It had been nearly a week since I'd took to the skies and I was beginning to go a bit stir-crazy in my apartment. I was still battling a nasty illness, but when scheduling called me during my early morning standby to inform me that I'd be given the gift of yet another Sydney trip, there was no stopping me! I packed my suitcase, stuffed some tissue in my pocket, and headed for the airport.
The flight there was far too long, as I sniffled, coughed, and failed at sleeping during my 3 hour break. I felt miserable and for awhile I regret my decision to come to work that day. I was relieved when we were finally at the finish line, beginning our descent into Sydney. That was, until, my ears began to hurt. I'm well aware of the fact that it's a bad idea to fly with a cold, but given the improvement in my health as opposed to a few days earlier I assumed that I'd be fine. Boy was I wrong! As the babies onboard cried in pain, I felt like doing the same. I frantically chewed on candy and swallowed water in an attempt to ease the blocking, but it was no use. For somebody who rarely even notices my ears popping anymore, it was extremely uncomfortable and I will not be doing that again in the future.
Once we'd landed and reached our hotel I had 2 options... I could be smart and go to sleep, rest, and try to get healthy, or I could be a little bit dumb, grab a coffee and head out to enjoy a beautiful summer day in Sydney. I don't think I even need to tell you which one I chose.
I changed into some shorts and headed out to the street.
It was a beautiful day, and I wasn't about to waste it lying in bed! I wandered aimlessly in and out of the same shops that I've been in many times before. I could have used some new clothes, but in my zombie like state I didn't have the energy to make any purchases.
I walked for hours before I decided to finally call it a night around 6 pm. I'd get a good night's sleep and be well rested for my early morning trip to Auckland! I was really looking forward to a day in New Zealand. The fresh air would do me good.
The next morning I received a note under my door informing me that my pick up time was delayed by an hour. No surprise there, as the plane was coming all the way from Dubai and often has the tendency to be late on this particular sector. I curled up in bed for another hour before finally getting ready and heading to the lobby to meet the crew. When we arrived at the airport the plane had just landed, giving us time to wander the duty free shops before boarding. I grabbed a Tim Tam Chiller from Gloria Jean's Coffee... one of many guilty pleasures that I have in Australia.
We were finally given the go ahead to get onboard, and when we did we were met with a toasty warm cabin. The captain informed us that the air conditioning wasn't working, as if we hadn't figured this out on our own. We began to board our passengers, who also felt the need to let us know that it was extremely hot onboard. To make matters worse, absolutely none of the lavatories on the main deck were working. Engineering was slaving away trying to fix the problem, but in the mean time we were left to deal with 400 passengers who were sweating and in need of a bathroom. As we waited at the gates, the temperature kept increasing. Eventually the Captain made a PA to tell our passengers that they would be taken back into the airport to enjoy the air conditioning until the issue was resolved. They were in relatively high spirits, which helped us (also sweating) crew maintain our sanity. While the passengers were off to enjoy some food and air conditioning, we were left onboard as the temperature of the cabin continued rising. I began feeling ill once again, suddenly dizzy and hoping that I wouldn't faint and cause even more stress. I proceeded to consume cups of orange juice, my go-to drink when it comes to episodes of near fainting. (AKA blood tests! Blech!)
Time dragged by as we waited for news. I was under the assumption that the flight would be cancelled, but our company was determined not to let that happen. As the hours passed, the temperature rose to an unbearable 40C as we sat on the plane with the makeup melting from our faces. 6 hours after we'd arrived at the airport, we were finally ready to re-board the passengers. They slowly made their way onto the aircraft, grumbling about the delay and expressing their frustration about the heat. The flight deck had managed to start one engine at the gate, allowing some air to flow through the cabin, but it was still super hot and our passengers were not happy about it. Myself and the rest of the crew were running on limited patience by this point. We'd yet to eat (all of the food onboard had gone bad after hours in the heat) and there was no way we could make it through another 3 hours without food. Much to our relief, the ground staff came to the rescue, delivering us a dinner of McDonald's. I can honestly say that I consume food from the greasy fast food chain two times a year at the most. I cringed as I grabbed a burger, but I was starving and had no other option. It had been sitting in the galley for awhile and it was no longer warm, but I didn't care. It was food and it was delicious. I'd secretly hoped that it would be terrible and sway me from ever eating it again, but it was just as I'd remembered it. I love fast food and avoiding it takes great willpower.
It was well over an hour before we were finally ready for push back. I'd thought the moment would never come, but we finally took off 8 hours behind schedule. The man sitting in front of me began applauding, and the applause shortly spread throughout the cabin. We were fortunate that everyone was relatively understanding. They realized that we had been waiting just as long as they had.
Unfortunately, my lovely Auckland layover was no longer going to happen. We arrived at the hotel and were given 10 hours to sleep before it was time to head back to the airport. I hauled myself to bed and morning came far too soon. According to our original schedule, we should have departed later that afternoon, but scheduling had different plans for us. We don't ask questions, we just accept the situation even when it makes no sense to any of us. Fortunately it was raining heavily in Auckland, making the return to bright sunny Sydney a more favourable option. When we arrived at the Auckland airport we were informed that the passengers had been waiting at the gates for 3 hours. Just the news that we needed bright and early in the morning... more upset people! Much to our surprise, as we turned the corner to approach the gate a crowd of nearly 500 people began to cheer and applaud us. I couldn't think of this many people cheering for me since high school graduation. Heck, I think only half of them even clapped then. It was definitely a feel-good moment. We were ready to bring them to Sydney and it was nice to know that our presence was appreciated!
Despite the annoyances of the past day, it wasn't all bad. Our early departure from Auckland meant that we had an extra half-day in Sydney. I took full advantage of this... walking the streets, pausing to enjoy a busker performing one of my favourite songs and strolling through the Botanical Gardens, enjoying yet another beautiful day.
The next morning I set my alarm to wake up early. I was determined to make it to the beach. The weather was just right as I caught a ferry across the harbour to Manly Beach. It was a quiet Monday morning and the sun was shining. I laid on the soft sand, listening to the sound of the waves hitting the shore. Ahhh, life was good. I love the ocean. If only my fiance wasn't such a winter lover, I'd move some place close enough to walk along the beach every day. I stayed a few hours, taking photos and managing to get a little bit sunburnt on my cheeks and shoulders. I decided that I should probably head back the hotel to catch some sleep before the long flight back to Dubai. I picked up some sushi along the way, and some mint chocolate chip ice cream for the ferry ride back.
I crawled into bed and slept until it was time to wake up and get ready. I didn't want to return to Dubai, but the time had come. It had been a long, tiring layover, but I'd enjoyed myself. I was fortunate to have good weather and a great crew who helped make the long delays slightly more bearable.
Back in Dubai, I slept through an entire day. No, really. I woke up at 8 pm and grabbed some breakfast. It was roster day and I was excited but nervous... it must have been flight karma, because after a string of delayed flights I'd been blessed with a trip to Toronto in February!! CANADA!! I didn't think that I could get much happier, but apparently it was possible. 5 minutes after I'd told him, Ryan had booked flights to come meet me and spend the weekend with me. I'm so excited! I've been missing him sooo much lately, but we'll be reunited in one short week! All in life is good again.