Morning dawned bright and virtually cloud free. Our two full days in Auckland/Waiheke happened to fall on 2 of 4 rainy days Waiheke has had this summer! Ah well. It just means we’ll have to come back.
We discovered a convenient and economical option for airport transfers so we booked ahead for an 8:20 AM pickup by Super Shuttles. Given how bad the traffic has been we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the airport and check in before our flight to Sydney. Murphy’s Law kicked in and it was smooth sailing the whole way.
We didn’t mind though because we were able to get into the Strata Lounge (thanks to the Priority One card). This lounge is wonderful! It’s comfortable and quiet and has a full buffet breakfast spread.
We enjoyed sampling an international breakfast including hot cakes, hash browns, Cantonese noodles, congee, spicy fruit toast (basically raisin bread – not sure what makes it “spicy”), museli, and coffee.
We also caught their lunch spread before our flight and stuffed ourselves on gnocchi, lamb bolognese, root veggies, broccoli/cauliflower, mini quiches, and tiny beef and Guinness pies.
We even took advantage of the open bar to construct an impromptu wine tasting. The results: airport wine is airport wine.
After all that food, Trish was a little sleepy when we got to the gate.
Our flight to Sydney was smooth and uneventful, though Air New Zealand’s safety briefings never cease to entertain.
Our flight took about three and a half hours. We didn’t realize our ticket included lunch (lamb pasta!) so, like hobbits, we had second lunch. I really enjoyed the chamomille/honey ice cream they served for dessert.
When we arrived in Sydney, the automatic facial recognition system at customs didn’t recognize me so I had to go to the desk and talk to a human (*gasp*) but it didn’t slow us down. Trish even recognized our bags!
Customs was much less intimidating in Sydney than in New Zealand, contrary to my recollections. The only issue we had was that somehow we ended up exiting at Arrivals B while Pamela and her son, Brett, awaited us at Arrivals A. We sorted it out quickly and connected with them.
It is so good to see Pamela again! I swear, she never changes.
Pamela embraced Trish at once and Brett delivered cold water for our journey to her lovely home in Breakfast Point.
Trish and I unpacked, and took a quick flop on the bed to rest before heading over to Andrew and Wendy’s home for dinner.
Andrew and Wendy greeted us with peach nectar bellinis and the smell of delicious BBQ. Karina told us about her two and a half week holiday plans after her imminent graduation from university. Simon and his partner, Heather arrived soon after us. She’s just been accepted as a Firefighter-in-training at the busiest station in Sydney! Brett and Sandra were the final family to arrive and they came bearing wonderful salads and fruits.
Andrew did his level best to fill the living room with as much smoke as possible during dinner preparation, but it smelled so good I didn’t mind at all (though it did make their lovely view of the Harbour Bridge a bit hazy)!
It was lovely to catch up with everyone, and in Trish’s case, to meet them! Wendy set an amazing table for all of us to enjoy the salads and barbecued sausages and lamb. We had such a good time talking and laughing I forgot to take any pictures! Fortunately, I will have another opportunity on Saturday at Pamela’s official 90th birthday party.