I fly AKL
and back fairly regularly and reckoned I had got into a groove about the whole thing but on my first trip down to the windy city this year I find I am on the receiving end of many curved balls as regard my comfort zone.
The 04:50 alarm call and the drive down through the dark scented streets of AKL
went as per usual, even flying QF
rather than ANZ was no trip into the unknown but after parking in my usual slot for #3 car park I got the first of a series of wake up calls that shifted me off my train tracks of familiarity and made this trip peer over the parapet of the mundane to become a voyage of discovery and surprise.
First up, there were two, yes, two Antonov’s sitting on the apron at the International terminal. Too dark to get a pic but I ain’t never seed one o’ them thar Ruskie jets afore! Made a nice change.
I have got used to the building works in the random area between ANZ domestic and the QF
terminal but today it was looking a bit nearer completion than usual.
I sauntered past the two security guards, having an earnest puff on their ciggies, tainting the morning air and ticking off another few seconds from their lives and blundered in, muttering and rehearsing my QF
mantra (no express kiosk you see) of “Any chance of a window seat at the back please?” and for once, actually remembering to ask before the boarding card was issued.
Chuffed to bits to have got it right and pleased as to have 17F I swung round ready to go back outside and grab some breakfast at “The Bach” over at the NZ
terminal because the food at the QF
café is not nice, too poncey when all I want is lard and pigs to start my day, I don’t want food that tastes….”narrow” at that hour, I need wide and fat food!
Imagine my surprise on turning and finding the QF
café had gone, replaced by some Espresso Franchise, there was a hole in the wall where the café used to be and through it I could smell lard cooking.
The sign said “Foodcourt” so I followed it and found myself in the big swanky new foodcourt (with magazine shop) and the new security gate which leads to the ANZ departure area.
Hmmmmm, I looked around and decided that Noodles would be a bridge too far at this hour MuckDees don’t actually serve real food and the other place was shut, so I went to the café in the middle of the room and got a wicked Egg & Bacon Paninni, all crushed and cooked by the crushy-cooky thing and a hot chocolate as I won’t be able to have coffee again for at least 9 months.
Both were delicious and the spacious area was a big change from the dark and glowering “The Bach” which I had grown to love over the years.
Well, first change encountered and survived, I lurched up to gate 21 and loitered for a few minutes, grading all the MILF’s and trying in vain to get a pic of the Antonov Twins.
I was first to board, which was well within my comfort zone and settled down ready to fall asleep as soon as we got airborne.
I had no access to my phone so couldn’t get a pic as we trundled real close to the Russian freighters but my disappointment was short-lived due to being airborne and asleep within seconds.
ZZZZZZZ, ZZZZZZZZ, ZZZZZZZ, ZZZZZZZ I awoke on cue as we passed over Mt Taranaki and I tried to work out which was the house in Hawera I had been to a meeting in last October but gave up to gaze forward to the Marlborough Sounds which were just heaving into view and they are a wonderful sight to behold at 07:50 on a Tuesday morning.
Landing approach was from the North which gives some good close up views of Johnsonville and Porirua as you fly down the valley and out over the harbour, not a jolt or sway this time, which was another surprise as the northern approach is usually punctuated by invisible lumps of concrete and holes in the sky, all designed to shake you up and disturb your breakfast before yanking one’s innards down through the soles of your feet, keeping them there for a second or two before ramming them back up into your chest…..gotta love them WLG
Next shocker was looking down and seeing the harbour was glassy calm and smooth…..must have turned off into a parallel universe somewhere near Silverdale on the way to AKL
The landing was a bit of a stiff one; maybe the pilot got confused by the ground being where it was supposed to be for once.
Disembarking threw me the biggest curved ball yet……there have been signs all over WLG
for ages, promising new carpets soon, well, they have arrived but Ye Gods! WTF!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!! They have a pattern on them of rocks, lots and lots of rocks….like stepping off the airbridge onto a beach!
This was a trifle odd but nowhere near as odd as the nearly completed QF
International departures area. For some time this has been a building site, it is just about done but the designer needs a good spanking, the fish tank I can cope with (good Fung Shui).
but who ever allowed all that bright green Perspex must have a mate who had a few hundred sheets in his garage….I are none to keen on that look.
Grabbing my bags and finding my shuttle driver was all good wholesome comfort zone stuff but the journey to Lower Hutt was a surprise as the new section of motorway is finished (I didn’t even know they were building it) and we whisked through WLG
in a trice to be deposited at 3 Margaret St in the time-honoured fashion.
The Board Meeting was going well, the views from the 16th floor of the Caltex tower were much as they have been for years.
But at one point I was talking (no surprises there then!) when the assembled trustees all looked at each other with knowing smiles, I thought to myself “OMG…what have said!!???” but noticed the tremor of an earthquake, which explained the nodding and winking (I hope).
Back at the Motel I got another yank from my comfort zone, on the news there was mention of an earthquake near Auckland, 30kms off Orewa, under the sea, that makes it 22kms east of my house and bizarrely enough, right on Mr Spoons secret fishing mark…..no wonder he has been doing so well fishing of late, there must have been a hot spot or an upwelling of nutrients in the weeks leading up to the event.
Now earthquakes are no rarity in NZ
but around Auckland they are exceedingly rare.
So, my week of surprises and changes carried on.
On the last day I realised at about 15:00hrs that for the first time in 30-odd trips to WLG
we had got the point where everything was done, discussed and formulated with a couple of hours to spare…a first for Jafa-kind this was, we usually continue meetings up to check-in and always wish I had been there for an extra day.
Another departure from the traditional was the urge to take the flyer bus from The Hutt to WLG
as it is 22 bucks cheaper but to be honest Possums, it wasn’t fun, took ages, was uncomfortable and there were all these people in there, like a 737 but lees comfy and far noisier and smelly (and that was just the pax!)
Spooked and well out of the groove I tried to re-discover my comfort zone by trying the food at Red Rocks in WLG
and the security blanket of familiarity gave me a big hug and a squeeze as I found that nothing had changed there, the food was still absolutely dreadful, real shite, an insult to the human palate.
Boarding my QF
flight was as it should be and I was first on board again due to some Herbert not wanting to give the FA
his boarding pass to put in the scanning machine as he felt the cabin crew might need to see it. Very patiently and with no hint of irony, the FA
explained that he would have it back in half a second if he would only stop yanking on the bloody thing!
All normal and groovy on the flight back, fell asleep, woke up as Hamilton passed by our starboard side and then down onto the deck in a nice greasy landing but the changes and surprises didn’t stop there, nooo, they disembarked us by air stairs, not the usual airbridge and we entered AKL
through an area I had never seen before, on the ground level, down near where the old Origin Pacific gates used to be…but off to the left a bit. There were lots of new shiny chairs stacked down there so I reckon some expansion is going on.
A circuitous route brought us to the baggage claim and into the crush and melee of QF
baggage retrieval…..at least some things never change.
I drove home grinning to myself, partly because my ordinary trip had been very different and partly because not only had I scored a ticket for the RHCP’s in Sydney on the 19th April but I had managed to persuade the Regional Director to change the order of events during the conference I am attending that week in Sydney…… just so I could go and see Flea and the boys give it their all!
Sometimes the gravy just flows and flows!!!!
[Edited 2007-02-23 10:37:27]
We, the undersigned, do hereby consent.....