Cairns to Sydney through the smoke

All good things must come to an end and so it is with this holiday. I could stay travelling, I really could, but the are things to do back home that cannot be avoided.

At night I have been dreaming in Japanese. The beds in the Australian hotels are too soft compared with those in Japan. I miss them already.

We wake late, pack, carry our luggage down to the car and check out. Then go for a walk around the town. There are ominous grey clouds to the west, but the rain radar is positive for the afternoon.

The ice cream shop is closed, but people are swimming in the cold waters of the lagoon. I watch spiky nosed trumpetfish and crabs in the shallows along the esplanade.

We head off early to the airport, sort of, kind of work out how to return the hire car to the carpark. After dropping off our checked in bags we pass through security where Alex is pulled aside for a false positive of explosive traces and we almost leave his mobile behind.

Panic over, we go to the Qantas Lounge, where there is no pancake machine, but there is Bolognese pasta, tomato soup and cold cuts. Most importantly, there is a place to sit for the next hour.

Our flight is packed. Qantas have substituted an Airbus A330-200 for the Boeing 737-800 that we were originally booked on. There are seatback screens, the ones with very poor touch sensitivity and no music choices. I prefer the Jetstar entertainment. But the aircraft interior is otherwise quite fresh. It’s easy to imagine that we are on a flight to a distant land.

As we taxi out to the runway I’m still feeling nervous about those clouds. But when we take off and turn out to sea, there are only a few bumps passing between them and the seatbelt light is soon extinguished. The first officer announces that it should be a smooth flight and the weather in Sydney is good, so now I can relax.

Alex tries to watch a movie on the seatback entertainment, but is defeated by its unresponsiveness and watches on his phone instead. B has more success, watching the same Spider-Man movie as I did on the last flight.

I just listen to my flying playlist and stare outside as the distant cloudscapes across the big wing.

We are fed the same Portuguese chicken ciabatta with lime and mango jam as on the flight up. I like it, but the others refuse.

I try to pretend we are flying to Singapore, but I can tell we are going the wrong way.

I suspect we cross a jetstream, passing through some light high cloud, the without much turbulence. At one point there are waves of cloud casting shadows in an interesting pattern below.

The flight feels too short when we begin our descent into Sydney. There is a brown layer of smoke from hazard reduction burns, then we emerge into the golden hour with perfect views of the famous Sydney skyline as we approach the third runway from the north.

Touchdown on a very nice flight!

Our luggage appears fairly quickly on the belt, a lot faster than in Cairns. But first a lone toothbrush and tube of toothpaste makes the rounds. Probably due to the team of teenagers on the flight. Then we are on our way to catch a train, then a bus, home.

We are too tired to cook, so we go out for pizza for dinner. At least it is a change. But I’m not tired of Japanese food yet, nor of Japan. I really enjoyed visiting some less popular cities and getting away from the other tourists. I also had fun in Cairns and regret that we didn’t have longer there. Not just for activites, but also to simply relax.

It’s going to be hard going back to work next week.

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