Didn't actually go to sleep Thursday night before my early Friday morning flight out. Saw Matrix Revolutions with Izzy and Erin and a bunch of other people. Then went home and finished packing and stuff.
Izzy and Erin arrived around 5 a.m. Deirdre arrived to drive us around 5:10 a.m. First flight was on Alaska Air to Los Angeles International Airport. I was kind of worried Erin would totally freak, as she led me to believe she had hella problems with flying. As it turned out though, she was quite the trooper.
The flights weren't booked all together, so we had to pick up our luggage and cart it from terminal 3, where Alaska flights arrive, to terminal 2, where Air New Zealand departs. Long lines. LAX is not set up well for all the extra security measures instituted in response to the September 11th terrorist attacks. Lined up to check in, after which we had to carry our luggage over to another line for the Intron scan. After which we lined up to see if our luggage passed muster. Then we lined up to get into the departure area. Then we lined up to be X-rayed immediately prior to entering the departure area. Then we had to line up to board. This doesn't count the lines in which we waited after disembarking the Alaska flight. I'm all for extra security, but streamlining it a bit would have been nice. Of course, no one thought of that when these terminals were designed.
The flight itself was uneventful. Air New Zealand had a nice selection of movies. I watched much of Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle (verdict: not very interesting), Freaky Friday (verdict: enjoyed this), and The Hulk (verdict: boring). Skipped Hollywood Homicide because I knew I wouldn't like it.
On landing in Auckland International Airport, we stopped off at Passport Control, picked up our luggage, had it screened for pests, and then went through Customs. At this point it was approximately 11:30 p.m. New Zealand Daylight Savings Time on Saturday November 8th. We had left Seattle at 7 a.m. P.S.T. on Friday November 7th. Shortest day and a half I've ever spent. THe baggage claim in the international terminal had an interesting feature that I wish more airports would copy. They painted a yellow line approximately 1 meter from the carousel. Passengers were to stand behind the line until they saw their luggage. It made for less clogging and shoving when people tried to get their luggage.
Then to get the rental car at Avis. I'd messed up my reservations. Thinking I was arriving on the 9th, I'd reserved starting the next day. When I figured it out, I couldn't add a day to the reservations, so I reserved a car for just one day instead. I was hoping (correctly) that the counter person could combine the reservations. Upgraded to full size, as a running special meant I could have that class for only $5/day more. Also, found out Avis lets customers drop off their car in Wellington and pick up a new car in Picton. Nothing on the web site mentioned that, but it meant I could cancel the car crossing portion of the trip, saving some money.
Loaded up, and then fearfully set out to drive the streets of Auckland. Driving on the left wasn't so difficult, but lots of little things made it stressful at first. Markings and signs weren't quite the same. Sitting on the other side changed my perspective of how wide the car was. Swapping the turn signal and window washer arms meant I constantly was turning on the wipers instead of the turn signal. And it takes a while to get used to which way to look when turning. Not to mention a couple of odd rules in New Zealand that I'll cover in later days.
Got to the hotel, the Spencer on Byron Hotel, only to find out the Hotels.com hadn't actually reserved the room my first night. Expedia.com had done just fine there for nights 2 and 3. (Note, not knocking a competitor… Expedia now owns Hotels.com.) But we had no place to stay. The kind front desk person arranged for us to stay at the Heritage Tower in the central business district. Cabbed over, as I was tired and knew finding our way through Auckland would be difficult that late and in that state.
Hotel room was quite nice. In each entry, I'll be noting the amenities of each place we stayed. Good shower pressure. Full cooking facilities. French press provided. One queen size bed. Didn't use the pretty bathrobes provided though. Both of us fell asleep pretty quickly. Though throughout the trip, Erin tended to not sleep particularly soundly (assures me it wasn't my snoring) so I won't vouch for much from her perspective as to quality of sleep.