The Last "Plane" Home
(Forgive us Pat Metheny)
February 25, 2006 - The first time around:
We had the whole day in Sydney - after breakfast, we took a taxi to the Qantas ticket office to change our return tickets. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that the office isn't open on Saturdays! No big deal - we just walked the rest of the way down to Circular Quay and the Opera House. We started in the area known as the Rocks, across the harbor from the Opera House. It was a gorgeous day and the harbor was very busy.
We then walked back around to the other side of the harbor and out to the opera house. It is amazing - up close, the "shells" look like giant armadillos! Yet from further away, the building is beautiful and graceful. We stopped for lunch at one of the multitude of sidewalk cafes on the quay.
After lunch, we decided to return to Darling Harbor. Our first idea was to take the harbor ferry, a 20-minute ride, but then we had the idea to walk. It took us an hour, which was about double the time we anticipated, but we didn't have any real plans for the afternoon, so we didn't mind.
We sat in the shade and had a refreshment to cool off and watched all the people coming and going. We left Darling Harbor behind and took a taxi back to our hotel to retrieve our bags and change our clothes. We got to the airport and were early enough that we had time shower in the Qantas lounge. This was a really nice option as the day had been quite warm, particularly with all the walking we did. Our flight to Honolulu left on time and we said goodbye to the Land Down Under.
February 25, 2006 - The second time:
No, this is not a typo. We crossed the international date line on our flight from Sydney last night, so we really did have 2 February 25ths! We arrived Honolulu this morning at 9:00 and were at our hotel in Waikiki by 10:00. Unfortunately, our room wasn't ready so we stored our bags and went for a walk along the beach front. We stopped to watch all of the activity including the hundreds of surfers and even saw a Naval submarine moving along on the surface - not sure where it was headed.
We had a light lunch at one of the restaurants in the hotel (there are 6 to choose from!). Afterward, we were able to check in. We are staying at the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and we got a really nice room upgrade to a lovely, ocean view room. Sadly, we were too exhausted from our overnight flight to enjoy the view right off, but after an afternoon nap, we were much more appreciative.
This evening, we got a takeaway pizza and shrimp salad from the Italian restaurant in the hotel - we dined on our balcony, once again taking in the beautiful view.
February 26, 2006
It was raining when we woke up this morning, so unfortunately, we couldn't go for a stroll on the beach and had to make do with the tread mills in the fitness center. The rain, however, didn't stop us from having breakfast on our balcony! The rest of the day was essentially a travel day. We left the hotel at 11:30, but by the time we got through security (we were "selected" for additional screening - welcome home!!) and made our way to the Admiral's Club (situated 15 minutes away from the gate and to make it even worse, it was the worst airline lounge on the trip), we had only about 10 minutes until boarding.
We arrived San Francisco at 9:00 PM local time. The baggage was slow coming off of the plane and ours, of course, was near the very end (so much for traveling First Class with American). It was 10:30 by the time we caught the shuttle and got to the hotel. We dropped our bags in our room and went to the lounge for a quick bite to eat. We crawled into bed at 11:30 with a wake-up call for 4:30 AM - it's going to be a short night!
February 27, 2006
Another travel day, but this one is the last. Our flight left San Francisco at 7:00 this morning, arrived Miami at 3:00 PM local time. We picked up our rental car and were on the road north to home by 4:00. Despite the traffic in Miami, we completed the 310 miles in 5 1/2 hours. Needless to say, we just collapsed when we finally arrived.
So, our RTW adventure has come to full circle (be sure to read "The End" for a summary). We think this is an appropriate closing thought: "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." No truer words were ever spoken.