Very excited to be heading back to the mother land for my 25th birthday, I eagerly got out of bed when the alarm went off and showered, finished packing and painted on my hooker-red lips. Ash and I excitedly boarded the school bus, our suitcases laden with birthday celebration outfits and burst into the briefing room. My friend Dean was there, as well as Stefan who I recently did a Brissie trip with and we all had a good chat and then got down to business. The pilots came in, and with the general declaration in his hand, the captain looked around and said "Lauren, where's the party?" The gen dec has all our birthdays on there and as mine was the next day, he figured there'd be a bit of a bash. He was most definitely on the right track!
On board, we chatter excitedly about our plans for the trip and what we'd be doing for my birthday. I usually HATE direct Australia flights with a passion that only rivals my hatred of celery, people who can't pronounce 'hospital', 'spaghetti' and 'bag' correctly and people who don't say thanks when you hold a door open for them. I jumped at the chance to do this flight because Ash was on it and I couldn't get a Brisbane trip, so figured that being in Sydney was the next best thing.
We finally landed and it was my birthday! Woooooooo hoooooooo! 25 at last, I ripped into my presents when I got to the hotel, read a lovely card from Jono, talked to him until the jet-lag prevented me from talking coherently and then passed out. Ash and I wandered into the mall later that day for some shopping and lunch and where did we end up for lunch on such a special day? HUNGRY JACKS. Ha ha ha. I had visions of a a late brekky/lunch at a classy little cafe somewhere, but after some shopping and Ash's eyebrow appointment we were starving and needed to eat. With whopper meals in tow, we sat at some glittery red stools and scoffed down our purchases. Refreshed, full and super greasy, we scooted off for some more shopping before an afternoon nap and dinner.
Dinner at the hotel was gorgeous - we ate at GLASS the restaurant on the second floor and marvelled at the beauty of it. A very classy joint indeed. It made up for hungry jacks at lunch ten-fold! Due to our no-alcohol-withing-12-hours-of-a-flight rule, we managed to squeeze in one cocktail before our curfew and enjoyed a delicious dinner and desert. Soft, delicious lamb, mashed potatoes, veges and then a passion fruit souffle with lavender ice cream was the loveliest way to celebrate my birthday. We were joined by Dean and also Lauren and had a lovely night.
Up early the next day for our trip to Christchurch, we chattered away, planning dinner for that night. Once we landed, we bought a bottle of wine that went straight into the freezer for chilling once we got to the hotel and had drinks in the ever-so-hard-to-find crew lounge on the very top floor hiding behind many a closed and locked door and even up a flight of circular stairs!!
Off to dinner we went, wrapped up in our huge coats. We were a group of about 11 crew, rather impressive, given the crew track record when the words "sure I'll be down for dinner" are uttered. No one ever turns up. We settled down at a huge table and proceeded to order delicious steaks, more mashed potato and wine. Lots of wine. We had a great meal, with lots of laughter and then it was time to head to a local club. By this time, the group had dwindled down to about 7. Straight to the bar, Mike the captain ordered shots called Aftershock. Woah. POTENT. I thought I was breathing cinnamon scented fire for about half an hour!
We did some dancing, drank many more drinks and played some pool. I officially won the title of the world's worst pool player. I suck.
Munching on meat pies on the way back to the hotel, we happily made plans for the next night in Sydney. The flight back was uneventful and we all got ready as soon as we hit the hotel. It was a late landing, probably about 8pm, so we didn't have time for dinner. For any of you staying in the Sydney Hilton, MAKE SURE you go downstairs to the Marble Bar and have a Rasberry Beret - they are super dooper delicious and I estimate I drank about 8! At 50% off for crew, they're a very tasty $7 drink!
After some good, but way too loud live music at the Marble Bar, we set off in search of The Slip Inn, the place "Our Princess Mary" met her prince Frederik. I must admit, there were certainly NOT any princes there that night, or even anyone slightly resembling someone princely. I thought it was a bit of a dive, but it made for a good night. On the way home, we got completely drenched after running around in an unexpected downpour - Aussies just love a bit of puddle jumping!
We had the pleasure of flying a my friend Katja into Sydney on the first day, as she'd recently resigned and was returning to Sydney. It was lovely to be part of her final flight, and got her a bit loaded on Moet during the flight and she was farewelled by a very happy crew on landing. She came out with us on the second night in Sydney and it was lovely to see her so happy to be home.
After a rather late night, I dragged myself out of bed for some lunch in the mall with Dean and then it was time to get ready for the flight. about 20 hours later, we landed back into Dubai and I was a little sad to see everyone leave. It was a fantastic trip and a fantastic birthday. I've decided that 25 is going to be one hell of a year!