MSP-LAX, no problem. At LAX… we sat on the runway for half an hour plus the entire time it took to watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop. Well, or the time it took to watch a documentary on skin color (did you know that darker skin evolved as a response not to skin cancer, as most people believe, but to UV rays killing folate in the blood stream and causing birth defects like spina bifida?). Once we finally got in the air, the flight was about 15 hours, but actually it wasn’t too bad. I had an aisle seat, which is key, and Qantas also has these little wings on the headrests that you can adjust to lean your head on. That makes a huuuuge difference for sleeping. It worked better than the inflatable neck pillow I bought, and I actually got some decent sleep on the flight. It probably also helped that the flight took off at about 1am MN time, and that I took a sleeping pill, but still, I usually do not get any useable sleep on planes, so I was happy.
Flying Qantas, I noticed evidence of Australia’s more laid-back culture as soon as we left the ground. First of all, you still get food on those flights (even the domestic ones within Oz). Wow! Second of all, the captain turned off the Fasten Seat Belt sign waaaay earlier than a US-based plane would do—I got up to use the toilet and I was walking at about a 30 degree angle! Same when we landed – on US flights, they yell at you if you get up and start getting your bags before the Fasten Seat Belt sign is off, even if the plane is stopped. When we landed in Sydney, everyone was getting up and we were still moving. Craziness.
We landed in Syndey and went through customs and immigration. That all went smoothly except that my checked bag did not make it to Sydney with me. Luckily, I had packed a couple of changes of clothes and undies, as well as indispensable toiletries, book, and camera in my carry on, so I was fine. I got to Bohemia Resort (aka hostel) at about 1, and Ross, the Resident Director, was there to meet me. We said hello and he showed me my room, and after I showered and called Rob, we went to visit JCU Cairns. They have a Mosquito Research Lab! And we saw a wallaby hanging out on campus. That took much less time than expected, so we drove up to Port Douglas (very scenic drive along the coast) and back, and then we went to dinner with the logistical coordinator, Meghan. Meghan ordered kangaroo satay and I ordered crocodile satay, and we shared so we could each try the other. It was good!
I was pretty tired, but not as tired as I was in Copenhagen when we arrived. Probably because I actually slept on the plane. But I was still in bed and asleep by 9, and I slept basically through the night until 8am, and from that point on, no jet lag. Woot!