Monday, February 20, 2017

The Longest Day- February 19, 2017

This day would definitely have more than 24 hours as we were going home.  We were up at 4 am and ready to be picked up from the hotel at 4:30 am for our transport to the Christchurch airport.  There were 3 couples leaving at this time.  A bagged breakfast of yogurt, juice, fruit and some small pastries had been prepared for us since the hotel breakfast was not open.  At the airport we had to process through as international flyers as we would be flying to Australia.  At 7 am we were on the plane for Sydney which was about a 3 hours long.  Landing in Sydney, we found the clock was turned back 2 hours and our next flight did not load up until 1:50 pm so we had about 5 hours of layover time.
We loaded into the plane about 2 pm and the plane took off about 2:30 pm for Dallas/ Fort Worth, Texas.  We would be on this large Air Bus 380 plane for about 15 hours.  Tom and I again lucked out with having the third seat vacant that allowed more room to get comfortable. The flight was uneventful, had a meal, the lights were turned off and window shades pulled down to encourage sleeping, snacks distributed to those awake, then breakfast served with lights turned on and landing in Texas at little past 1 pm (central time) and still the same day.  Again being international travelers we had to go through customs and immigration, collect luggage and then get luggage rechecked. This huge airport had porters with large golf cart vehicles that we utilized to move us from area to area.  Our plane was not scheduled to load until nearly 5 pm so we had time to get something to eat which we did.  The plane loaded fairly promptly and we were on our last leg of this trip to Orlando.  Finally, about 8:30 pm (eastern time) we had landed in Orlando.  When we went to claim our luggage our luggage was not on the conveyor belt. As we proceeded to the desk to make a claim Tom spied our luggage in a roped off area with an attendant.  Our luggage had come in on a earlier flight.  Tom had arranged for a pick-up to take us back to The Villages so Tom had been in contact with him when we landed and we were picked up in a few minutes time after getting our luggage.  We arrived home about 10:30 pm the same day that we had left New Zealand.  With the numerous time zones we passed through we estimate our travels were at least 30 hours from start to home.
The trip was wonderful.  Trafalgar, the tour company, had arranged a tour that gave us an overview of both countries.  We had very little idle time.  Both tour directors, Dave Overton (Australia) and Katie Hunter (New Zealand) were knowledgeable and extremely helpful.  It was a great way to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary!