Flights of fancy

Flights of fancy

On Saturday morning, Andy and I rose early to tick off list item number 4, ‘Catch a flight somewhere random at the last minute with just your handbag and a credit card‘.

As promised, we arrived at the airport with little more than the clothes on our backs. The conversation with the taxi driver went a little something like this:

Taxi Man: So, which terminal?
Me: I don’t know!
Taxi Man: I mean, which airline?
Me: I don’t know that either! We haven’t decided where we’re going yet!
Taxi Man:(disinterestedly) So, Terminal 2?
Me: I guess!

So… where on Earth did we end up?

When we arrived at the airport, we headed straight for the departures board, and from there, Andy made the selection of where to go.

Many of you probably know that it’s impossible to travel to any of the above exotic destinations from Terminal 2 at Sydney Airport. No, much more affordably – we opted for the sunny Gold Coast!

Surfers Paradise

Yes, my third trip to the Gold Coast in 6 weeks! What am I? Crazy?!

Probably… but then, a little too much sun will do that to a girl.

After making his selection, Andy and I proceeded to the Virgin Australia service desk. It’s funny, I’ve been in and out of this airport countless times and I’d never even noticed the desk was there! Shitstar had a counter too, but their next flight to the Goldie wasn’t for several hours.

A few too many dollars later, we were in possession of two tickets to the Goldie. It wasn’t the ‘Amazing Race’ experience you might expect. I tried, unsuccessfully, to negotiate on the unseasonably high ticket price, but in the end all I managed to score was a free place in the exit row and more leg room than I ever thought aviationally possible.

We had just enough time to scoff our ceremonial Maccas breakfast before boarding. We talked about all the things we might see and do, and where we might stay. In the end, we jumped on to for a last minute deal and booked ourselves into the 5 star Crowne Plaza, which, as it turns out, is probably in less need of stars and in greater need of a paint job. We dubbed it the ‘Ghost Hotel’ when, entering the lobby, we found ourselves completely… and utterly… alone.

The Ghostel

The Ghostel

I guess it seemed fitting to stay there. Andy and I will be celebrating our new marriage at another Crowne Plaza next year (similarly decked out in salmon marble, cast iron chandeliers and horribly ill-fitting furniture). Who would’ve though that the era that brought us the Backstreet Boys could be so… tacky?!

But I digress…

After all the talk of what exciting things we could get up to on our first day, in the end we both decided we’d prefer to just relax for once! So, we headed straight to Cavill Avenue. You know what they say, “When you roam, do as the Maroons do!” So we entered the first pub we saw, and promptly ordered a XXXX and a Bundy & Coke. (By then it was about 11am… which made it 12pm in NSW time and therefore completely appropriate to start drinking!)

O’Malley’s pub is apparently an old favourite of Andy’s (who spent much of the first day of our trip recalling his Schoolies adventures). It has, arguably, the best view of any Irish pub anywhere in the World and, inexplicably, it was all but empty when we arrived, so we had the whole balcony to ourselves until the lunchtime crowd started to roll in. Irish pubs are an interesting phenomenon on the Goldie. The line the streets like drunken sentinels, ushering in the unsuspecting tourists one-by-one.

We stayed there for lunch and then wandered through the mall, looking for inspiration on what to do next. With my automatonophobia, we quickly ruled out ‘Ripley’s Believe it or Not’, although Andy regaled me with the fondly remembered tale of the time he rocked up at Ripleys and his mate took off his shoe, plonked his webbed-toed foot on the counter, and demanded a discount! (A request they dutifully fulfilled).

Lacking inspiration, we wandered across to the beach. I rarely find time to get to the beach these days, so it was nice to walk along the sand and dip our toes in the water, enjoying the spectacle of the unknowing tourists throwing themselves at the mercy of the waves.

In the end, we decided to walk all the way to our hotel along the beach (it’s not like we had to cart any luggage with us!) We checked in and made the most of the pools and spas and, after taking advantage of the free drinks I managed to wrangle out of the hotel staff, made plans to meet up with an old school friend of mine for dinner.

