We made it!
Yesterday afternoon my brother dropped Tyler and I off for our 3 week adventure to Australia! I don\'t remember how this trip came about, exactly, except that I had decided that since we were both turning the big 3-0 this year, we should do something really fun to celebrate. I thought Tyler had mentioned to me at some point he\'d always wanted to go to Australia so I started researching and asking around and got hooked on the idea. Fast forward to May 17 and we were off! We arrived pretty early at the airport, thinking afternoon flights would be lined up and busy, but it was a breeze getting our boarding passes and going through customs. We wandered around and then made our way to the gate. Our flight was to go to Toronto at 6pm, change planes, fly to Vancouver, pause to refuel, and then on to Sydney. We settled in to relax and wait, and then heard our names being called over the PA around 5pm. Would passengers Kealey and Boudreau please come to Gate 16? As we walked over, we heard another announcement saying that the flight to Toronto was cancelled due to weather.
We also noticed a huge, angry line of people at the check-in. We made our way through to the side and the lady told us she would re-book us on a flight directly to Vancouver. Seemed ok, but then, as people kept interrupting her and demanding answers for how they would get to their destinations (I guess we got priority since we were going the farthest), she swiped our passports asked for our electronic travel visas. I wasn\'t sure what to do. I\'d spoken with the Australian embassy, filed out the info online, paid, and got an approval. They had assured me that the Australian ETA visa was just attached electronically to your passport., and so I hadn\'t printed the confirmation email. I told this to the lady and she insisted our passports had no visa embedded in the computer, so we could go to Vancouver, but we would not be able to go ahead to Sydney from there.
My stomach dropped as Tyler franticly booted up his laptop. The lady advised us to try to contact the embassy once in Vancouver since the flight would board in a few minutes. Panicking, we grabbed our new boarding passes and raced down to the Vancouver gate. That plane was late arriving, so we connected to the free wifi and looked up the email confirmation which assured me that we had been approved, and needed no other papers or reference number, As I was kicking myself for not having printed it out, I flipped open my flight papers to note the confirmation number and noticed that I had written the visa confirmation number by hand already at the bottom. Oh.
We explained our situation to the lady working at the Vancouver gate, and she calmly swiped out passports and told us everything was fine and our visas were detected. She also put us in seats together on the plane and re-checked our luggage all the way to Sydney. The flight to Vancouver took about 5 hours and passed quickly. Air Canada had those great little tv screens in the back of each seat and I watched a few episodes of Modern Family (which I loved - I wish they had the whole season on there!) and made good use of my early birthday present from Tyler:
A Kobo e-reader! I love to read and brought 4-5 books to China last year and I don\'t really like the idea of an e-reader. I thought it\'d be hard to read the bright screen, and I\'d be flipping pages every split second. Plus I\'d hate to be part of the reason that books stopped existing when everyone turned to technology instead of old-fashioned reading. But for a long trip like this you can\'t argue with convenience. The Kobo comes loaded with 100 classic novels, and I purchased a few new ones as well. You can make the text bigger or smaller, and with the cover it feels like you\'re holding a real book, except less awkward. The screen isn\'t backlit so it is like reading off a page rather than a screen. I love it a lot! We arrived in Vancouver to some magnificent, Lord of the Ring type mountain views and as soon as we got off the plane there was an Air Canada rep that immediately printed our Sydney boarding passes, and checked out our passports (she wrote \"visa\" ok at the top -huge phew!)
We grabbed some dinner (it was around 11:30pm to our bodies, and 8:30pm in Vancouver). I went to A&W and met a couple of Australians returning home from an Alaskan cruise, who asked me to describe what Root Beer tasted like. Friendly people and they even had some suggestions of what to do and see. The Vancouver airport has some great aboriginal artwork, and a cool aquarium, so walking around and killing time wasn't too hard.
Our second flight was about 15 hours long, and we boarded at what felt like 2:40am to our tired bodies. We both slept on and off (uncomfortably), watched movies, read, and the flight went by a lot quicker than I expected. Once we arrived in Sydney, we took a shuttle to another terminal and had a LOT of time to kill. We tried a Krispy Kreme original doughnut and it was actually really, really good. Sorry Tim Horton's. Now we will fly to Melbourne to begin our adventure!