9 March 2014 – 4 cities and 2 hemispheres in 1 day…………

*Blog by Anto (since Nic occasionally makes him contribute)*

Sunday morning started with a quite acceptable breakfast at the hotel. After everyone (finally) was determined to be ready to depart Nic took the kids to the very cool kiddy playground in the hotel grounds (after requests for a swim in the un-heated outdoor pool was vetoed) while Anto re-loaded the car with all the goods and chattels that he was sure were being carried in just hours before.

Before too long everyone was bundled into the car for the run to Wollongong, to attend the Christening, which had been our original reason for the weekend away.  Both kids blissfully napped in the car and everything was going pretty much perfectly to plan… until the GPS was about 3 seconds too slow with a turn update and we missed our turnoff – at home this would have added an annoying couple of minutes to the trip – today it was 16km and an extra 20 odd minutes. Minor diversions aside we arrived without incident in Bulli and attempted a rapid catch-up with our friends while throwing a load of smelly clothes through their washing machine. Astrid confined herself to the baby jail, where someone else’s toys occupied her for a good hour, before she discovered the outside area complete with swings, slides and trampolines.

Before we knew it it was time to head off to the Christening, in theory about a 5 minute drive away. Not trusting our navigation we decide to follow along behind the locals. We made it to the church in fairly record time – and proceeded to wait around for everyone else to arrive. Once the service began Astrid was fairly rapidly impressed with the video projector but seemingly not as much as with the toilet, which she requested to visit on more than one occasion. In the end Astrid was being too distracted and silly and ended up sitting out in the foyer with Anto while Nic and Soren the rest of the fairly short ceremony with Soren destroying the service pamphlet for entertainment. Then it was back to Michelle’s for most people to have a lunch – however we had an appointment with the airline and instead headed back towards Sydney, via Michelle’s to pick up our washing and say goodbye. Astrid thought that rather than more sitting in the car (apparently a quite dull activity) we could go to the beach and build sandcastles, sadly her very polite requests were denied.

In order to keep both kids quiet on the hour long trip back to Sydney airport, Nic decided to sit in the back seat in the middle.  This photo shows how much room is in that seat……. enough for Nic’s slender behind but apparently not enough for her shoulders or upper body.

Perfect, before many hours in cattle class on an aeroplane.  It did keep the kids quiet though.

The run back to Sydney was fairly smooth, although providing an additional re-enforcement as to why we don’t live there. Nic was deposited at the terminal with a huge pile of bags (we were going to pack light for this trip right?), while Anto dropped the car to the cheapish long-stay parking. Astrid requested photos of herself with her own suitcase and took photos of Soren for us………

Eventually Anto returned with the last few bags so we sauntered across to the Qantas club check-in, which was as efficient as ever – a quick drop of the pram at the oversized baggage and we wandered through security – skipping the explosives detection, possibly due to us dragging around two small tired children and a mountain of carry-on. We checked into Qantas club to await updates of how late our Melbourne flight was going to be – now it may not make sense to drive to Sydney, to fly to Melbourne to fly to Singapore – but that was the way we managed to get flights that met our schedule (and were cheap).

As we sat at Qantas club surrounded by tired feral children (not our own for once…) our flight got pushed back further and further. At one stage it appeared we had about 40 minutes to make an international connection (between landing and the next flight departing, the flight arriving after boarding commenced). So much for relaxing at the nice international Qantas lounge… Getting worried Anto checked if it was worth preemptively swapping flights but was reassured that transitioning to international at Melbourne was really quick and easy – neither Anto, nor Nic were convinced. At any rate we managed to eat and rehydrate in Qantas club and Astrid had a good eat and play.

Eventually boarding started and after some more waiting around we pushed back in order to drive at 10km/h to the furthest point of the airport from the terminal. We resigned ourselves to a night in Melbourne and a flight out in the morning. The pilot obviously desperate to prove us wrong didn’t bother throttling back and took about 25 minutes off the flight time – which by the time we made it to the gate left us just over 50 minutes to get out of domestic, go through immigration, clear international security find the gate and get on the plane. Astrid had happily ate snacks and watched Bananas in PJs on the inflight entertainment iPad and Soren spend the entire flight feeding.

We were putting money on it just not being possible to make the connection, especially as we were 41 rows back on the plane, but went through the motions. Next thing we knew we had the quickest run through we have ever had, only slowing down when we had to go through a formality like producing of documents, with no lines at security or immigration. Even the copious quantities of liquids we were carrying for the kiddies didn’t seem to slow us down. We made the connection with about 20 minutes to spare, just in time to witness what seemed like a very organised boarding procedure that somehow took much longer than any we had experienced before. This was our first Emirates flight though, so maybe that is how they do things……

Once we made it onto the plane finding our seats in the first row past business was a fairly trivial affair. We scored the 4 seats in the middle, so had a spare seat next to us. After what seemed to be fairly endless messing around, during which Astrid decided she just ‘had to’ go to the toilet, immediately prior to takeoff, we finally pushed back, sat trough the endlessly dull safety briefing in two languages and finally made it into the air. Next came the distribution of a fairly huge lot of kiddie loot – including a really good blanket, soft toy and baby pack for Soren (with bib, spoon, toy, wipes, changemat etc) and a big bunch of stuff for Astrid – including kiddie sized headphones and her latest ‘favourite’ toy a mini etch-a-sketch. It certainly beats the flying fun pack from Qantas we have a million of laying around the house…..

