July 19th (part 1 - the first time through):

I got up in my own good time (but still just about at 8am), and got ready nice and leisurely. Breakfast arrived at just about 9am exactly (as I had asked/ordered), and there was a lot of it. I didn't eat everything - I had been feeling a little "off" for the past two days, and today wasn't any better. It was also more than I could really eat anyway. I'm not sure how they got the order wrong - I ordered melon, not mixed fruit, I ordered pancakes as sides to the eggs, but I also got a plate of them. Nothing major, and it was all one price anyway.

At just about 11am I went downstairs and checked out. I sat and read in the lobby until the airport van showed up early, at 11:25, which was fine by me. We drove all over Cairns and finally picked up two more people at one more hotel, then drove to the airport.

The line for check-in was moderate, but moved well. I had packed an extra bag (the TV Guide tote) with my souveniers and books because everything wouldn't fit in the suitcase any longer, and I knew that I was traveling internationally, which would let me have two bags. Unfortunately, I had forgotten that I was traveling domestic first, so I ended up carrying two bags the whole way. I went out to the gate, did some shopping without buying anything, then got some internet time (30 mins) and checked my email, sending out one.

I was surprised when the plane from Cairns to Brisbane was a 767 - the same size plane that took me from Chicago to Honolulu (an 8 hour trip), just for a 2 hour flight. I was the first one on the plane, even though I (and the folks behind me) had to wait for a bit while the cleaning crew got finished - the gate had been opened early. I had a window seat, and read the whole way. I was even more surprised when the exact same plane with a totally different flight number was the one that took me from Brisbane to Sydney, an even shorter flight. I was on the same side of the plane but 10 more rows back - seat 50A, as opposed to 40A, and was again the first on the plane which made getting to my seat really easy. This flight was also quick, and I also read the whole way.

In Sydney, I transferred to the International Terminal (by bus), and then cleared Australian Customs. There wasn't much food on offer in the terminal, so I didn't eat dinner as I had wanted. I did a little shopping, but decided not to buy a didgeridoo. For some odd reason, the gate for our plane, gate 9, wasn't accessable until 7:45. After another passport check, we went into the gate area, where we had to wait again. We finally boarded the 747, and then ended up sitting on the tarmac for rather a long time because they couldn't start engine number 2. We did finally take off with engine 2.

The flight was long, and not nearly as easy as the flight from Honolulu to Sydney. I watched Robots - nice little movie - and the end of Sahara (which the whole plane had missed on the flight from Connellan Airport to Cairns) - and ate dinner of roast beef and salad. I then tried to sleep, more or less unsuccessfully (the seat next to me was occupied). I only got about 4 and a half fitful hours. I had breakfast (didn't eat a lot of it), then impatiently waited until the plane landed.

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