Saturday, January 15, 2011

Antipodes

I bought tickets for the kids and I to go to New Zealand to visit my father. Getting there is going to be quite an adventure. The good news is that unlike domestic airlines, Air New Zealand really knows how to treat travelers. Their planes have on-demand movies, decent food, extra legroom, hot towels at dawn, and flight attendants who walk up and down the aisles silently all night with bottles of red and white wine, ready to pour you as much as you would like for free. I'm thinking I might make heavy use of that last amenity on this trip. For me AND the kids.

The Maori word for New Zealand
is Aotearoa, which translates as
Christ, this country is a long
ways from, like, anywhere.
Last time I flew back from New Zealand I was by myself, and I so thoroughly enjoyed the Air New Zealand treatment that about the time they started handing out ice cream bars I remember thinking hey, let's skip this pesky landing business and just keep on flying right past Los Angeles. It was like a spa, only no eucalyptus shower. And, to be honest, the mani-pedi I got on board flaked right off.

Even though he does not get a seat, Baby W has to pay something like $150 to get aboard the plane, which seems a little unfair. I'm going to make sure we get our money's worth by asking Baby W to wail a solid 3 or 4 hours in the middle of the trip. Also, I'm ordering TWO ice cream bars for him.

Actually, Baby W is an excellent long-distance traveler, just as Stella is. So far in his nine months on the outside, he's been to Washington DC twice, Pennsylvania three times, Seattle, Portland, Nebraska, and Iowa. On one of those flights, a neighboring traveler rolled his eyes and said it was just his luck to sit close to a baby and hopefully there would be no crying. Let me tell you something, buddy, these kids aren't so wide they take up all their seat and half of yours. They won't insist on trying to chat despite your repeated, increasingly insistent remarks about how interesting, no, downright fascinating your book is. And they won't get drunk on tiny $7 bottles of wine and sloppily hit on you. I think there ought to be a frickin' stampede to sit next to my kids.

I'm sorry to say the number of sheep
in NZ totally confirms stereotypes.
Also, the whole damn country
is full of hobbits.
Buying this ticket to New Zealand required the equivalent of a supercomputer to run all the possibilities. I had some limited dates to chose from based on my work schedule, and the online travel sites kept trying to force me to buy a ticket with a stop in Fiji or Hawaii, rather than allowing a direct West Coast - NZ flight. It feels strange how much work I put in to avoid stopping in those tropical paradises. Please, PLEASE don't force me to visit Honolulu! I'll pay several hundred additional dollars to avoid going to Fiji!

Buying a ticket got so complicated I gave in and actually called a travel agent at AAA, one of the three or so remaining travel agents working in the industry. She tried to dissuade me from using her services by stressing heavily that they charged $30 to ticket, and when I said that was okay, she sighed heavily and didn't get back to me until 48 hours later -- and then it was to tell me that due to the long weekend she wouldn't be getting back to me with ticket possibilities for another four or five days. I would have thought travel agents were so desperate for business they'd be out buttonholing people at the supermarket who look like they could use a cruise, but apparently they're too busy leafing through their printed copy, no wait -- mimeographed copy -- of the airline pricing schedule to deal with actual customers.

I wound up buying my own ticket and I'm starting to get excited about going to New Zealand despite my ambivalence about the travel to get there. We'll go to the beach, enjoy the beautiful weather, hit the local tourist traps, and see lots of sheep. Then all too soon it will be time to get on the airplane and return home. That's okay, because I have a plan for the return flight home: I'm getting my eyebrows done.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this inspiration post about your upcoming trip to New Zealand. I am starting to feel less anxious about my upcoming trip to New Zealand.

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