Thursday, February 13, 2014

Travel to New Zealand

We left Concord on Friday evening much later than intended—it takes a long time to close up the house for a month, and Alex had to finish up a lot of things at work. We finally left the house just before 10 PM, dropped Mr. Jasper off with Katie, and headed down to Boston. Aunt Donna had kindly offered that we could stay with her (and Bob and Tom offered to keep our car at their place), so we had about four hours sleep before the taxi picked us up at Donna’s at 4:30 AM.

We arrived at Logan just before 5 AM on Saturday and were surprised to find no one at the Virgin America desk! The staff finally showed up around 5:30 and we were able to check in without difficulty—in fact, we were able to check our bags all the way through to Auckland. Once through security, Brynna worked on her jewel sticker crown craft from Ayanna, which would turn out to occupy her for almost the entire day. What a great gift!

Unfortunately Alex was seated several aisles up on our flight to LA and got stuck in a window seat on the far side of two people who promptly fell asleep—not ideal! Next time we’ll know to double-check the seat assignments right away when we get the boarding passes.

The Virgin America folks definitely win for most entertaining safety video—both hilarious and informative. Brynna was great, only occasionally getting restive and whiny. She mostly did her crown craft and was engaged in some complicated game with the seatbelt for awhile. Three bathroom trips in six hours is not bad for her and we were so close to the bathroom that I was able to send her by herself after the first time.

Once in LA, I called the hotel I’d identified as most likely for a day booking, and we were able to hop the shuttle without difficulty. We wanted to find a restaurant close by to walk (the attached Denny’s didn’t appear to be very veg friendly!) so we headed off for a likely-looking place. We eventually found it inside an office building, but it was closed on the weekend. So we went to the bistro in the nearby Marriott and had a thoroughly mediocre meal of veggie burgers.

I was pretty much toast by then, so as soon as we got back to the hotel we all settled down for a nap. I think I was out in about five seconds and Alex and B also got some sleep. Then there was time for violin practice before we headed off to Marina del Rey (via town car—swank!) for a delicious dinner at the Mendocino Farms sandwich place. Mmmmm. Totally made up for the crappy lunch.

We zipped back to the hotel, jumped the shuttle to the airport, were able to quickly check with the Air NZ folks that the bags did indeed get transferred, and then headed into the remarkably short security line. The best line of the travel day came from Brynna, naturally:

B, to guy checking our passports and boarding passes at security: “We aren’t carrying anything bad!”

(Long pause)

“Well, if we are, I didn’t know anything about it.”

Then we settled in, each had a stroll and a nice Starbuckian treat, and gawked at our ENORMOUS plane. Sadly, it was not one of the Air NZ jets that is painted to lo

ok like Smaug, but it was nifty to see anyway. It took a long time to board, but the flight attendants were very helpful from the start.

Since it was a 9:15 flight (already after midnight on the East Coast), I put B to bed as soon as we leveled off. Air New Zealand has something called cuddle class, where footrests come up to fill the entire area between the seats. They gave us appropriate linens and special lying-down seatbelts.

Here I am setting up the seats for sleep:
And here we are:

Because Alex is flying back earlier, I had to book him separately so we ended up with a cuddle class bench (actually 3 seats) plus the seat across the aisle. This ended up being perfect as Brynna slept almost 8 hours and Alex and I took turns being able to lie down next to her. Alex wasn’t able to get too comfortable, but I did OK (though B woke up for good just as I was getting settled in next to her).

We also had great in-flight entertainment on personal screens. I was able to catch up on new-ish movies Thor: Dark World and Gravity, and Brynna mostly liked watching the map once she woke up. The vegetarian food was very tasty. All in all, we are big fans of Air New Zealand!

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