We figure we’re more likely to get the vegetable component there than the other place.

It turns out to be a master stroke, getting steak, pork belly, roast potatoes, gravy, asparagus, and seafood on the side.  All having generous servings as one would expect from a hotel bistro.

The food must be great because they were full and had to turn people away.  We were very lucky to get the last table but one, and that one didn’t last very long.

After a long, leisurely lunch surrounded by warmth and atmosphere, we had one more stop.  Coffee and cake at Daci and Daci, a café recommended to us.

It was worth the experience, although it took some fortitude to fit it in after such a large lunch.  I suspect before we go back for a second visit, yes, it was that good, we will make sure we are less full of lunch first.  The cake I had was delicious but very filling.  The coffee?  Excellent.

Travelling after a pandemic: Destination Hobart

 Brisbane to Hobart by … is it Qantas or not?

I knew there was a reason why we don’t travel anymore.

And now, everyone is letting go of the Covid shackles, and the airports are overwhelmed.

Yesterday, the Qantas baggage system broke down and caused endless delays.  Today, we’re in a queue that’s literally a mile long, just to be screened before we even get into the terminal.

And, we are in a smaller plane operated by Qantas Link, the main airline’s feeder.  Confusingly, it has two names, National Jet Systems, and Qantas Link, the name painted on the aircraft.

Our plane is a Boeing 717, but it is actually an MD 95, made by McDonnell Douglas before Boeing took them over.


And so, it begins…

Boarding time comes and goes, as it always seems to, this time that age-old excuse, the flight attendants are on an incoming flight that is delayed but is on the ground.

That could mean almost anything, but in this case, we’re told, that they are coming from another satellite some distance away.  Well, at least they will get some exercise.

9:56. The attendants arrived.  They just got off the plane from Newcastle, so it can be confusing, going from destination to destination, well, at least for me it would be.  For them, it’s all in a day’s work.

I asked for early boarding because Rosemary cannot walk very well, so it remains to be seen if this happens.

It does, and it’s a slow walk downstairs, and upstairs, but we have to wait because there is a sewerage spill and while waiting to get clearance to board, we’re getting a birds-eye view of the poor man who has to clean it up doesn’t make the wait any easier.

By 10:10, we were on the plane and seated.

We’re organizing a wheelchair and assistance at Hobart, to make things easier.

Minutes later our traveling companions are boarding.

Some confusion reigns, we are sitting in the wrong seats, row 5 instead of row 6.  A bit of seat shuffling and everything is good.

10:30:  The sewerage spill has been cleaned up.  The front door is still open, but they just connected the tow vehicle.

10:33: Doors closed.  10:35:  Push back.  10:40: Heading to the runway.  10:45: Take off, or is that wheels up? It’s not on the new second runway, perhaps because there are so many complaints from the residents nearby.

11:00: Time for a snack.  It’s Tomato Salsa with corn chips, almonds, and pretzels.  60 grams worth, small but reasonably tasty.

Now we’re left to our own devices, as there is no onboard entertainment, and the plane is too small and too old to have onboard Wi-Fi.

Perhaps a siesta, but the seat is too uncomfortable to find a position that will allow it, so I guess a bit of writing is in order.

That and staring out the window and noticing that we have been hugging the coastline almost all the way south, except for when we were crossing Bass Strait, 32,000 feet above the waves.

Bass Strait is not a waterway you want to willingly cross at the best of times, and I have, once, crossed it at the worst of times, and it wasn’t fun.

1:00: Startin that, you would expect from such conditions.

I had expected, given the forecast for rain and heavy winds that we would have a treacherous landing but it was not, the rain had passed and the wind not as bad, and got on the ground without much ado.

It was exactly as the pilot said, 1:30 pm.

We were the last to disembark, with a wheelchair at the end of the disembarkation ramp, there are no air bridges here in Hobart.

My first impression of the airport, it’s like a country town with a tin shed, though the terminal looks a lot different inside than outside. And they do have international flights.

Our bags we out by the time we reached the baggage carousel, then it was off to the car rental counter for an effortless and pain-free pickup.

The worst thing was the distance from the terminal to where the car was parked.

The Perils of Travelling: Airports can be disasters

Melbourne airport – an underwhelming experience

Let me sum up this experience at the start, in one word.

Terrible.

I know it’s not much past post-Covid, but tell me, what were the airport administrators doing for two years, other than lamenting the lack of plane traffic and sitting on their hands? Did they think no one was ever going to travel again?

Let me suggest what they should have been doing, getting onto every one of the retailers that had to close, and making sure that from day one of reopening, it was back to pre-Covid.

Instead, it’s a desolate nightmare.  There was only one dedicated Cafe and a bar and two bookshops down the Qantas end.

And the food was basically stale sandwiches and muffins. And if you don’t like muffins…

We had to walk a mile to get to the Cafe and get a decent cup of coffee and a toastie, which the Cafe itself and coffee and food scored a ten out of ten.

If you didn’t know it was there, God only knows what you would do if you wanted something decent.

Score out of ten for the Airport Administrators – minus 5 

Since scoring that I had the unhappy experience of going to the men’s restroom.  It was filthy.  How hard could be for someone to check every half hour to clean up the obvious mess?  I’ll let you imagine how that will affect their current score.

My other bugbear about airports is the scanning of bags before getting to the gate.

Melbourne for some reason has been the worst experience in quite literally the world because it is a complete mess, particularly if one thing goes wrong.

I hate it, and it was no better today and left me shaking, which only happens when I’m extremely stressed.

I can only hope it eventually gets better, but, sorry to say this but they’ve had nearly two years to get the process right and run much smoother, but it’s clear they’ve also just sat on their hands.

Maybe one day someone might do something about it, but we’re talking government here, and it takes them ten years just to create a green discussion paper.

So, not holding my breath.

Of course, in reading about the current parlous state of air travel throughout the world, it seems we are not the only ones having problems. I guess we should spare a thought for those going to Heathrow in London. The many times we’ve been there, it’s been borderline organized chaos, and yes, once, we had to wait an hour for our baggage, but now it seems it just disappears.

Glad I’m not going there any time soon.

But, soon, we’re taking the plunge again, and going to Hobart.

I’ll let you know how that goes.