Thursday Feb 2nd – Saturday Feb 4th | Vancouver 🇨🇦 to Dunedin 🇳🇿 | 4985 km ✈️
13 has always been my favourite number but 36 is now a close second.
I woke up on Thursday at 7:36am feeling well rested and excited in the beautiful city of Vancouver. The crisp, white bed linens and thick duvet embraced me in the warmest of hugs as the sun smiled in through a crack in the curtains of my 19th floor room at the Sheraton Wall Centre. That made me feel nauseous writing it. After showering and reorganizing my backpack for the third time I ventured out for some breakfast. I walked past three cafes before finding myself enticed by a neon sign indicating crepes as the specialty dish. Two eggs and toast with a banana & dark chocolate crepe later and my hunger was gone. Because who doesn’t love really thin pancakes for breakfast. I decided to walk around after that to stretch my legs and enjoy the fresh-for-Vancouver air since I would be sitting for the majority of my day.
If you were a lucky recipient of my 2015 Christmas letter you’ll know that Mike & I once missed a flight from Toronto to Las Vegas and spent 12 hours waiting in the airport for the next one. Ever since then I take no risks and ensure I’m checked in and through security long before necessary. That’s why I arrived at United Airlines departures at 11:05am for my 2:30pm flight. One of the major perks of being at the airport so early is that there’s literally no one else there so you can breeze through check-in, baggage drop and customs in the space of 20 minutes. I had three flights to go: Vancouver to San Francisco. San Fran to Auckland. Auckland to Dunedin. I had prebooked my seats for the second two and now had the option to upgrade the first. For a whopping $36 USD I could pick priority seating with an additional five inches of leg room. Sure, why not.
After clearing customs I called my mum to hear about their trip and then went to Vino Volo for lunch. Here I found out that if you’re a member of their rewards club you get to try their wine-of-the-day for $2. Sign. Me. Up. I’d like to tell you that it’s rich oaky hues with subtle hints of blackberry were just right but all I know is it was red, it was $2, and it was good. My flight was delayed by an hour, but once I boarded I found myself seated in the most spacious chair I have ever encountered on an aeroplane. You literally could’ve fit a pet hippo at my feet. There was two first class rows ahead of me and no one beside me. Perfect. I stretched out my legs, sat back, relaxed and didn’t even shed a tear during Me Before You.
Since the flight out of Vancouver was delayed by an hour there was less time to do nothing in San Fran. I grabbed a quick bite, chugged back some water, donned my compression socks and boarded flight NZ0007. I had paid $50 to upgrade to a seat with extra leg room. I chose seat 36B for two reasons: firstly because I procrastinated a lot and forgot to upgrade earlier so all seats remaining were middle ones and secondly because there were only two seats in row 35 so I thought it would be easier to get out to stretch my legs. As I approached the seat I realized I’d made a horrible decision. The guy at the window could’ve played for the All Blacks. The bean-pole in the aisle was his complete opposite but had a child under two on his lap. This was going to be a long flight. But I already told you 36 was my new favourite number so you know that’s not how this story ends. A flight attendant offered Mr Bean-Pole and his daughter an empty row which could turn into a sky couch. He gladly accepted and I spent the next 13 hours with my legs outstretched in utter bliss. I couldn’t have asked for a better seat.
So, apart from lucking out with extra leg room, how did I survive 13 hours on a plane? Water, Aspirin, and compression socks. Typically I retain a lot of water when I fly due to the decreased oxygen and increased cabin pressure. This usually results in me feeling like the Michelin Man for a day or two once reaching my destination. The day before I flew (and during the flights) I drank a LOT of water. I normally drink a gallon a day so was probably pushing 1.5. I had also read that taking a low dose of aspirin around 30 minutes before flying can help thin the blood and allow it to flow easier so I took one in Vancouver and one again in SFO. The compression socks are far from stylish but I think they helped too.
For the first three hours (8pm-11pm) I …
- Read one chapter of my book “Autobiography of a Face” by Lucy Grealy
- Ate supper – it was delicious by the way. Mexican beef, rice, veggies, a dinner roll, cheese, crackers and a vanilla strawberry cake for dessert.
- Watched Deepwater Horizon
After that I brushed my teeth and settled in to sleep. I woke up around 2:30am only because I drank so much water I … well, you know. It was nice to stretch my legs for a few minutes but then I went right back to sleep for another four hours.
I woke up to breakfast being served: cheese omelette, hash browns, tomato, fat-free yoghurt and some fresh fruit. The flight landed in Auckland two hours later. Before heading through customs I changed my shirt, applied some deodorant and hit up the duty-free for a complimentary spritz of Marc Jacobs “Daisy”. A ten minute half-walk-half-run later and I was over in the domestic departures lounge and twenty minutes after that the plane was air bound en route to Dunedin where Val met me.