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After two fun and food-filled weeks with V & K in Australia, it was time to head home and back to  reality… *almost* back to reality.  I had booked off a few extra vacation days to recover from jet-lag and, as it turned out, squeezed in an overnight trip to Victoria.  Not the Victoria in Australia but Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.  But… before I get ahead of myself, let us turn our attention back to my departure from Wollongong and from Australia.

My original departure plan that overcast November morning was to get up early and catch the train to Sydney airport.  V did not want me to take the train and she got up early to make a special trip to drop me off at the airport.  I was very fortunate that V drove me to the airport as my day of departure coincided with the MS Gong Ride 2012.

The MS Gong Ride is an annual community cycling event that fundraises to support people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  The ride is capped at 10,000 entries and cyclists ride from Sydney to Wollongong.  At the end of the ride, some may choose to ride back to Sydney but many take the train back.  I can only cringe at the thought of how crowded the trains heading back to Sydney are with all the cyclists and their bicycles. (Thanks V!)

In fact, as we were en route to Sydney, we saw riders heading towards Wollongong.

In fact, as we were en route to Sydney, we saw riders heading towards Wollongong.

MS Gong Ride 2012

MS Gong Ride 2012

We arrived at the airport with some time to spare.  I was able to check in, clear security and arrive at the departure gate in good time.  Thanks to free airport wi-fi, I was able to surf the web and check my email before getting on my 14-hour flight to Vancouver.

The airplane ride started off like any typical long-haul flight:  emergency procedures explained, lift-off and meals distributed (lunch?).

Meal #1 - lunch

Meal #1 – lunch

After the first meal was cleared and the lights dimmed, it was time for movies and sleep.  I found it difficult to sleep as I just finished sleeping 6 hours at V’s place.   No need to even mention how uncomfortable the seats are.  Despite feeling as though I hadn’t slept a wink on the flight, I must have dozed off at some point as I woke up to find a “snack” waiting on my lowered tray table.  Fortunately, I was awake in time to ask for juice when the drinks trolley rolled by.

This sandwich tasted better  than the one on my YVR-SYD flight

This sandwich tasted better than the one on my YVR-SYD flight

In most cases, long haul flights are bearable despite the feeling of being confined in a small space for over 12 hours and eating food that doesn’t otherwise seem edible.  I have to say that in this rare instance my photos make the airplane food look tastier than it actually was.

After taking a few bites of the sandwich snack, I decided that soggy bread was not particularly appetizing and ate the filling without the bread.  Without much else to do, I again tried to sleep.  My attempts seemed to work as I probably napped for the next hour or so before waking up to the loud ping of the seatbelt sign.  I tried to fall back asleep again but was unsuccessful.

Moments later, the plane encountered some major turbulence.  Not only were we being jostled and tossed from side to side in our seats but every few minutes, it felt as though the floor beneath us had suddenly opened up and we were free-falling towards the ground.  Those irregular fluctuations persisted for well over 20 minutes.  (Maybe I shouldn’t have looked at the time…)  For me, it was the most turbulent ride I had ever taken — definitely would make some of the rides at Playland seem like a walk in the park.  Yes, indeed the most expensive roller coaster ride that I have been on.

When we finally passed through the nasty turbulence (and survived!), I managed to doze off again for a few minutes here and there.  Soon enough, it was time for them to serve the next meal.  While I usually have no appetite for the second meal of a long-haul flight, it is always exciting and relieving when the flight attendants are distributing the trays.  To me, it signifies that we are quickly approaching our destination.

Meal #2 - breakfast?

Meal #2 – breakfast?

Vancouver finally on our screen!

Vancouver finally on our screen!

Finally!  Home sweet home after such a long and rocky ride.  Sigh…