Astrid fairly quickly sorted out access to the in-flight entertainment system just in time for them to try and install the bassinet – which seemingly occupied the same physical space as the in-armrest TV unit, an issue that was eventually (partially) solved with the application of fairly large amounts of ​force, for at least Astrid’s TV. Nic gave up any hope of watching TV.   It turns out that while our seats were great for leg room (we had oodles) the lack of a foot rest or being able to watch TV if your seat was next to the bassinet was a slight negative.

Inflight service seemed pretty standard for a late night​ departure, feed you a drink after an hour, dinner another hour later and then pick it all up another hour down the line – luckily we had a spare seat and the bassinet to shuffle trays around so we could sort out getting kiddies into some kind of sleep. It was after 9.30pm Sydney time by the time Astrid got dinner, and despite being exhausted she wasn’t going to sleep until she had been fed, and happily watched Thomas the tank engine. Soren went to sleep in the bassinet about 5 minutes after the installed it, and put all the other screaming babies on the plane to shame.

Due to the noise Soren decided the bassinet was not the place to be. Although Soren would only sleep in the bassinet for a short period of time he was fairly happy to lie on Nic and rest, lucky he only weighs a bit over 5kg so wasn’t too much of a problem, aside from when trying to eat. Nic eventually got a vegetarian meal after the pre-ordered one went missing yet again…… I think a crew member must not have got theirs as Nic ended up with it but was quite hungry by that stage.  Astrid on the other hand slept as well as you can in a noisy airline seat, after some debate as to how much TV she should get to watch before hand. Anto busied himself with paperwork, watching a fairly ordinary movie from the selection of 450+ and ensuring that someone sampled the late night snacks that were distributed while the whole place was trying to sleep.

After very little sleep for the adults, landing in Singapore was fairly non-eventful, after some last minute pre-packing before the seat belt sign was firmly on, we loaded the kiddies up into carriers and scooted off the plane in fairly record time. Every time we have been through Singapore airport the locals have though Astrid too cute, especially in the ergo. This time she was being back-carried in the ergo and Soren was being wide-eyed and extremely grinny for 3am Aussie time, being a koala in the bubba Moe.  Everywhere we went there were cries of ‘look at the cute baby, oh there is two of them!’

Wandering down to immigration was as easy as following the signs & with very little delay were standing in front of an immigration officer – at which point the kids turned up the charm & we were granted admission to Singapore. A quick stop at Duty Free for some ‘special tonic’ for Dad and we scooted into the baggage hall – where as usual there was 1/2 a plane load of people standing 30cm away from the belt. The bags appeared in fairly rapid measure & Anto courageously resisted swinging them into the shins of the vast hoards of idiots standing directly in the path the bags took as they were swung off the belt.

With the last bag collected Anto headed back to the trolley(s) to load up, find the stroller and get on our way – when disaster struck… Astrid, strapped to Anto’s back in the Ergo finally had enough & the vomitron re-visited. This time all over Anto, the ergo the luggage trolleys and the pristine clean floor. Other passengers looked on in horror but we just dealt with it. What else can you do in the middle of the night? Emergency de-contamination procedures were enacted with about 50 wipes being used on Anto & Astrid before running to a toilet for a quick wash and a complete change of clothes. By the time Anto got back the floor had been returned to it’s spotless condition, and Nic had the stroller retrieved & all that was left was a wander through the ‘nothing to declare’ customs line. Interestingly either we were seen as little risk to Singapore, or possibly no-one wanted to go near the vomit smeared party, as the customs guys politely looked anywhere else as we wandered through – which was a slight change from our last visit where the customs gave a pretty good impression of being asleep.

With fairly little effort we acquired local currency and a taxi, the driver of which commented that we had a mountain of luggage, and we were on the road to the hotel. Shortly after leaving the terminal the taxi driver made a comment about us being ‘very smelly’ (and he was correct) after explaining why he seemed to drop the issue. Astrid commenced asking a question about every 2 seconds (not bad for 3am Aussie time after little sleep) – which impressed the driver no-end. By the end of the trip he was ‘offering’ to take her home & to the zoo – which Astrid seemed to think was not the best idea. Given the late hour traffic was very light and we made it to the hotel, checked in a got into our room – where Astrid’s bed was missing… Which was rectified in fairly quick order with a call to housekeeping. Everyone was showered, the baby fed and we were all bundled into bed with the hope of at least the adults catching up on some sleep…..

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