Michael and I went to primary school together, so we’ve known each other since we were 6. Michael works as a concierge at another hotel on the Goldie, so he was full of useful advice about the best local restaurants and, as a result, we feasted on giant helpings of Mexican food. It had probably been close to a decade since we last saw each other, so we had plenty to catch up on. It wasn’t long, however, before our day in the sun got the better of us and Andy and I retreated to the hotel for some much-needed sleep.

On Sunday, we started the morning with breakfast in the hotel’s revolving restaurant. It was a real highlight with the most spectacular views. As it does with us, talk turned to the end of the World… only this time, instead of zombies, the culprit was a meteor and subsequent tsunami. Run for your lives Gold Coasties! You’re done for!

The view was so spectacular that it set off my rusty book-writing cogs, and my book idea is now starting to take shape. The ideas had little to do with the view, but there’s something about observing nature in all its glory that inspires even the rustiest of brains back into motion. Now all I have to do is start the damn thing!

After breakfast, we took advantage of our links to “friends in fishy places” and hightailed it back to Sea World.

Meeting Spongebob Squarepants

It’s not what you know, it’s who you know…

We managed to see most of the attractions this time, much of which I missed out on when I spent my day with the animals. My cousin strapped us into the the Castaway ropes course, which is MUCH freakier from above than it appears from below. I’d recommend it to anyone heading to Sea World as it’s a far greater thrill than any roller coaster could ever give you.

After another full day in the sun, we dragged our weary feet back to Cavill Avenue for a couple more obligatory holiday drinks and a wander through the beachside Sunday craft markets before hopping the bus back to the airport, and home. Unfortunately our return flight was booked with Shitstar, so we had the fun of comparing the two competing airlines, concluding that we’ll never fly Shitstar again! It’s not so much the airline itself (although Virgin is vastly superior in legroom, general cleanliness and newness). Shitstar is generally cheaper than Virgin, which is why I usually favour them, however the result is that every other bogan and his dog choose it for the same reason. Our “in-flight entertainment” consisted of being repeatedly kicked in the back by the bogans behind us, and watching as they were told for the 15th time to switch off their phones, put their seat back up, switch off their phones, put their tray table up, switch off their phones… As one Flight Attendant commented to the gentleman on my right “Everyone has to fly”. Yes. But not everyone has to fly this bogan airline! I’m out!

All in all, I had an amazing weekend and definitely appreciated the relaxation time after a hectic few months of work. I did learn a few things, however, that I’d like to pass on to anyone thinking of setting off on a similar adventure…

  1. DO buy your tickets in advance to take advantage of online sales and discounts. You will not be rewarded with a cheap flight at the last minute just because you’re helping them put bums on seats.
  2. DO bring a hairbrush unless you enjoy the “windswept and interesting” look.
  3. DO bring your toothbrush and toothpaste. Mints will not cut the mustard.
  4. DO pack your swimmers, not matter what the destination (I once went to the snow without my swimmers and missed out on using the hot tub!)

What I managed to cram into my handbag:

  • Sunglasses
  • Eyeglasses
  • a Pen
  • Mints
  • Phone charger
  • Swimmers
  • Sunscreen
  • Mascara and eyeliner
  • Headphones
  • A couple of tissues
  • Deodorant
  • Second pair of undies
  • Small coin purse with 2 credit cards, EFTPOS card, drivers licence, and a small amount of cash.
  • Andy was not subject to the challenge, however he brought a backpack with a modest amount of supplies including some of the above plus 2 spare T-shirts, boardies, thongs and a toothbrush.

My biggest regret was probably not thinking to pack a brush. My hair is far too long these days to get away with having no brush after sun, sand and swimming.My credit card was easily the most used item, and by the end of the weekend it was running hotter than the Queensland sun! I think the only thing I didn’t use from my bag was the pen and tissues. By the second day I probably could have done with a change of clothes, but the stench of the sunscreen was enough to keep my own stench at bay. Andy and I both patted ourselves on the backs, as former cub scouts, for being such effectively light travellers.

It will certainly come in handy during the zombie apocalypse!

A big thanks to my Mum for the fun addition to the list! That’s 13 down and 17 to go. Almost on track as the halfway point draws near…


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