Oct 312014

Got to the airport in no time and check-in was quick and easy. No line at all at security, and was in the Qantas lounge less than 10 minutes after arriving at the airport. Darwin airport is tiny with only five gates, so it had a surprisingly large and crowded lounge. The new lounge had just opened about a week before, so it was the perfect time to visit!


Mmmm potato wedges with sweet chili sauce:


Around 11:45, people starting queuing at the bar. No drinks until noon, and everyone wanted to be there the second it opened. It was like vultures descending on a carcass. So, when in Rome…a James Squire One Fifty Lashes…surprisingly decent:


OMG there was a PANCAKE MACHINE! This will come in handy one of these trips…


Boarding right on time, and since the airport had all of five gates it wasn’t too hard to find!

Qantas flight 825
Darwin, Australia (DRW) to Brisbane, Australia (BNE)
Depart 12:45, Arrive 17:10, Flight Time 3:25
Boeing 767-300, Registration VH-OGI, Manufactured 1991, Seat 5K

Looks like an empty flight today! I remember when we used to call the United domestic 767s the “ghetto bird.” Looks like Qantas is taking a page from that playbook…


Only 10 people today for 30 seats, so plenty of smack mix to go around. Note: the cashews were whole…are you listening Jeff?!


I don’t do fish on planes. Ever. But the flight attendant told me I had to try the fish stew since it was way better than the cold salad. She was right..it was absolutely delicious.


Mmmm ice cream. I think if you tried serving fig ice cream on United there would be a revolt because it would be “too weird.” This was absolutely delicious, however. I might have asked for a second serving..there’s no evidence to prove it.


“There’s only one glass left in the bottle…can’t let it go to waste…but can’t let you hold that glass while we land. Here’s a to-go cup!” I think I’m in love with Qantas…and this crew.


Severe thunderstorms on descent into Brisbane. This is what a severe storm looks like as you skirt around it at 2,000 feet:




Just after landing and camping out in the Qantas lounge, they announced the airport was temporarily closed for severe thunderstorms. This lasted about 30 minutes, but you’d never have known it from the smooth way they handled the delays. Didn’t hear any complaining, no cancelations, and everything seemed to proceed without delay. Or maybe I didn’t notice because I was busy sampling Australia’s wide variety of suds:


Off to the gate for the final flight up to Cairns. Yes, I know there was a direct flight from Darwin to Cairns, but it wasn’t available with miles, so in the interest of trying to be as economical as I could while traipsing around the south pacific, I took what was available. Plus, I looked at it as an opportunity to get a true taste of Qantas.

Qantas flight 786
Brisbane, Australia (BNE) to Cairns, Australia (CNS)
Depart 18:55, Arrive 21:15, Flight Time 2:20
Boeing 737-800, Registration VH-VXI, Manufactured 2002, Seat 2D

Once again, shortly after takeoff, a glass of wine and some snack mix:


Chicken parmesan and some sort of fig desert. Qantas’ fascination with figs is about as weird as United’s fascination with asparagus. ┬áIt was quite tasty, however.


We made good time in the air, and were soon descending into Cairns. The flight attendant insisted on pouring one more glass of wine, and then “oops, I’m afraid I just opened a new bottle! Pity. I’ll have to throw all the rest of this in the rubbish now…or I could just throw it in your bag.” Hahaha, have I mentioned yet that I love Qantas yet? Yes, she let me hold the entire bottle through the decent. It was like flying in the late 90s all over again, but for the US airlines got safety weird and extra-cheap:


Welcome to Cairns!


Ugh, stop calling it an Ironman when it’s only a half-ironman. I hate what profit-driven marketing has done to this sport. Ok, rant over.


Welcome to Hawaii….I mean Tokyo…I mean Cairns! Note the “what the hell does that say” gesture this confused Aussie is making:


Again, in an attempt to be financially-response, I’d booked in at the Ibis Style Cairns. Location was good, and it was half the price of the Hilton. Unfortunately, it was also half the quality. But the air conditioning was cold, I only saw one cockroach, and it was reasonably quiet. I shouldn’t have looked at the Hilton’s website, however, because they’d severely dropped the price in the last couple of days and it was now just $20 more and I could have earned useful points. Oh well!

Slept well, and headed out for a short walk around Cairns. First stop, coffee at the most amazingly-named coffee shop ever: Caffeind! Delicious cold brew coffee that was strong as rocket fuel, and some poached eggs and bacon. The Ibis Style (which was completely devoid of any style, I need to add) had offered a “continental breakfast” but it was scary. White bread, some cereal, and some severely under-ripe fruits. No thanks. I’ll take quality coffee and delicious eggs while I can. I have a feeling some of the south pacific islands aren’t going to offer such options.


Walking by the Cairns lagoon:



Chalk art on the sidewalk:


View from the lagoon:




War memorial…love how this shot shows how blue the sky was:


More birds!


Got back to the stylish Ibis and cooled down for a bit before a pre-airport shower. Then the phone rang: “are you planning to check out soon? Checkout time was 10am.” Um, what kind of hotel has a 10 am checkout? 11 am is weird enough, but I’ve never seen a 10 am before. No worries, 15 more minutes was no problem, so grabbed a quick shower and checked out. It was off to Papua New Guinea…my 161st country!

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