Aussie Adventure – Day 1 & Day 2

January 9, 2009 at 3:13 pm (Uncategorized)

We woke up on December 27th all giddy and excited – it was like a second Christmas!  We don’t live anywhere close to Incheon Airport in Seoul, so I did some research and found an airport limousine bus that runs from Nowon straight over to the airport.  Perfect! 

Now the only problem was figuring out where to catch it.  We left our apartment just after 2pm and took a cab to Hagye subway station about 10 minutes away.  The directions on the shuttle website said to wait at the sign marked with an airplane, but when we got out of the taxi we found that there was this very sign on both sides of the road.  Ah, fantastic. 

Since we can’t read Korean (well, we can tell you what the letters are, but to actually comprehend their meaning?  Not a chance.), we were a little confused about what to do next.  A nice woman at the bus station came over and tried to explain which side we should be on, but again, the language barrier posed a wee bit of a problem.  She motioned over to the other side of the street, so we bit the bullet and headed back over to where we’d started.  About 10 minutes later I saw a huge red bus headed our way that said “City Airport Limousine” – hooray!!  One big hurdle had been jumped.

The shuttle itself was wonderful – the seats were much bigger than those on an airplane, and we had lots of legroom.  It was about a 65-70 minute bus ride to the airport, and cost us $14 each – well worth the cost, in my opinion.  We arrived at the Incheon Airport at around 3:30 and headed over to our check-in counter.  The airport itself is really amazing – the exteriour looks a lot like a spaceship, and the interiour is extremely clean and quiet.  There are a few pictures of the Airport here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incheon_International_Airport) if you’re interested.

We walked over to the Asiana Airlines check-in desk, with all our papers, passports and identification in hand, and tried to check our bags.  The clerk looked through our information, and asked us were our return visas for re-entry into Korea.  Pardon?  The travel agent had never mentioned a return visa.  I looked over at Dave and actually watched his blood pressure hit the roof – I’ve never seen him look so panicked so quickly.  I asked the clerk if we could apply for the visa, and if so, how long would it take.  She said we’d have to go through immigration, and that the application could take a long time, depending on the lines.  Oh, god.  That’s when I started panicking.  We were just over three hours from our take-off, so we couldn’t afford to be standing in a line for hours on end.  Visions of our disastrous attempt to leave Paris on our honeymoon flashed before my eyes….

We booked it over to immigration, and luckily there weren’t too many people there.  In typical Korean fashion there were no directions on how to apply for the re-entry visa, so we grabbed one of the half-dozen or so different sheets available on a counter and began filling out the information.  Dave was getting extremely distressed at this point, so I did my best to convince both of us that everything was going to be okay, and that we’d get our paperwork done with plenty of time.  We took a number and waited for our turn.

When our number was called I think both our hearts skipped a beat or two – I was terrified that we’d have to forfeit the flight and would be stuck in Seoul for a week.  We kept all fingers and toes crossed while the clerk reviewed our information.  She asked us if we’d purchased a visa stamp, but since there was nothing to tell us to do so, we obviously hadn’t.  Dave ran over to another desk and paid $60 for two small stamps that were applied to our passports.  The clerk gave us a stamp of approval, and handed everything back to us.  That’s it?!?  Yep, we were all clear.  Whew.  Major disaster averted. 

As our heart rates began to stabilize we realized we still had a lot of time to kill before the flight.  We walked around the food court area, and Dave decided on Burger King – yum.  Then we cleared customs and spent about 45 minutes walking around the massive duty free that spanned the entire terminal.  At about 7:15 people started boarding the flight, so we decided to find our seats and get comfortable for the 10 hour trip.  At 7:50 we said goodbye to Korea, and were off!

Before leaving I’d read that Asiana had received quite a few awards for best in-cabin service, and they definitely lived up to their reputation.  It was definitely the nicest flight I’ve ever had – we got the standard earphones, pillow and blankets, but also received a nice travel kit with slippers, a sleep mask, toothpaste and a toothbrush.  The attendants were very friendly, and spoke English fairly fluently.  The menu for the flight blew Dave’s mind – a beef tenderloin steak with potatoes and veggies for dinner, and an omlette with bacon and potatoes for breakfast.  Two of Dave’s perfect meals! 

