A few of you have asked how I pick where I’m going next, so I thought I’d indulge you. As it’s not unheard of that I’m in Dubai one day, Rwanda the next and Malaysia a few weeks later, I can see how this would be confusing, particularly as I often don’t blog in chronological order (largely due in part to limited Internet access and time while on the road and pre-scheduling posts before I go). Heck, it’s confusing enough for me; I don’t know how you all keep up! Truth be told, there’s often no method to the madness. Sometimes, I find myself passionate about a particular place or angle and continue to pitch and research it for months, on occasion even years, until some helpless editor gets overwhelmed and finally sends me there to cover said story. Other times, I’m invited out as a journalist to check out some newsworthy event or angle the country is pushing. But most frequently, I hear about hot new properties set to open and find a way to get there to scoop the story before every Tom, Dick and Mary has already done so. In any field of journalism, but particularly travel writing, being the first to cover something is crucial.
And that is precisely how I wound up in Tassie. It was a long time coming in the sense that this property (which you will hear ample amounts about in due time) had been buzzed about in my industry for two years. It wasn’t a long time coming in that I was going to stay grounded for the next month or two following the honeymoon, then got asked to head Down Under and, two weeks after landing from my six-week honeymoon, found myself on a plane bound for Sydney.
As an avid traveler, I feel I’m more educated than most in geography. In fact, I was obsessed with the subject as far back as elementary school. In ninth grade, when we were tested on every last country in the world, its capital, major landmarks and where it is on the map, I got a 100 percent. So I guess it’s no huge surprise that I ended up in a field that has me studying the globe on a regular basis. If you don’t believe me, take a look at my living room:
And those aren’t all of them either.
That’s all to say I knew virtually nothing about Tasmania other than that it’s the “final frontier” before reaching Antarctica. In fact, I assumed I would be flying for days before reaching Hobart, the island state’s capital. WRONG. It’s a mere hour-and-a-half flight from Sydney, or 45 minutes from Melbs. Following the 13-hour direct flight from California to Australia, of course, which was painless. I don’t mind a long haul—and, in fact, given this year’s number of trips that required two days to get there, 13 hours hardly seems long—if I don’t have to connect a number of times.
Even better? My travel partners Kirsten (above) and Jennie and I got upgraded to business class on Qantas. And, well, I don’t know if you’ve ever flown Qantas business class before, but let’s just say it’s nothing to scoff about. In 2009, when I headed to Queensland for “The Best Job in the World” launch, I flew Qantas economy for the first time, and even at the back of the bus, was impressed by the friendliness of the staff. So I was doubly excited to check out the next tier of service.
Yes, those are my official kangaroo-branded Qantas pajamas, that I may or may not now wear to work in from home most days. We had barely left the ground before I darted to the fancy-pants bathroom to change into them. And I got a second pair on the way back, too, so I have a spare should something happen to the originals, heh. The movie and TV options were endless (though, as often happens to me, on the return the entertainment systems for the whole plane weren’t working!), and there were so many covert nooks and crannies to stash my stuff, that I kept forgetting where I put things! The food was gourmet—like something I would find in a San Francisco—and they have on-board sommeliers to assist in WINE PAIRINGS (on an airline…I know), a program helmed by celebrity Aussie chef Neil Perry. I may have sampled the chardonnay. And the pinot noir. And the dessert wine. You know, for the sake of research, just so I could give a well-rounded review…
While in Sydney on the way back through from Tas, we got the chance to tour the official Qantas control center. Truth be told, I was sort of dreading this as it didn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend a few of my mere 48 hours in such a fascinating city. Much to my surprise, the tour was riveting: The control center is where they do all the training of cabin crews and where we got to see the next generation of first, business and economy class travel. Let’s just say, I was—maybe still am—contemplating a career change to flight attendant after the tour. (Qantas seems like an excellent company to work for; I suppose I just have to figure out a way to gain Aussie citizenship first.) The crew spends weeks training in various aspects of the hospitality realm from food and wine to emergency procedures. And did you know the FAs are required to take courses such as beauty, where they learn to do their hair and makeup (even the dudes), and even have to walk out on a runway to be evaluated?! Sounds like a fun (yet, extremely challenging) line of work to me.
I’ve never been so excited to board a flight on the way as I was for the outbound Sydney-San Francisco flight—and that’s not only because we were getting upgraded again. The cherry on top was landing a pass to the official Qantas First Class Lounge, which had straight-up foliage growing from the walls on the ground floor, a Space Age-y/celestial entrance and was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Nicole Kidman, Pink and John Travolta had all wandered these corridors just the week prior to my arrival. Of course, I was too busy trying to cram in as many meals as possible—brunch, light lunch and dessert, if you must know—before my flight out. That and getting my nails done.
image courtesy of Qantas
You read that right. The Qantas First Class Lounge has a SPA—and a darn nice one at that—and every guest is entitled to one complimentary treatment. Of course, I lobbied for the massage, but there was no time, so I settled for a manicure as my nails were in a terrible state of disarray. Next time I know to arrive the first possible moment I can to check in for my flight to take full advantage of all these five-star amenities!
image courtesy of Qantas
If this is the future of first and business class travel, I don’t want to go back to cattle class. Alas, I’ll be just there, a six-hour red eye flight in coach on Delta on Friday, followed by a three-hour layover and three-hour connecting flight. Oh well, being fancy was fun while it lasted. Thanks for making me feel like a rockstar, Qantas—even if it was but a fleeting moment!