It’s a long way to Buenos Aries. I was up at 5.00 am to catch my 7.30 am flight to Sydney and then my 11.40 flight to Santiago. This actually turned out to be the 12.40 flight because of a delay in loading catering. However, I am not delayed by much as the flight time today is about one hour less than normal, and we arrive at about the same time as scheduled. No problem with connections therefore. There was a brilliant rainbow over the Melbourne airport and I hope that it is an omen for a good trip. It looked far more pleasant than Sydney’s wet and drizzly weather.
On the way to Sydney, my next door neighbour was a Qantas cabin crew member who was on her way to Sydney for a day-long training course. Airline people obviously develop a great attachment for planes as she continually spoke about 747’s as being beautiful aircraft and A380’s as magnificent things. It was as if she had a very personal relationship with them.
On the flight to Santiago I was seated in the upper deck on a Boeing 747. I rather like this area of the plane as it is smaller and a lot more personal than the larger cabin downstairs. The only disadvantage for someone of my height is that because the fuselage curves inwards, one almost has to be a contortionist to get in a position when going to the toilet and having a pee so as to get everything lined up for a straight shot!
The seat next to me on this flight was empty and I understand from Roger, the flight attendant. that it was a ‘LAN’ seat. Because this is a code shared flight with LAN Chile, LAN purchase a number of seats that they then re-sell. Obviously seat 12J wasn’t sold. I wonder, being a ‘LAN’ seat whether the occupying passenger would also have LAN food and LAN service rather than the Qantas ones (only joking). Our flight followed a route which dipped south over New Zealand and then along a latitude that roughly aligned wit the bottom tip of South America. By breakfast time, we were flying northeast up the west coast of the South American continent. We had some fine views of the Andes although the amount of haze increased as we travelled closer to Santiago.
I didn’t sleep a lot during the flight, but instead alternated between watching a movie, napping and reading about a third of a good book named ‘The Unlikely Adventure of Jack De Crow’ which was recommended to me by an old work colleague. It’s quite an interesting story about a man who sets of down the Severn River in a mirror dinghy while wearing a pith helmet. I’m about a third of the way through the book and I don’t know where he will end up – so far he has reached the mouth of the river, sailed across Bristol Harbour and along a canal to reach the Thames. Perhaps my cruise on the expedition boat will be of a similar nature – heading off somewhere into the unknown, except to match this story, I will need to buy a pith helmet. I wonder whether you can buy one somewhere in Argentina? My adventure might be just a little enhanced with the bottle of Champagne that Roger gave me as I left the plane.
My three hour stopover in Santiago seemed to go on forever and wasn’t helped by a last minute gate change and aircraft change. It was announced only in Spanish and left all the English speakers totally confused. Finally we were on our way, taking off to the south and turning left to fly over the Andes. These are seriously high mountains. I was following our route on the flight map and at 7000 metres it still looked as though some of the peaks were higher than our plane. We didn’t turn left to cross them until we were at over 9000 metres.
Finally, I arrived in Buenos Aries at 5.30 pm local time (26 hours after leaving home) and found my hotel. The hot water for the shower was only our lukewarm, but it felt good anyway. I grabbed a quick meal in the bar, but found myself nodding off to sleep while eating it, so I decided that I had had enough of a long day.