15 Reasons To Go To Australia Today (in Pictures!!!)
Australia Part 1 – Overview and Flights
Australia Part 2 – Brisbane and Koalas!!!! (Coming soon!)
Australia Part 3 – Melbourne (Coming Soon!)
Australia Part 4 – The Great Ocean Road (Coming soon!)
Australia Part 5 – Sydney – Beaches, Boats, and Beers (Coming soon!)
For the past 4 years, our goal has always been to accomplish 7 Continents in 7 years. For Continent #5, we settled on Australia and we are kicking ourselves for not making it #1. Unlike most of our other trips where we book within the month, we had been planning this trip pretty far in advance with our goals being: Brisbane (to hold koalas and see the Gold Coast), Melbourne (for the Great Ocean Road and Phillip Island), and Sydney (obviously for the opera house and more beach time). Plus coffee and beer in all 3 places 😉
So, what is travel without a good learning experience? Well, we learned exactly what not to do when everything goes wrong.
Our original itinerary looked something like this: MCI-ATL-LAX-SYD-BNE (in plain English: A lot of flights to go from Kansas City to Brisbane). We were booked on cheap economy tickets, but upgraded using Delta’s Global Upgrades to be in business.
To make a long story short, we ended up stuck in Atlanta for a night thanks to some incredible incompetence (ok, we are still a little angry). We had over an hour to get re-booked on a later flight that had plenty of open space, but it didn’t happen. We lost a night of vacation (meaning no Gold Coast in Brisbane!). Delta’s automatic re-booking engine (which handles delays for elite members) completely butchered our reservation. Normally, this system is awesome. When it messes up though, it messes up bad. At times like this, it’s really easy to get angry. Which we did. Travel Rule #26: Getting angry solves nothing. It never solves anything in situations like this. Trying to get on our flights ended up causing a 20 minute delay to the plane leaving, caused an incoming flight to have to change gates, and we still weren’t able to get on: so it left with seats open, even in first. (Sorry to everyone on that plane!!! We were “those” people…)
However, we stomped off to bed, crashed at the provided hotel for a night, recouped, and made the most of our time in Atlanta by visiting the Georgia Aquarium. We have actually wanted to go here for some time, and this ended up being one of the highlights of the trip! Its the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere, which after seeing the whale shark tank, is not surprising. Oh, and there was a penguin parade, but I was too busy acting like a 2 year old to remember to take a picture. I think we did a decent job turning lemons into lemonade.
We then headed over to the Atlanta Skyview ferris wheel, which was slightly disappointing (not nearly tall enough!), plus a quick stop by the Coca-Cola Museum.
With that, we uber-ed back to the airport, caught the sunset over the airport from the outdoor terrace at the Delta lounge, and finally – 24 hours later- got on our flight.
We were thankfully able to get our itinerary changed so that we only had to fly ATL-LAX-BNE, skipping the Sydney stopover and saving us 5/6 hours. This also let us try out Virgin Australia’s business class. The seats were comfortable enough, the bedding was excellent, but the 2-3-2 configuration means no privacy and no direct aisle access for that person in the middle seat (Courtney). They are in the process of upgrading this, but until that is done, I would not consider flying them again. That said, they do have a bar in business class, which its always nice to have the option to get up and walk around a bit.
To round out the trip, the flights from Brisbane-Melbourne and Melbourne-Sydney were on Virgin Australia and were perfectly fine for short “domestic” flights. Our flight home, Sydney-Los Angeles-Kansas City, was on Delta in business. Flights were (thankfully) nothing to write home about. It’s a long flight when you can watch 2 movies, sleep soundly, then watch another 2 movies.
I have never so badly wanted to just stay somewhere than I did in Australia. The people were incredibly friendly, spoke the BEST accented English, and were just fun to be around. On top of that, they country is just magnificently beautiful*! Come back soon for our recaps from each city!
*All parties agree as not a single snake or shark was to be seen!