The best part was the in-flight entertainment – unlike our disgustingly long flight from Canada to Korea, the backs of each seat had a mini television!  Woo hoo!  Plus, the choice for movies was phenomenal – we watched Hellboy II, and then Dark Knight.  You really can’t ask for a better way to spend a couple of hours while on a plane. 

We managed to sleep for a few restless hours, then had breakfast somewhere around 6am.  Sydney is two hours ahead of Seoul, so we were actually eating at about 4am by our body clocks, plus after about 8 hours on a plane you start feeling really yucky anyway….not the highlight of the trip.  We landed at around 8am, headed through customs and collected our bags.  I always get a few minutes of utter panic as I watch the baggage slowly come off onto the turnstile.  I’m forever wondering if this is the flight where my bags end up in some other hemisphere….but – cue sigh of relief – my big black suitcase arrived safe and sound. 

I dressed as lightly as I could considering Seoul weather was a balmy -5 when we left, but as soon as we landed in Sydney I felt ridiculously over-dressed.  When we arrived it was already well into the 20’s and climbing, and there I was, wearing black yoga pants, a long-sleeved shirt, a jacket and a scarf.   I had a scarf on, for crying out loud!  As soon as we walked into the welcome area I spotted Dave’s uncle Tony – he looks exactly like Dave’s dad, except he has curly hair.  We wove through the crowd and said hello to Tony and Cheryl, who gave us a really cute stuffed kangaroo with a koala on its back as a little welcome gift, and we made our way out to their car. 

They said since we were already so close to downtown that they’d like to take us to the Circular Quay for a little breakfast.  On the way in Dave and I marvelled at the all-English billboards and street signs – what an amazing sight!  Plus they drive on the left side of the road in Australia – I kept thinking that cars were going to turn right into us.  We parked in an underground lot and headed above ground.  Oh man, was it ever getting hot.  It was only around 10am at this point, but it was already into the 30’s.  Everyone around us was in shorts and t-shirts – how we envied them.  But as soon as we left the car park we found ourselves smack in front of the Sydney Opera House – what an amazing building.  It’s definitely something to see in person.  We had a great view of the Harbour Bridge, and we walked up the steps to the Opera House entrance and watched the ferries going by.  It really felt like a dream. 

sydney-opera-house-2

sydney-opera-house-roof

sydney-opera-house-roof-3

We headed back down to ground level and walked up the Circular Quay a little bit to an outdoor restaurant called Portobello’s.  Although we weren’t really too hungry we thought it would be nice to have a bite to eat in such a great location.  Everything there was phenomenally expensive – a normal eggs-bacon-home-fries-and-toast breakfast was a whopping $21! – but you paid for the view more than anything else.  They had a sign on the patio that read “Please Be Aware: Birds will try to take your food from your plate.”  Ha!  Welcome to Australia 🙂

portobellos-sign

After walking around the Quay for a bit and picking up some tourist brochures, we headed back to Tony & Cheryl’s house, which is about 25 minutes outside Sydney.  By then Dave and I were starting to feel more than a little sleepy, so we crashed for a couple of hours.  How amazing sleeping in a real bed feels after trying to sleep upright in a plane!

When we woke up we met Dave’s cousins, Julia and Victoria, and Julia’s boyfriend Dan.  Tony & Cheryl also have two of the cutest dogs ever, named Oliver and Connor.  We lounged around their house for a bit, just enjoying the beautiful weather and the fact that we were on vacation, then decided to head out to buy a new video camera.  The lovely piece of garbage we bought on E-Bay decided to implode just before we left, and there was no way we were going a whole week in Australia without taking any videos.  We headed over to a near-by mall with Tony, and he and Dave did some price shopping before settling on a nice little JVC Everio.  (This is basically the camera – http://everio.jvc.com/lineup.html)

Back at home Tony & Cheryl prepared a fantastic dinner – Tony barbequed some “flat chook”, which are whole chickens squashed flat so they cook much quicker, plus Cheryl whipped up some roasted potatoes, and Julia put together a fantastic salad.  This was by far one of the best meals I’ve had in months.  Finish it off with some home-made mango and raspberry sorbet from Julia’s ice cream machine and some Australian wine, and you have one amazing meal.  By 10pm I was exhausted just completely wiped, so I called it a day and hit the sack.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: