June 30th to July 1st:

G'day, mate!

After packing up last night, it was pretty easy to put the finishing touches on the suitcases, and I was down in the lobby checking out by 8:15 am. As it turned out, today was also a day for waiting - the taxi I was supposed to have arranged the night before never arrived. I eventually, 20 minutes later, talked to the bell captain about it, and he called someone. A short while later, a limo pulled up and I was on my way to the airport. First time in a limo!

At the airport, the line for the flight check in was rather long (more waiting). Along the way we were each informed that the flight was going to be late arriving, and so late leaving. The flight was supposed to be leaving at 11:30 am, but it had been rescheduled for 1:15 pm. Guess what? More waiting.

I wandered around some, got some postcards and lunch (the airline gave us all vouchers for $10 to be used anywhere in the airport for food), then went on out to the gate. It turned out that the plane had been even later than expected, and we didn't start boarding until about 1:15. And there are a lot of seats on a 747 - the last row is number 75!!!

My seat was 27K - I was among the last to board (business and first classes take up the first 20 rows, I think, and they, of course, board very very first). Luckily, there was an empty seat between me and my section-mate. The rows were far enough apart to give lots of leg-room, though there wasn't quite enough hip-room, as usual (though that was mitigated by the empty seat). Each seat, even in economy, has its own TV and selectable options for viewing movies, TV shows, or playing video games (some of which are multiplayer with other people on the plane). There was only one movie I really wanted to see - Assault on Precinct 13 - but the other optioins kept me occupied quite nicely. In fact, the 9 hours, 40 minutes (or so) of the flight weren't all that terrible. We got both lunch and dinner, though not really enough beverage service (unless it was supposed to be "ask for it", which seems annoying) - they did go around with water three times or so. I stayed awake for the entire trip and scored two more firsts - I crossed both the equator and the international date line!

We arrived in Sydney at something like 7:30 pm on the 1st of July. Being in the front part of the plane, I got out quickly and was on my way to customs, which I got through equally quickly (I pity the wait the folks in row 75 had to go through, both getting out of the plane, and then in line for customs). I changed my pocket money for the weird plastic Australian bills, then found an ATM to make sure my debit card worked, which it did. The only trouble with using the debit card is that I'm taking out AUD amounts (Australian Dollar), which equals fewer American dollars. I'll just have to assume that the amounts are American dollars - it's easier than trying to figure exchange rates (plus, there are going to be transaction fees on the American side as well). Lastly, I went outside for a taxi.

Checked into the Rydges Camperdown, right on the edge of the University of Sydney, roughlly directly across Missenden road from the Sancta Sophia College, where the KWDS V will be held. I had to change rooms - the first one they gave me had not been serviced (the bed was unmade, and towels were lying around here and there). I ended up in room 102 (formerly 509). I had some fish and chips in the hotel restaurant, then returned to the room to download the couple of pictures I'd taken and type this up. I'm glad that the adaptor for the computer works!

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