When I say that I’ve been wanting to visit Australia for most of my life, I’m not exaggerating. I was 10 years old when I did a book report for school on Australia – and from that moment I was enamored with the idea of one day visiting that place myself. Mind you I also knew all the words to “Funny Girl” backwards and forwards by age 9 and my childhood pet was a French poodle named Andre – so I was a weird kid anyway, but I digress.
From about the time I was 25, I’ve been trying to arrange this vacation. My best recollection is that this is the fifth time I’ve attempted this. Some attempts came closer than others, but none ever resulted in an actual departure. So when I was approached by Adventures by Disney and asked if I’d like to experience their “Discovery Down Under” adventure, I more or less jumped at the chance.
While we’re on the topic, let’s clear the air here – Adventures by Disney has generously comp’d me this vacation – or half of it anyway. I had to pay my own airfare, and we’ve added days to our vacation before and after the tour. All of that is on our dime. In truth, our out-of-pocket expenses on this trip are already more than what the cost of the ABD vacation would have been had we paid for it. That being said, without this comp – this vacation would not be happening.
Of course, in order to experience Australia, you have to GET to Australia. I keep hearing conflicting timetables, but the flight should be somewhere in the 14-hour range. According to the agent who booked my flight, we SHOULD be getting seats in business class, even though we paid for premium economy. I emphasize “SHOULD”. I’ll believe it when my grossly overweight behind is sitting in it. Which is another thing – you’d think that a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Australia would be incentive to lose a few pounds. That would also require that you assume I don’t have Cheng’s Chinese Restaurant on speed dial.
Our itinerary is pretty active – that’s why I’m glad I added 7 days in Sydney to the end of this trip. Looking at ABD’s line-up, I think I’m going to need a break after 10 days of being led through Australia by mousketeers. We start off at the Great Barrier Reef, hike through a rain forest (I’m assuming they provide oxygen tanks with this), see some Aboriginal culture, learn how to throw a boomerang (someone’s losing an eye), then we fly out to Ayers Rock….excuse me, Uluru (the politically correct name), eat kangaroo in the outback (I’m assuming they don’t just kill one in front of us), then it’s a flight back to Sydney.
Then there’s the fact that we’re going to be on this tour with a few dozen people we don’t know. If you learn nothing else about me, know this - I HATE NEW PEOPLE. I hate “new people” talk – “where are you from?”, “what line of work are you in?”, “are you married?” – that’s my favorite new people question – especially when it’s being asked by Burt and Gladys from Montana. I LOVE how the expression on their face changes when I answer “Yes, Walter and I have been together 8 years.” You can almost watch their brains explode. What’s even worse is that on the first night of the tour we have to stand up and ‘introduce ourselves’ to our tour-mates. I’m considering having Walter tell people I don’t speak English – either that or that I’m a deaf mute.
As of right now, we’re at the Renaissance Hotel near LAX where, apparently, it’s against their religion to turn on the air conditioning. We were ‘upgraded’ to a club level room where we were able to enjoy the lovely scrambled eggs they served in the lounge for breakfast. From the taste of the eggs, I’m guessing they had Alejandra the housekeeper out looking for pigeon eggs in the parking lot.
Our flight to Australia leaves tonight at 11:20 pm and we arrive in Brisbane at 6:20 am, have a three hour layover, then a 2 hour flight to Cairns – which is where our vacation begins. By the time we arrive in our hotel, we will have been traveling for 20 hours. Stop for a moment and ponder that – 20 hours of traveling. I get miserable when I have to drive 20 minutes to Best Buy.
While I will be updating the blog throughout our trip, if you’re interested in following our exploits more closely, then ‘friend’ me on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/pete.werner). You can also ‘friend’ Walter on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/walter.echols). We’ll both be posting throughout our trip with text, photo and GPS updates.
Next update from Australia!
Category: Adventures by Disney