This first post is only for those interested in how an absent minded, clumsy and forgetful (is that the same as absent-minded?) person like me could EVER travel alone.
Friends, it can be done.
7:30am Monday 31st July
My flight to Auckland was supposedly at 7 o'clock, connecting to an LAX flight at 9:50pm. I possibly should've had my focus on that dilemma all day. However I'm ambitious, and wanted to fit in work, visiting my new baby cousin, packing and running daily errands.
I was stressing a little, as even though I'd sorted my ESTA and ETA, they don't come in a physical form, simply attached to your passport. My attempt to check in at Christchurch resulted in a "Failed Immigration Check" and the machine spat out my declined boarding pass. I got help from a representative and she didn't understand what went wrong, however I was still holding on to that fear of getting all the way to LA and being declined entry for whatever reason.
What are the chances you meet a friend from your very small town of 2000, also headed to LA? He helped me along for that leg of the trip - making sure I knew the way to the International Terminal in Auckland, inviting me into the oh-so fancy Koru Lounge and helping me understand the endless maze that is LAX.
31st July - Landed in Auckland at 8:30pm - 13 hours awake
Boarding the plane to LAX was quite simple. My bags didn't need to be re-checked in, so my only task was getting to the International Terminal which I hadn't been to for 5 years or so. Before having a few beers in the Koru Lounge, the lovely man at the counter had a look at my ticket, frowned and asked me "Would you prefer a window or aisle seat?" He then relocated my seat to an aisle seat with nobody next to me, which was fantastic considering how uncomfortable it was to sleep in those flights. I probably slept around 3-4 hours on the flight... although the lady across from me (Who I envy, as she seemed to be asleep much more than I) also said the same.
31st July (1st August NZ Time) - Landed in LAX at 3pm (10am NZ) - 23 hours awake (nap included)
At this point I felt pretty good about my travelling abilities, all seemed to be going swimmingly. We ate some fried chicken at LAX after remembering I was an underage drinker now that I was in the states. My transit waiting time was 8 hours so this wasn't good news..
Boarding my 5.2 hour flight to MTL was interesting. Everyone seemed to speak french to me, very quickly may I add. A girl around my age asked if I could swap my window seat with her window seat a little further back, as her mother was next to me and didn't want to travel alone. I quickly obliged, soon realising I'd made a huge mistake.
A. I'm paranoid when it comes to flights (don't laugh) so I paid extra to sit in the exit row (stop laughing) and B. There was a screaming child near me for the first 2 hours of the flight.
It was fine though, I realised how tired I was (31 hours awake at this point) and fell asleep before the plane even took off. Had about an hours nap, then bought some wifi and chatted to friends and family for the next 4 hours - my next mistake.
1st August (2nd August NZ Time) - Landed in MTL at 7am! (11pm NZ) - 34 hours awake (nap included)
I thought I'd be excited to be in the country, but I still had immigration officers to be grilled by and a bus to catch. So I wasn't necessarily ecstatic. I bused to meet my sister at one of the metro stations, which came right outside her house. I don't even think I've really caught a train before (maybe once or twice) so I was super excited by this. We arrived at her cute flat, settled in, hired some bikes and went out for Chicken and Waffles. I'll go more into detail later about Montreal's fantastic Bixi system, but for now I'll insert a few pictures of the first day
The weather was absolutely crazy, going from about 7 degrees to 27 degrees in the space of 2 days was certainly overwhelming. We biked, ate, took photos, went to the pool, got icecream and had a picnic - all in the sun. The group's plan for the evening was to go out, but I was almost falling asleep in the park at dinner. So I went home and went to bed around 8:30 after being mostly awake for 46 hours.
I'm writing this as I'm waking up on the 2nd of August here in Montreal. Quite frankly, long flights are gross and uncomfortable but I'd absolutely recommend getting as much rest as possible, even on the day you leave for travel if it's in the evening.
So far, one of my goals is to try every single flavour of ice-cream at a soft serve place with my sister a few doors down. So far we've tried two flavours, however that is a completely different in-depth story to be published...